Lemon Lavender Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 Loaves

I grow lots of zucchini and culinary lavender in the garden. A little tired of traditional zucchini recipes and not really in the mood for chocolate, I decided to try one of my favorite flavor combinations and craft it into a “not too sweet” zucchini bread. The results are good enough to share. This is not as sweet as you would think. Not just a breakfast bread, or snack with tea, this little loaf serves well with a dollop of whip cream or scoop of vanilla bean ice cream as a late summer dessert.

Lavender Lemon Zucchini Bread

Lavender and lemon zucchini quick bread with a lemony glaze
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Loaves

Equipment

  • 2 – 9 X 5 inch loaf pans
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Cake tester or toothpick
  • Zesting tool or microplane grater

Ingredients
  

Wet Loaf Ingredients

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1 cup Olive Oil, extra virgin good quality
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Milk, 2% or Whole
  • 2 tsp Lemon zest, fresh
  • 1/4 cup Lemon juice, fresh-squeezed

Dry Loaf Ingredients

  • 4 cups Cake Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 tsp Lavender Buds Culinary

Glaze

  • 1 cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice, fresh-squeezed
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Zest, fresh
  • t tbsp Milk, 2% or Whole
  • 2-4 stems Culinary lavendar, fresh cut optional for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans, or coat with baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add the oil and sugar until well blended and oil is fully incorporated. Add the sourcream, milk, zucchini, lemon zest and juice and mix well.
  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the batter and mix well to combine.
  • Stir in lavender buds.
  • Divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • During last 15 minutes of cooking, prepare the glaze by mixing all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  • While still warm, remove bread from loaf pans to a cooling rack placed over a piece of parchment paper or a cookie sheet and drizzle with the glaze. The paper or cookie sheet will catch the drips and make clean up easier.
  • If desired, garnish the loaves with fresh cut culinary lavender flowers.
  • Allow the bread to cool and the glaze to set before cutting.

Notes

NOTE:  If batter seems to wet after initial mixing, or if you live in a higher elevation, mix in 1/4 cup all purpose flour to the batter before pouring into loaf pans.  
Keyword cake, lavender, lemon, quick bread, zucchini

Corn Fritters Two Ways

Parmesan Basil or Jalapeno Cheddar

I love corn fritters. This recipe will share how to make them two different ways from the same basic batter. In the fall, when corn is plentiful and sweet, and I need to use up the abundance of herbs in the garden, I turn to griddle cakes and fritters to make fast side dishes to accompany a simple soup or salad for a healthy evening meal after a day of hiking, working in the garden or playing with the animals. This recipe is easily multiplied or reduced by half depending on your needs.

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters made two ways – Parmesan and Basil or Cheddar and Jalapeno
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Fritters

Equipment

  • Food processor or Blender
  • Large skillet or frying pan

Ingredients
  

Base Fritter Batter

  • 4 ears Corn on the cob, shucked and silk removed Alternately, use 4 cups frozen corn that has been completely thawed.
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced Substitute a teaspoon of granulated garlic if you don't have fresh.
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp Olive Oil or Avocado Oil To Coat Skillet, does not get mixed into batter

Parmesan Basil Version

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Basil, chopped loosely pack in measuring cup after chopping
  • 2 tbsp Flat leaf Italian Parsely, finely chopped

Jalapeno Cheddar Version

  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Jalapeno Pepper, finely chopped remove seeds and ribs to reduce heat, or used them to make fritters hotter.
  • 2 tbsp Cilantor, finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • Cut the kernels off the corn using a sharp knife, or thaw frozen corn.
  • Pulse 2 cups of corn with the eggs in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth and eggs and corn are completely incorporated. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Mix in the remaining corn, flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
  • After batter is mixed, fold in the cheese and greens from the chosen version.
  • Coat a large skillet or fry pan with oil and heat over medium heat.
  • Using a heaping tablespoon, drop by spoonfuls into the skillet, slightly spreading each fritter with the back of the spoon.
  • Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden and beginning to brown. Adjust heat to prevent scortching.

Notes

Note:  I like to use a large cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the skillet, it makes the fritters more uniform in size.
You can use just about any combo of cheese and herbs that you prefer.  I think a roasted garlic, rosemary and Romano cheese sounds great, and will have to give that a try one of these days.  
Keyword basil, Cheddar, corn, Corn Fritter, jalapeno, parmesan

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Roll

One of my favorite fall recipes! This is actually classified as a “sponge cake” as it gets its “lift” from the eggs and baking soda. It sounds more complicated than it is, and only takes 15 minutes of oven time.

