Why Have a Backup of Your Kombucha Culture ?

   We are asked by people on a daily basis, what to do with a kombucha mushroom culture that may not be working as great as it did when the culture starter was new. The common problems are no fizz, culture not reproducing, or off smells. This is one of the main reasons for keeping a back-up of your culture. You will want to have a replacement on hand if something happens to your main brewing Kombucha culture or also known as a ‘mother’. If a replacement is needed, keeping a backup also allows a new batch to get going without having to find or wait for a replacement culture to be shipped.
kombucha in brewing jar

Through Neglect, a Kombucha Mushroom Culture can Become Unusable Under These Conditions:

– Leaving the tea for a long time with adding fresh tea/sugar solution.

– Contamination with mold.  These happens when the pH is not acidic enough.  Note: Mold will always grow on top of the tea culture.

– Contamination via insects, gnats, or fruit flies Can happen if jar is not covered and secured properly

– Replacement needed due to miss-handling Jar drops, handling with unclean hands or utensils, broken jar/glass.

  By keeping a back-up on hand or several containers brewing at once the need to pay for or search for a replacement will not be needed.  With each brewing cycle, the kombucha mushroom will reproduce itself so there will be plenty of fresh back-ups to keep.  You may keep a replacement culture in some fresh tea solution stored covered in the refrigerator or again keep several jars going at once.

Other sources say that the kombucha culture can be frozen or dried in a dehydrator and still stay active.

Thanks for checking out our Blog page and Happy Culturing!
Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods.

~ Top 4 Kombucha Tea Brewing Questions & Answers ~

Q. My package is expanded during shipment. Is it still good?

A. Nothing is wrong with the culture starter and this happens normally during shipment. It’s a good sign, meaning the kombucha ‘mushroom’ culture is viable and living. Remember this is live and active cultures of yeast and bacteria your working with.

Best to open the package and place in a clean jar with lid, until use. Make sure to get your first batch going ASAP!

 

kombucha sinks
As seen by the photo on the left, one
culture has sunk to the bottom while the
other kombucha culture is at the top.
Note that both containers are forming a
new mushroom on top of the tea solution.

Q. Just made the first batch of kombucha tea and the starter mushroom sinks to the bottom. Is it bad?

  1. Nothing is wrong, if your kombucha culture mushroom sinks when placed in the new tea solution. After a few days and with the build up of CO2, the culture will in most cases rise to the surface. When selecting which cultures to brew your new batch of tea with choosing a mushroom culture that floats will help jump start the brewing process and provide an extra level of protection. If the culture floats then the tea starts culturing from the top down. When a culture does sink, the culture growth works from the bottom up. Even if the mother culture does not start to float, do not worry, as the new culture layer will always form on the top of the tea solution. This is one reason to add ‘starter tea’ when making a new batch to aid in inoculating the tea solution.
kombucha showing CO2
…Tiny Bubbles…

Q. My finished Kombucha tea has no effervescence. How can I make it fizzy?

A. People in the USA are custom having fizzy drinks and the finished kombucha or Jun beverage, making little bubbles as it is poured into a glass, is what one desires.

A few things are easy to change yet effect the outcome of the finished product…
Temperature is the number one factor in producing effervescence. If the temperature is to low or high, the amount of carbonation varies. A temperature of 75 to 80 deg F does the trick in most cases.

Yeast change sugars into alcohol, producing carbonation as a side effect. Happy yeast colonies make more fizz! Adding a bit more sugar or trying a different type could help add more fizz. However, just adding more sugar won’t always do the trick. Too much sugar can make the yeast sluggish and slow. Like people after the ‘all you can eat buffet’

Try Changing Tea type of tea you use. Aged or black teas seem to produce more carbonation.

We also find that having more than one mother culture in a jar seems to seal it off better. This holds in more carbonation, which one can see being released as the kombucha culture is removed.

mold on kombuchaQ. I think I have mold on the tea culture…what do I do?
Mold on the kombucha mushroom culture is a common question we are asked here. What does mold look like compared with the dying yeast cultures that are common during the kombucha or JUN brewing cycle? A simple answer is that most mold or foreign growth will look like mold that occurs on other type of food such as bread or cheese. Most will be fuzzy and brown or green in colour. Any type of mold or fungus growing on top of the kombucha mushroom is cause to discard the whole mushroom culture due to contamination. See our older Blog post for more on kombucha and mold.

