Home Brew Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage made from a variety of bacteria and yeasts that, together with black or green tea and sugar, produce a delicious fermented beverage.

 

Home Brew Kombucha

Method:

  • Measure out appropriate amount of ingredients:
    • 14 cups water
    • 5-6 tea bags
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup starter

For just a 1L jar (approx.):

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tea bags
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup starter (leftover brewed kombucha from previous batch)
  • Brew your tea and dissolve the sugar while still warm/hot. Allow brewed tea to sit until it reaches room temperature (either in a tea pot, jar or pot). Alternatively, you can add a few ice cubes to speed up the process but you don’t want to dilute it too much. I typically will brew my tea at night, pour into jar(s), cover with paper towel and allow to sit out on the counter until the morning before putting in SCOBY.
  • Once brewed tea reaches room temperature, add some starter tea (1/2 cup to 1 cup) and your SCOBY.
  • Cover jar with cheesecloth or paper towel, secure with an elastic and set somewhere away from heat and out of direct sunlight.
  • Allow to sit, undisturbed, for 7-10 days. Your SCOBY may move, lay sideways, bubble, or create stringy bits. You should see an opaque layer forming on the top; this is the new baby SCOBY growing! This is a sign you’ve got a healthy brew. You may also see bubbles and stringy bits happening on the top – all perfectly normal. You may notice a slight vinegar-y smell in the near vicinity of your brew too; this is just a result of the fermentation. Your new baby SCOBY may attach to the “mother” SCOBY or it might be separate in which case, you’ll have two SCOBY’s.
  • I would suggest testing your kombucha (using a wooden spoon or pour a bit out of the jar) starting at day 7 and each day after until you get your desired taste. The longer you leave it to ferment, the more vinegar-y it will taste. I typically leave mine for between 7-10 days depending on how warm my house is (warm=faster fermentation, cold=slower).

Second Ferment (Optional)

  • This is where you get to play with flavours!
  • You will need a second, smaller jar or other sealable glass container.
  • Pour about 1 cup of liquid from your brewed kombucha into the small jar (enough to submerge your SCOBY).
  • With clean hands, gently remove SCOBY from the original brew (don’t forget to sanitize/wash your hands first!) and place into smaller jar with liquid. Seal your container. If using a mason jar, I recommend placing a layer of saran wrap between the lid and the jar to ensure SCOBY doesn’t come into contact with metal or any metal particles. Find your SCOBY a nice new home to chill out until you want to start your next brew! Away from heat, out of sun
  • Add fresh fruit or juice to original jar and replace lid (this keeps in the carbonation). The amounts will depend on desired taste… probably about 1/2 cup juice or fresh/frozen fruit would be sufficient for a 1L brew! **Don’t add juice to anything your SCOBY is still in as it will damage poor Scooby.**
  • Allow to sit again (patience is key) for about 3 days, opening the lid of the container 2-3 times a day to let any carbonation escape as pressure can build up.
  • Transfer to the refrigerator and enjoy!!

Tips

  • Don’t allow your SCOBY to come in contact with metal as it can damage poor Scooby (even metal lids on jars).
  • Wash your hands using white vinegar and warm water to sterilize (I use boiling water to wash my jars and pot for making tea every time too!).
  • Keep SCOBY and kombucha out of direct sunlight, away from heat, away from garbage/compost.
  • Don’t use other sweeteners for fermentation; honey and maple syrup don’t work and maybe harm SCOBY.
  • If you have a batch and a new baby SCOBY doesn’t form, don’t sweat it. Sometimes they seem to grow more/less – every batch will vary.
  • Happy to help if you have questions during your Kombucha journey!!!

Did You Know?

Did you know you can grow a SCOBY from a bottle of store-bought kombucha? So, even if you don’t have a friend who can give you one of their baby SCOBY’s, you can grow your own. All you need to do is purchase a bottle of Original (unflavoured) kombucha, pour it into a clean mason jar, cover with paper towel and secure with an elastic. Allow your kombucha to sit, undisturbed away from heat and direct sunlight, for around 2 weeks. You should see an opaque layer forming across the top  i

Spiced Cauli Florets with Almond Tzatziki

Cauliflower power.

Lately, cauliflower has been pretty mainstream and enjoying some well deserved time in the limelight. Gone are the days of boring cauliflower; boiled to mush covered in cheese (?) sauce or a super cruciferous contribution to your raw veggies and dip. Cauliflower has a unique yet somewhat meaty texture which I think has been playing a role in its stardom. Cauliflower tacos? Yes please. Cauliflower Buffalo Wings? Heck yes. And let us not forget the cauliflower pizza crust trend (which I have yet to try, but I’m sure is delish). Cauliflower belongs to the same family as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale called brassica.

