Fermenting again … komchuca style

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It’s been way too long since my last post, I am sorry! I will try and make up for it though with today’s entry. Last year I  tried my hand at fermentation and made Dosas an Indian recipie that is sort of like pancakes but you eat it with potatoes and peas. Well I am back at it again but this time made Kombucha – a fermented sweet tea. It’s very different than the warm cup of Earl Gray some of you may be used to. It’s cold, and fizzy and uses live bacteria to make. It’s really good!

I got on a Kombucha kick just over a year ago when I started yoga and got hooked pretty quick. But buying a bottle is pretty pricey so it was only for special treat days. I found out recently you can make it at home so I decided to give it a try.

Most of what I’ve read says that Kombucha is a pseudo-health drink. But, because of the fermentation process, there is some benefit from the probiotics in the drink which increases white blood cells. One of the things you need but won’t find at a grocery store is the SCOBY (sybiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). It’s basically a white, gelantanus puck that aids the fermentation. If you know someone who makes Kombucha, ask them if you can get a SCOBY from them. The SCOBY grows during each fermentation process so if you start doing it for awhile you will end up with more SCOBY’s than you know what to do with.

If you don’t have a hippie friend with spare SCOBY’s to help out consider purchasing one online. I’ve only done some surface research on where to buy one so I would check that out first. I’ve seen starter kits which may be a good idea and I may try myself if I make Kombucha again. It comes with pH sticks which is an important part in figuring out if the fermentation process is complete. Just something to consider.

OK if you’ve read this far and are on board for madness, let’s get going. Here’s what you need:

  1. 3.5 Litres of water
  2. 1 cup white sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons of loose black tea
  4. 2 cups of “starter tea” (if this is your first batch you will want to buy a bottle of neutral flavoured Kombucha)
  5. 1 SCOBY
  6. A glass jar that can hold at least 3-4 L of liquid for the week it needs to ferment. Clean it well!
  7. Cheese cloth and an elastic for the top

OF NOTE – You want to avoid contact with metal (so wooden spoons, ceramic pot to cook it in and a glass jar to make it in. I also didn’t use any type of metal mesh for the loose tea, I just threw it into the pot and then put the tea through a sieve before placing in a jar).

To make:

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Boil the water and then remove from the stove. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Throw in the loose tea. Keep it there until the water cools.

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Strain the tea into the glass jar. Add the SCOBY. Cover with a few layers of the cheese cloth and wrap the elsastic around to keep it in place. (The cheesecloth protects the tea from dust etc getting into the jar but still allows the liquid to breathe)

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Keep out of the sun in a warm place for about seven days.

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OF NOTE: If you see ANY black forming on the SCOBY or in the jar you  want to toss the SCOBY and the batch because of possible mold. There may be brown strings that collect below it. That is OK so is darker spots and holes in the SCOBY. It should smell venegary by the end of it, not cheesey or just gross in general. If the odor is funky, toss it.

AFTER THE WEEK AND EVERYTHING WENT WELL …

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  1. Start tasting it after a week for the right sweetness and taste that you like.
  2. Once you like the taste, set two cups aside as your “starter tea” for the next batch.  You’ll want to go through the whole process of boiling the water and adding the sugar and tea and starter tea again. Make sure your SCOBY is in good shape.Meawnhile, you need to start bottling.
  3.  I recomment bottling it into plastic bottles first. The bottling allows for the carbonation and with plastic bottles you’ll know when it’s carbonated because the bottle will become hard and impossible to bend. This usually takes a couple of days (2-3) it’s carbonated, put it in the fridge until it’s cold and ready to drink!!
  4. Show off your mad skills by offering bottles of your new bevy to friends and coworkers 🙂

Don’t make this if you’re in a curry

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This recipe will take a couple of days to prepare so be sure to plan ahead. It involves a fermentation processes that is broken into an eight hour and then 24 hour period.

These dosas, are part of Indian cuisine, and I took the recipe from the alive magazine. They are sort of like pancakes, but they have a different taste, almost a sour taste but when they’re topped with doas filling and sambar, it’s a great treat.

So, fermentation is a bit more common than I thought (yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut and vinegar) and fermented food items are pretty healthy — they are a source of amino acids, increase Vitamin B and C and add flavour and texture.

Again, leave time to make this. I spent close to three hours on a week night putting this together. The other option is to make the potato topping ahead of time and place it in the refrigerator until the dosas are ready and reheat in the microwave.

Here’s what you’ll need for the dosas:

  • 2 cups of uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup of uncooked red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

For the filling:

  • 5 to 7 small to medium new potatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds
  • dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon of tumeric1 cup green peas
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Annnnd, for the sambar (and I found ingredients at Superstore):

  • 1.5 tablespoons tamarind
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 5 small dried red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 cup mixed chopped vegetables (such as green beans, zucchini, cabbage or carrot)
  • 2 tablespoon sambar powder
  • cilantro for garnish

To make the dosas:

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1. Soak brown rice with four cups of water. In another bowl, cover lentils with 2 cups of water. Add lemon juice and salt. Cover, and let sit for eight to 12  hours. (A good time to do this is in the morning before work, with the next step after work).

2. After it’s sat, take the rice, drain and add to blender with about 2 cups of water. Then blend the lentils with 1 cup. Then blend the two together and blend, adding extra water if necessary, until creamy.  Cover, and leave in a warm place for about 24 hours.

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3. The next day, cook on medium heat on griddle like pancakes. (use coconut oil to heat pan). You may want to wait to make the filling and sambar before starting this step so they’re fresh and warm.

To make the filling:

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1. Boil the potatoes until soft. Then cut them into small pieces and place aside.

1. Add the butter to the pan over medium heat and add mustard seeds, cooking until they pop (and pop they do!). Add chilies, turmeric and onion. Cook until they are translucent. Add potatoes and green peas and a bit of salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally until soft.

To make the sambar

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1. Soak tamarind in one cup of water for 20 minutes. Squeeze out all of the pulp and mix with water until you have a cup of liquid.

2. Rinse the lentils and add to pot of water (4 cups). Add turmeric, and oil and bring to a boil. Boil until the lentils are soft, about 40 mins.

3. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add chilies, mustard seed, fenugreek and curry leaves and stir, on low heat for two mins.

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4. Add onion, cooking until lightly browned. Add tamarind juice and boil gently until onions are cook.

5. Add onion mix to lentils and add asafetida, tomato, vegetables and sambar powder. Boil it all for five mins and take from the heat. Top with cilantro