The Latest From The KK Blog!

Ask a Nutritional Therapist: Spring into Health!

…with Trish Carty

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!We are thrilled to introduce Trish Carty, who is not only an amazing holistic chef, nutritional therapist and a whole foods advocate but also a great friend. We first met a few years ago at the Freestone Fermentation Festival and have been exchanging health tips and advice ever since. I really love her enthusiastic nature and gentle approach. If you have a question for Trish, leave it in the comments! ~ Hannah

Part 1: Rites of Spring – Detoxification

We all know that one of the important benefits of consuming kombucha, is its ability to detoxify the body in a gentle way. Detoxification is important because we are exposed to many toxicants on a daily basis. We are exposed to over 800 different types of chemicals in the air, water, and the food supply. While the amount of toxicants might be minute, over time they accumulate in the body. If the buildup is not removed, it leads to many problems in the body.

In this five part series, we are going to discuss all aspects of detoxification.

PART 1: We will start with: what, why, and how to start a detoxification process for your body.
PART 2: What are the 5 major factors that impact your body? What are the modern day toxicants to be aware of and how to remove them from the surrounding environment?
PART 3: Herbal remedies, foods and ancient methods to enhance the detox process.
PART 4: A 21 day challenge- How to properly clear the toxins out of your detox pathways.
PART 5: Reintroduction of foods and how to maintain a constant natural chelating process.

What Does It Mean To Detoxify Your Body?

How is the toxic load in your body? Take this quiz and see! (pdf)

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +

pH & Kombucha

Kombucha Defense Mechanisms

Kombucha is a living symbiosis of bacteria and yeast that has been brewed in homes and shared with others for hundreds if not thousands of years. A living culture with such a long history must have some way of protecting itself from causing harm to those who care for it (i.e. homebrewers) or surely it would have been ditched generations ago.

While our ancestors simply had to trust their gut, modern science is discovering the important role fermented foods have played in our culinary culture since recorded history (if not longer).  The Human Microbiome Project has just begun to illuminate our understanding of the relationship between gut bacteria and health, but some of the preliminary findings are confirming what our ancestors instinctually knew: As Bacteriosapiens, fermented foods provide us with the regular influx of healthy, living bacteria our bodies need in order to boost proper functioning. The Kombucha culture evolved a few different defense mechanisms to protect itself from invasion from harmful microorganisms – low pH, ethanol and the SCOBY itself are all means that ensure the longevity of the culture. Let’s take a look at pH and the role it plays in protecting the culture.

pH & Kombucha

As you recall from the Top 5 Signs of Healthy Kombucha Brew, pH plays an important role in protecting the SCOBY from microbial invaders. Kind of like a chemical force field, the low pH creates a highly acidic environment in which our native bacteria and yeast thrive but simultaneously inhibits the growth of disruptive foreign & potentially harmful microorganisms.

pH was first conceived by Danish chemist Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen at the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1909. Carlsberg Lab was set up by the Danish beer brewing company to advance biochemical knowledge, especially as applied to brewing beer. While studying proteins, Sørensen devised the pH scale as a means to express the concentration of hydrogen ions present in a solution.

While there are conflicting explanations for the definition, the most commonly accepted answer is that “p = potential” and the “H = hydrogen.” pH is a measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. When a substance dissolves in water, it produces charged molecules known as ions. Acidic water contains extra hydrogen ions (H+) and basic (alkaline) water contains extra hydroxyl (OH-) ions. As we can see on the chart below, the relationship from one pH level to the next is exponential.

The pH scale ranges from 0-14 with readings in the 0-7 range termed acid and readings in the 7-14 range termed alkaline. 7 is considered neutral and the ideal pH for our blood is just above 7. Without going into too many details, there is an important correlation between pH and health. While Kombucha tests on the acid side, much like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, when it hits the digestive system it creates an alkaline ash. (See pH post part 2 which will also include how to track your own pH).

pH scale representing the full spectrum from 0 to 14, acid to alkaline
Image courtesy
Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +

SCOBY Hotel Maintenance

Long Term Maintenance SCOBY Hotel from Kombucha Kamp

The SCOBY Hotel is an important resource in every Kombucha brewer’s tool box. Since a healthy Kombucha culture reproduces with each batch, it would be foolhardy not to keep a few around in case mold strikes. Plus, with all the great uses for extra SCOBYs you never know when one will come in handy.

So you followed the instructions in our SCOBY Hotel video and made your hotel, but now your SCOBYs have been in there for awhile. What happens next? Can they just hang out in there forever?

Unlike other more delicate cultures such as milk kefir or water kefir which will disintegrate and disappear if not fed regularly, the Kombucha culture is a very hardy organism and can remain in stasis for extended periods of time. This is in part due to their very protective pH (2.5-3.5), making Kombucha one of the safest ferments to brew at home.  However, the SCOBY hotel does need to be maintained from time to time to ensure that the cultures remain viable after weeks, months or even years!