One of my fave little joints here in Victoria has THE BEST French fries and the spice mix they coat them in is to die for. That very spice mix was inspiration for my flavouring for the cauliflower today. The term for the spice mix is Hawaij; a traditional spice mix from Israel traditionally used in curries, soups and even coffee. Traditionally Hawaij is made from cumin, black pepper, cardamom and turmeric but offers space for modification. My variation of this spice mix includes cumin, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, garlic powder and paprika. Typically I would have included turmeric without a doubt, but for the first time I had only fresh turmeric and no dried turmeric in my spice cabinet. If you love it, add it (maybe 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon). If not, then don’t. The flavour is amazing without it. This dish would be a great accompaniment to your weekend BBQ or as a side dish, added in to an energy bowl or on it’s own. Topped with some fresh herbs, the flavours are diverse, intense and unique.

I believe cooking with spices is beneficial in so many ways – endless flavour possibilities; spices are proven disease fighters; flavouring with spices will lead you to step away from store-bought sauces, dips and flavourings, which often can contain sneaky undesirable ingredients; and, last but not least, spices really are inexpensive especially when you can purchase them in bulk. In many cultures around the world where spices play a major role in cooking, spice markets or bazaars exist, which are culinary adventures of their own. Moral of the story is to make friends with spices!

I’ve served this dish alongside a dairy-free almond tzatziki-like dip to quell some of the warmth from the black pepper in particular (if you are sensitive to black pepper, you may want to reduce the amount in the spice mix). However, the recipe isn’t quite to where I’d like it to be… so, take note, this dip will likely make a re-appearance on the blog. But for the purpose of today’s post and to have a yummy dip to go along with these florets, I’ll include the recipe as it’s pretty tasty for the first attempt but, like many things when it comes to cooking, has room for improvement. Feel free to omit or replace with a dip of your own preference.


Spiced Cauli Florets with Almond Tzatziki

Serves up to 4 as a side

Ingredients:
1/2 large head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Fresh herbs for garnish (parsley, dill, basil or mint would work)

Almond Tzatziki:
1 cup almonds
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/3 English cucumber, grated (about 1/4 cup)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to convection roast 350ºF if the option is available. If not, select regular roast at 425ºF. Chop cauliflower head in half and return one half to refrigerator for later use. Put the flat side of the cauliflower against the cutting board for stability. Using a sharp knife remove the stem, stalks and leaves. Cut the cauliflower apart by running your knife between the stem and the florets. Use the tip of your knife to cut the florets into smaller pieces. Size here really just depends on preference.

2. Rinse cauliflower to ensure all dirt and debris are removed from the nooks and crannies of the florets. Allow most of the water to drain off or pat with a clean tea towel or paper towel.

3. Transfer cauliflower to a mixing bowl and add melted coconut oil. Use your hands to toss and coat thoroughly.

4. In a small bowl, combine all measured out spices and mix together. Sprinkle over top cauliflower and again toss to thoroughly coat.

5. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet and spread out into an even layer. Roast in preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, tossing half way through. You can check the level of cooking here by sampling a piece. It will likely still be pretty crunchy and need to go back in for a few more minutes.

6. While your cauliflower is roasting, prepare your almond tzatziki (*optional). First, soak the almonds in boiling water for about 5 minutes (or for up to an hour in room temperature if you’re planning ahead).

7. While the almonds are soaking, grate the cucumber. Removing the seeds is recommended but not necessary.

8. Drain and rinse the almonds before transferring to high speed blender or food processor. Add garlic, water, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil. Blend on high until mostly smooth or until ideal texture is achieved, adding more water as needed to allow for easier blending. Use a spatula to scrape dip into a small bowl and top with grated cucumber.

9. Once cooked, remove cauliflower from the oven and immediately transfer to serving plate. Top with fresh herbs, coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Serve alongside almond tzatziki or other dip of choice.

Take Your Salad to the Next Level

And we’re off!!!

Thursday afternoon at 4:30pm, the bell rang and outdoor market season officially began! Marking the start of Season 2 for The Divine Sprout. The next few months will be full of markets, events and outdoor awesomeness (see Where We Are for a full season line-up). Incase you missed it, Thursday’s Esquimalt Farmer’s Market was amazing. We moved to our sweet new location in Memorial Park – energy was high, heaps of neighbours came to check it out and the community was buzzing. You will find us there weekly from now until September 14th.

