Posts Tagged ‘kombucha’

Harvest Monday & Garden Update, April 2017

Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related.

Yes, I know it’s May. I’ve been working on this post for a while. Life has been a bit manic.

Harvested.

6 x Hairy/Winter Melon cross, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 1.3, 0.466, 0.868 kg each. That’s 8.03kg kg so far.

A hairy melon is normally hairy and long; A winter melon is normally short and squat. I think that my random curcubit is a Hairy Winter Melon:

Hairy melon

Handsome, no?

I’m not quite sure how this happened, because the seeds that I planted came from a winter melon purchased from the shops. I think that this also means that the seeds from these fruit won’t be viable because of the cross pollination. Oh dear.

Anyway, I gave one melon away;
Turned the second one into soup;
And then swapped the third for 640g of Boston Marrow through the crop and swap.

I was a little slow on the uptake, but it turns out there are lots of little ‘hairs’ on the leaves, stalks and of course *fruit*, if you’re not paying attention they stick to you and make you very itchy. So eventually I worked out that I had to wear long sleeves and gloves when admiring my fruit hanging on the vine, and checking them out. I think that it is time to harvest the remaining 6 or so fruit, ranging from baseball sized to basketball, as the vine has started to die back.

Two strawberries.

One Marigold flower – added to a salad. There have been more marigolds, but as is their intention, the ants and aphids have moved in.

Swapped.


Kombucha scoby
! Does this count as a harvest? Someone put out a call for a scoby because they had managed to kill their current one. I swapped the scoby, and got in return some fresh picked kale, fresh genovese basil, 3 limes, some bay tree cuttings, 2 chillies, oregano and thyme.

Butternut pumpkin! I didn’t grow this, but I orchestrated a three way swap. One lady had pumpkins. One lady had fresh picked saffron milkcaps, cooked with thyme and oil and snap frozen. I had just-made plum jam. I swapped my plum jam for three pumpkins and genovese basil. Pumpkin lady got some jam and a serve of saffron milkcaps. Mushroom lady got a pumpkin. I then used one butternut pumpkin to swap for 2 alpine strawberry plants (one white, one red) and one rubus moluccanus:

The last one had *grown from a single raspberry picked up from a roadside rest area*. Now that’s patience. My new swap friend then told me that my earlier native raspberry was not a moluccanus, but some other variety. Huh.

Malabar spinach:

Malabar spinach

Someone was ripping out their entire lot of malabar spinach. The cuttings from one plant went to about 20 houses all over Sydney. I offered to go and pick up the remainder, and take it to the next crop swap meeting. I cut the stems into sections and placed in water until it grew roots. I also planted two stems in the ground for myself.

I had resisted in the past planting the cuttings of the warrigal greens that I get, because they are high in oxalic acid, and you have to cook it first before eating. No such worries with the malabar spinach.

Planted.

This is the first year *ever* that I have planted seeds, and not gone off and bought seedlings.
Clockwise from top left:
Snowpeas, Kohlrabi, carrot, dwarf pea

Winter seeds

snowpeas – 50% germination
kohlrabi – germination appears to be 50%, seeds picked up from the crop and swap seed bank.
carrot – 20% germination. These were seeds saved by another crop swapper
dwarf pea – 20% germination

Others that I have planted, but not taken a photo of:

red rosso onion – 0% germination. Well, the seeds were slightly out of date (Aug 2015)

Beetroot – 60% germination. These have now been planted in the ground.

I have got some more (brown) onion seeds from a crop swapper, so I’ll try these and hopefully get a little more germination.

Banana update:

Banana plant

My bananas (second bunch) are still going underneath their little banana bag. Not yet yellow, hopefully I’ll catch these before the snails do.

Banana fruit, round 2

I also planted my “Horta” patch. Have you heard of this? It was described in my book as “Greek food for Olympians”, wild growing greens that you plant one ‘square’ (out of the square foot) method of gardening. My horta seed mix consisted of seeds I use for cooking – cumin, coriander, caraway, yellow mustard, nigella seeds, fennel seeds; then augmented with my garden seed mix: rocket, pak choy, radish, english spinach, silver beet, butter lettuce, garlic chives. Some of those seeds are a little out of date, but I can see little seed heads popping up now, so who knows what I have grown?!

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Crop and Swap Feb 2017

I haven’t attended a crop and swap in quite a while; one because they’re an 80km round trip for me, and secondly – I’ve run out of honey! I haven’t harvested honey since November 2016. The season has been a bit odd and a lot of colonies have failed around the Sydney basin due to infestation of small hive beetle overcoming them, or not enough pollen/nectar due to the funny weather.

Up until now, I have just been doing one-on-one swaps, and racking up an incredible number of kilometres on the car.

But for the last crop and swap for February 2017, I figured that I would make an effort to head to the proper event in Lane Cove.


Crop and swap – out:

Crop and swap - out

This is what I brought with me to the swap event. Two pots of thyme. Two jars of preserved guava – from 2015. I didn’t think it would be safe to bring or subject anyone else to my jars of unset seville marmalade (5 years ago), or various guava jams and guava jellies, made even longer ago! Two jars of kombucha scoby “jerky”.Two packets of native frangipani seeds, collected from my own tree. Beeswax (of course), some rendered as cupcakes, and some as it had come out of my solar wax extractor.

