Small Scale Kombucha Brewing

I think I like kombucha brewing. It is far less effort and commitment that my attempts at mead (honey wine) have proved and delivered. Plus the turnaround is so much quicker!!

I have described earlier how I grew the mother from a batch of store bought. Win! This saved me $35. Before I gave her a mother jellyfish, my friend Heidi was buying the same quantity that I am brewing here, for $15 a pop. Ouch.

I don’t actually drink that much of the stuff (like a tablespoon or so a day), so I really needed to brew small scale. Most recipes that you find on the internet are for making batches 2 gallons (4 litres) at a time!! This is my recipe which makes 1 litre per week.

I started off with a 400g “gourmet” instant coffee jar. This holds over a litre worth of brew, which is perfect for me.

Kombucha Mama

First Fermentation:
1. Brew 1 litre of tea*, add 1/3 cup of sugar, let cool to room temperature. I do this step overnight.
2. Add tea to kombucha brewing jar, reserving 1 cup worth of the existing kombucha brew in the jar
3. Cover jar with double layer cheese cloth – allowing the brew to ‘breathe’. Store in a warm location, away from potential bumps.
4. (Optional) Taste your brew daily using a plastic spoon, your brew is ready when it shifts from tasting like sweet tea to “vinegary”. In summer, with 35 deg C days, this takes me 4-5 days.
5. After washing hands with water, shift your mushroom ‘mother’ to a clean plate/bowl. This makes it easier to decant the kombucha to your storage container.
6. Decant kombucha brew into a your glass drinking bottle, from which you will take your daily drink. Reserve 1 cup of kombucha brew for the next ferment.
7. Return the kombucha mother to your brew jar, and the 1 cup of reserved kombucha. Start again at step 1.
Secondary Fermentation:
8. (Optional) If you want flavoured kombucha, add tumeric/ginger/apple juice/fresh strawberries to your glass drinking bottle, let it ferment two days in the fridge (or really, just start drinking it). It’ll flavour as it goes. I generally add a splash of the sweet tea from step 1, and what ever random herbs I have lying around. Herbs used so far include mint, vietnamese basil, thyme sticks, rosemary.

Brown floaties OK, mould not. If your mother (jellyfish) gets mouldy, peel off the mouldy top layer, wash the remainder under cold running water, stick it back in the jar and start step 1 again with 1 cup of reserved kombucha tea (or apple cider vinegar)

The kombucha eats up the sugar, so it doesn’t matter what kind you use. Just don’t use honey (it is antibacterial, it might kill the mother). Honey for the secondary “flavouring” ferment is fine.

If you’re making too much kombucha, stick the whole thing in the fridge to slow it down. Add a little bit of room temp sweet tea to keep the mother alive. Do this when you go on holidays.

*So far on the tea front I have used generic black tea bags, green “silver tipped” tea, herbal ‘raspberry’ tea (tastes like pink) and rooibos tea. Don’t try and flavour the first ferment with ginger or tumeric (both antibacterial). The black tea has fermented the fastest, the rooibus the slowest. Perhaps the scoby really does need the caffeine.

This is my current batch:

Kombucha drink

Brewed with green tea. Then a pinch of matcha tea power, some slices of fresh tumeric and a bit of home grown honey.

My favourite flavouring addition is grated ginger & finger lime ‘pearls’. You get the zing of ginger with the added crunch of citrus flavoured pearls in your daily constitution.

Circa Espresso, Parramatta

When the trio of cafes Three Ropes, Paper Plane Cafe and Circa opened in Parramatta, I got pretty darn excited. At last, little laneway style coffee was available to me, and I didn’t have to travel to Melbourne or Sydney city to get it!

Unfortunately, Three Ropes has now shut because of an entire block redevelopment for the UWS/WSU Western Sydney University campus, but the other two live on.

Circa prides itself on using local produce.

Breakfast Rice ($13):

Breakfast Rice

I liked the combination of flavours, and a wonderfully pink poached pear. This will fill you up. I had to take my leftovers with me in my reusable coffee cup.

Ottoman Eggs ($17):
Ottoman Eggs

I seriously chose this dish because of the existence of garlic labneh. Interestingly, in order to make the accompanying bread ‘seedy’, a plain slice of sourdough had been buttered and sprinkled with a sesame seed and poppyseed combo. A good way to just get over kind of bread, and offer it two ways.

Baked eggs ($19):
Baked Eggs

I have been making shashuska at home for ages. This reminded me of that slow cooked egg dish, but with sucjuk – a spicy Turkish sausage. Inspiration! The following weekend I made my shashuka with nduja – which is pretty darn hard to find in Sydney!

Circa Espresso
street: 21 Wentworth Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
M-F: 0700-1500
S-S: 0800-1500

Mindful in May 2016

The past twelve months have been quite a shit, really, so I had been looking forward to the start of May, and the Mindful in May challenge.


Turns out that the organiser is taking a “mindfulness” sabbatical for 2016. Good on her.

My goals for May:
1. Meditate/yoga on a daily basis, with 6 days out of 7 on a rolling average
2. Be more mindful

Then, it turned into a *shit* of a month with an ex-colleague passing away due to cancer recurrence, the father in law passing due to pulmonary fibrosis (so he basically suffocated to death), and a good friend’s sister deciding to take her own life.

My problems are nothing.