Things have been busy lately, no doubt about that – both personally and professionally. Troy and I tied the knot on the 13th and are finally getting back to “normal” after a couple of whirlwind weeks. And trust me, I use the term “normal” very loosely. It feels so good to get back into the kitchen and get creating, cooking and blogging.

For today’s post, I offer salad. But not just any salad. Leave your salad judgment at the door and hear me out. Salad is SO much more than leaves and dressing. For real. Crunchy fresh vegetables, lively shapely leaves, toppings galore and dressing possibilities without limits. So often salads are seen only as a side, an afterthought or – even worse – garnish. There are so many beautiful possibilities when it comes to making salad, which are great for filling you up without making you feel sluggish or lethargic. Bright, beautiful, crispy, juicy, and heavenly. Amongst all of the dietary concerns and restrictions out there, salad is often a pretty safe bet.

So how do you avoid falling into the slump of salad sadness? Variety and care. Start with your greens (not iceberg lettuce, please), add some other vegetables (variety here is key – think colour, shape, size, texture, taste, raw, cooked, steamed, blanched), add a whole grain for maximum fibre (rice, buckwheat noodles, toasted buckwheat, quinoa, wheat berries, freekeh, barley, bulgur) and some form of protein (chickpeas, sprouts, beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, seeds) and other toppings of choice. Finish it off with homemade dressing of choice or just a drizzle of olive oil et voila. Sometimes thinking a little outside the box goes along ways with keeping things freshusing avocado in your dressing, switching up your greens, slicing your veggies differently (spiralizing or using a mandolin), keeping a good assortment of nuts and seeds on hand for topping.

Not only are the flavour options enticing, but the health benefits of salad are bountiful. Often low in sugar with the exception of some natural sugars from honey and fruits if using, easily gluten free, vegan, salt free, starch free – whatever you need, salad has an option. Plus, salads can be made differently every time, depending on what’s in your refrigerator and/or what needs to be used up.

My salad pictured here consists of basic mixed greens, with some arugula (be sure to wash and fully dry first or you’ll have a pool at the bottom of your dish!), shredded carrots, marinated artichoke hearts, sautéed asparagus, cooked black forbidden rice, topped with hemp hearts, sunflower seeds home grown organic sprout mix and honey mustard vinaigrette. If using freshly cooked, warm ingredients, allow them to cool slightly or keep them off to the side of your dish (as I’ve done here with the black rice). This will prevent your lettuce from instantly wilting from the heat!

Here’s the recipe for this honey mustard dressing you can whip up and store in your refrigerator. Feel free to adjust to your taste preferences.

Ingredients:
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a jar with a sealable lid, replace the lid and shake vigorously to combine. Store in the fridge.

Happy mixing!

Springtime Beet Carpaccio

Happy Easter Weekend!

As much as I’d love to say I’m feeling very festive, the truth is, my mind is so preoccupied with upcoming nuptials that a holiday isn’t really anything out of the ordinary, nor is it garnering much of my attention. In addition to that, I don’t have kids to send on an Easter egg hunt and honestly can’t be bothered to paint eggs. Maybe I’ll see the Easter bunny hopping around. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a couple of decadent dark chocolates, that’s festive, right!? To me, Easter is symbolic of so much more than chocolate, candy coasted eggs and marshmallow peeps – it’s a sure sign that spring has sprung! The world transforms from its winter slumber into vibrant colour, radiant life and eternal optimism.

My plan for celebrating Easter is to enjoy a beautiful dinner gathering with friends and family this evening so I came up with this dish as my contribution to this evening’s dinner and my only real requirements was for it to be extremely colourful and springy. When I think of Easter, I think pastels, which this dish is absolutely not. However, it’s vibrant hues are sure to put a spring in your step and have you looking forward to brighter sunnier months ahead. Looking at the beets and radishes below they could almost pass for brightly coloured eggs! Maybe??

You will notice in the ingredients list, this recipe is not overly specific and that’s simply because this is a dish that has wiggle room. Don’t worry too much about getting a beet that’s the exact right size or the exact amount of green beans – use your own best judgment. In order to keep the energetic and lively colours of our variety of beets and the fabulous watermelon radish, and to keep this dish crispy and fresh, I’ve chosen to keep them raw but very thinly sliced so they aren’t tough. Additionally, as you may be aware, we need to take extra precautions when preparing those beautiful purple beets to ensure they don’t “bleed” all over the other ingredients, otherwise our vibrant salad will become painted pink – which, hey, if it happens, no big deal, it will just be a bit more monotone. But I’ll give you a few tricks to keeping all that bright fuscia colour from running all over your dish.