Crop and swap – in:

Crop and swap Feb 2017 - in

1.5litres of worm wee. Kale. Warrigal greens. Genovese Basil. Armenian cucumber. 2 cloves of garlic. 2 finger limes. 1 lime. Lemon balm (plant). 3 chilli peppers – one of them was a scotch bonnet. I love getting chillies, I love their shape, but I can’t eat them!

I had put in a special request for bee friendly plants, so I ended up with several kinds of salvia cuttings (black knight, hot lips, something with bluish flowers, one with lilac/blue flowers); Fruit salad sage cuttings and indian borage. There was a shopping bag filled with chocolate mint. I was debating whether or not I could try and and get a curry leaf branch to take as a cutting (since I had failed earlier in the month), and then another crop swapper offered me a seedling from her garden, I just had to pop past on my way home.

For the seeds I got some for crookneck squash, kohlrabi, dill, and ‘warpaint watermelon’ – which were a wonderful iridescent blue colour. With a name like that, I thought the watermelon would be similarly coloured, but a search for information on the seeds says not.

My drive home was in a scented lemon-ish, chocolate mint haze.

I then spent the afternoon potting my newly acquired cuttings in the glorious, glorious sprinkling rain, and playing “identify this cutting”.

I stir fried the warrigal greens as a side dish to dinner

I turned the fruit salad leaf cuttings (which I had had taken off to reduce transpiration loss) into a iced tea tissane:

Herb infusion

Harvest Monday, 12 Feb 2017

We are in the middle of a long hot summer. Bats, baby turtles are dying. Not joking. On one day the records were broken, and then we went and broke them again the next day. The cycle is of 4-5 days in the high 30’s (deg C or 95 F+), followed by a 1-2 days in the low to mid 30’s – whereupon it feels positively nippy; and then it repeats. Last weekend, it got to 45 deg C (113 F). It has been horrendous. My garden hates it. I’ve had to rig up shadecloth over the tomatoes; but every time a flower on my random curcubit opens, it keels over and the flower falls off the stem. So it is still a mystery plant.

756 g tomatoes, 200g basil

Harvest Monday 12 Feb 2017

They look pretty; but the taste, not so much. I tried to harvest them in the early morning, such that it was close to 24 hours since I had watered them. I originally picked them to give to a colleague who had been inspired by my tales of sugo making from the last batch, but she wasn’t at work on the friday. So.

My friend is a member of a community garden, and posted photos of her harvesting this amazing looking genovese basil. My basil is a tough mediterranean type that survives winter frosts, but is less green and leafy. It is always in flower, and I can’t bear to cut it back because the bees love it so much. I swapped a 500g jar of honey for the basil.

So I turned the tomatoes and basil into fresh tomato and basil pasta for dinner (using fresh pasta from the markets), and enough for lunch the next day. I didn’t have any balsamic vinegar, so I used a combo of apple cider vinegar and guava vinegar.

The next 100g or so of basil I turned into fresh pesto, with pine nuts and a little lemon juice to try and keep the vibrant green colour.


Curry leaves:

Curry leaves

Not mine, my neighbour’s. He was cutting back his curry leaf plant, and offered me some cuttings. I tried to plant them – but I mentioned this stinking hot weather, right? They didn’t take. So I am currently drying them for later use. They have (to me) an unusual peppery herbaceous taste. I’ve used some leaves to flavour kombucha, as well as make a “curry leaf pesto”. It’s got that peppery taste!

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.

Kombucha me, baby

I had seen some kombucha ready to drink at the Castle Hill markets for about the past two years. I bought a bottle, didn’t hate it, but also didn’t go mad for it either. I looked it up and realised that my mum had been making this kombucha around twenty years ago. Go mum!

Harris Farm had bottles of kombucha fizzy from another brand to buy, and I brought some of these along to try at our yoga class end-of-year party. At the end, we had a little bit left, so I looked up to see if I could make my own kombucha jellyfish from this store bought stuff.

The instructions I followed were from PaprikaHead.

As I would be away for several weeks, I started it growing by putting it first on the counter for two days. Outside temperature was about 35 C (95F). I did this because the label on the bottle recommended consumption within a week of opening. The jar was returned to the fridge whilst I was away, to slow the fermentation process.

Here she is, after about 1 week on the counter with 35 deg C temperatures:

Baby kombucha

The baby kombucha is about 3mm thick (1/8 of an inch). The liquid is that gem-red colour because I didn’t read the instructions properly, and started with a no-tea leaf raspberry herbal tea.

I then transferred to a larger container, fed the mother 1 litre of water, 1/3 cup of sugar, and two black teabags. I was supposed to leave this on the counter for a futher two weeks. However, after a week of hot and humid weather, she looks like this:

Kombucha mama

The thickness of the jellyfish ranges from 5mm to 10 mm (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch). I think that I’m ready to brew!