Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Make Kombucha (part 2)

How to Make Kombucha (part 2)

As promised, here is the second part of Dr. Mike's Guide to Making Kombucha. These tips will help you to choose the right ingredients for your kombucha and to give you an idea of what you're looking for in the finished product. After mastering this, you'll be able to share it with friends and family, and teach them how to make it for themselves. Have fun!

Guide to Making Kombucha (version 1.1, October 2011)
Part 2 of 2

By Michael T. Lagueux II, B.A., D.C.
Positive Edge Chiropractic

1. Use ½ distilled water and ½ purified or tap water, it’s less expensive.
2. At the time of writing this guide, Trader Joe’s has the least expensive organic evaporated cane juice.
3. Do not use any “alternative” sweeteners such as agave syrup, maple syrup, honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, corn syrup, etc. You may prefer these sweeteners for one reason or another, but bacteria and yeasts only want PURE SUGAR!  And keeping these organisms happy is the key to good kombucha.
4. Yamamotoyama (sencha) green tea is a great choice of tea because of its flavor, high quality, health benefits, and because it’s fairly inexpensive. You can find it at any Japanese grocery store.  You can use black teas, but do not use any that contain bergamot oil (e.g. Earl Grey), as it tends to interfere with fermentation.
5. Apple, grape, pineapple, and mango juices are all excellent choices for secondary fermentation because they contain high concentrations of sucrose, which is highly fermentable.
6. Try adding different fruits to add additional flavors to your bottled kombucha (whether you choose secondary fermentation or not). Ginger is highly recommended!
7. To make plain kombucha using the secondary fermentation process, simply make 6 fluid ounces of tea (preferably the same type you used for the original kombucha brew) and add two heaping tablespoons of organic evaporated cane juice. Stir it until the sugar has completely dissolved, then cover the tea and allow it to cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled, you can add it to your kombucha during bottling to produce an unflavored (but carbonated) variety!
8. Be sure to save about 16oz (or more) of kombucha from each batch so that you can use it to make the next one (or give it to friends to help them start a kombucha brew).
9. In between brews, remove the SCOBY and place it on a clean non-metal surface. Rinse out your fermenter with hot water (washing with soap isn’t necessary and may leave behind undesirable residues).
10. The SCOBY should be rinsed off, but be very careful with it! Don’t let it touch anything except the clean surface you used earlier. Rinse it under water that isn’t warm, but isn’t ice cold. Make sure you remove all of the bits of yeast (the brown stuff) that you can see. There may be super-thin layers of SCOBY that are yellow or brown or otherwise unattractive, so you can remove anything like that. You are artificially selecting for a uniform, clean-looking white to off-white cellulose structure.
11. Fermenting kombucha eventually transforms into a highly acidic, somewhat syrupy vinegar-like product. It contains large amounts of acetic acid, as well as many other acids produced over time by the bacteria and yeasts. This situation usually occurs when a kombucha brew is not bottled in a timely manner. Fortunately it can still be useful! It is possible to use it as you would regular vinegar (e.g. in salads, marinades, etc.), and it also makes an excellent addition to your next kombucha brew (see #5 under “Ingredients of a Kombucha Brew”).

Bottling Tips:
1. Be sure to avoid bottling any tan to brown-colored strands of yeast. Look very carefully as you slowly pour the kombucha into the bottle. Spent (dead or near-dead) yeast appears tan to brown and will typically sink to the bottom of a vessel. Agitating the kombucha during the bottling process may stir up some of the undesirable yeasts, so be very meticulous and look very carefully as you pour the kombucha into bottles.
2. Viable yeast appears white to off-white and is typically in very small (and difficult-to-see) strands anywhere from 1mm to 5mm. Yeast at this stage is very desirable and will result in vigorous carbonation following the secondary fermentation process. This step (and the above step) is probably the most difficult to master. It takes a bit of practice and a very meticulous approach. The main idea is: get rid of the old dead yeast and keep only the young hungry ones!
3. Leave about one inch of headspace in the bottles (don’t fill them up to the top). Air in the bottles helps, since most of the fermentation is aerobic.

Perpetuating the SCOBY and Helping Others
Your SCOBY will eventually produce more and more of itself, and your brews will not be able to effectively utilize all of it (nor will they need to). Fortunately, it typically forms in discrete layers anywhere from ¼ to 1 inch thick that can be easily removed and discarded or shared with others. Only one layer is required to successfully ferment a kombucha brew, (although the speed of fermentation and/or quality of the finished product may be improved with more SCOBY present in the fermenter). Therefore, I recommend selecting two or three to remain in each fermenter and then giving away the extras to friends! Don’t forget to include 16oz (or more) of kombucha or kombucha vinegar to help them kickstart their brew.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Make Kombucha (part 1)

How to Make Kombucha (part 1)

By Michael T. Lagueux II, B.A., D.C.
Positive Edge Chiropractic

Kombucha has become increasingly popular in recent years, and for good reason!  It's amazingly delicious, and has quite a few health benefits. It's essentially fermented tea, so all of the health benefits of tea are present (polyphenols, antioxidants, etc.), but the fermentation process by a variety of beneficial bacteria and yeasts results in the production of many other important substances. These include organic acids such as acetic acid and glucaric acid. It is these substances that may be responsible for the "detoxifying" properties of kombucha that many people talk about. Although there isn't much formal research on kombucha to go by, it has been consumed in various forms for thousands of years by many different cultures. We think it's great stuff, and even learned to brew our own. It makes a pretty easy and fun home project! Dr. Mike wrote a guide on how to make it, which we'll post here in two parts. Here's part one, which covers the basic process. Next will be part two, which includes some very useful tips for both the brewing and bottling processes. Ok, now onto the guide!

