Eat: Homemade Kombucha

I’ve been wanting to make my own kombucha for awhile now.  It’s delicious (really!  I hated it the first time I tried it, too, but it’s quite nice once you get used to it), fizzy, healthy, an excellent hangover cure, and expensive.  GT’s kombucha is pretty readily available in the San Francisco (and my best recommendation if you don’t want to make your own), but it runs about $4 a bottle, so I made the jump a couple of weeks ago and picked up a scoby (which is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast).  There are kits available to buy, but I found mine on Craigslist for free.  Do what feels right for you.

Many traditional kombucha recipes involve fermenting the drink in tea, but my favorite, GT’s Gingerade, only lists sugar, water, and pressed ginger, so that’s what I used.  With about 10 minutes of work and a bit of patience, my scoby made a slew of gingerade kombucha for almost no cost.  If you drink kombucha even semi-regularly, there’s no reason not to be doing this!

Bottling my first batch was easy.  First, I removed my scoby and stirred the settled ginger and kombucha solids back into the liquid (top two photos).  Then I filled my empty GT’s bottles, leaving the bottom inch of kombucha in the jar — this will act as a starter for my next batch.  You can bottle your kombucha in whatever you want, as long as it’s air tight.  I like the GT’s bottles because they’re big enough to take out for the day and throw right back into the dishwasher afterwards.  Swing top bottles and bottles with narrow necks aren’t ideal for carbonated drinks since they get so foamy.  Put ‘em in the fridge to stop the fermentation process and drink them cold — kombucha tastes much better that way.

Now, for my next batch I decided to stick with gingerade.  Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 cup of sugar gets measured out while I fire up the electric kettle.
  • When the kettle’s hot, 1/2 cup of boiling water goes in the bowl to make a simple syrup.
  • Added to the syrup is 2 or more tablespoons of ginger juice.  You can press this yourself if you have a juicer, but it’s a pretty massive pain in the ass.  Luckily, Ginger People sell bottled ginger juice at my local co-op!
  • Now, into the fermenting jar goes 6 cups of water, right on top of the kombucha leftover from the last batch.
  • When the sugar mixture cools, toss it in the jar and give it all a mix.
  • Throw the scoby back in.  It should float near the top like a swimming pool cover.
  • Date your concoction and wait about a week to bottle it.  Earlier and it will be sweeter; later and it’ll get pretty strong and vinegar-y.

Now, pat yourself on the back — you’ve just participated in the fermentation process!  Kick back, relax, and pour yourself a delicious Kentucky Kombucha Mule!