Nothing is ever that bad. The world is a much better place with you in it, please don’t ever think otherwise.
Talk to a friend. Reach out. Eat a bucketload of chocolate. Talk to a counsellor. GET HELP.

In Australia, you can get up to ten counseling sessions per calender year for FREE through Medicare. Or call Lifeline’s 24hr crisis telephone line on 13 11 14.

The Black Dog Institute has a whole bunch of factsheets about depression, bipolar disorder, mental health, and techniques to staying well. There is even a factsheet on mindfulness, with a couple of excercises listed to get you started.

A book that I have found resonated with me is The Wellness Sense, by Om Swami.

And have I practiced mindfulness so far in May 2016? No not really. I did a yoga sequence on 30/4 and 1/5, then work/uni/life got in the way. But there’s always tomorrow!

I object

I’m really getting fed up with the writers and reviewers at good living/good food. The entire reason I have a subscription to the newspaper is to get the Tuesday liftout about food, but I’m at that point of cancelling the subscription.

1. Tomato sauce
There’s more to tomato sauce than the big American brand Heinz. So why did they review two products from Heinz in their GL tomato sauce taste test?

Why not include three-threes? It comes in a snazzy glass bottle, they’re stocked in IGA stores, they’re an Australian family owned business, and they do pickles and tomato sauce.

What about Rosella? Available in Colesworth, and it’s Australian owned too.

I actually shifted from Rosella’s to three-threes, mainly from when Rosella’s went into receivership in 2012 and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be available any more.

I’ve actually noticed that the little takeaway tomato sauce sachets from McDonalds have gone from being tomatoes/salt/sugar/vinegar/water to containing high fructose corn syrup, produced by Heinz.

2. Farmers Markets versus Supermarkets

I recently read Matthew Evan’s autobiography, who used to be a reviewer for the good living/good food liftout. In his book, he says that when he wrote for the food & travel magazine, there were a lot of puff pieces that had been paid for by an advertiser – such as yet another article about a Noosa resort that no reader was going to be able to afford to visit anyway. He said that it was a breath of fresh air to have a budget to eat out with and review food places during his time at Good Living. But I wonder, with the recent budget cuts, has the mood changed?

My objections to the “article” include
– why compare locally grown valencia oranges compared to imported navel oranges? They taste completely different! It would have been a fairer comparison to compare a local navel orange to an imported navel orange.
– fruit & veg that I buy from the farmers markets lasts much longer than that which I purchase from the supermarket. It also tastes better. Generally, I have found the prices to be comparable per kilo.
– Meat tastes better! Bacon Tastes better! (And you have to admit it is all about the bacon). I also find that the meat lasts longer from the farmers markets.

I try and do most of my shopping at farmers markets, the food co-op, or the local green grocer and butcher. I make a conscious decision to buy locally owned or made; or Australian made products. If the lemons, kiwi fruit or asparagus are imported, I will use something else.

What about you, dear reader? Can you spot the difference between farmers markets produce & supermarket produce? What do you go out of your way to purchase that is made or grown locally?

Long, Hot Summer

Sydney has just had its longest run of hot weather, with 39 days in a row of temperatures over 26 degrees Celsius

In the western suburbs, where my garden is, it has generally been above 30 deg C.

The poor garden has definitely felt the brunt of this. I got blossom end rot in the zucchini plant, apparently caused by infrequent watering (and a plague of slugs). One half of the double graft mini royal/royal lee cherry tree got cooked. The regular starkrimson cherry tree lost most of its leaves. Another north-facing rhubarb plant, never very strong, bit the dust.

It’s April, and the days are *still* hitting the high 20s, let alone the hottest April day since 1986.

So…even if our government denies the existence of climate change/global warming by repealing the carbon tax, I’m not so sure.

In other news, to make this a harvest monday post:


Lemongrass! I had to cut the lemongrass back to reduce the number of hiding places for the slugs and snails, and give a little more light for the rhubarb. What to do? Let’s chop into usable sections and freeze for later.

Pyrmont Farmers markets is closing

The granddaddy* of farmers markets in Sydney is closing down!

I think my sister heard rumours about this before it was announced in the paper.

I was quite sad to hear about this, it was probably the first farmers markets that I attended.

Looking at my earlier posts, although the first dated post discussing the markets is in 2009, I had definitely been going in the years before. I remember overhearing someone declaring “these are the best markets ever!”, and me thinking: Hmm, you don’t get out much, do you?

I wonder – was it because there’s now a lot more competition for farmers markets, the one at Pyrmont being one of the first?
Was it because the rent charged by the nearby casino got too expensive?
The lack of parking and public transport?
Or has Sydney followed America’s lead, and reached peak farmers market saturation? I did ask a producer at my local market, and it was agreed that market sales had been slowing down.

Saturday 2 April 2016 will be the last growers markets for the forseeable future. I do wonder if there will be a special one off for good food month later on in October.

*I acknowledge that the Orange grove markets in Rozelle were in-place before the Pyrmont markets started.

Harvest Monday 7 March 2016

1 x tomato, from a plant planted by my neighbour.
1 x bolero apple. It tasted kind of mushy – a bit like a golden delicious.

I’m working on a post that tells you all of what I have harvested this summer, but since that’s still in progress, I figure short n sweet is the go.

Harvest Monday march 2016


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