Friday, February 19, 2016

The Best Kind of Bubbles

It all started with kombucha. I love kombucha and I was drinking a couple bottles a week. Well, at $5 per bottle it was really adding to our grocery bill. I had researched kombucha making before but it made me nervous. To be honest, all fermentation made me nervous. I made a few batches of sauerkraut a couple summers ago and they all developed mold. I felt like fermenting was not something to be done in my home.

Before venturing into fermentation any further I decided I needed to know more. I ordered The Art of Fermentation. It has just about anything you could want to know about fermenting in it.  Kombucha seemed like a really good place to start. I didn't need a fancy jar, weights or any special equipment, just tea, sugar and SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). I was lucky to find a local pal willing to share a SCOBY so I jumped right in.

Kombucha making has been so easy and delicious. I've been experimenting with second ferments with my booch. So far, I'm head over heals for ginger lemon. Once I felt good about my kombucha I needed to explore this fermentation thing further. I got kefir grains from another local pal and started trying my hand at water kefir. I don't like it as much as kombucha but it's much faster. Again, second ferments are where I'm focusing right now. Pineapple water kefir was really tasty.

I had read in an issue of Taproot that many people ferment their condiments such as mustard and ketchup. I recently started sprouting seeds and with my starter kit I got a package of yellow mustard seeds. I decided to give grainy mustard a try. It's still not quite ready though I did add a couple tablespoons to our Sloppeh Joe mix the other night for some kick! I'm definitely making ketchup next. My kids love ketchup with everything so if they get a dose of probiotics with their ketchup all the better.

Early in my fermentation journey I started a sourdough starter. It seemed so simple; water and flour left out for several days to collect wild yeast. Needless to say, it was not nearly as simple as I imagined. It needed to be fed twice daily and mine just never seemed to have enough yeast for a good loaf of bread. Finally, I reached out for support and someone suggested using some kombucha in my start. That was exactly what it needed! Only two days later I was ready to make bread. I played around with the recipe a bit and found a long rising time made a lovely, light loaf. Oh boy it was tasty! Even the kids were reaching for more.

Next in my plan to add more probiotics to our diets is to ferment veggies. I think I will wait until summer though so I can use the vegetables from our garden. Fresh is key with pickling vegetables like cabbage, cucumbers and carrots. I tried pickling beets last month when they were on sale at the store but they did not turn out well. It's a learning process but it's fascinating and fun. I find myself very motivated to keep trying new things when I'm sitting sipping lemon water kefir and munching fresh sourdough.

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