it's The Creepiest Cousin!

i'm just going to be upfront about this: a lot of weird stuff has gone down in my kitchen.  i make my own yogurt.  i've fermented my own kefir.  i regularly soak nuts and grains.  i've tried my hand at lacto-fermentation.  i've caught wild yeast for a sourdough starter.  but i've recently gone head-over-heels nutso for something that takes the prize for 'weirdest foray into creepy kitchen activities.'

at first glance, it looks relatively benign:

sorry about the blurry photo, but you get the jist.

that, my friends, is kombucha.  continuous brew kombucha, to be exact.  and it is kind of gross and also very delicious and super duper healthy.  but also pretty gross.

i'm not going to offer photos any more graphic than the one above, and i can tell you that you're glad about that.  you can kind of see on the side of the jar that, at the top of the liquid, there floats a thing that is known as a scoby (or, as todd has affectionately named ours, Scoby Bryant).  some people like to call it a kombucha mushroom, but that sounds even grosser than 'scoby' and those people are hippies.  i, friends, am no hippie, just a good, old-fashioned weirdo with a scoby.  

and here's the thing about the scoby:  it's somehow alive?  i don't know all the details.  i just know that it grows to fit the top of the container it's in, making a somewhat air-tight seal between the liquid and the air.  i know that it multiplies, growing scoby 'babies.'  and i know that i have to feed it multiple times a week.  in that way, it is kind of like a fifth child.  although, with my own children, my motherly instinct prevents me from getting constantly frustrated with or annoyed by their needs and quirks.  the scoby, on the other hand, is like a child, though more like someone else's child.  a child i love, and one that is quite possibly closely related to my own, but not loved as dearly or unconditionally.  it's like a really sweet, kind of exasperating, cousin.

feeding it is kind of annoying, as it's a very picky eater.  it only eats room-tempurature, heavily sweetened tea (not herbal, thankyouverymuch), and lots of it.  it eats the sugar and, in turn, ferments the tea into a fizzy, sweet-sour drink that tastes a little apple juice-ish and is chock full of probiotics.  sometimes, i pour the finished kombucha into a jar with some fruit or juice in it, and let it ferment for a second time, which just basically tastes like raspberry (or whatever fruit) soda.  so it's work, but it's mostly worth it.

penelope likes it.  atticus tolerates it.  finneas loves it and once drank so much of it i'm quite certain he was a little drunk.  (oh yeah, it has a very, very small alcohol content.)  so it's kid-friendly sometimes.  you should come over and try some, if you're not too scared.  and then, if you're REALLY brave, i can send you home as the open-minded legal guardian of your very own scoby baby, to love and care for and cherish (and hide when company comes over).


Heather said...

I laughed out loud when I read "Scoby Bryant".

I am SO curious about kombucha. You are maybe the third person (blogger) I've heard (read) about it from. Define "delicious". I mean, is it really good, or is it health food good?

Danielle Tiarks said...

I'm pretty sure I need to come visit. I have my own "really sweet, kind of exasperating, cousin", but mine is of the milk variety! We're "growing" kefir which is also full of awesome probiotics and once fruits and a little honey are added, is essentially like drinking a smoothie every day. Awesome.

The unfortunate thing is that Jordan can't have any Kumbucha or it will make his liver explode or something (because of certain meds he's on). No big. But we both loved Kumbucha!!

Jessica said...

I'm really interested in trying this. Can you send me the recipe and give my advice on how to grow my own scoby?

todd said...

we have an alien in our kitchen.

we must feed it sweet tea.

it's an alien with a southern drawl.

paige said...

heather, it IS really good. as in, i have to pace myself with drinking it, and even still i drink about a quart a day. and i'm not a huge fan of health food that tastes like health food.

that being said, it's like beer or wine, in that it has an unusual taste that may require a tiny bit of dedication on the front end. it's made WAY easier to adjust if you do the second ferment with fruit - it seriously just tastes like fizzy fruit juice at that point.

Heather said...

Word on the street is that there's a scoby about to give birth like three streets over to me, so I am seriously considering this. Thank you, ma'am.