As the name implies, the SCOBY is a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Although the bacteria and yeast live in symbiosis, they are also in competition. Our role as brewers is to maintain balance by nurturing the bacteria and removing excess yeast. This same principle applies to the hotel.

Perform maintenance on your hotel every 2-6 months or when you observe a build up in yeast to keep your cultures healthy, happy and ready to brew at a moment’s notice. Remember, never store your Kombucha SCOBYs in the fridge as the bacteria may go deeply dormant or perish, leading to flat, weak flavor and usually mold.

Hotel Maintenance

Yeast Removal

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +

Kombucha in Student’s Lunchbox Leads To Threats, Harassment & Bullying…From The Police & The Vice Principal

Ignorance about Kombucha is nothing new, even in the 21st century. We have been alienated from traditional, fermented foods by design because they are expensive to produce commercially and difficult to store in warehouses for weeks, therefore less profitable for the conglomerates that control the mainstream food supply. Non-inebriating fermented drinks have an even more troublesome path to acceptance. Kombucha is the modern pioneer in this endeavor, often paying the PR price for our society’s unfamiliarity with human nutritional history. The 2010 Kombucha Recall / Withdrawal is one example, and now we have another.

As first reported by Sarah at The Healthy Home Economist, a 7th grade student in the Newport Mesa School District in Southern California was suspended because his mother packed Kombucha in his lunchbox.

The incident began on Tuesday October 9th, 2012, when an unidentified school official confiscated the boy’s Kombucha because it was in a glass bottle. The next day, he was removed from classes without parental notification, held in the Vice Principal’s office and apparently interrogated, threatened and bullied by school officials and at least one uniformed police representative, according to his mother’s blog post here.

As she found out after her son returned home, the Vice Principal told the child that he was being suspended for bringing alcohol to school, pulled his “problematic” school history report and discussed transferring him out of the school. When turned over to the uniformed police representative, the child was told the drink was illegal (it was not), subjected to specific questioning regarding what medications he is taking and subsequently threatened with enrollment in Alcoholics Anonymous for Kids. He was then forced to sign a 5-day suspension notice, a terse call was made to the mother by the Vice Principal informing her of the discipline being enforced and he was sent home immediately.

Bucha is formulated to remain below .5% alcohol and is labeled clearly tot his fact.It’s important to note at this point that the mother specifically identifies the bottle as a Bucha Live Kombucha Guava-Mango flavor in this comment below her article. Bucha is an “all ages” Kombucha that is specially formulated to remain under .5% alcohol. As seen in the picture below, the label clearly states that the beverage has less than .5% alcohol, which is plainly not an “alcoholic beverage” according to Federal Law (see page 15 here) and is therefore perfectly legal for any age individual to possess and consume. The school officials’ inability to correctly read a label and subsequent misinterpretation of the laws is sadly ironic considering how random the alcohol percentage limits are in the first place. There was nothing illegal about the beverage and no reason to come to that conclusion.

After repeated attempts to schedule a meeting with the Principal were rebuffed, the mother was finally granted the opportunity to meet with the Vice Principal, but the meeting did not go well, leaving the mother “feeling ridiculous, confused, outraged, ridiculed and blamed,” and the Vice Principal downplayed the incident.

That’s when she turned to Sarah Pope, who placed a call to the Principal. At that point, it appears the school began to take the situation seriously, had discovered their mistake and started backpedaling in earnest.

Both Sarah and the mother, who was finally granted a meeting with the Principal on Friday, October 12 (3 full days after the incident began), reported that the Principal portrayed the incident as no big deal after the fact, denying that any discipline had been instituted.

By that afternoon, the school district had issued a press release stating that, “No disciplinary action was taken and the student was not suspended,” yet the mother notes that her son was forced to sign a 5-day suspension notice. It’s also curious that they claim no disciplinary action was taken when the child was pulled from classes, interrogated, vilified and then sent home.

Newport Mesa School District Release October 12 2012 Child Suspended for Kombucha in Lunchbox

Click the image to see the release at full size.

They further state that “a substance on campus containing any level of alcohol content is a violation,” yet there have been no reported instances of confiscated fruit juice, soy sauce, yogurt or coca cola at the school, all of which contain trace alcohol similar to this Kombucha brand and well below the legally allowed limits. The release offers no apology, admits no wrongdoing and promises no further investigation of the events or the officials involved to determine the appropriateness of their actions, a troubling trifecta of denial.

The label of all Bucha Kombucha bottles clearly states that the product is below .5% alcohol content.There is one other note that is particularly bothersome in the way this situation played out. The Kombucha bottle was confiscated at lunch time on Tuesday. The child was not brought to the Vice Principal’s office until Wednesday. Excuses for not notifying the parents before taking disciplinary action become more difficult to imagine based on that timeline. The school officials appeared to have ample time to contact the mother and set up an appropriate forum for discussing the issue.  They also appeared to have ample time to investigate Kombucha Tea and re-examine the bottle to confirm their initial and incorrect assumptions.

