Homemade Kombucha

11 07 2015

The first time I ever tried kombucha I remember thinking it was gross. I believed that “fermented” was code for “sour” or “rotten” tea and I didn’t go out of my way to buy it at the grocery store. Bill on the other hand loves kombucha. He’d be drinking a bottle and would offer me a sip, and I used to always turn up my nose and turn him down. Even so, he kept offering every time he had some (isn’t he sweet?) and eventually I gave in, taking a swig of whatever flavor he had. As time went on, this pattern continued, and I soon found myself asking for a few sips before being offered. Yup, I was converted to a kombucha fan. I guess it is an acquired taste?

Unfortunately, kombucha isn’t cheap. We try to only buy it when it’s on sale at the grocery store, but sometimes, you just can’t help it. So, we started doing some research and realized that it seemed pretty easy to make kombucha at home. Why not give it a whirl ourselves?

And that we did!

topshotKombucha

And you know what? It was pretty good! If you’ve got a bit of patience and you can get your hands on a SCOBY (more on that soon), you’re in business!

Here’s how we brewed our first batch:

Step 1: First, and most importantly, you have to have a SCOBY. SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. Um what? Basically, bacteria and yeast form this jelly looking disc that sits on top of your tea. It helps the fermentation process and keeps the perfect environment for the sweet tea you’ll be converting to kombucha below it.

How do you get it? From fresh kombucha! One of our good friends brews kombucha at home and she gave us two jars of her homemade, plain kombucha. We loosened the caps on the bottles and then let them sit unrefrigerated for several days until they each started to grow their own SCOBY. It’s important to loosen the cap, because the yeast is releasing CO2, which, if in a closed bottle, will make it explode! I’m pretty sure you could also buy a bottle (unflavored) at the grocery store and leave it out of the fridge.

scoby

You can see the SCOBY forming at the top of these two bottles.

Step 2: Make sure you have a container for your tea. We ordered a large ceramic container with a spout to hold our brew. You certainly don’t need one this big. You could use anything really as long as there are no metal parts. I don’t know why but everyone says to keep your SCOBY away from anything metal.

You also need some cheesecloth or similar material to cover the opening. It’s gotta let air in and out, but without letting dust or any other material inside to contaminate your tea.
kombuchapot

Step 3: Get your tea! Black and green tea are preferred. I haven’t experimented with flavored teas, but from what I can tell they don’t work as well. Because we would be brewing in larger batches, we bought a big tea ball.

We had some green tea at home already, but we ordered some loose-leaf black tea from Mountain Rose Herbs.teacollage

Step 4: Now that you have all your supplies, you can brew your tea.

For this batch, here are the proportions I followed:

3 liters of filtered water

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons black tea

3 teaspoons green tea (aka 3 tea bags)

Boil the water and sugar. Add the tea and let it steep. Let cool completely. <– That is super important because if it is too hot it will damage the SCOBY.

le creuset pot

Step 5: When your tea has cooled (I usually do it the next day), add your tea, some starter kombucha, and your SCOBY to your big container. Cover with cheese cloth, and wait. In this case my “starter kombucha” was the kombucha from my friend that was growing the SCOBY.

kombuchasetup

Seven to ten days later, you’ll have fresh kombucha!

The beauty of making kombucha at home is that you can taste it along the way, and when its flavor is to your liking, you can bottle it and stick it in the fridge so it stops fermenting!

If you let the kombucha ferment too long, it will turn out really vinegary- so just make sure you’re tasting it along the way.

If you want to flavor it, it is recommended that you do that separately, and not in your main vat with the SCOBY. We haven’t tried that yet- it’s good enough plain!

So, there you have it! See, it’s pretty simple!

Have you tried making kombucha before? How’d it turn out?





Consistently Inconsistent

8 07 2015

You may have noticed that there has been a severe lack of run, bike, or swim posts lately. Yeah, that’s because there hasn’t been a lot of that going on around here. I’ll be really good, and for a few days in a row I’ll have some semblance of a workout routine. But then, life happens and I push off workouts because triathlon just hasn’t been a priority to me this season. I’ve been consistently inconsistent.