Pictures will follow and I will update this post when I make this cake over the holidays, but a a very dear young lady, who made this cake with me once requested the recipe, and I have not yet taken pictures.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Roll

Rolled pumpkin sponge cake with cream cheese filling
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Cake Roll

Equipment

  • Jelly Roll Pan 15" X 10" – if using a slightly larger pan, cake will be thinner and you must reduce cooking time.
  • Waxed Paper
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Large Mixing Bowl or bowl of stand mixer
  • Medium Mixing Bowl, or bowl of stand mixer
  • Clean dish towel for rolling cake

Ingredients
  

Pumpkin Cake

  • 1 tbsp Shortening For greasing pan, may substitue baking spray
  • 1 tbsp All Purpose Flour For dusting pan, may substitute baking spray
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2/3 cup Cooked Pumpkin
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tso Salt
  • 3/4 cup Pecans, finely chopped Optional
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar For dusting dish towel after baking

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp Butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Milk optional, use only if needed
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar For dusting before serving

Instructions
 

Pumpkin Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Line jelly roll pan with waxed paper. Grease the wax paper and pan edges with shortening or spray with baking spray.
  • Dry ingredients: Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the 3 eggs on high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add sugar and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  • Add cooked pumpkin and lemon juice and mix in on low speed until completely blended into the eggs and sugar.
  • Add dry ingredients into wet and mix in on low speed.
  • Spread cake mixture into prepared jelly roll pan. Make sure batter is evenly distributed in the pan.
  • Top with chopped pecans if using.
  • Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Invert pan onto a clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. This step is crucial. Do it right when you take the cake from the oven and immediately proceed to the next step for best results.
  • Leave wax paper in place and gently roll the cake up in the towel carefully starting with the short side of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely in the rolled towel so when it is time to add the filling it is already comfortable with the rolled up shape.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • While cake is cooling, place powdered sugar, softened cream cheese, softened butter and vanilla in the bowl of the stand mixer or medium bowl if using hand mixer. Blend on medium speed until all ingredients are incorporated and a smooth and spreadable consistency. If too thick add a teaspoon or two of milke (one at a time )to achieve desired spreading consistency.

Assembly

  • Unroll cake and remove wax paper.
  • Spread cream cheese filling across the cake carefully in an even layer, going to the edges of the roll.
  • Using clean hands, re-roll the cake on top of the towel (do not roll up in the towel again). Transfer finished roll to a cutting board and trim off edges of roll.
  • Wrap roll tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until serving.
  • To serve, remove plastic wrap, and dust with additional powdered sugar. Slice into 2-3 inch slices for individual servings.
Keyword cake, Cream cheese, Pumpkin, roll

Roasted Chicken

Yeild: 1 Roast Chicken

This is one of the most basic things I cook, and I do it often for several reasons:

  • Whole chickens often go on sale for less than a dollar a pound. Offers are so attractive, many stores place limits on the number you can purchase at one visit.
  • Left over roasted chicken can be used in all those great rotisserie chicken recipes for fast weeknight meals. Roast a chicken on Sunday night, and use leftovers for another meal during the week when you are in a rush.
  • Bones can be used to make a lovely bone broth or chicken stock. Homemade stocks and broths freeze easily and are great to have on hand for soup bases.

Roast chicken can be served with potato, rice and/or vegetable sides. Soups and salads are also great accompaniments to round out a fabulous meal. This recipe is very simple, easy to prepare and no fuss.

Roasted Chicken

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings

Equipment

  • Roasting Pan with Rack

Ingredients
  

Chicken and Seasonings

  • 5-6 pound Roasting Chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 tsp Salt, divided
  • 1/2 tso Pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

Aromatics

  • 1 small Apple, cored and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 small Onion, quartered
  • 1 leaf Bay Laurel
  • 1 stalk Celery, cut into 1 inch pieces

