Dandelions revisited

In june I made a batch of dandelion liquer which I then proceeded to forget about and left to ferment. on getting back to uni we all decided to try it. it was a delicious very fruity liquer with a slight after taste for the alchohol.  I have been implored by my test subjects to make this again and will probably be giving away strained versions of the drink as gifts next year, a few of myfriends have suggested it had a mellow taste similiar to a sweet mead. however i have not tried mead so can’t compare the two.

I got the initial recipe from http://vallenuova.blogspot.it/2012/05/foraging-dandelion-liqueur.html

however the idea came from http://wildcraftvita.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/things-to-do-with-dandelions.html

the initial recipe You need:
100 dandelion flowers (collected when fully in bloom)
A syrup made with 250 g of water and 300 gr of sugar
2 whole lemons cut in pieces
Juice of 2 lemons
750 g of water
750 g of 95º alcohol
(you can use Vodka and reduce the amount of water accordingly)

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some g...

English: Two dandelions side-by-side in some grass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make a syrup with 250 g of water and 300 g of sugar and let cool.

In a glass jar that you can close tightly put the flowers, lemons, lemon juice and syrup.
Close, store in a warm place and let rest for 1 week.
Add the 750g water and the alcohol and leave for about 3 months.
Filter and enjoy!

 

the adjustments i made was using honey instead of sugar and vodka instead of alcohol. only a tiny amount of vodka is needed however less than a teaspoon. the only other significant thing to note as i found with one of my earlier batches once open the mixture if not drunk within 3 or 4 days starts to go off. it would definitely be best to make this in smaller portions to avoid waste or invite friends round to help test each batch.

 

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Homemade gift kombucha starter

This is my first full day back in sunny Yorkshire since Easter.  I spent the day unproductively enjoying the sunshine that has been reluctant in its appearance. This post is dedicated to my sister whose birthday is next week. She has just moved flat and I wanted to get her something nice but personal. For this reason I decided to make a gift this year rather than buying one. She is very supportive and often offers me both ideas and encouragement for my blog. After careful consideration I decided to gift her with a kombucha starter kit.

I researched what kombucha is in an earlier post along with instructions for starting your own.

http://wp.me/p3vj8Z-8Y

Kombucha

Kombucha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is what I learnt about basic Kombucha care:

Kombucha type of drink made using a micro-culture which is sometimes refered to as a mushroom or scoby. The mushroom is used to fement a mixture of black tea and sugar in order to produce a cold tea that can (depending on care) taste like anything between vinegar and champagne (although its usual taste is similar to cider).

You have to keep your kombucha mix in a glass jar out of direct sunlight. The lid should be removed in order to let air in but covered (I find kitchen roll and a rubber band work well) in order to stop dust and flies.

The scoby should not be allowed to come into contact with metal as this will kill it.

There are two ways to make kombucha either a batch at a time or in a running (continuous batch). For the batch at a time method you transfer some of the last batch of ready kombucha and the scoby to a clean glass jar and then add the cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the continuous batch every time you take out some of the liquid from the kombucha mix you replace it with more cooled black tea and sugar mix. For the second method it has been suggested that you add slightly more sugar than in the initial batch as the pre-existing mix as well as the new tea feeds off the sugar.

Plain kombucha takes 10 to 14 days from adding the sugar black tea mix before it is ready to drink.

The ready kombucha can be flavoured by decanting into another glass jar, without the scoby and the kombucha needed to start the next batch (or continue brewing), adding your flavouring of choice and leaving it a few days to take on the flavour.

I hope this explains the basics for those of you who are interested. I hope to do a post in the future about the different recipes which include kombucha.

Best wishes

Rachael

How to make banana cake

Today we decided to have a go at making banana cake. It is one of those deliciously moreish things that never seem to last in our house. It’s really simple and a fantastic use for those bananas that are a bit too ripe.

Here is the original recipe we were supposed to follow courtesy of test subject A’s mum.

Banana Loaf

2 ripe bananas

2oz marge

5oz sugar (I use a bit less and add extra banana)

2eggs

8oz self raising flour (sometimes I use 4oz white SRF and 4oz wholemeal SRF

Pinch of salt (I don’t bother)

1.   Mash bananas

2. Cream marge and sugar

3. Beat in eggs

4. Add flour salt and banana

5. Add any extras like choc chips/chunks cardomon seeds etc.

Line baking tin with baking paper or if you haven’t any, grease the tin well.

Bake at gas 5 , 190°c ( the recipe I have says 1hour but its never taken that long when I’ve made it. Try about 20 minutes then check.

 

Here’s what we did:

Warning we may have messed up slightly although it was still tasty. For this reason we suggest you follow the above recipe. And read directions before beginning (unlike us).

