Tuesday, June 28, 2016

STRAWBERRY, ROSE, AND MINT KOMBUCHA - HUSBAND'S BREW


♪  Music husband is brewing to ♪

Please join me and fellow Persian food bloggers as we celebrate the Iranian midsummer festival Tirgan with a virtual picnic. I am also thrilled to have Drew, aka Mr. Husband take the reins on this post. Because a summer picnic is never complete without a bottle of Husband's Kombucha. 

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  Kombucha – Fun With Bacteria


Three years ago a good friend of mine pulled me aside with a proposition. “Have you heard about kombucha? I think you’d like brewing it.” Now, this sounded like an odd endeavor. I knew this was some sort of fermented drink, most likely with floating parts to it. But to make my own? Brewing my own beer was more up my alley. Still, I heard her out, all with yelling children in the background, demanding our attention. I say this because the process was so simple to understand and implement, I could even process it while my attention was divided! I said yes, and next thing I knew I was on my way home with a SCOBY, floating in a sweet tea mixture. Thus began a 3-year odyssey of kombucha home-brewing.


I think the best part of this hobby, apart from the delicious, naturally effervescent and healthy beverage I make for the family each week, is the bragging rights that I actually do it. This is a strange and fascinating concept to so many. Kombucha is a relatively new product in western grocery stores. Many have seen the store-bought bottles and wondered to themselves what it was about. Or perhaps they have tried it, loved it, and are now shelling out up to $8 a bottle for it. Everyone I’ve spoken to about this wants to know the process, and strongly considers taking it on themselves. In fact, as my SCOBY has grown, I’ve been able to hand off sections of it to others for their own brewing.

You might be wondering, what is this SCOBY he keeps talking about? SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It can also be called “The Mother” as all the good stuff comes from it. The SCOBY will take the shape of its container, usually a jar. It will be round and disc-like, and as it grows it will form multiple discs, almost like floating pancakes. Eventually it will become too large, and you will need to separate some of these pancakes for giving away, or composting. I’m proud to say my SCOBY has many children now. I’ve given away extras to many friends for their own home brew, and have even auctioned off “kombucha starter kits” for our kids’ school!

 
Getting a SCOBY might have been the hardest part of getting started a few years back. You would need to know someone one who had one, or search the back-back pages of the classifieds. But nowadays they are all over the internet, and even big companies like Amazon and Williams-Sonoma are getting into the game. A simple search online for “buying a SCOBY” will yield many results, if you don’t have a personal connection.

As you read through this recipe, you will notice that 1 cup of sugar is used in the process. This may make one assume you’ll be consuming copious amounts of sugar. Not so! The sugar, when mixed with tea, serves as a food or fuel for the SCOBY, and the result is kombucha. By the time you drink it there is very little sugar left. Alcohol is another by-product of the brewing process. But again, no more than trace amounts. 





Another wonderful part of kombucha-making is the ability to customize. After your first fermentation process, you can add a couple more days with fruit (lemon and ginger is a great combination) or juice fermentation (pomegranate juice is always great), which will greatly increase the flavor and enjoyment. One of my favorite flavors, and the one I share with you today, was inspired by the ever present bottle of rose water during Nowruz - Persian New Year. Strawberries, rose water and mint. Huge hit in our house. 

Once you are up and running, the process only takes about 20 minutes per week. I like to set reminders on my phone so I know when it’s time to boil water, when to transfer the kombucha, and when to refrigerate my bottles.


I can’t emphasize enough the rewards of this home brew: my kids love it, my wife really loves it (she drinks most of it usually!), and everyone who comes to the house loves it too. It’s refreshing, pairs well with any meal (particularly Persian stews with rice, like my all-time favorite Loobia Polo), and it helps to contribute to a healthy amount of good bacteria in the gut. In this day and age of antibiotics being prescribed for just about any ailment, the importance of good bacteria cannot be over stressed. 


Fermenting from here? Naz has been after me to start a sourdough starter. In fact, she would like me to be the Resident Baker in our house. {editor's interjection: Naz loves to delegate baking duties} And I’d certainly like to do that. Time is always an issue, of course. I’m very proud of Naz and her homemade batches of yogurt! But kombucha has proven to me that a very simple and enjoyable process can be slipped into an otherwise very busy lifestyle, and the benefits are tremendous.


Enjoy!

Sincerely,

Mr. Husband


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

HARISSA YOGURT STUFFED DATES


Happy Summer! 

Join me over at Team Yogurt today to celebrate with these simple, luscious, and elegant Harissa Stuffed Dates.