Fermented foods are a beautiful way to increase gut health when your gut is strong and ready.
If you’re familiar with my four week online Heal Your Gut program, (the next round kicks off soon), you'll know that after giving your digestive system a rest and healing the gut lining, when your gut is feeling stronger you can start adding fermented foods to your diet to boost beneficial gut flora. Go gently and see how your gut reacts – try small amounts each day and see how you feel.
Kombucha is one of the most enjoyable and delicious ways to introduce the world of cultured foods into your life, as it basically replaces the need for soft drink, providing a mildly sweet, slightly sour and naturally fizzy beverage that is enjoyed by adults and kids alike.
Kombucha begins life as an ordinary sugary tea, but the addition of a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) transforms it into a fermented drink. The SCOBY bacteria and yeast eat most of the sugar, yielding a drink full of natural probiotics that will dance around happily in your intestines. A small amount enjoyed daily has many gut-healing properties.
Aside from colonising the gut with probiotic bacteria that are wonderful for your immune system, this delicious fermeted tea holds an impressive collection of health promoting properties that have been enjoyed in Russia, Japan, Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, Manchuria and Indonesia for generations. According to the Weston A Price Foundation:
Kombucha is rich in B vitamins and a substance called glucuronic acid which binds up environmental and metabolic toxins so that they can be excreted through the kidneys. Glucuronic acid is a natural acid that is produced by the liver. Kombucha simply supplies the body with more and boosts the natural detoxification process.
Glucuronic acid is also the building block of a group of important polysaccharides that include hyaluronic acid (a basic component of connective tissue), chondroitin sulfate (a basic component of cartilage) and mucoitinsulfuric acid (a building block of the stomach lining and the vitreous humor of the eye).
Kombucha has also been linked to a myriad of other benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability. It truly is a tonic rather than simply a yummy beverage.
Don’t be afraid of the fermenting process which can seem like a complex lab operation rather than a kitchen recipe. Honestly, you just have to take the plunge and enter into the world of fermentation to realise that with some basic knowledge of the way bacteria feed on a constant supply of sugars, the process of keeping your culture alive and enjoying it’s wonderful and delicious creations is actually a very straightforward, common sense process that will become part of your daily rhythm.
Once you get the hang of making it, you can flavour it up with ginger and turmeric or even berries. Purchase a SCOBY online or, if you’re very lucky, a friend might give you one. You can buy kombucha online or at a health food store, although once you’ve made your first batch, you won’t need to buy it any more.
You’ll also need a breathable cloth such as muslin (I use a nut bag), a rubber band, and one sterilised wide-mouthed, 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cup) capacity glass jar with a lid (Mason jar).
- 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) filtered water
- 2 organic black tea bags
- 55 g (2 oz/ 1/4 cup) organic sugar
- 1 SCOBY (see above)
- 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) homemade or store-bought kombucha (see above)
Put the water in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea bags, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Pour the tea into the sterilised jar, then add the SCOBY and the kombucha. Cover with muslin, secure with a rubber band and write the date on the jar.
Store undisturbed in a cool, dark, dry place for 7 days, then test it to see if it’s ready. It should be fizzy and slightly sour/vinegary. If it’s still sweet, let it ferment for a day or so longer (usually up to 10 days).
Once the kombucha is ready, carefully remove the SCOBY using a clean long-handled spoon and place it on a plate with a little of the liquid to stop it drying out (then use it to make another batch straight away). Pour out 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) of the kombucha and keep aside to make another batch, then pour the remaining liquid into a jug through a sieve and then into a clean glass bottle with a lid. Secure the lid tightly and make a note on the bottle of the date. The kombucha will keep in the fridge for 2–4 weeks.