What is Not Mold: Sometimes the culture will produce brownish streamers or what is described as a string or web-like in appearance or growth, which hangs down into the tea. This is not mold or contamination and are simply old, dead yeast cells that have completed their life cycle.
These are fine to consume, however, many people like to strain these out before bottling the finished beverage. Sometimes the mushroom itself will form a brown area by the edge of the glass, which may look like mold. This must be examined closely as this, too, may simple be dead kombucha yeast cells. At other times, the mushroom culture will develop whitish coloured bumps on the surface of the liquid. These are sometimes mistaken for mold; however, they are simply small bubbles of carbonic acid just under the newly developing skin. The new culture will continue to fill out and cover these within a few days. But most important, if you are unsure of anything or suspect something is wrong! Do NOT Drink the Tea!

Thanks for checking out the Blog page and Happy Culturing!
Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods

Checkout our culture specials this weekend at our store page.
We have some free kombucha cultures with certain orders.
See details at the Organic-Cultures Store


 

 

The Difference in Water Kefir Strains…

By now many people have heard of, tried a bottled version, or even make beverages themselves from water kefir grains. The grains they are using are the traditional water grains, also known as Japanese Water Crystals, or California Honey Bees.

5 types water kefirIn our travels around the world from Japan to the islands of Hawaii, we have obtained several strains of natural organic water kefir grains. Each type has its own makeup: different from one another in their structure, opaqueness, and food source. Each one has a slightly different probiotic makeup due to the food source and the area that it came from. When choosing a strain for daily use, look for the one that best suits your ingredient resources! Also, look for water type kefirs are fresh, not dehydrated or dried, which keeps them healthier and viable. There are many sources for the traditional water kefir starter online, however, this is the only type carried. We have collected eight different unique water strains, offering five of these for others to try.

Water kefirs exist around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. We see this from growing the water type kefir strains in our lab and the creation of ‘grains’ inside the fruits tested and on Petri dish plates.

Scientific Stuff…
Typical water kefirs have a mix of Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Pediococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria with yeasts from Saccharomyces, Candida(the good kind), Kloeckera and possibly other wild yeasts and bacteria. Lactobacillus brevis has been identified as the species responsible for the production of the polysaccharide (dextran) that forms the grains. Certainly opportunistic bacteria take advantage of this stable symbiotic relation that might be the reason for the many different names/distinctions in the scientific literature. Different ingredients or hygienic conditions might also change the fungal and bacteriological composition, leading to the different cultural/continent names. Wild yeast from that region will also enter into the ‘system’ and become part of the symbiotic makeup. A makeup, due to the close and often long-term interaction between two or more different biological species or strains.

People whom DO NOT wish to consume dairy products may find that water kefir provides them with fresh probiotics without the need for dairy or tea cultured products, such as kombucha or milk kefir grains. This is a true vegan product from start to finish. The final product, if bottled, will produce a carbonated beverage, however, the shelf life is short. We recommend drinking it fresh daily vs. bottling. Notice each of the descriptions below to see which strain will suit your needs and dietary concerns.

water kefir grains   ~ Water Kefir Grains or Kefir dé Acqua ~ Organic Kefir Dé Acqua are similar in probiotic makeup to milk or dairy kefir, but are cultured in a water based mixture of cane sugar, whole organic figs or other dried fruit, and organic lemons.   There are many places online to find this type of water kefir starter.
Culturing time is 24 to 48 hours. Produces good amount of fizz. Flavor depends on the type of fruit used.


tibicos grains ~ Tibicos/Tibi – South American Water Kefir Type
~ One of our latest hand-sourced water kefirs brought back from South America. Most speculate this strain originated in Mexico where it thrived in the sugary water of the Ountia (prickly pear) cactus. It has been popular for many years in Mexico to use Tibi (water kefir) to make Tepache (pronounced tuh-PAH-chay) which is a pineapple-brown sugar-cinnamon beverage fermented by the grains. Tibicos is easy to make…just add Piloncillo raw sugar and non-chlorinated water to the kefir grains. Piloncillo sugar can be found in any Mexican food store. Tibicos has a rich molasses taste and the grains will be
brown in color over traditional water kefir grains.
Culturing time is 30 to 48 hours. Produces lower amount of fizz, unless fruit is added. Flavor depends on the type of fruit used and amount of Piloncillo sugar/molasses.

coconut water kefir~ Coconut Water Kefir – Kepe Niyog Juice ~ This strain of water kefir grains comes from the Philippines, called ‘kepe niyog juice’. We picked this strain up about 10 years ago and it is still fermenting strong as ever. Coconut water kefir is made from the raw coconut water (called ‘niyog tubig’) and meat of young fresh coconuts or you may use coconut milk cut with coconut juice or filtered water – Fresh coconut are sold in USA as ‘young Thai coconuts’ not the mature old coconuts with the brown hairy shells. Kefir type grains then ferment this juice for a refreshing coconut taste. This converts the sugars in the juice/meat into a hardy refreshing beverage full of pro-biotics. If more effervescence were desired, traditionally, a little date palm sugar would be added.
Culturing time is 20 to 40 hours. Produces lower amount of fizz, unless sugar is added. Flavor is of fermented coconut.