Guide to Making Kombucha (version 1.1, October 2011)
(Part 1 of 2)

Equipment needed:
A large metal pot with a lid
Wooden spoon or plastic spatula (anything but metal)
2 to 2.5 gallon glass container with lid
A funnel
A towel
Glass bottles with screw caps (enough to fit approx. 2 gallons)

Ingredients of a Kombucha brew:
2 gallons of distilled and/or purified water
16oz (2 cups) of organic evaporated cane juice
12 bags (24 grams) of green, white, or black tea
A healthy SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeasts)
16oz (or more) of unflavored Kombucha or Kombucha vinegar
Juices and/or fruit (of your choice) for the bottling stage (optional)

How to make a SCOBY:
1. Purchase a bottle of plain (unflavored) kombucha, pour it into a glass or plastic cup, and cover it with a towel. Place it in a dark place between 70 and 80 degrees F.
2. After 14 to 21 days, a whitish gelatinous layer (“biofilm”, or zoogleal mat) will form on the surface. This is microbial cellulose, produced primarily by the bacteria Gluconacetobacter xylinus, and is the matrix in which the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts (SCOBY) live. Microbial cellulose is a highly prized material and is used for a variety of diverse applications.
3. Remove the SCOBY before all of the liquid is absorbed/evaporates.

How to brew Kombucha:
1. Bring one gallon of water just to a boil, and turn off the heat.
2. Add the 12 tea bags and let them steep for 5-7 minutes (even more is fine). When you remove the tea bags, squeeze out the remaining liquid, but be careful not to break any of the tea bags.
3. Add the 2 cups of sugar and begin to gently stir. Make sure that all of the sugar has completely dissolved.
4. Cover the mixture of sugar and tea and allow it to cool to room temperature (no warmer than 80 degrees F). This is now a viable substrate for microbial growth! So be careful not to allow any foreign items, substances, or undesirable organisms any access to the vessel at this stage.
5. Pour the cooled mixture of sugar and tea into the glass container. Add the other gallon of water and briefly stir to achieve a homogeneous mixture, leaving 1 to 2 inches of space at the top of the vessel.
6. Next add the kombucha or kombucha vinegar and then the SCOBY. Place the SCOBY on top of the mixture, but don’t worry if it sinks down a bit (or even to the bottom). It will eventually float to the top, as kombucha fermentation occurs primarily aerobically and hence at the interface of the liquid and air.
7. Cover the container in a towel (to block out light and provide insulation), and store it in a dark place with a consistent temperature from 70 to 80 degrees F. Kombucha will ferment more slowly in colder temperatures, so if it gets too cold it will take a bit longer to finish.
8. After about two weeks the SCOBY will have fermented out most of the sugar in the mixture. Sample the mixture on days 10 and 12 and try to detect any sweetness. Finished Kombucha should have little to none! In addition, the kombucha will most likely be slightly carbonated at this stage. The flavor should be similar to an unflavored lambic, gueuze, or sour apple cider with some weird funk to it (if any of that description helps). Not to worry, you will get pretty good at tasting kombucha and knowing when it’s ready. The important thing is to recognize its extremely sour flavor, the lack of sugary sweetness, and the fairly “dry” cider-like finish.

How to bottle Kombucha:
The simplest way to bottle kombucha is to pour it into glass bottles and screw the cap on tight. Pretty obvious, I know! You can drink it right away, or you can allow it to continue fermenting in the bottle. Just place it in the same area that you store your kombucha fermenters. Refrigerate after five days so that the fermentation slows down. You can keep it for a month in the refrigerator, or maybe even more. But be careful of exploding bottles, it may eventually happen!

The other method of bottling is secondary fermentation or bottle conditioning, and is similar to the “m├ęthode champenoise” in making champagne and also to the bottle re-fermentation process used in many Belgian-style beers. In the case of kombucha, this involves adding an additional sugar source at the time of bottling such as more evaporated cane juice or various juices of your choosing. The amount of juice added should be somewhere within the range of 5-10% of the total volume of the bottle you are using in order to achieve the best results with this method. Remember that at the time of bottling, the kombucha brew should nearly be free of sugar. So adding more at bottling time (in whatever form you have decided upon) “wakes up” the bacteria and yeasts and allows them to undergo another round of fermentation within the bottle. Store the bottles at room temperature for up to five days, and then refrigerate them. This will dramatically slow down the fermentation process so as to prevent exploding bottles! And now, congratulations are in order, as you have discovered how to make one of the most delicious naturally carbonated beverages on the planet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Welcome to our Blog!

Welcome from Dr. Michael Lagueux and Dr. Niccole O'Dell

Welcome to Positive Edge Chiropractic's Blog!  Our office is located in the beautiful Scripps Ranch neighborhood of San Diego.  Here you can read articles, learn more about Chiropractic, and learn more about us!  I thought that this first blog post would be a great place to include some videos about Chiropractic from a variety of different sources.  This sampling of videos is a great way to introduce yourself to some of the ideas in Chiropractic!

Dr. Wayne Dyer on Chiropractic

Chiropractic on the Dr. Oz Show

Consumer Reports on Chiropractic

Chiropractic and Neck Pain

Stay tuned for more updates from Dr. Michael Lagueux, D.C. and Dr. Niccole O'Dell, D.C. of Positive Edge Chiropractic!