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Prepare a roasting pan with a roasting rack to elevate the chicken while it cooks.
  • Rinse the chicken, making sure the cavity is free of giblets, necks, etc. and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is very dry, this will help the skin crisp as it cooks.
  • Combine aromatics in a microwave safe bowl and add 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and allow to cool while proceeding with next steps.
  • Season the cavity of the chicken generously with 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Drain any excess water from the aromatics and place inside the cavity.
  • Using cooking twine, bind the legs of the chicken together. Fold the wings back and tuck under the bird to prevent the tips from burning while cooking.
  • Place the chicken on the rack in the roasting pan. Brush with the avocado oil, and season with the remaining salt, pepper and garlic powder – or a seasoning blend of your choosing.
  • Roast chicken at 325 for 2.5 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Thigh will wiggle easily and juices will run clear.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Keyword Chicken, Roast Chicken

Elote (Grilled Street Corn) Salad

Yield: 6 Cups

Elote is dish comprised of cooked sweet corn slathered in a spicy mixture of mayonnaise, crema, and chili powder and then sprinkled with cheese. It is often referred to as “Mexican Street Corn” because it’s a popular snack sold by vendors both on the streets and at festivals in Mexico. In Reno, I find it on food trucks.

This salad takes all the ingredients of Grilled Street Corn and makes it easy to transport and serve a crowd for BBQs, potlucks and other group celebrations. It really pairs well with grilled meats.

Ingredients

6 Ears of Corn, husked and silks removed
2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
1/3 Cup of Crema (see Notes for substitution)
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice (approx. 2 limes)
Lime Zest, from 1-2 Limes 
1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder (see Notes for chili powder recommendations)
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Red Onion, Minced
1/2 Bunch of Cilantro, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Cotija Cheese, crumbled (see Notes for substitution)

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 450 degrees or medium high heat.
  2. Brush corn ears with avocado oil, and place on the grill. Grill with lid closed, turning occasionally until corn is browned on each side. A bit of charring is OK, and imparts a smokey flavor. Too much will create a bitterness throughout the dish.
  3. Remove corn from the grill, and allow to cool for easier handling.
  4. While corn is cooling, prepare dressing by combining all the remaining ingredients except the cheese.
  5. Cut kernels from the cooled corn cobs and place in a large bowl.
  6. Pour dressing over the corn and gently toss with a spatula to coat.
  7. Add Cotija cheese and toss to incorporate.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  9. Garnish with additional Cilantro if desired.

Notes:

  • I make my own Chili Powder, which has cumin in it, so I don’t add any cumin in this recipe. However, if you are using a purchased chili powder that does not contain cumin, you will need to add about 1/2 teaspoon of cumin (or more to your taste). I tend to use a lighter hand with this spice, as this suites my personal tastes and cooking style. However, you can be as light or as generous as you wish.
  • Crema and Cotija Cheese are found in my local grocery. They are also found in Mexican groceries around our valley. However, if they are not available to you locally, you can substitute a mix of equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise for the crema. Grated Parmesan cheese can be substituted for the Cotija, or even a mild crumbled Feta.

Chili Powder

One of my favorite things about cooking is concocting. Making my own herbs and spice blends, flavored oils and vinegars is some of the fun. There is great joy in taking classic dishes and making them uniquely your own. Chili powder is one of the seasoning blends I think is much better crafted to your own preferences and result in a “secret ingredient.”

When I was taking culinary classes associated with my holistic nutrition degree, I was introduced to the Culinary Institute of America’s book, Techniques of Healthy Cooking. I still turn to it a lot for reference. The recipe below is based on one from this book.

Chili powder is simple to make, taking under 10 minutes. Most ingredients are easily located at the grocery store, and the flavor can be adjusted based on the type of chili you use. The result is far more complex and versatile than the store bought blends. I use this in tortilla soup, posole, meat rubs, various marinades, salad dressings, and of course, in a good hearty chili.

Feel free to play with this recipe and adjust it to suit your personal tastes. That’s half the fun of making your own seasoning blends from the basic spices and herbs on hand.

Ingredients

6 Tablespoons Chili, dried and ground (see notes)
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Mexican Oregano Leaves, dried
3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/8 Teaspoon Chile de Arbol, ground (optional - can substitute Cayenne)

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together and store in a tightly covered container.

Notes

Chili: I prefer Ancho chili over all other chili for this blend, but also use Pasilla. When mixing, I do a ratio of 2/3 Ancho to 1/3 Pasilla. Ancho gives it a bright red coloring and Pasilla offers a toasted brown. Ancho is sweet and smokey. Pasilla is hotter. The combo of the two makes for a great base for the rest of the flavors.