Even though this recipe is called Springtime Beet Carpaccio, there are a few other hidden surprises in the dish. One of those being watermelon radish, which is quite new to me, but I knew it was love at first sight. These funky vegetables look a bit more like a green beet from the outside with its slightly rough exterior and larger size, but with a beautiful fuscia and white interior and the delicate peppery spice and crunch of your everyday radish on the palate. Thinly sliced (or sliced slightly thicker and quartered as I’ve done), the watermelon radish offers a beautiful kick to this dish. If you aren’t able to find a watermelon radish, regular red radish would work well too.

Often when you find a recipe for Beet Carpaccio, goat cheese is usually involved. I think the stark white of the cheese is such a stunning contrast to the colourful veggies. So instead, I opted to use Israeli couscous (also known as pearl couscous); a slightly different version of the petite couscous you may be more familiar with. Israeli couscous is off white in colour, more round and larger in size and as a result has a chewier texture compared to regular couscous. Both variations of couscous are made from semolina or wheat flour and contain gluten. To me it seems a bit like small tapioca balls. If you are looking for a variation of this dish without gluten, quinoa would be an easy substitution.

This is a great dish to serve as an appetizer or alongside a main and is perfect to serve all spring and summer long!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, vibrant springtime!


Springtime Beet Carpaccio
Serves 10-12 as a side

Ingredients:
1 medium-large beet (approximately 3″ in diameter)
1 medium-large golden beet (approximately 3″ in diameter)
2 small-medium Chioggia (Candy Cane) beets (approximately 2″ in diameter)
1 large Watermelon Radish (about the same size as a beet if available)
4-5 handfuls green beans, ends trimmed
1.5 cups Israeli (Pearl) Couscous
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Dressing:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette to taste
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Sea salt and coarse black pepper

Method:
1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil, add Israeli couscous and a little olive oil and return to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for 5-8 minutes, stirring regularly, until tender but not mushy. Remove from heat and rinse in a small sieve under cold running water until room temperature is achieved. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and stir to combine (this helps prevent it from sticking together!). Set aside.

2. Prepare all the beets and watermelon radish by washing under running water to remove any dirt or debris. I used a hard bristle brush to get into all of the nooks and crannies to remove any hidden dirt. Trim the ends and remove any dark spots. Peeling isn’t necessary, but is optional if you prefer it. Thinly slice using a mandolin, removing each ingredient from beneath the mandolin, saving the dark purple beets for last.

3. Place watermelon radish, golden beets and Chioggia beets into a large bowl and add couscous.

4. Place sliced purple beet in a separate bowl and cover with lukewarm water. Add salt and lemon juice. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes. Rinse and drain several more times until the water runs (almost!) clear. Gently blot with a paper towel to remove some of the excess moisture.

5. Blanche the green beans by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil. Submerge the beans in the water for 3-5 minutes or until tender. While the beans are simmering away, prepare an ice bath for the beans by filling a bowl with ice and generous amounts of cold water. Once beans are par cooked (tender yet firm), immediately drain and transfer to the ice bath for about 5 minutes until well chilled. Drain off the water and remove any remaining ice cubes.

6. Prepare the dressing by combining all ingredients in a bowl or small jar and whisk together.

7. Ready to assemble. Begin by layering the purple beets on the bottom of your serving dish (despite our best efforts there will likely still be a bit of colour that transfers either to the plate or the other ingredients). You may wish to blot again with paper towels to remove some of the water. Spoon a bit of dressing across the beets. Next, lay out the green beans across the beets. Continue adding the remaining ingredients and top with dressing. An extra drizzle of balsamic across the top and sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to finish it off. Allow to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or serve immediately (*Note the longer it marinates, the increased likelihood of the colours combining or the balsamic “staining” the couscous and beets).

Miso Orange Massaged Kale with Red Quinoa and Edamame

As we forge ahead through the months, cruising right past the spring equinox and with Easter on the horizon, I can’t help but think of the lighter, refreshing fare that awaits us in the summer months. A time when the foods we eat play a role in cooling the body from the sweltering heat outside, as opposed to warming the body in the colder, harsher months of winter. The winter layers are shed away to make way for lightness that comes with the warmer months of the year. The rustic root vegetables, comfort foods and hearty soups are replaced by even more abundance of fresh, delicate greens, beautiful berries and earthy produce that’s taste is reminiscent of the fertile ground from which it was grown.

Stuck somewhere in between these seasonal transitions, I find myself lured in by the beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom and the glimmers of sunshine we’ve had this week, feeling optimistic that perhaps summer isn’t that far away; while feeling a slight pang in the pit of my stomach at the thought of returning to Calgary this weekend with snow in the forecast (however, there is way too much good planned this weekend for a little snow to turn me off including a fabulous bridal shower and bachelorette for yours truly – whoop whoop!). Alas, what’s one to do but simply enjoy the journey and the melding of seasons.

