Are you chasing this tail wind of the Keifer and Kombucha kraze? Do you wonder if you’re getting the real thing at the store? Are you ingesting every bit of literature you can on the subject and becoming a fermenting prodigy in your own right? Some of the above? Are you done with the intro questions?
Let’s talk Kombucha first, known in it’s country of origin as chainyi grib (for more info: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/kvass-and-kombucha-gifts-from-russia/). Thank you Russia for this gift! While Russia gets the credit for Kombucha, many countries drink fermented tea. Japan, Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Manchuria, and Indonesia. This delightful, nourishing beverage can be know as: teeschwamm, wunderpilz, hongo, cajnij, fungus japonicus, and teewas. So, to be clear, this may strike us 21st century Americans as a new craze, the latest health bandwagon, but this is a generations old, international tradition. We millenials or whatever generation we are, give ourselves too much credit (read this with a winking emoji.). Have you heard what the scoby from which the fermenting occurs actually is? The name is a pneumonic for Symbiotic Culture of Bacterial Yeast. According to my sources in a published journal posted on the Weston A. Price Foundation website, listed above, this fungus/culture of bacteria, produces a vinegar and at least two yeasts. When the the Acetobacter and yeasts are present together, the fungus forms. This glorious bacterial culture then commences in turning black or green, sometimes a combo of the two (i like to use Oolong) sweet tea into a beverage that is fermented with some carbonation, a slight sour taste (depending on how long you let yours sit), many people are reminded of apple cider vinegar but I think it’s much sweeter, yet there is very little sugar remaining. The “sugar and caffeine are transformed into other compounds.” A second ferementation can be done by mixing the fermented tea with organic, no sugar added juice, or fresh or frozen fruits. The resulting beverage is more carbonated and has a lovely, sweeter flavor.
I have learned the hard way, you absolutely must follow the rules for making this drink, it is possible to kill your scoby. I have done this a couple ways in the last three years. It is also easy to grow your own scoby when needed! This saves time and money! When you follow the rules you get a delightful beverage containing: B vitamins, “glucoronic acid which binds up enviromental and metabolic toxins” which allows kidneys to to pass the toxins. Your liver naturally produces glucoronic acid and Kombucha supplies the body with more “and boosts the natural detoxification process.” Glucoronic acid is also necessary as a “basic component of connective tissue, cartilage, stomach lining, and vitreous of the eye.”
This article gives many interesting facts about Kombucha I have not seen anywhere else, so I hope you’ll check it out further! Important note, black tea can contain fluoride, and when Kombucha was tested, researchers found that the fermentation process actually removes much of the fluoride. The mushroom can turn black as a result of taking out the fluoride, but new babies grow on top the original and the lower layers can be removed as needed!
There are so many great health benefits to Kombucha, I hope you’ll keep researching and learning! Wellnessmama.com is another fabulous source!
How about the Keifer? Russia and Asia again. There are several ways to Keifer. I do two. Though I will do Water Keifer more often, Dairy Kefir is a staple as well. Coconut Milk Keifer is another way, I’ve not tried yet. All varieties offer a diverse array of products which I very much enjoy. There are many sources for these delightful recipes. Wellnessmama is a wonderful resource. I am going to be using timelesshealth.net/kefir/drinkoftheprophets for the history. In Northern Caucasus Mountains between Russia and Asia, the natives used Kefir to sustain them through harsh winters. Posession of Kefir was apparently a sign of wealth among families and tribes. Also, according to this source, people protected the grains with their lives. There is a very neat story about how Russian scientists obtained these grains, you should check it out! Not until 1908 did Kefir grains surface beyond Caucasus Mountains, into Moscow, and people began successfully using for medicinal purposes. Kefir Grains, it would seem, were in worldwide use by 1973. It would seem microbiologists have not been able to propagate these grains, and the Caucasians when pressed, claim they received them as a gift from Prophet Mohammed. No one seems to know how he obtained the grains.
What are the grains, though? A symbiotic colony of beneficial bacteria, which create “probiotics and enzymes during the process of breaking down natural sugar (wellnessmama.com)”.
The health benefits are as follows, and I am sourcing Wellnessmama.com and the Heal Your Gut cookbook here. The fermentation process produces lactic acid which is soothing to the gut. Kefir, like Kombucha, is an excellent source for B vitamins. Keifer also contains vitamin K and biotin. There are more strains of probiotics in Kefir than yogurt. The texture of Kefir grains is rubber-like. The dairy grains clump together and have a cottage cheese curd look, the water Kefir grains, though they are the same grain, do not clump and have a translucent appearance, as pictured above. If you ever have a grain escape through the strainer, have no fear, it’s safe to eat. Do not be mislead by my picture, the grains should not touch metal. In every day use, I try to always line my strainer with coffee filters or cheese cloth, and as I’m pouring from jars, try to prevent grains slipping out and coming in contact with strainer.
Dairy Keifer is cultured by pouring raw milk directly over grains in a glass jar, covering tightly with a lid, and letting sit on your counter for 24 hrs then strained, repeat process. Dairy Kefir may be used directly as a beverage, sweetened with maple syrup or raw honey is lovely, with a dash of vanilla and blended with immersion blender, it makes a tangy milkshake. You can use dairy keifer as a base for dressing, substitute for milk, yogurt or sour cream. You can soak nut and grain flours in Kefir to reduce gut-harming phytic acids.
Water Keifer is feremented sugar water. 1/4 cup raw sugar to 1 qt water, cover jar with coffee filter and rubber band to prevent fruit flies from contaminating product. After 24-36 hours, strain. You can drink immediately, or create a fizzy beverage by pouring a few ounces organic, no sugar added, juice into a clean jar and filling the rest of the way with water Keifer. Cover tightly with a lid, let sit for 24-48 hours. Store in the refrigerator.