These steps could have prevented a traumatic experience for a young child in their care. These officials chose to shoot first and ask questions later, and for this they deserve investigation. If their actions are not in violation of the policies of the school district, the school district needs to re-examine their policies and make the appropriate changes to reflect parent’s and children’s rights.

The family’s remedies for this unfortunate incident may still include legal avenues, though they have made no statements regarding a lawsuit at this time. The mother does mention in this comment that her son has taken interest in starting a Real Food Club at his school as a means of making the best of a bad situation, which could offer badly needed education in this arena to serve not only the students, but the faculty and administration as well, so that incidents such as this one don’t occur in the future.

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +

Kombucha Flavoring Recipe: Turmeric the “Queen” of Spices

The rhizome root system is a survival strategy.

There’s a “new” rhizome on the block that is catching everyone’s attention – turmeric. As a native of South Asia, it has been cultivated as a spice and medicine for nearly 4000 years, which hardly qualifies it as “new.” However, just as everything old is new again, part of its popularity is stemming from trendy new health beverages (such as Tumeric - notice it’s missing an ‘r’).

Rhizomes, a term derived from the Greek meaning “mass of roots,” are exactly that – plants that have evolved a specific root structure that acts as seeds. The roots can be broken into pieces, individually planted and will grow into new plants.

Other rhizomes include asparagus, hops and, the most famous rhizome of all, ginger. In fact, turmeric is also referred to as Yellow Ginger.

Long revered in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, turmeric (Curcuma longa) has received more attention lately as many studies are confirming the healing properties for which it has been held in high esteem.  While it has a rich history of use in a variety of Indian, Asian, African and Middle Eastern dishes, Americans are most familiar with turmeric in curry powder.

Did You Know?

In traditional Indian weddings, a turmeric paste is applied to soften the skin and ward off the evil eye.

Dried turmeric is what provides that quintessential golden, yellow color not only to curries but to a variety of other foods such as butter and cheeses (along with annato), mustards, chicken broth, and even some pickles. It is also used as a natural dye for fabric or Easter eggs!

Fresh Turmeric

Look for the knobby, orange fingers of fresh turmeric in the produce section next to the ginger at specialty stores.

The health benefits of consuming turmeric are numerous. As previously mentioned, both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, the classical Indian medical system, use turmeric for a variety of ailments including:

  • aid and warm digestion
  • reduce inflammation throughout the body
  • heal various skin disorders and wounds

Western scientists have shown that turmeric is a strong anti-oxidant, which in conjunction with its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, it is little wonder that it is affectionately referred to as the “queen” of spices. Due to these properties, scientists are investigating turmeric’s possible benefits as a both a cancer preventative and a secondary treatment to help counter the strain on the body from chemotherapy.

Turmeric is also good for heart health, as it helps thin the blood to reduce blood clots and may help keep cholesterol in balance. Research is currently being conducted into how it may help with Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, diabetes and eye inflammations. Overall, turmeric is a boon to human health!

The recipes below are approximate for a 16oz bottle.
Scale up or down depending on your taste preference and bottle size.
You can try drinking these right away or
for even better results, allow to second ferment for a day or two.
(don’t forget to burp your bottles!) 

Orange Blast Off Kombucha

Orange Blast Off Kombucha Flavor - Turmeric Cinnamon Orange Juice

Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Kombucha Mamma Sez: “Fresh turmeric may temporarily stain your fingers and cutting board yellow. Don’t worry, the color will fade with washing and exposure to light.”

Soothing Sunrise Kombucha

Soothing Sunrise Kombucha Flavor - Turmeric Chamomile
Hannah Crum, the Kombucha Mamma!Hannah Crum is The Kombucha Mamma, founder of Kombucha Kamp, Industry Journalist & Master Brewer, educating others about Kombucha since 2004. Connect with her on Google +
Method of The Ancients: Continuous Brew!
hey you! type your kombucha related question here

Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

How does it work?

By changing the starting ratio from…
1 Part KT:9 Parts Starter (orignial method)
3 Parts KT:1 PART Starter Liquid (CB method)
…the brewing cycle is dramatically reduced (just 1-2 days to complete).

What about the Sugar?

Your colony of bacteria and yeast will be hungry and will very quickly process the small amount of sugar into mature KT.

I don’t want to take on more work.

Actually, CB results in less work.  One example: a more streamlined bottling experience, without the need to lift your brewing vessel, clean it every week or deal with the mess afterwards.

I can customize the flavor?

Sure, just drain mature KT and add starter liquid to taste.  Or for bottles, flavor as desired – no funnel, no mess!

It’s actually healthier?

So says Michael Roussin and experts worldwide.

Will I have too much Kombucha?

Not at all.  Having it on tap will change your perspective.  Plus, you’ll find friends, family and neighbors eyeing your Kombucha set-up with envy and maybe even helping themselves to a fresh glass.

Really? You’re telling me it’s fun?

Yes.  With a straight face.  It is.

I’m nervous. Is it hard?

Don’t be nervous.  You have the experience of hundreds of homebrewers backing you up in the form of my detailed instructions and maintenance plan.  You will be guided along the way.  You will save time and effort.