As the trends come and fade over the years, many are not able to stay relevant for more than a year. Then fermentation came to afloat and caught people’s eyes starting in the early 90’s. Such as the beautiful nectar of wine and grains steeped into water and fermented to beer. But what about things without alcohol? There are drinks that involve fermentation without alcohol, right?
We’ve luckily met Jennifer Hsieh of Buchabae a couple weeks ago in jersey city at a event we attended, (read here!). But before I talk about that, lets first get the basic understanding of what fermentation actually is.
I’d like to first state that fermentation is not a fad. The ability to keep hold of a product past its “prime” is through the work of fermentation. The science of zymology or fermentation is the process of breaking down complex substances into a simpler form. In simpler terms, (Ha! Get it?) is the conversion of sugar into acids or alcohol with the help of inoculating bacteria or yeast. This art was placed way before our time and way before refrigeration/electricity. Roughly starting around 7000 B.C., fermentation was first used to make beer wine and also western properties such as soy sauce, fish sauce. With the evolution of human ingenuity, fermentation grew in the act of preserving substances that aren’t liquid form. Such as meat, cheese, grains, pickles, vegetables, curds etc.
Once you’ve made your Scoby you can start on your first Kombucha. You will brew a batch of tea to your desired amount, either loose or bagged tea. For first use stay away from earl grey or heavily scented tea due to the fact the added essential oils may not allow fermentation. Black tea, green tea, and may favorite white tea works the best. Once the tea is brewed, make sure to dilute with cold water to allow the tea to cool. Add your flavorings such as fruit, fruit flavorings, herbs/spices and gently place your Scoby in. Again, you will need to place in a wide mouth container with cheesecloth. After, place in a warm area. After a couple days you shall notice the Scoby either sink (which is ok!) or float. Once the Scoby does float, a new layer will generate! This is the process of fermentation! With allowing the brewed tea to be in a stable temperature of 75°to 85°Fahrenheit for a period of a week or so will allow carbonation to occur! Make sure to taste your Kombucha every day or so until desired taste and acidity is placed.
“So all of this sounds intriguing and exciting, but doesn’t fermented food or drinks make you sick?
The honest answer is of course it COULD. Chances are you will be ok. But when you start to understand the art of safely creating kombucha you’ll be in the clear. Make sure to work safe and smart! I highly recommend sanitizing each object you use. When sterilization takes place, this allows good bacteria to grow in your scoby and ferment your kombucha in a safe manner! As long as you take safe measure, and have fun while doing so, you’ll be glad you did.
-Nash Reba, @Bestfoodsnj