Tonight’s dinner embodied just that – some elements of winter, some of summer – and you know, they work together beautifully. The protein rich quinoa, hearty Lacinato kale, crisp yet tart cabbage and vibrant edamame are united with a really basic miso-orange dressing (one that could be used on a multitude of dishes – so keep this one in your back pocket!). Most often, miso paste (fermented soybeans) can be found in the refrigerated section of your local health food store.

My go-to method for washing kale (even organic) is to allow it to soak in a vinegar and salt water bath. Toss all your kale into a plugged sink, add 2-3 tablespoons white vinegar and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. This method works really well for removing any critters hiding in the leaves and trace amounts of pesticides. Once you’re ready to prepare the kale, rinse, drain and dry, remove the stem and roughly chop or tear into bite-sized pieces. Once you’ve got the dressing prepared, you are ready to turn your kale into massaged kale. I encourage you to really get into this massaging process as it helps to turn this green from bitter and tough to tender and sweet. Just really get into it, squeeze it, grip it, tear it – kale can handle it.

This is the debut of Edamame on The Divine Sprout blog and this dish truly wouldn’t be the same without it. Edamame, or young, fresh soybeans, has earned it’s place on a lot of appetizer lists and for good reason. Full of nutritional pow, edamame offers a vibrant green and a nice crunch to the dish. Usually sold in your grocers frozen section and is sold in pods or shelled. A really easy way to defrost from frozen when prepping this dish? Put the edamame into a bowl and pour almost boiling water over top so they are completely submerged. Allow to sit until defrosted, usually 3-5 minutes. This gives you some multi-tasking time!

Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa. Wash away any bitter tasting saponins that may linger. Although many store bought varieties are already rinsed before resale, it never hurts to double rinse. Don’t have red quinoa? That’s ok, either black or white varieties work just as well, however, will require slightly adjusted cooking times (less time for white and a couple minutes extra for black).

We are creating a very speedy pickled cabbage which offers a beautiful tartness to the dish without being overwhelming. By allowing the cabbage to marinate in the apple cider vinegar while we prepare the rest of the dish, the cabbage turns into a more delicate version of it’s former self and transforms from it’s beautiful purple to an even more stunning fuscia!

Although the recipe indicates that it serves two, if you’re like me, you might just want to eat it all yourself. Enjoy!


Miso Orange Massaged Kale with Red Quinoa and Edamame

Serves 2 as a main

Ingredients:
1 cup red quinoa
1 large bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed (about 5 cups chopped)
1/4 head of purple cabbage
1/2 cup shelled edamame

Quick Brine (for Cabbage):
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Miso Orange Dressing:
2 tablespoons organic Miso paste
Juice from one orange (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Optional Toppings:
Fresh orange slivers
Yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
Finely sliced red onion
Sesame seeds

Method:
1. In a saucepan, bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boil is achieved, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15-17 minutes. Quinoa is done when it looks like it has opened and is tender without being mushy. Once cooked, remove from heat until ready to use. *Note if you are using white or black quinoa to adjust your cooking time appropriately.

2. Follow the vinegar and salt water method described above to wash your kale. Drain and dry. Remove the stems and roughly chop or tear greens into bite sized pieces. Set aside in a large bowl.

3. Remove any wilted, outer leaves from the cabbage. Cut into quarters but place 3/4 of the cabbage back into fridge and keep out just 1/4 (one wedge). Remove the thick white core and thinly slice the cabbage. Place into bowl a small bowl and add ingredients for vinegar brine. Thoroughly coat the cabbage with liquid and massage firmly for a couple of minutes using either your hands or a wooden spoon. You can be rough on the cabbage as you want to break down the cell walls of the cabbage which turns the vegetable into a watery, more limp version of it’s former self while the brine works its magic in transforming the flavour. Set aside.

4. Combine your ingredients for the miso dressing in a small bowl and blend using an immersion (handheld) blender. This should result in about 3/4 cup of sauce. Remove 1/4 cup of the dressing and pour over your prepared kale. Using your hands, thoroughly massage the kale until it is lightly covered in dressing and begins to soften as well. Once well coated and massaged, set aside.

5. Defrost your edamame by pouring hot water over top and allowing to sit until defrosted, about 3 minutes. Drain excess water and set aside.

6. You’re now ready to dish up! Any way you like. I began with a base layer of massage kale and arranged the other ingredients across the top, finishing with some fresh orange slices, raw red onion, yellow cherry tomatoes, more miso orange dressing and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.