1)      We took 3 overripe bananas and mushed them using a fork in a glass bowl.

2)      Next we added the sugar and butter (soya pure) into the same bowl (this is where we went wrong).

3)      We mixed these together to get a smooth mixture.

4)      We beat the eggs in a separate cup. Then added them to the bowl.

5)      We added the flour, a pinch of cinnamon, a pinch of chilli and mixed well.

6)      We poured the mix into a silicon cake tray (hoping it would all fit).

7)      We turned on the oven to 190 degrees ( forgot to do this earlier)

8)      We waited for the oven to heat up. And used this time to wash up our stuff and put away the ingredients.

9)      The mix went in the oven. And we waited again.

10)   After 20 minutes we checked the cake but it was still very gooey.

11)   We kept checking on it at regular intervals until cooked. (tested by sticking a normal knife into the cake and waiting for it to come out clean)

12)   Once it had cooled it was well received.

Overripe banana's

mush banana's with a fork mush banana’s with a fork

Overripe banana’s
mix in sugar and butter

mix in sugar and butter

a nice smooth mixture

a nice smooth mixture

break two eggs into a cup

break two eggs into a cup

fun 15.5.2013 025

pour into bowl

pour into bowl

banana cake banana cake

Mix in eggs

Mix in eggs

pour mix into baking tray

pour mix into baking tray

put baking tray in oven

put baking tray in oven

 

 

Kombucha – homemade mushroom tea

 

Kombucha culture fermenting in a jar

Kombucha culture fermenting in a jar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is Kombucha-  non-alcoholic fermented mushroom tea

I went out a few weeks ago to celebrate the end of the academic year with friends and as a last day out before everyone starts to leave. We dropped into our favourite health-food café and they had something new called kombucha on the menu, naturally I wanted to try this. It tasted like apple cider without the alcoholic content. When I got home I looked it up :Kombucha is a tea based drink with possible medicinal properties made from special fermented mushrooms. It has been suggested to help the liver and have a positive effect on people with chronic fatigue and ME. Although there is no medical evidence to prove or disprove the suggested properties of the drink.

I decided that I would love to have a go at making this tea and looked into how it was made. I discovered it was simple however you needed a starter batch of previously made kombucha to begin. My health food store didn’t have any but suggested checking online. I purchased the scoby starter mushrooms from ebay and will be having a go when they arrive. I will be posting more here as I go.

If you have any questions please leave feedback.

The recipe I am using is below. I don’t have a starter tea so will be replacing this with white vinegar as suggested.

Will let you know how i have got on in a few weeks.

How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home

Makes about 1 gallon

What You Need

Ingredients

3 1/2 quarts water
1 cup white sugar
8 bags black tea (or 2 tablespoons loose tea)
2 cups starter tea from last batch of kombucha or store-bought (unpasteurized, neutral-flavored) kombucha
1 scoby per fermentation jar
Optional flavoring extras for bottling: 1 to 2 cups chopped fruit, 2 to 3 cups fruit juice, 1 to 2 tablespoons flavored tea (like hibiscus or Earl Grey), 1/4 cup honey, 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh herbs or spices

Equipment

Stock pot
1-gallon glass jar or two 2-quart glass jars
Bottles: Six 16-oz glass bottles with plastic lids, 6 swing-top bottles, or clean soda bottles

Instructions

Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kombucha and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kombucha and weaken the scoby over time.

1. Make the Tea Base: Bring the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Drop in the tea and allow it to steep until the water has cooled. Depending on the size of your pot, this will take a few hours. You can speed up the cooling process by placing the pot in an ice bath.

2. Add the Starter Tea: Once the tea is cool, remove the tea bags or strain out the loose tea. Stir in the starter tea. (The starter tea makes the liquid acidic, which prevents unfriendly bacteria from taking up residence in the first few days of fermentation.)

3. Transfer to Jars and Add the Scoby: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon glass jar (or divide between two 2-quart jars, in which case you’ll need 2 scobys) and gently slide the scoby into the jar with clean hands. Cover the mouth of the jar with a few layers of cheesecloth or paper towels secured with a rubber band.

4. Ferment for 7 to 10 Days: Keep the jar at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and where it won’t get jostled. Ferment for 7 to 10 days, checking the kombucha and the scoby periodically.

It’s not unusual for the scoby to float at the top, bottom, or even sideways. A new cream-colored layer of scoby should start forming on the surface of the kombucha within a few days. It usually attaches to the old scoby, but it’s ok if they separate. You may also see brown stringy bits floating beneath the scoby, sediment collecting at the bottom, and bubbles collecting around the scoby. This is all normal and signs of healthy fermentation.