Cumin: I reduced the original recipe by 1/2 as I am not a huge fan of Cumin. It is necessary and if you don’t use it at all, you will find something missing, but since I don’t love it, I reduced the amounts. Go easy with this ingredient because it has a very distinct flavor and can overpower all of the rest of the ingredients. You can always adjust and add more to your liking.

Garlic: I love garlic. Also a heavy flavor. I increased the original recipe slightly. Modify to your tastes.

Oregano: Mexican Oregano is traditional here, and readily found in the international food isle of the grocery store. I grow and dry my own more traditional Italian Oregano, and use it in my blend quite successfully.

Coriander: Ground coriander refers to the seed, not the leaf of the plant also commonly known as Cilantro. I love the toasty, earthy flavor the addition of coriander brings to the blend and use it liberally.

Chili de Arbol: I also add Chili de Arbol to this recipe for an extra little kick. It can be reduced or omitted if you are sensitive to the heat of this chili. Cayenne can be used as a substitute.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Yield: Two loaves

Who knew that vegetables could be so subtly sweet, very moist, and pair well with coffee, tea and ice cream? This quick bread is a double hit of chocolate with a hint of orange and a sweetened cream cheese filling. It’s a great way to use up that extra zucchini that seems to be sprouting out of my garden right now.

Serve at room temperature, reheated or even chilled. This bread is more like cake and suitable for breakfast, coffee breaks, and a quick dessert. Imagine it ala mode…sigh.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Chocolate Zucchini quick bread with a subtle orange vanilla cream cheese filling
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Loaves

Equipment

  • 2 each 9 X 5 loaf pans (1.5 quart)
  • Mixing bowls
  • Citrus Zester or Microplane Grater
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Cake tester or toothpick

Ingredients
  

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Orange zest
  • 3 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 large Eggs

Chocolate Batter Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 6 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed

Chocolate Batter Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 3 cups Zucchini, shredded
  • 1 zest Zest of 1 whole Orange

Add In

  • 3/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Instructions
 

  • Grease and flour two loaf pans
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Make Cream Cheese Filling: Beat cream cheese in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar, orange zest and flour until smooth. Add egg and beat until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
  • Make chocolate batter: Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla until creamy. Stir in sour cream, zucchini and orange zest. Add dry ingredients and mini chocolate chips. Stir just til moistened, being careful not to over beat.
  • Spread 1/4 of the batter in the bottom of each prepared pan.
  • Add 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture on top of chocolate batter in each pan.
  • Divide remaining chocolate batter pour over the cream cheese mixture in each pan. The cream cheese mixture should be mostly covered with the top layer of chocolate batter.
  • Bake the loaves at 325 degrees for 60-80 minutes. Check after 60 minutes because oven temperatures and loaf pan sizes and materials can vary.
  • When the bread is done, a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf, in the chocolate will come out clean. Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks to finish cooling.
Keyword cake, chocolate, Cream cheese, orange, quick bread, vanilla, zucchini

Salsa Verde

Yeild: 3 Cups

This is one of the late summer rewards of the garden. I had a good crop of tomatillos, cilantro and jalapeno this year and it was all screaming at me to make some Salsa Verde and preserve enough for a variety of dishes over the winter months.

I am so glad I did. This version of Salsa Verde lets the sweet/tart flavor of the tomatillos shine through, and is forgiving enough to change your quanitites of jalapeno and salt to suite your own preferences.

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs Tomatillos
1/2 Cup White Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1/2 Cup Cilantro Leaves, packed
1 Lime - Zested and Juiced
2 Jalapeno Peppers (or more to taste), stemmed and seeded
1/4 Teaspoon of Salt, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Remove husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Pat dry..
  4. Place tomatillos and whole garlic cloves, on baking sheet. Optionally, add jalapenos.
  5. Roast in oven for 10 -15 minutes until tomatillos are softening and beginning to brown. If jalapenos begin to darken, remove them from the oven before they start to brown. For this recipe you do not want to char the produce, it will create bitterness.
  6. After tomatillos are soft and just starting to turn a carmel color, remove from oven and cool to room temperature.
  7. Place roasted produce and all other ingredients in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped and mixed.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings: Add more jalapeno if you want more heat, and additional salt if desired.

Optional Canning Instructions

This recipe can be canned. It is easy to triple or quadruple the above ingredients and make a large batch.

