Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Kombucha (fermented tea)

In the Kitchen

At the beginning of the year, I decided that I wanted to try and make kombucha.  If you don't know what kombucha is, it is fermented tea.  It does not taste anything like tea because of the fermentation process.  I really like diet soda so I decided to try and kick the habit by replacing my daily Diet Coke with kombucha.  Kombucha is naturally carbonated...more on that in a minute...

Basically, this is what you do.  Brew a gallon of tea (we used 3 tablespoons of tea for one gallon) and add 1 cup of sugar.  Let that cool down and then you add your SCOBY.  It floats on the top and that is what makes the magic happen.  It takes about 7-12 days (this is the initial ferment) and then you have kombucha!
One gallon tea jar with scoby floating on top.
"The SCOBY, or Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast, is the collection of microbes responsible for turning sweet tea into a probiotic beverage. Essentially, it is a living colony of beneficial organisms that turn sugar into healthful acids and probiotics."  Taken from Wellnessmama.com

There are LOTS of health benefits of kombucha.  Again, taken from Wellnessmama.com:

"To be clear- it isn’t some magic pill or silver bullet, but it may help the body function well by supporting:

    Liver detoxification
    Improved pancreas function
    Increased energy
    Better digestion
    Improved mood (helps with anxiety/depression)
    Reducing Candida (yeast)
    Helps nutrient assimilation
    May be beneficial for weight loss"

After the initial ferment, I put the tea in bottles and added some fruit to do a secondary ferment.  This is the part that makes the carbonation.  At first, I used whole fruit, and then the next time, I made some fruit syrup and used that.  You let it sit another 3 days and then put it in the fridge.
Secondary ferment with huckleberries and raspberries
Here is a website with a whole bunch of recipes for flavoring your kombucha.  The sky is the limit on flavoring your kombucha!

Then, I started reading about continuous brew kombucha.  You use a bigger container (at least 2 gallons) and then add sweet tea to the top each day and draw off the finished kombucha from the bottom.  There are even MORE health benefits to kombucha that is in a continuous brew situation.
My continuous brew jar of kombucha.  We keep it on top of our water heater.
Making your own kombucha can save you a lot of money.  One 16 ounce bottle in the store will cost about $4.00.  I think I figured out that I could make 8 gallons of kombucha for the cost of one bottle at the store...maybe even more...


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Winter 2018 update...

Winter happenings on the farm...

Makeshift cold frame...I found these glass panes in the barn so I just threw them on top of one of my stock tanks.  I can just pull them apart to let some heat escape.  It was 40F outside the other day and almost 90F in the cold frame!  At night, it still gets cold so I am going to throw a heavy blanket over and see if that helps at all to conserve some of the daytime heat.  I am only putting cold hardy things in here (spinach, lettuce, and some herbs), just to give us some early salad greens...I will plant them in there next week.

I have started some seedlings in the house and put them out on the patio when the temperature warms up so they can get some hardening off.
Onion, cabbage and parsley getting some sun...
 I also found these old seeds in the barn!  I can't believe some mouse didn't eat them.  They are from 1979!  Almost 40 years old...I planted them.  I couldn't resist.  I am just SO curious if anything will grow...I'll keep you posted!

We rented a chipper/shredder to break down some of the smaller, dead limbs that are accumulating that are not really good for firewood.  I will put this in the garden and around the flower/herb garden.  We worked all day and still did not get through all the wood!  I think we will just plan on doing this each year...

After we did all that chipping, I started pulling more dead wood out of the trees for next time.  This is just the dead stuff that I can reach from the ground.  There is a lot to do in this area and we will be working on this for quite a while.  I am also just trying to trim things up so you can walk around without getting hit in the face with a branch. 
A little hard to see but there are 4 piles of dead tree limbs down the row...

Yesterday, I started using those wood chips.  I am hoping to cover the other half of the garden (the first half I covered last fall with a foot thick covering of hay over cardboard) with cardboard, a small (less than 6 inch) covering of hay, and then wood chips.  The lighting is bad in this photo but I think you can barely make out the row of wood chips at the top (near the fence), then a row of hay and the cardboard...this is a large area and I expect it will take me the rest of the month to get it completed...I will post more pics once it is done.  I remembered to take some "before" pics so I should have some nice photos to compare.  I am curious if the voles will like the wood chips...I don't' know if they would find them easy to tunnel through...I guess time will tell...

Did a small kitchen remodel...took down the cabinets to open up the room between the kitchen and the dining area.  Also, the hood fan never worked (It was actually not even hooked up) so we bought a new one and had it installed...


 Found this old tractor tire in the barn.  The plan is to plant sweet potatoes in it.  I am hoping the black tire will capture the heat needed for the sweet potatoes to grow well...

Started some sauerkraut...trying to get back to eating more vegetables which can be challenging for me in the winter when there are not lots of fresh options...

We went tubing at Silver Mountain in January.  Mark seemed to really enjoy it!

 Planted some future Christmas trees!   I know it is hard to see them in this photo but there are 3 (the one in the middle is VERY small).  I think I should have spaced them out a little more but I can add on to each end when I get more...I bought these in December when they had "live" Christmas trees for sale at some of the stores in town.  I will probably just add a new one each year...

We have had a nice amount of snow this year!
Snow wave in the field behind our house
The bees were out yesterday and it is going to be a warm day today so I assume they will be out again.  I took a look through the side window of the hive at the first of the month.  At the beginning of February, I could see 2 different "groups" of the bees.  This seemed odd and I was wondering if there were maybe 2 queens.  Well, the bees were out in February for a cleansing flight and now it seems that things have rearranged in there and now there is one cluster.  There was a cluster in the back of the hive and one in the middle.  The cluster that remains is the one in the middle of the hive.  I am just so happy that it seems they have made it through the winter!!!