The one thing that really benefited me last year was my consisteny. I made nearly all my workouts despite weather or travel or other obligations. I had a big fat scary goal (which also happened to cost a good chunk of change) and I made training my priority so that I could accomplish that goal. Sure, I did miss out on some time with friends. And I spent a lot of time sore or and sleepy. But, I was in the best shape of my life and I crossed the finish line of my Ironman in less than 12 hours. I’m darn proud of that.

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This year, training has taken a back seat to other things. I’m hanging out with the friends I said “no” to more times than I wish to count last year. I’m wearing a lot more “real” clothing and far less spandex. I’m enjoying sleeping in on the weekend and checking out fun events in town, even if it means I’m staying up until 1am. It’s quite easy to fill the time that was spent on a saddle, in the water, or pounding pavement last season.

PicMonkey Collage

I got out my calendar last night and realized that the one race I had actually signed up for this season, Challenge Florida, is 4 months away. That may seem like a ways off, but for a 70.3, NOW is the time to put in the work, especially when you haven’t been doing much of anything in the past 4 (more like 6) months.

A few weeks ago I was casually talking about the race with my friends and flippantly said, “I could always drop to the Olympic” as though I didn’t need to train seriously for that. (Newsflash Steph- you still need to train for an Olympic. It will HURT if you don’t train and be really ugly. Not the smartest idea.) Well, last night I told myself that no, I was not going to drop down in distance (only for injury!) – that I wanted to do the entire 70.3. I want redemption on this race.

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I did the race back in 2013, and though I was happy with my successful completion of my first half ironman, I now knew what to expect. I liked this distance, and wanted to give it another go. I tried to put together another good race at the Gator Half in 2014, but unfortunately I got a flat and the run was short! I still did well, but I knew that I wasn’t done with this distance.

Beware of Gators

So, it’s time to get back out there and do the work. I know I’m going to need to make some sacrifices, but I hope to have a good balance of training and life. I’m a little worried because I know I’m so far behind where I would like to be right now. I wonder if the fitness level I had last season is even achievable again in a short amount of time. But, one thing’s for sure, I WANT to get back out there and compete in another 70.3. I want to put together a solid race. And the only way to do that is to stop being consistently inconsistent, and just be consistent.

bobby hicks pool





A Belated 4th of July Recipe

6 07 2015

Most good food bloggers will recognize that a holiday is coming up and will plan an appropriately themed dish or dessert to post just before the actual holiday so that readers can actually make the recipe on said holiday. Unfortunately, I’m not that good. However, I do have a recipe that I tried on the 4th of July that I thought was quite successful: Patriotic Pizza!

Better late than never, right?

patriotic pizza done

This is somewhat a blend between a dessert pizza and a “real pizza.” I described it to someone as a “sweet, savory pizza” if that makes any sense?

Anyhow, it’s quite easy to make- you can whip it up in a jiffy if you have some pre-made dough around!

So, I may be late to the party on this one, but here’s to hoping that you’ll bookmark it for next year!

patriotic pizza pre cook

Ingredients:

Pre-made pizza dough (preferably not the kind that comes in a tube, but if you have to, that will do)

~ 1 cup blackberries

~1.5 cups strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered, depending on how big they are)

1/2 cup sugar, divided

2 TBS chia seeds (optional)

2 TBS fresh basil, chopped, divided

1 log of fresh mozzarella cheese (you won’t need it all)

How to:

In a pot, put the blackberries and 1/4 cup sugar. Turn the heat to medium and allow the berries to cook down. Adjust the heat as necessary.

In a second pot, put the strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar. Turn the heat to medium and allow the berries to cook down. Adjust as necessary.

While the berries are cooking, roll out your dough. You can make it a rectangle or a circle, your choice. Place it on your pizza stone and allow to rise.

When the berries have boiled down into a liquid and are starting to thicken back up, stir in the chia seeds (1 TBS in each pot) and remove from heat. Add 1 TBS of basil to each pot.

Now, decorate your pizza!

Use the blackberry “jam” to make the blue part of the flag and the strawberry part to cover the rest. Cut the mozzarella cheese into stripes and “stars” and add them to the pizza. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is melty.

Enjoy!

pizza








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