After seven days, begin tasting the kombucha daily by pouring a little out of the jar and into a cup. When it reaches a balance of sweetness and tartness that is pleasant to you, the kombucha is ready to bottle.

5. Remove the Scoby: Before proceeding, prepare and cool another pot of strong tea for your next batch of kombucha, as outlined above. With clean hands, gently lift the scoby out of the kombucha and set it on a clean plate. As you do, check it over and remove the bottom layer if the scoby is getting very thick.

6. Bottle the Finished Kombucha: Measure out your starter tea from this batch of kombucha and set it aside for the next batch. Pour the fermented kombucha (straining, if desired) into bottles, along with any juice, herbs, or fruit you may want to use as flavoring. Leave about a half inch of head room in each bottle. (Alternatively, infuse the kombucha with flavorings for a day or two in another jar covered with cheesecloth, strain, and then bottle. This makes a cleaner kombucha without “stuff” in it.)

7. Carbonate and Refrigerate the Finished Kombucha: Store the bottled kombucha at room-temperature out of direct sunlight and allow 1 to 3 days for the kombucha to carbonate. Until you get a feel for how quickly your kombucha carbonates, it’s helpful to keep it in plastic bottles; the kombucha is carbonated when the bottles feel rock solid. Refrigerate to stop fermentation and carbonation, and then consume your kombucha within a month.

8. Make a Fresh Batch of Kombucha: Clean the jar being used for kombucha fermentation. Combine the starter tea from your last batch of kombucha with the fresh batch of sugary tea, and pour it into the fermentation jar. Slide the scoby on top, cover, and ferment for 7 to 10 days.

Additional Notes:

Batch Size: To increase or decrease the amount of kombucha you make, maintain the basic ratio of 1 cup of sugar, 8 bags of tea, and 2 cups starter tea per gallon batch. One scoby will ferment any size batch, though larger batches may take longer.

Putting Kombucha on Pause: If you’ll be away for 3 weeks or less, just make a fresh batch and leave it on your counter. It will likely be too vinegary to drink by the time you get back, but the scoby will be fine. For longer breaks, store the scoby in a fresh batch of the tea base with starter tea in the fridge. Change out the tea for a fresh batch every 4 to 6 weeks.

Other Tea Options: Black tea tends to be the easiest and most reliable for the scoby to ferment into kombucha, but once your scoby is going strong, you can try branching out into other kinds. Green tea, white tea, oolong tea, or a even mix of these make especially good kombucha. Herbal teas are ok, but be sure to use at least a few bags of black tea in the mix to make sure the scoby is getting all the nutrients it needs. Avoid any teas that contain oils, like earl grey or flavored teas.

Avoid Prolonged Contact with Metal: Using metal utensils is generally fine, but avoid fermenting or bottling the kombucha in anything that brings them into contact with metal. Metals, especially reactive metals like aluminum, can give the kombucha a metallic flavor and weaken the scoby over time.

Troubleshooting Kombucha

• It is normal for the scoby to float on the top, bottom, or sideways in the jar. It is also normal for brown strings to form below the scoby or to collect on the bottom. If your scoby develops a hole, bumps, dried patches, darker brown patches, or clear jelly-like patches, it is still fine to use. Usually these are all indicative of changes in the environment of your kitchen and not a problem with the scoby itself.

• Kombucha will start off with a neutral aroma and then smell progressively more vinegary as brewing progresses. If it starts to smell cheesy, rotten, or otherwise unpleasant, this is a sign that something has gone wrong. If you see no signs of mold on the scoby, discard the liquid and begin again with fresh tea. If you do see signs of mold, discard both the scoby and the liquid and begin again with new ingredients.

• A scoby will last a very long time, but it’s not indestructible. If the scoby becomes black, that is a sign that it has passed its lifespan. If it develops green or black mold, it is has become infected. In both of these cases, throw away the scoby and begin again.

• To prolong the life and maintain the health of your scoby, stick to the ratio of sugar, tea, starter tea, and water outlined in the recipe. You should also peel off the bottom (oldest) layer every few batches. This can be discarded, composted, used to start a new batch of kombucha, or given to a friend to start their own.

• If you’re ever in doubt about whether there is a problem with your scoby, just continue brewing batches but discard the kombucha they make. If there’s a problem, it will get worse over time and become very apparent. If it’s just a natural aspect of the scoby, then it will stay consistent from batch to batch and the kombucha is fine for drinking.

 

Recipe taken from:http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-kombucha-tea-at-home-173858

 

Good place for more info http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-tea-frequently-asked-questions-faq

Another blogger who writes about their experience of kombucha: http://www.sarahbethrosa.com/2012/12/29/home-brew-kombucha-day-17-transfer-of-the-scoby/

http://www.commonsensehome.com/healthy-homebrew-kombucha/