I first came across kombucha in some of the American blogs I follow. I had no idea what it was, so I did a little research to associate myself with this much-loved health drink.
For those unfamiliar: Kombucha is a fermented tea that is often drunk for medicinal purposes. Kombucha is available commercially and can be made at home by fermenting tea using a visible, solid mass of yeast and bacteria which forms the kombucha culture which is often referred to as the "mushroom" or the "mother". Taken from Wikipedia.
There is a lot of information around about kombucha, and I'm not sure how much of it is true. What I do know for sure, is it is yummy, and fun to make!
A wee while ago I was lucky enough to be offered a friend of mine's mother. From what I understand, the mother eats the sugar and tea, and turns the mixture into a delicious, fizzy drink. My first attempt was not great, and ended up tasting like vinegar. Supposedly this is the by-product of an over-brewed kombucha. It was not nice! This first attempt also managed to kill my kombucha mother. Boy did I feel guilty! My kind friends mother (the actual version) gave me one of hers, so I got another chance at motherhood. Second time around was much more successful, and I am now churning out a litre of this delicious tonic a week. The favourite flavour in our house is feijoa, made simply by throwing in a few feijoa teabags in the initial brew. The flavour options are endless; I just need to be more adventurous!
This is how to make your own delicious kombucha:
1. In a one litre preserving jar, mix 1/4 cup white sugar (it must be white), two black or green tea bags, and two tea bags of a flavour of your choice. The flavour is optional, and plain kombucha (just made with black or green tea) is still very nice. Stir until sugar is dissolved and leave to cool completely. A source tells me that the mother doesn't like raspberry, so avoid that flavour.
2. Remove the mother from your old batch, and gently rinse it in a sieve under cold water. I pick off any funny coloured bits and give it a good shower.
3. Remove the teabags from the now cooled brew, and add the newly cleaned mother. Cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for 5-7 days. The time it takes seems to vary with temperature and location. Mine sits on the kitchen bench and is ready in 7 days.
4. Bottle the mixture when it tastes sweet and slightly fizzy. It should not taste like tea once it is ready.
5. Store in the fridge in a glass bottle and enjoy!
Every time you make a new brew, you grow another layer of mother. This can be used to make multiple batches of kombucha at a time, or given away. With this in mind, I have kombucha mothers I am happy to give away if anyone is interested in giving it a go. I'm not quite sure how they would travel, but I'm happy to give it a go for the price of postage. Let me know if you are interested!
Second only to autumn, spring has always been a favourite season of mine. After a long, grey winter, there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing blossoms, daffodils, lambs, and extended hours of sunshine! I love how blossom trees look different almost every day, as they put out petals with an exponential enthusiasm, rapidly changing the landscape with their beautiful pink fingertips.
I am currently enjoying a beautiful display of spring blossoms from my cherry and peach trees, with the nectarine and apricot hopefully not too far behind!
As I mentioned previously, I am currently living in Dunedin for three months. I am lucky to live close enough to home to come back most weekends, and I feed very restful writing this post from my own familiar table. Paddy is taking very good care of the house, rabbit, and most importantly, my plants. I planted out several punnets of seedlings before I left, including the ever-important tomato seeds. I like to tell myself that by the time I am living back in Christchurch permanently, it will be about the perfect time to plant out all these babies into a pre-prepared garden.
Here are my wee seedlings growing happily, and with an alarming amount of vigor! They get bursts of time outside in the sun, and are tucked up warm and safe inside at night, protected from any remaining frosts that make strike.
Just before I left I dug in my green crops (broad beans and peas) to add extra nitrogen to the soil. This is a double-bonus, as it gave the more dank patches of my garden something to do over winter. These are breaking down nicely now, and I plan to add a dose of compost to these same areas soon. I don't use a lot of compost in my garden; once a year seems to be enough, and along with regular doses of worm tea and seaweed fertiliser, my soil and plants stay happy and healthy. I have also pulled out most of my leftover winter plants, and am starting regular sewings of root crops such as beetroot and carrots. I also threw in a new batch of chives (both garlic and normal).
The only problem I have with bugs in my garden is black aphids, which seem to love my alliums. I tried a homemade (and potently stinky) garlic and chilli spray last year, but this wasn't strong enough to get rid of the nasty creatures. I ended up pulling out my chives last year as they were unusable, absolutely coated in black. The onions survived, but required a lot of rinsing before they were de-bugged enough to eat. A green-fingered friend of mine told me that plants only attract bugs where they are stressed or unhealthy, so this year I think I may focus on the overall health of the plants and soil, which will hopefully drive away (or not attract in the first place) any nasty, unwelcome bugs.
Here are some spring moments, captured from my own garden this weekend; hopefully there will be many more to come!
Well, I had every intention of posting a new entry this weekend, and getting some more sorted for the week. However, I didn't anticipate being thrown out of my bed at 4.35am on Saturday morning by a massive earthquake (7.1) hitting my poor wee hometown. Amazingly, no one died, and although there is alot of very serious damage very close to our house, Paddy, myself and our home and belongings are all unscathed. It's actually very surreal. From our house it looks like nothing has even happened, but turning on the news shows a completely different story. If the buildings weren't so familiar, I would find it hard to believe this was happening only 10 minutes away from us. Check out some of the amazing, and scary photos of the damage here.
We are still getting hit by some pretty big and persistent aftershocks, and I haven't had more than a few hours sleep since it happened. We are all very on edge and every rumble stops you in your tracks, wondering if this will be another big one. It's really not pleasant.
However, I am grateful we are safe and well, and have a roof over our heads. I will be heading back to Dunedin tomorrow (a day late, as I can't bear to leave Paddy just yet), and will be home again next weekend. Hopefully by then, all will have calmed down and my nerves will let me sit down and concentrate.