Kombucha: what it is, properties and a recipe to make at home

Kombucha is the fermented drink that is in vogue for its healthy properties. We tell you all its benefits and give you the recipe so you can prepare it at home.

Kombucha is the trendy fermented drink that sparks passions. Its peculiar flavor is accompanied by health benefits. More and more people consume it and for this reason commercial kombucha-based drinks of various types can now be found.

It is convenient to know the characteristics and properties of kombucha well in order to choose well. Another option is to make it at home to have all the guarantees that it is a quality drink. We give you all the keys to enjoy kombucha.

Kombucha, what is this miracle drink

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made by fermenting green or black tea sweetened with a colony of gelatinous microorganisms. The result is a carbonated drink (it is naturally carbonated) with a taste similar to cider, very rich in probiotics that enrich the gut microbiota and produce a wide range of beneficial health effects, comparable to those of kefir or homemade sauerkraut.

Although it is now in vogue, the kombucha tea mushroom is not a product of modern times. The first traces of this unique culture of yeast and bacteria that takes the form of a gelatinous mass are found in ancient China. It is said that the Han dynasty, which prevailed at the time, used the kombucha mushroom as a medicine.

Kombucha is made into sweetened tea. Fermentation turns sugar into alcohol and acetic acid, lactic acid and gluconic acid. This makes kombucha taste sour and contains 0.7 to 1.3 percent alcohol. To prepare it at home, you need to follow the steps correctly and be very scrupulous with hygiene.

The properties and benefits of Kombucha

The properties of kombucha are manifold, although you should keep in mind that pasteurized kombucha is sold that does not contain live microorganisms or products with excessive amounts of sugar. To get these benefits, choose kombucha with live microorganisms, or better yet, make it yourself at home.

  • It’s digestive: thanks to the effect of beneficial bacteria that reinforce the microbiota. It also contains a variety of organic acids with anti-inflammatory properties. Acetic acid (same as vinegar) is the most abundant and also contains gluconic acid and lactic acid.
  • It is antioxidant: the drink preserves the polyphenols of the green or black tea with which it is prepared. Studies indicate that green tea drinkers have a below-average risk of prostate, breast and colon cancer.
  • Protects the liver: stimulates liver enzymes that inactivate and eliminate toxic compounds. Reduces its toxicity by up to 70%.
  • it’s antibiotic especially thanks to acetic acid and polyphenols. A study published in Food Biochemistry Magazine observes its effectiveness against candida.
  • Strengthens the heart: reduces bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL) in just 30 days. It also slows down the oxidation of cholesterol which makes it a threat.
  • improves metabolism of sugars and kidney function. Regular drinkers of this tea have an 18% lower risk of developing diabetes.

How to prepare step by step

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To make kombucha you need a “mushroom” or “scoby”, that is, a sample of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast that lives in a cellulosic structure that floats on top of the tea. With each new fermentation, a new cellulosic layer or “disk” is created.

As for microorganisms, most belong to the genus of gluconacetobacteria. There are also lactobacilli and zygosacaromices yeasts.

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As with kefir, scobies pass amicably from person to person, although they can also be found at organic stores, health food stores, and stores that specialize in fermented foods.

If you decide to make your own kombucha, you should follow the instructions carefully and monitor the appearance of the colony, as harmful bacteria or fungi can multiply, as can any food fermentation process.

INGREDIENTS:

To prepare the kombucha you will need some of the ready-made drink, the mushroom or scoby, water, sugar, tea, a large clean glass jar for fermentation and smaller bottles with a flange closure.

PREPARATION:

  1. Bring a liter of water to boil in a pan.
  2. Add about 3-10g of tea to boiling water. It can be green tea, black tea, fruit tea, herbal tea or a tea blend. It is advisable to add a serving of green tea because kombucha especially likes it. Leave to infuse for about 20 minutes so that all substances that will participate in the fermentation process are released. Do not use teas with artificial flavors or a high proportion of essential oils (spearmint, sage) as they hinder the growth of the fungus.
  3. Now add 80-120g of sugar to the hot, filtered tea. More sugar can give it an unpleasant aftertaste. Let the tea cool to 20°C. The fungus can die at higher temperatures!
  4. Pour the iced tea into the glass jar and add 100 ml of ready-made kombucha (pre-cultivation). Place the mushroom, smooth side up, on top of the liquid. The fungus will grow through the top in layers. The oldest fungus may remain in the brew flask, but it should be discarded when it gets dark.
  5. Cover the fermentation vessel with a cloth or a sheet of kitchen paper and secure it with a rubber band. This step is very important to avoid the infestation of insects and fungi.
  6. Place the fermentation jar in a warm place (if possible, at a temperature not lower than 15°C and not higher than 30°C, ideally 23°C). Avoid exposing it to fumes or direct sunlight.
  7. Let it rest for about 5-14 days. Do not move the bottle unnecessarily. The movement makes it difficult for a new layer of fungus to grow evenly. The more mature the kombucha, the more acidic it will taste. After 5 days it has a smooth and pleasant taste.
  8. Wash your hands very well, remove the fungus with your fingers and rinse in warm or cold water. Place it on a glass or ceramic plate (it must not come into contact with metal).
  9. Pour the kombucha drink through a muslin strainer or fine mesh plastic into glass bottles with zip closures.
  10. Store the bottles in the refrigerator. Kombucha can be stored for 1-2 weeks, during which time fermentation continues (so it will taste more acidic each day).
  11. Thoroughly clean the brew jug, prepare the tea and restart the process.

If you try it and it doesn’t taste good, it might be bad. It should be a little fizzy, with a sour point, but sweet at the same time. If you notice a change in the taste or smell of your kombucha and you find it unpleasant, don’t drink it. Better to throw it away and start over. Don’t forget to discard the old part of the fungus and keep an eye on its appearance.

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