Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Homebrew Recipe: Strawberry Kombucha

If I have one regret in writing True Brews, it's that I didn't discover the magical duo of ripe summer strawberries + kombucha until it was too late in the game to add it to the book. This combination is like kismet — it's just meant to be. It's fizzy and tart and sweet and juicy all at the same time. This is drink that (I'm convinced) will make kombucha drinkers out of the kombucha dubious.

Ever since strawberries started showing up again at our markets here in Northern California (the real ones), I've been making batches of strawberry kombucha nonstop. It's the perfect thing to do with those few over-ripe or slightly squished strawberries that inevitably come with every pint basket. Kombucha doesn't care if the strawberries aren't the prettiest in the bunch, and once you take a sip, you won't either.

Kombucha and ginger are old bffs, so I throw some into the jar when I have it. The ginger adds a warm, spicy note that, if possible, makes the strawberries shine even more. Try it both ways and see which you like better.

Also, I don't know how the weather is where you are, but my scobys are loving the warm weather — which at least makes one of us. I can see streams of bubbles filtering up through the layers of scoby and the sweet/tart/fruity flavor is spot on. My bottled kombucha is also fizzy to the max. Love.

Strawberry Kombucha
Makes 1 gallon

3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup white granulated sugar
4 bags black tea (or 1 tablespoons loose tea)
4 bags green tea (or 1 tablespoon loose tea)
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha
1 scoby
1 pint strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons minced ginger (optional)

Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled.

Remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar and gently place the scoby on top. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days. Check the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.

With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for your next.

Combine the fermented kombucha, diced strawberries, and ginger (if using) in a clean 1-gallon jar (or divide among smaller jars). Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheese cloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band. Keep the jar at room temperature out of direct sunlight for two days. Strain the strawberries and ginger from the kombucha and bottle. Leave about a half inch of head room in the bottles.

Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Refrigerate to stop carbonation and then consume within a month.