Kombucha

So you know that I love to ferment!  And while I have been making Sour kraut for a while, I recently (April/May) was introduced to Kombucha.  I just want to tell you I love this stuff!  My kids love it, my husband thinks I’m crazy, but what’s new?  I love the energy it gives me, yes I can tell!  I love to experiment with different flavors, and I love drinking it knowing it is good for my gut!

So, (Kristen this is for you) here is my Kombucha making process.  Elizabeth taught me my first class, and then I read a bunch of things online about it and have tweaked it here and there.

First, you need a gallon jar.  My advice, if you have not been saving them in your garage for years, it to go buy a jar of pickles from SAMs for 7$.  Eat the pickles and voila, you have a jar.  Or you can go to Walmart and buy an empty jar for about $14.00.  Either way you are about to make money for your family.  If you want to drink Kombucha and not make it, expect to pay 3-5$ for a single serving bottle!  And good luck finding it in the middle of no where like where I live!

Next, get a starter Scobi from a friend, or buy a “high priced” individual serving bottle from somewhere.  {If you get a starter from a friend, skip this next paragraph}  Pour your bottle of store bought Kombucha in the gallon jar, cover the lid with a coffee filter – rubber banded on the top of the jar and put it in a warm cabinet for 3-30 days (above the stove is great).  Yes, three to thirty days.  In my house this process takes about 3 days, because I have fermenting particles in the air because we ferment and eat lots of fermented stuff.  If you are new to this, it might take up to 30 days.  Check on it often – eventually you will grow a Scobi.

 

 Scoby – symbiotic culture of bacteria & yeast

Your scobi will grow as big as your jar is wide, and will grow thicker with each batch of Kombucha.  I will separate mine, like a hamburger bun, and gift one layer to friends, or give it to chickens to eat.

 

The scobi is making a seal on the top of your Kombucha allowing it to ferment and work it’s magic!!

Once you have your scobi, you will feed it.  You need to make the tea.

I use 4 cups of DISTILLED water – not tap water.  Tap water has chlorine and such and will kill the bacteria and good stuff.

I bring 4 cups of DISTILLED water almost to a  boil with 1 cup of sugar.  Still while it is heating until all the sugar is dissolved.  Then you can turn off the water right before it starts to really boil.

Then I add 4 family size tea bags and steep for 5 minutes, or until I remember to take the tea bags out.  Then I let it cool.

Add the tea mixture to your jar once it is room temperature and fill the rest of the way with the rest of your gallon of distilled water.

Let this sit in a warm dark place (over the stove is where mine sits) for 7 days.  Sometimes i forget and it is 8, sometimes i do it early and it is 6.  But generally I wait 7 days.

Then you take our your scobi, set aside.

Pour your kombucha into jars (I use quart and 1/2 gallon)

I save 1 cup of the Kombucha as  a “Starter” for the next batch.

Set bottled Kombucha aside.

Then I put scobi and “Starter” back into my jar (I wash it out sometimes, sometimes I just use it again.  I think it is fine either way)

And then you feed again with the tea mixture.

Meanwhile you can put your Kombucha in the fridge as it is.  Or you can flavor it.  If you want to be “lazy” you can buy fruit juice to add to provide your flavor.  I do not want what is in fruit juice.  I also do not want it any sweeter than it is normally.  So I flavor like this:

Pumpkin Spice Tea, Chai or Peppermint – steep 1-1 1/2cups of water with 2 tea bags

Blueberry – add 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

Grapefruit – add frozen 1/4 of a slice of grapefruit

Mango – add 1/4 cup frozen mango slices

Get creative with what you like.  Each variation offers different benefits and vitimins and nutrients.  Plus each taste different.  My favorite is grapefuit – I LOVE IT!!

Next would be Chai or Pumpkin Spice – they are really good too.

Whole family loved Blueberry.


FAQ:

Do not use stainless steel utensils, wooden or plastic and same with pots & bowls :wooden, glass or plastic.

Do not use tap water

Be careful washing everything and putting Kombucha right in or scobi – the chlorine in your water and the ingredients in your soap could kill good stuff.

You can go longer than 7 days, up to 30 – it will become alcoholic at some point.  You are fermenting like wine.

Kombucha help your gut, it even curbs my snack desire/appetite.  It is not a meal replacement but it impacts my day tremendously.

 

 

Herbal Healing Salve

This is our family’s favorite product, well maybe next to the soap, we sure love that soap!

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This healing salve is something I saw on pinterest, I think, and then when I had the chance to buy a start for the plant I grabbed it!!  So we started growing it.  Then, I started making this wonder-product!!

This is our favorite because we use it on everything from cuts, to bug bites, to burns.

I made this and we were using it for minor cuts and scrapes.  Then a friend had a grease fire and had severe second degree burns.  She came over to grab some essential oil that was supposed to help, that I had.  While here, I offered her this salve to try.  I had read all the great things about it but had not experienced them much first hand other than on our scrapes and cuts.

She told me this was the only thing she wanted to put on her burn because it was the only thing that helped.  I was thrilled!!

Then another friend, who I gave a small jar to, told me a bee stung her near the eye, and again I suggested this salve.  The next day she told me it was the only thing that felt good and the swelling and irritation was down tremendously!

Since then, my kids are fighting to have their own tin of this salve in their pocket so when they are out and about a get hurt they have it!  Crazy kids!

Anyway, we love this stuff, and hope you will try it yourself!!

Beard Balm

Are you wondering what this little gem is?