grape kefir grains ~ Kefir D’uva Crystals – Grape Kefir Grains ~ Grape kefir grains or Kefir D’uva crystals are similar to milk or a dairy kefir grain, however, this strain was received from Western Europe. It is grown and cultured only with organic grape juice or fresh grapes. The use of only grape juice or fresh crushed grapes has change the structure of the grains, making them different from the traditional water kefir grains. The taste is like a very light fermented wine and cultures very quickly. No sugar needed to culture this strain as the grape juice provides enough for the grape kefir grains.
Culturing time is 15 to 24 hours. Produces high amounts of fizz. Flavor is of slightly fermented red wine.

hawaian water kefir ~ Hawaiian Kefir Grains – Hua’Ai Wai ~ When in Hawaii during our resent 2013 travels, we met an old man making fermented Hua’Ai Wai (fruit water/juice). He made it fresh every night with raw fruit juices to sell in the morning and throughout the day. His most popular flavor was Wai hua ái liliko í-‘alani-kuawa, or passion-orange-guava flavor. The locals were buying him out everyday! Through his good nature, we obtained some of his water grains and brought them back to the mainland US. He stated that the grains were ‘magic’ and appeared in the fermented fruits that were left setting out for a week or more. He never got grains from an outside source. We have verified in our lab that new grains will grow inside whole unopened fruit if left sitting in kefir water No sugar ever used for this kefir water strain. Culturing time is shorter to allow beverage to still have sweetness. Use fresh organic fruits, canned fruit,
or bottled juices for making this great tasting beverage!
Culturing time is 22 to 30 hours. Produces high amounts of fizz. Flavor is of fruits or juices used with a slight hint of yeast.

Water kefirs exist around the world, with no two cultures being exactly the same. Working with culture starters, since 2000, we have seen a major increase of people wanting to know more about traditional cultured foods, fermentation, and making their own cultured cuisine! As we learn, grow, and share more cultured foods we belief that more culture strains and culturing traditions will come to light.

 

Live, Grow, Share Cultured Foods… Happy Culturing! www.organic-cultures.com

Kombucha Tea – Tips & Tricks 7/16/14 – Summertime Kombucha Tea

Kombucha tea in the summer
Kombucha tea in the summer

Summertime Kombucha

As any long term brewer knows, kombucha brews different in the long summer days vs. the colder winter months. To make the prefect summer kombucha tea beverage a change in ingredients, length of time, and temperature are required. Below are some tips to keep your kombucha tea happy and producing a great pro-biotic beverage.
–         As temperatures get higher, the brewing time will decrease. This can be a benefit; however, too short of brewing time will not produce the highest amounts of organic acids and pro-biotics. If living in a hotter climate finding a cooler place (basement, climate controlled space, etc.) may be necessary.
–         Keep the temperature of the liquid (not ambient temp) at recommend brewing temperature range. Standard temperature is between 70 to 80 Degrees F. Doing so will allow for the proper brewing times. If you kombucha tea is ready within just a few of days then the temperature is most likely to high, which greatly effects time.
–         During the summer months, we brew with lighter teas, like green or white organic. This seems to suit the hotter weather over a black or fermented tea. In addition, the yeast will consume more sugar when the temperatures are high, so use 1 ½ cups organic sugar vs. the standard 1 cup.
–         BUGS! If brewing kombucha through a season one will see how much fruit flies love the yeast in kombucha tea. The flies can be a real problem and will even be attracted from outside. Simple solution is to make a fruit fly trap which is very simple to do. Just take around a ½ cup of old kombucha liquid starter and place into small container. To this, add one or two drops of dish soap. The soap breaks the water tension and kills the flies when they land on it.
Once too many fruit flies are in the container it will have to be changed and refreshed to attract more bugs.

We hope these tips and tricks will help you brew great tea during the summer time.
Look for more tips each week and as always…

Happy Brewin’!
Kombucha tea in Grolsch

LIVE, GROW, SHARE CULTURED FOODS !

Summer Time Special…

Summer Time Special

There is still time to get a free JUN culture from our store:

http://store.organic-cultures.com/

Spend $50 or more and get a free JUN culture as a way of us saying thank you
for your support. Harry only 3 free JUN cultures left!

Remember your purchase from us goes to maintaining these culture starts
and allows us to procure more types of culture starters. Holding onto these traditional food starter cultures allows us a larger array of food stocks, preservation, and natural pro-biotics.
Thank you again for your support.

