The Latest From The KK Blog!

Cucumber Salad w/Milk Kefir Dressing from Nourished Kitchen

Yay! Jenny McGruther’s new cookbook is here! If you are not familiar with Jenny’s work, she is the artistic eye and culinary genius behind Nourished Kitchen. We first met Jenny at the Freestone Fermentation Festival in 2011 where she was one of the speakers. Her passion for fermentation was obvious as she spoke of the myriad families that had been healed through eating a traditional foods diet that also included ferments.

McGr_Nourished Kitchen

First cookbook from Jenny McGruther of Nourished Kitchen!

At that time, I was just learning about the research of Weston Price and deepening my own understanding of the role fermentation has played in the evolution of humankind. What I’ve gradually come to realize is how much chaos the Industrial Foods Revolution has wrought on the health of our entire nation. Home cooks were enticed away from the hearth with easy bake cake mixes and TV dinners that purported to be just as nutritious as their homemade counterparts.

Gradually, convenience foods along with innovations such as microwave ovens have led to an erosion of basic cooking skills. Moreover, packaged food itself is now comprised of chemicals, additives and generally lacking in the very things we eat food for in the first place – nourishment!

Enter Jenny McGruther’s beautiful blog (now turned cookbook), Nourished Kitchen, featuring recipes with traditional ingredients and cooking classes to help people reclaim the lost skills that had traditionally been handed down generation to generation. Jenny’s writing style and striking photos illustrate the simple beauty of how to make bone broth, ferment kefir and prepare nutrient dense organ meats with mouthwatering appeal. Paired with the science of nutrition, Nourished Kitchen closes the knowledge gap created by our wholehearted adoption of “the foods of commerce.”

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 +

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 http://staff.jccc.net/pdecell/chemistry/phscale.html
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 +
Method of The Ancients: Continuous Brew!
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Continuous Brew mini-FAQ

How does it work?

By changing the starting ratio from…
1 Part KT:9 Parts Starter (orignial method)
to
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.