IMG_6029Well, wonder no longer!  This is an amazing little balm that is for men.  They scoop a little out with their finger, rub their hands together and then work this into their beard.  The results?  The smell first is amazing!  I mixed in the following oils, for the following reasons: {following Grace’s recipe here}

orange – antiseptic, treats acne

cedarwood – treats acne, anti-fungal, astringent

lavender – treats acne, prevents itching, helps dry and fragile hair

cinnamon – astringent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal

frankincense – strengthens hair roots, astringent

This lovely product will help smooth out those whiskers as they grow and it will also offer some great nourishment to the skin and the hair!  This product is seriously a win-win!!

If you order some soap from me and mention *BeardBalm* I will throw in a sample for you to try!!

Relationships with food & beyond

I have been on a food journey since about mid February.  Haven’t said much about it on here, mostly because I am busy keeping up with it!  But I think I am settling in to a new normal, and my family is joining me for the most part, for a variety of reasons.

So I do not want to get on a soap box and preach because quite honestly everyone is at a different place in their life in a multitude of ways.  Ages of kids, busyness outside of the home, new foster kids, and so many other things.  I am not sure I would have ever braved this new land if I had toddlers at home, or if I recently have 3 kids dropped in my lap with a plethora of issues.  I am quite busy outside the home, but even that has settled a bit.

So here I am.  And I feel like we have redirected our eating lives forever.

Are you ever sorry when you learn something?  Like once you know it, it changes you?  You cannot go back to blissfully ignorant. It may not take over your thoughts but it is forever niggling in the back of your mind, cautioning your choices no matter what.

That is where we are.  We started Whole30 on April 27th.  I had been mostly whole30 for 7 weeks before that, but I did have some butter, and some stevia. {and a blissfully fun trip to Michigan with two Triple D’s along the way! and amazing food in Michigan}  But on April 27th we went all in, we joined the Whole30 world and it will change us forever.  We got the books – and we HIGHLY suggest you get & read the books BEFORE you start!  If you just use the internet you will never fully understand why you are doing what you are doing – and you will quit.  The books will help coach you through the days you want to kill the people around you, or rob a donutshop on your way to work.  Trust me, read the books!!

starts with food

w30book1 I’ll go into why I love Whole30 another day, but today I wanted to share our Sour Kraut adventure!!  One of the parts of being healthy on any program, plan, lifestyle is incorporating Fermented Foods!!  They are SO good for our gut, healing!

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Your intestines are so vital to good health and fermented foods help nourish your intestines!!

Here is another pic for you I LOVE:

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I really believe that!

So when I came home with a case of green cabbage, I knew I was going to attempt Sour Kraut again!  I tried some in Maine last summer, brought it all the way home and then threw it away.  It scared me.  And now I wish I had just tried it.  Oh well.

About 7 weeks ago I tried again.  Read tons of posts about sour kraut and how to make it and I did.  I put it in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, put a ziplock bag of water on top to keep out air and put it in the back of my pantry.  I took it out two days ago.  It looks gorgeous, no mold or anything suspicious.  But I still had to call my friend to ask if we could eat it.  After waiting a day, we tried it, the kids and I all gobbled it up – and we LOVED it!!  Got me so excited!!

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It was just cabbage, some carrots, a little radish and salt.  nothing else.  Pretty simple.  But it was tasty and not soggy – crunchy like something fresh.

So, here is what I did this time around.

First I shredded (finely) about 11 heads of cabbage.

Then I got out a HUGE bowl and a Large Stock pot  and put my cabbage in those to things.  Then in one I just added salt.

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Simple recipe – nothing added.  The next batch I added lime juice, a jalapeño with seeds, a head of garlic, and some poblano peppers which I threw in the ninja and finely chopped.

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I added all this to the other batch with lots of salt too and mixed.  Left it on the counter about 4 hours, mixing often to get the salt to get the juice out of the cabbage.

Then I sterilized my jars in the oven.

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Finally, I packed my jars, pressing down firmly – and once they were full, I left space a thte top to put a sandwich bag with water (about 1/2 cup) to be my seal.  I put the bag in and press all the air out and put a mason jar lid with ring on and close.

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Then I put it in a dark spot (back of pantry cabinet) and leave it.  I will check in 3 days to make sure it is bubbly, and not leaking too much, and no air inside.
Air is the enemy – it will grow mold.  If that happens you just scoop it out – it will not go deeper.

This morning I shredded up another 10 heads of cabbage, and included a head of red/purple cabbage.

I mixed in just a bit of red cabbage to make it look a little more colorful.

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Then I will mix in some lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and ginger to make a citrus ginger sour kraut batch.

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Two other batches are just garlic and one has carrots and one has red pepper slivers.  Pretty simple but should taste good and be GREAT for our guts!!

All 3 batches will set on my kitchen counter for about 4 hours, break down a bit and the cabbage will release a bunch of liquid to make the brine.  The salt is really the one thing you NEED to add, the rest is just for fun, color or flavor.  I will mix them every time I think about it – about 30 minute increments.

After that I will again put it into 1/2 gallon mason jars with the ziplock baggie of water on the top.  And hide them in a dark cabinet for about 6 weeks.

When I take all this yummy goodness out in 6 weeks I plan to can it in pint jars in a hot water bath.  10 minutes in boiling water will seal all the jars and then this concoction will be good for far longer than it will take us to eat it!  I cannot wait!!

Now, go get some cabbage and start your own!!  Let me know if you try some great new variation or flavor!!

My ultimate goal of all of this : whole30, Paleo, Sour kraut – is to have a healthy relationship with food.  I want to decide what I want to eat and then eat it – not be driven by cravings or emotional needs.  So here I continue on this journey of enjoying great food, but not letting it control me!!