  1. Wash and sterilize canning jars and rings. use pint size, but you can use any size you desire. The above recipe results in about 3 cups of finished salsa, or 1.5 pints so you can estimate the number of jars to use when making a large batch. I triple the recipe, resulting in 9 cups, or 4 pint size jars and 8 oz. to eat immediately.
  2. Bring water to boil in a large water bath canning kettle.
  3. In a seperate small pot, bring about 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from heat and put canning lids in hot water. Let soak while filling jars.
  4. Fill hot, sterile jars with salsa verde, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
  5. Seal with lids and rings.
  6. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Lemon Cream Mousse

Yield: Six 6 oz. Servings

Lovely, cool, and creamy this dessert is the perfect antidote to a sweet-tooth in the summer’s heat. The ingredients are usually on hand in my refrigerator and it takes a little over an hour to prepare, most of the time spent chilling the lemon custard.

Ingredients

4 Large Eggs, whole
4 Large Eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 1/4 cups + 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
3 teaspoons Lemon Zest
3/4 Cup Lemon Juice, fresh
1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. Fill a large saucepan with several inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. In a large, heat-proof bowl, whisk together the whole eggs and the egg yolks, the sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.
  3. Place the bowl over the pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly, for about 10-15 minutes. A whisk is helpful in this stirring, especially as it begins to thicken, but should be applied gently. The mixture will thicken and lighten as it cooks.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour until it is chilled through. The result will be a thick lemon custard.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites for 1 minute, and then add two (2) tablespoons of the remaining sugar. Continue beating egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the chilled lemon custard.
  7. Add the cream to the bowl just vacated by the egg whites along with the remaining two (2) tablespoons of sugar. Beat on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form.
  8. Fold whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Spoon resulting mousse into serving dishes and chill thoroughly. Serve cold.

Serving options

  • Crumble graham crackers, vanilla wafers, shortbread or lemon cookies in serving dish before spooning lemon mousse into chill.
  • Top with sweetened whip cream before serving.
  • Garnish with additional lemon slices or zest.

Home Brewed Kombucha

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha has been around for over 2000 years. It s a drink made by fermenting sweetened green or black tea. The sugary tea turns into kombucha with the help of a SCOBY—a.k.a. “a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”—which looks a bit like a floating mushroom. Except it’s made of live bacteria.

During the fermentation process, the yeast and bacteria in the SCOBY feeds on the sugar in the tea, releasing probiotics as well as B vitamins, enzymes, and organic acids. The fermentation also naturally creates carbon dioxide gasses, naturally carbonating the drink. This is why it is so fizzy.

How to make your own home brew:

First, get your hands on a SCOBY, fermenting jars and some reusable bottles for the finished product. So far, I think Amazon is great for economy, 2-day shipping, and availability of supplies. Local home-brew shops also carry these supplies. Glass, stainless or ceramic are good choices for brewing kombucha. Some people use wood barrels and claim it adds wonderful dimensions in flavor to the brew, which I do believe, but I have an aversion to anything I can’t sterilize and wood barrels aren’t as readily available. Avoid plastic, and any metal that is not stainless steel. Kombucha can cause leaching during the brewing process with these materials.

You can order your SCOBY from Amazon or speciality sites that sell the organism. It should come in a packet surrounded by kombucha starter liquid (DO NOT DISCARD THIS LIQUID). If you are lucky enough to have a friend that can supply you with a healthy SCOBY, all the better. If you have to purchase your SCOBY, you may also wish invest in a bottle of live, raw, unflavored Kombucha to serve as your starter. If getting a SCOBY from a friend, ask them to include 2 cups of starter kombucha. Keep your SCOBY in a sealed, sterile environment at room temperature prior to brewing. Never refrigerate your SCOBY.

New SCOBY, came with a bonus baby 🙂

Next you will sterilize all your equipment. You want to promote the good bacteria but not introduce anything unwanted that could lead to contamination of your brew. I run everything through the dishwasher, using non-reactive pots for steeping tea, and glass fermenting jars and bottles. Then I rinse them after the come out of the dishwasher to insure that there is no soapy residue at all, as it could kill the lovely organisms you are trying to feed.

With a healthy SCOBY and sterilized equipment, you can begin your brew.

