Kefir and Kombucha… it’s been a year and I’ve learned a few things

It’s been nearly a year now since I started to home ferment and ingest these two products and I can honestly say two things:

  1. I notice a huge down turn in energy when I don’t drink kefir every morning and a massive upswing when I get back to it
  2. The online tutorials on fermenting and culturing are way too complicated. the process for each is so much more simple than they make it out to be

Making a batch of kombucha is made to look like some scientific experiment when really it’s making some tea and decanting it to bottles rather than cups.

Kombucha brewing with white and green tea
Kombucha brewing with white and green tea

Kefir and kombucha are reported to die if you go near them with metal….nope. A quick rinse in a metal sieve does no harm nor does cutting you kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) down with scissors if you want to ferment in a smaller jar or you let your babies integrate with the mama and the whole thing becomes rather more dense than you’d like.

When you are straining your kefir to keep your culture in tact and your milk product aside for drinking or second fermenting it can be a real pain getting it through a regular sieve so I use a small holed metal colander and so far it has not been damaged at all, my culture keeps on reproducing. Another thing I learned is that your kefir grains can sometimes do with a wash as milk sticks to them and they can start to produce some rather tangy sour tasting stuff. What I do is strain off the liquid then swish out the jar with some fresh milk and pour that over the culture in the strainer, then I pop the culture back into the jar and add some milk and give it a swirl around and strain it again. I only do this once a week, it’s enough and then once a month I rinse over my culture with some room temperature filtered water to give it a good clean. It responds well to this and it doesn’t harm it at all.

The rule of thumb is that if the SCOBY is healthy and growing it’s happy and doing what it’s supposed to do. This is the best advice to follow, your SCOBY will tell you if it’s not happy.

kefir-grains1
Healthy Kefir SCOBY

The biggest problem with kombucha is fruit flies they love the stuff but a home made trap kills them off pretty fast and be sure to use a denser fibred cloth to top your fermenting jar as opposed to muslin which would seem the obvious first choice to allow air in. That SCOBY needs to breathe, it’s alive.

Also don’t fret if you have to leave your SCOBY or brew unattended for a while Kefir grains survive just fine if they are immersed in milk and I had some in my fridge for a fortnight and they are still thriving.

Also flavouring kombucha is a faff if you make your own syrup as recommended in lots of video tutorials. Store bought syrups for a change of taste are fab to add at the bottling stage and make for some great flavours. Use sparingly if they are heavy in sugar but the fermenting process uses up the sugar so it’s not such a worry in terms of calories.

I’ve lost weight consistently and have kombucha and kefir every single day. One hit of kefir each morning and three hits of kombucha one before each meal. Plus I do make yoghurt from kefir and also cream cheese.

There are tons of health claims about these two cultured foods/drinks and I don’t know how many are true but I do notice a difference if I miss drinking them and I don’t think about it, I’m not obsessional if I miss it but I definitely notice a flag towards the late afternoon in terms of energy levels.

I do believe that my gut is just healthier given the ’emissions’ since using these products and I just have a greater sense of well being. I’ve not had any gall bladder issues at all since taking Kombucha and had excellent results in recent liver and kidney function tests which have shown an improvement, along with my thyroid at each of my past three checks. I’ve made so many changes to my diet and lifestyle that all or any could have caused the resultant health improvements but I do believe these product have a part to play.

If you’re thinking of giving them a try there is a whole host of info out there to research and if you have any questions just pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer as a seasoned fermenter. They’ve certainly not appeared to do me any harm.

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4 thoughts on “Kefir and Kombucha… it’s been a year and I’ve learned a few things”

  1. My kombucha is generally sweet after bottling. This makes it a sugar sweetened drink, so something that I avoid in my low-to-no carb lifestyle. I will have one occasionally because I make them for the wife and I do like the flavor. kombucha is not a lot different than a Coke, though, just less sugar–i have no way of measuring it.

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    1. I’m not a measurer or portion controller or any food group denier I’d never get anywhere if I was just because that strict approach doesn’t work for me mentally, I’m too weak and flighty 🙂 That’s something I might have to get to one day to shed the last pounds and maintain. I don’t put as much sugar in as they say to I use half the amount and I ferment for longer at the first stage to use up more sugar so mine doesn’t taste sugary or sweet at all by the time i drink it if I have it neat. I never knew they used live cultures to make coke and wish mine tasted like it, when I don’t put a fruity flavour in it is not the nicest of tastes. Another feature I like is the natural carbonation rather than it being zapped with gas artificially, having a nice fizzy drink feels like a treat. I can see where someone who follows a strict plan would have a problem with it as you say it’s impossible to know how much sugar was burned up in the dual fermenting process. It’s not for everyone but for me there were reasons I started to use it and to do it at home rather than buy it which were connected to a family history of liver disease which I’ll try anything to avoid. It’s a shame nobody has worked out the sugar content of the finished product but then they are still arguing over the alcohol content or not issue. I definitely feel there is alcohol as I’m quite sensitive to alcohol and some mornings I’ve headed to work feeling like I just had a slug of brandy. I also read somewhere recently that kombucha can leave calcium deposits in the heart which worried me slightly but further reading showed that it was felt to be rare and only due to excessive consumption with a less than optimal diet. There are some sites which make it sound like an elixir of life and some which make it sound like poison though so it’s a bit of a try it and see what it does for you kind of scenario I guess. Does your wife consume regularly and does she notice any health benefits?

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      1. She does use daily. Also we make milk and water kefir. Water to drink. Milk kefir we make a product much like Greek yogurt. I’m not on a diet. I just don’t eat carbs at every meal any more. I have broken the habit. You should read my blog today. I’m learning a great deal about the effects of insulin on the body and am passing it along.

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        1. I’ve never tried water kefir does it use the same culture? I like to make things with kefir too I’ve tried soft cheese my first attempt was not too nice but then I tried using a better quality milk and it was really yummy and with some chopped garlic and herbs it is a tasty alternative to the premade stuff I could consume by the bucket load. I said I’m not a denier but I know carbs have a bad effect on me and so I have drastically reduced my consumption. I will read it now sounds interesting. There is not enough time in the day to research everything food related so I’m grateful to people like you who have a delve and share findings.

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