Posts tagged ‘do-it-yourself’

Brew Your Own Kombucha

Earlier, I purchased a solar oven and used the sun’s rays to bake a delicious loaf of bread. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been brewing my own kombucha and I’m excited to share the results! Kombucha is a fermented tea drink that traces its roots back to Russia. Many claim that it is a “miracle” drink, capable of regulating and restoring the human body. Though the scientific community has not done enough research to back this up, kombucha is still a refreshing and delicious beverage loaded with good bacteria.

You can start the brewing process in a few ways. You can purchase a “mother” online or look around in your community for members who might already be brewing and would be willing to share. The mother culture resembles a mushroom and already contains the bacteria that will help to ferment your tea. I chose to buy a complete starter kit and start from scratch. Oregon Kombucha makes a very easy kit, completely with tea, organic sugar, and a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY).

The first step is to brew your tea. Boil one gallon of water and add tea (according to Oregon Kombucha, their enclosed tea can be replaced with 12 tea bags of your own choosing).  I recommend using distilled water to brew your tea. Add one cup of organic sugar and stir.

Once the tea cools, pour the sweetened mixture into a very clean, non-metal container. Add the enclosed SCOBY or mother culture, cover the container with a clean cloth and place in an area between 75 and 90 degrees. Now, wait!

Kombucha will continue to brew for about 30 days. At around a week, the flavor is significantly lighter than after the full month. Try it often after the first week to find out which taste you prefer.

This was my SCOBY after 11 days. The color and texture of the SCOBY may vary, but it will not look like household mold. If you find mold that looks similar to what occurs on old bread, do not drink the kombucha. Don’t get discouraged, just try again and make sure your brewing containers and area are sanitary.

The finished product! I like my kombucha lighter, around the two week mark. You can add a blend of fruit juices or other teas to change the flavor. I chose a splash of white cranberry juice and had it over ice on a hot day. Delicious!

Kombucha makes a great community project, but it’s not the only easy to make fermented food. Kimchi is easy and delicious, and you can find other ideas here!

-GN

Summer Solstice

What better way to celebrate the summer solstice (June 21st) than by baking a loaf of bread in a solar oven?

A sun oven is actually quite simple – a box surrounded by mirrors to reflect the sun’s rays.  You can easily make your own one too.  The sun oven we have at the Green Ninja lab is quite nice – insulated with nice mirrors to reflect the sunlight into a black box.  Amazingly the temperature easily gets over 300F on a sunny day – no fossil fuels required!

I decided to bake a simple organic whole-wheat loaf with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. After the mixing and kneading stages, I let the bread rise in a warm spot outside. Around 11:30 am, the sun was getting high, and so the solar oven was moved toward the sun to begin preheating. Within 20 minutes, the temperature was around 320 degrees F. By this time too, the bread had doubled in size and was ready to be placed into the oven.

One hour later the bread had turned golden, and it was cooked.

And now for the fun part…the taste test. The bread had quite a soft crust, with a stretchy texture and a beautiful yeast aroma.

This bread was truly delicious! Perhaps I could taste the sun’s rays since this bread was baked without any external energy.  The next part was putting my favorite condiment  – peanut butter & jelly – on top!  Do you feel hungry?

So, how did you celebrate the summer solstice?

Paper or Plastic?

This is not an easy one.  Although I encourage the recognition that what’s inside the bag probably has a much larger impact on the environment compared to the bag http://www.met.sjsu.edu/~cordero/gn/videos.html#bag, the issue of too many bags is real in our society.  The answer to paper or plastic depends on what you are looking at.  Carbon emissions, landfill, waste to oceans, personal health. But certainly, plastic stays around a long time.  I’d ultimately encourage reusable bags, preferably made of recycled plastic or organic cotton. Here is something good for the supermarket and all the fresh veggies and fruits we get.  Check these cool bags – could even be made using old clothes if you know how to sew!  A good new film on the subject of plastic bags is ‘Bag It’, it’s quite a film!

-GN

Tag Cloud