Category Archives: Fermenting

Brewing Kombucha Tea at Home

Brewing Booch img_20160107_142153083.jpg I've been brewing kombucha tea for a couple of years now and have given away more SCOBY than I can count. Kombucha tea is a great probiotic beverage full of beneficial yeast and bacteria. It has many benefits that range from improved gut health to increased energy. the whole family enjoys it as a beverage. My original SCOBY was a gift from a friend who I get my goat milk from (and hopefully some doe kids this spring). It is a very hearty strain! It takes a lot more abuse and neglect than any of my other fermented beverages (milk kefir and water kefir, click either to read more) and produces big fat healthy SCOBY's for faster fermenting and sharing! You may be asking, what is a SCOBY? A Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. It is the starter culture required to start making your own kombucha tea at home. It looks like a big mushroom or jelly fish, not very attractive. Really it is all you need to start brewing. You can buy one online at Cultures For Health or get one from a friend. Some people even have luck at making one from plain store-bought kombucha. Once you have a SCOBY, what's next? Ingredients: 1 gallon chlorine free water 8 tea bags, black or green tea 1 cup natural cane sugar 1 SCOBY 1 cup starter kombucha 1 gallon glass container, to keep it in, with no metal parts touching it (long-term contact with metal can corrode and ruin your tea). Directions: Boil your water and add tea bags to steep. Steep for a minimum of 10 minutes or longer if you desire. I like it stronger so I leave tea bags in right up till the end then remove. Tea should be black or green tea. Herbal teas or flavored teas often contain oils which will cause your Booch (kombuch nickname) to go rancid or mold. Add sugar while still hot and stir till dissolved. Wait until tea reaches room temperature and add starter kombucha and SCOBY. Cover with coffee filter (or paper towel, etc. something breathable without letting in fruit flies) with rubber band around it and wait... It needs to remain at room temperature and out of direct sunlight, my kitchen counter works great.You will be watching the surface of your liquid for a skin to form. This is a new SCOBY baby forming. When it is about a quarter of an inch thick is usually a good time to taste test. Just pour some liquid off or ladle some out and taste it. If it is still too sweet wait a day or two and taste again. If it's already too sour you will want to wait fewer days next time. Usually it takes 7-10 days on average. I have had new SCOBY form in as little as 3 days in summer. I've also had it take two weeks in winter. Temperature definitely plays a role. Everyone has a different taste preference so get to know yours by tasting daily when you start brewing. If it gets too sour don't worry it is not a waste! Kombucha vinegar is delicious and it is just over fermented kombucha! It makes great salad dressing and marinade etc. Also, it makes a great hair rinse, leaves hair soft and conditioned. When it is done you can pour all off except one cup and start process over or do continuous brew and just add sweet tea to it as the level comes down. You can also do a second ferment where you can flavor it and add fizz! Just add fruit or juice to finished tea and cap it and leave a few more days to flavor and hopefully fizz. Fizzy ferments are usually from a good cap and added sugar, ginger seems to encourage fizz also! This makes a great substitute for someone giving up soda! There you go! Now each time you brew it again you will get a new SCOBY! Who will you share it with!? Don't forget to subscribe to email updates so you don't miss out on any new posts!

Tomato Tidbits: Saving Seed

Tomato seed saving!

Tomato seed saving!

Tomatoes have always been my favorite plant to grow! We grew them when I was a child and I have been growing them on my own for twenty years now! To say I'm obsessed with tomatoes is an understatement! The last five years Ryan and I have been actively saving the seed of our heirloom open pollinated tomatoes we grow. We grow more and more varieties and colors every year! I love saving seed because it saves me money on seed orders and I can trade with other seed savers and get even more variety! This year we grew over 40 varieties of heirlooms, next year will be even more! So to start, be sure the plant that you are saving from is an heirloom so the seed will be true to parent plant. Hybrid plant seeds can have all different results from their lineage. If you don't know you can just research the name of your tomato plant and find out easily. Next, choose your healthiest plant with the best fruit. Read more »

Water Kefir, Starting My Dehydrated Grains!

So I recently received some dehydrated water kefir grains in the mail from a trade on Facebook for some of my 300 year old sourdough starter. Fermenting folk tend to be quite generous and trade and share often if you're looking to get started... If you liked my post about Milk Kefir than you will also like this! Water Kefir (WK) is a carbonated probiotic beverage that is quite simple to use and tasty! Many people compare it to soda and use it to get away from that unhealthy beverage. I have done water kefir in the past from already hydrated grains I got from my mom (but I lost them in a box during the move and killed them...oops!). This time I had to learn about rehydrating the grains and getting them active again. It ended up being quite simple... IMG_20150204_144411_505 Read more »

Cultured Cornbread, Good for Your Taste Buds and Health!

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Mmm... Yum!

