When I first got into canning jellies and jams a few years ago, I learned a little bit about lacto-fermenting as a food preservation method. This was way back before I ever entertained the thought of going paleo.
I honestly thought that lacto-fermenting things at home were just a food poisoning disaster waiting to happen. I had little faith in the naturally occurring microorganisms. However, I had huge faith in the big-pharma developed & patented probiotic microorganisms I was taking to help subside my yet-to-be-diagnosed Celiac Disease.
Even as recent as last fall, I was still wary of fermenting anything at home. I was no longer taking probiotic supplements, but I did notice I got over a glutening faster if I had lots of store-bought kefir.
So what changed?
I honestly don’t know.
Maybe it was Romy telling me about how she was ordering a crock to make sauerkraut, or maybe it was a post on Facebook from one of my favorite paleo pages. I honestly think it was an early heatwave, causing me to crave something cold and flavored to drink without grabbing a soda.
All I know is, I bought this book and started fermenting things.
My first try was with milk kefir. I received milk kefir grains from a former professor, but who knows what happened. I never saw the grains again after the first ferment, and they were tiny to begin with.
I kept at it, thinking they might still be in there because I was still producing kefir… but I’m giving up. After asking those more knowledgable than I, it sounds like my grains are lost but the curds (what I’ve been keeping over for the next batch) are acting as grains. I’m still getting kefir… but I rather be safe and grab some big grains.
I started developing my kombucha SCOBYs at the same time I started the milk kefir. I could only find plain bottled kombucha by Celestial Seasonings, so I was apprehensive about it working. I couldn’t find any other mentions online about people using that big-name tea brand to make a SCOBY. I was actually surprised to see that Celestial Seasonings had broken into the kombucha market!
It worked! Well, sort of. I got one thriving SCOBY… and a not so thriving SCOBY that ended up molding before it was ready. The thriving one was just fine, no signs of mold what so ever, so I used it! I’m guessing the second one grew mold because we went from being super cold, to super hot… and maybe the jar wasn’t as sterile as the other.
The first batch took almost no time at all, I was starting the second fermentation by the 8th day. Jeff picked out raspberries for infusing the second fermentation. I’m using this organic loose leave tea for my base tea.
Isn’t it pretty?? The raspberries gave it such a deep color, I couldn’t get over it. Especially when it matched “Style Hunter” from Essie’s Spring 2014 line!
The second batch is ready for bottling today, look at how huge the SCOBY has gotten! Even after the first batch I could have separated the mother from the baby, but I decided to throw them in together for the second batch. I was planning to start checking this batch for the second fermentation on Monday, but it was more than ready today. Once the tea cools for the third batch, I’m going to infuse this one with dark cherries for the second ferment. I grew another SCOBY from store-bought, and other than getting a little too jostled, it grew fine and is already on it’s first batch!
Everything has gone great with the kombucha. I need to get some flip-top bottles for keeping in the carbonation, but that’s it. I’m using the plastic freezer canning lids on mason jars right now, but Jeff likes his carbonation. His body is still getting up to speed with the probiotics, so he’s only getting little bits of kombucha here and there anyway.
Do I want to go further than milk kefir and kombucha? I don’t know. Maybe. I am interested in lacto-fermenting some pickles once there’s pickling cucumbers available. Not sure about other things, especially since I’m allergic to carrots and don’t care for sauerkraut.
I do know, my gut is happier than it’s ever been. Happy enough from the milk kefir that I was able to eat some cooked carrot slivers without reacting! I haven’t felt this good in ages, and that’s saying a lot considering where my health used to be!