Basic Recipe

1 Gallon Chlorine-free water
4-6 Black or Green tea bags or 1-2 tablespoons loose leaf tea (I use 3 Ice Tea size Black Tea bags as my preference)
1 Cup Sugar
1 full-size kombucha SCOBY 
1-2 cups mature kombucha starter liquid

Equipment:
1.25 Gallon Brewing Vessel
Pot or Kettle for boiling water
Muslin Square 
Large Rubber Band

Instructions for brewing

  1. Heat 1 quart of the water to just below boiling in a non-reactive pot. You can either steep in the pot, or add to your brewing vessel. Allow your tea to steep for 10-15 minutes, and then remove tea.
  2. Add cup of sugar to brewed tea while it’s still hot and stir until it is completely dissolved.
  3. If you did not use brewing vessel to steep your tea, transfer it to the brewing vessel now.
  4. Add remaining cool water. Allow to cool to room temperature before proceeding. Cover loosely with clean muslin cloth to prevent impurities from getting into the tea while it cools.
  5. Once the tea is cooled below 100 degrees Farenheit, you may add your SCOBY and the starter liquid. If you are using your hands, make sure they are clean, but don’t wash with anti-bacterial soap, or use a clean stainless spoon to transfer SCOBY to the tea. Add 1-2 cups of mature, raw kombucha on top of the SCOBY, either provided from a friend or from a verified raw, unpasturized source.
  6. Cover the jar with a breathable cloth and secure with rubber band.
  7. Place in a dark storage space, that will maintain a temperature of 65-85 degrees Farenheit. Ideal range is 75-80 degrees. In the winter, this may be hard to maintain, but not to worry, komucha will ferment acceptably at lower temps, but it will require a longer brewing cycle.
  8. Allow tea to ferment for 7-21 days. You will need to taste your brew to get the desired level of sweetness/tartness. I slip a clean straw below the SCOBY about 5 inches and take a sip. You can do this as early as 5 days after you begin your brew. In warmer temps, it will brew faster.
  9. Once your kombuchas is fermented to your prefered taste, it’s ready to harvest.
  10. Remove SCOBY to a clean sterile bowl and loosely cover with a cloth. Collect at least 1-2 cups of mature kombucha from the top of the brew to use as the starter for your next batch.
  11. The rest of kombucha is available for drinking, either straight from the vessel, or you canbottle it with or without adding flavors.
  12. Start a new batch repeating steps 1-10. If your SCOBY has replicated itself, you can separate the new SCOBY and start a second batch or store it in SCOBY hotel.

You can flavor your finished kombucha with fruit juice, fresh fruit or leave it unflavored. To increase the natural carbonation of kombucha, you may choose to bottle condition it. Fill your bottles leaving head room and seal. Let sit another 3-7 days in a dark storage area at room temperature, and then transfer to the refrigerator. The kombucha will continue to ferment as it sits in the dark, increasing carbonation, and maybe even developing a little SCOBY. Placing in refrigerator stops the fermentation. I like to stop my second fermentation after 5-7 day, longer and the brew gets more tart (which might be your preference) and a lot of pressure from carbonation can build.

There are a lot of great resources on the web and e-books or written books. I’d encourage further investigation and suggestions from other reputable sources. Suggestions on locating a healthy SCOBY, choices in fermenting vessels, flavorings, and maintaining SCOBY health are plentiful on the internet.

The SCOBY Hotel

Depending on your rate of consumption, once you get going, you can use the new SCOBYs produced by the process to increase your production. Or you can keep it smaller by storing SCOBYs in a SCOBY hotel. This is basically a vessel that allows you to store live SCOBYs, occasionally feeding them a bit of fresh kombucha from a newly brewed batch. Keeping extra SCOBYs will let you experiment with your brewing conditions knowing you have a back up in case something goes wrong. You will have your own healthy SCOBY on hand to start again. You can also gift a SCOBY to an interested friend from your SCOBY hotel.

Tips for the best fermentations

  • Do use properly steeped tea. Under steeping will result in a weak brew, oversteeping a bitter brew.
  • Do sterilize all your equipment to make sure that the good bacteria and yeast are not contaminated by unwanted organisms.
  • Do keep your fermenting kombucha in a dark place until you are ready to harvest.
  • Do use chlorine free water in both your tea and when cleaning your SCOBY or setting up your SCOBY hotel.
  • Do use unflavored, non-pasturized starter for your first batch. If purchasing brewed kombucha from a store for this purpose, please check to make sure the cultures are live. I’ve used the GT brand with good success.