  Cultured cornbread? What exactly do I mean by that? Well cornbread is a part of southern culture but that's not what this recipe is about. In this instance I'm talking about two cultured ingredients that give this cornbread a healthy twist and make it taste amazing. They add a pleasant zing that will have people asking for your recipe! Cultured foods have added probiotics making them easier to digest. This cornbread includes sourdough starter and whey, both add probiotics and an incredible flavor profile! Ingredients: 2 cups organic cornmeal 1 cup sourdough starter 1 1/2 cup whey (buttermilk can substitute, I used the whey left from making Milk Kefir Cheese) 1/4 cup melted organic butter 2 beaten eggs (ours are from our free range chickens) 1/4 cup organic cane sugar or honey 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 2 tablespoons bacon grease Read more »

Fermented Chicken Feed, Why and How?

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The girls are checking out the new food cautiously...

  I love to make things better than they are... To take something and make it even better gives me a huge sense of accomplishment! Maybe that's why fermenting has become a bit of an obsession in the last few years? So I have been meaning to ferment my chicken food for a while now, I've researched it on several different occasions and somehow it gets pushed to the back burner. I have more free time on my hands lately with this pregnancy. I can't do anything too physical because of my pain I'm battling but staying home all day doing nothing is not an option for someone like myself! So I have dived into my fermenting and baking more than ever! That means I can finally ferment my chicken feed! Read more »

Milk Kefir… Easy to Make and Easy to Turn into Cheese!

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Mmm... Milk Kefir!

How did I not know how easy and awesome Milk Kefir was!? I have been fermenting lots of different things in the last few years and just never made it to Milk Kefir (MK). My sister sent me some starter culture in December and I am amazed at how fast and easy it is! And so yummy and good for me! Read more »

Our Homestead Then and Now

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The sun setting over our pond... breathless every time!

  Where we were. We spent the last 6 years in a run down rental home trying to find our dream home. It had 6 acres most of it woods that we were able to hike in and enjoyed that. In the small area that was open around the house we had a large organic garden and a small flock of chickens. Of course we canned, cooked from scratch, and made our own natural hygiene and cleaning products etc. But we longed for more... Read more »

What is “Homesteading” Anyway?

  cropped-carrots13.jpg Definition. Homesteading (v)- The act of living off of the homestead.
Homestead (n)- House, land, animals and outbuildings that operate as one, frequently a farm.
The term homesteading is traced back to The Homestead Act in the 1800's. It was designed to open up the west. People were given a plot of land to establish and if they stayed at it for 5 years it was theirs!!! Boy, how I wish we could do that still today! It became more about getting back to the land in the sixties and seventies when people like my parents realized how important it was to the natural environment, and the political and economic environment also. We are seeing another surge in the homesteading movement in our current day as well. The sons and daughters of the hippies are realizing that they can make a difference and be more sustainable. The values our parents taught us are becoming more important to us as we have children and desire to raise them well. More and more ivy league graduates are turning in their ties and offices for overalls and organic farms.   What it actually is. People who are trying their best to survive off the land where they live. This can be very broad as some live in urban areas and sign up for local CSA's to provide their vegetables. They are growing herbs on the windowsill and are committed to grass-fed local beef. While others have acres of vegetable fields they grow organically and can stuff all summer long. In addition to raising their own eggs and meat, they probably build all the fences and outbuildings with as much reclaimed materials as possible. The key is to be as self-sufficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly as you are able. What it means to me. Freedom. Growing most of our food and raising some of our meat gives us the ability to eat healthy and put our food dollars towards local organic food when we need more. We are free from the constant poison that is put into our food system. Family. Many activities we do on the homestead require a group effort! We all do our part no matter how big or small. My 3-year-old collects eggs every day and loves it! We cook and eat together every day as a family. My older two kids are very capable of creating a wholesome complete meal with little to no directions. Future. I have big plans for our little rented homestead! We hope to be here long-term if not forever and we are invested in making this our very own fully functioning homestead! We already grow a lot, can, cook and ferment most of our food. Our chickens give us plenty of eggs even in the winter and the occasional chicken soup. We will be adding to our gardens and even planting fruit trees for a home orchard. I should be getting bees in the spring for honey if that works out for us. Some day I will have dairy goats and will make cheese and soap from the milk. A pig or two for bacon and chops is not out of the question either. If I do all this just right we should even be able to sell at local farmers markets making us even more self-sustaining. Homesteading is...? What is it to you? How are you fulfilling your homesteading dream?  

Want to Know About My Homesteading Childhood?

My childhood has influenced me in many ways...
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My childhood homestead in print.

  I grew up in a small coastal New England town in a dairy-farming community, in quite a different manner than most of my peers. While everyone else I went to school with had cable and video games, I had gardens and animals. We had a small self-sustaining farmette that provided most of our food. My parents were very passionate about raising their five children off of the land.   Picking the ripe raspberries and cherry tomatoes was a summer-long chore that I remember fondly. We had gardens everywhere and preserved or fermented what we didn't eat fresh. My mother encouraged diversity in the garden to keep the insect population happy and well-balanced. She had an eye for attractive chaos in her layout and still does to this day on the same land. You can visit her Humble Jungle at Grammy's Potager on Facebook. Everything was grown organically, of course. My parents wouldn't have it any other way! Read more »