We’re Back to Culture…You! With JUN !

Greetings All!

We have not posted of late to the Blog.  We have been traveling about the planet looking for new food cultures to pass along to you.

It has been a very great outcome!!!  In the near future, we will tell you more about the food cultures in detail.

At the store page, there is now JUN cultures (somewhat like kombucha tea), a new Russian Rose kombucha strain (using traditional old school rosehips & elder berries),  and topping it all off is Sea Rice from India!

You can visit our store front at any time to read more on these new food cultures
http://store.organic-cultures.com

JUN

Jun Culture
Jun Honey Culture – Like Kombucha

What is Jun?  Those of you who are familiar with Kombucha may have heard of its rarer cousin, Jun.
Kombucha is a slightly different fermentation process from Jun, and contains different strains of bacteria.
Some call Jun Honey Culture the ‘champagne of kombucha’ due to its slightly sweeter more exotic qualities.
Jun taste like a raw honey mead with a sour note – fizzy sweet with a tangy back taste.

Jun Honey Culture
Jun Honey Culture use Raw Honey

Kombucha is made by the fermentation of raw sugar and brewed black tea by a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast –
also known as a SCOBY.  It likes warm, humid climates and takes an average of 5 to 14 days to ferment –
once the fermentation process starts

Jun, on the other hand, is a fermentation of raw honey and brewed green or white tea also by a SCOBY.  However, since Jun
was widely brewed and cultivated in the colder Tibetan regions, it may take longer to ferment and reproduce a new JUN culture if the climate is cold.  It likes slightly cooler temperatures and seems to have as shorter brewing cycle, 3 to 7 days,
to complete the fermentation process if temperature are higher, around 65 to 70 deg F.

Jun, is known to some as the ‘champagne of kombucha’, it is like a honey mead when finished brewing   The fact remains that this is still a relatively unknown quantity with a deep mystery and reverence surrounding it.  The oral tradition of Jun goes back several millennia and it is thought that, Lau Tsu, himself gave an heirloom culture to the monks of Bon in Tibet.

Our JUN culture was brought back from Northern China/Tibet within the last few months and is a new strain that we now carry.  The price is higher over kombucha starter, due to the cost of ingredients (raw honey) and the rarity of the strain.  You will maintain the Jun culture strain (oc-0978JUN) on a food source of raw or pasteurized honey and good quality green or white tea.  Darker black teas are not recommened.

Buy your Jun honey starter culture today and start making this new honey beverage that is x2 as good as kombucha tea!

Next posting we’ll talk about the Russian Red Rose kombucha strain (oc-0643RRR)
Talk to everyone again soon.  Until Then…Happy Culturing!

Kombucha Tips & Tricks of the Week – 11.07.2012

Taking A Break From Culturing Mushroom Tea Brewing

  From time to time, the home brewer of KT may wish to take a break from the process
of mushroom tea culturing.  There areseveral methods one may use for short term storage of the mushroom culture. If the time frame for stopping production is a week to a month then the process isas simple as making up a fresh batch of tea/sugar solution and leaving the
batch to sit in a cool place.

The temperature should be a little lower than optimal to slowdown the culturing process, yet not too much, to make the culture go into a dormant state.

Upon return or desire to restart production cycle, simply make fresh kombucha tea
solution as per directions.  The tea that is a couple of weeks old may be too strong with vinegar to be drinkable; however, it should start a new batch easily.  Make sure to check and adjust the pH when breaking the brewing cycle.

If the time frame is between a month or two, then follow this process…

  Make a fresh batch of tea solution and start a new batch, as normal, 2 to 3 days before departure or ending the brewing production.  After the third day, place whole brewing container into the refrigerator and leave until return. Use a lid or covering that will not allow for excessive evaporation, say a loose fitting lid or covering part of the opening with plastic wrap. Storing the KT in the refrigerator will slow down, but not stop, the culturing/brewing process. After returning to brewing production, the SCOBY cultures may need a cycle or two to completely return from their dormant state.

Though suggested by some authors on kombucha, one may freeze the mushroom cultures and return to them when ready.  We do not recommend freezing the cultures, as this puts great strain on the bacteria and yeast colonies, destroying many cell walls and in turn reducing the amount of active cultures present.  Better, the have a friend maintain the mushroom cultures in your abstinence or obtain a new culture from a quality source, like organic-kombucha.com or organic-cultures.com when ready to begin brewing kombucha tea again.

Since one can regulate the temperature of the brewing process, extending the length of time needed for culturing.  Example would be storing the brewing jars in a dry cool place to slow the process when traveling.  In most cases, simply discarding the old tea below 4.5 pH upon return, and starting a new batch is all that is needed to restart your production of your very own raw kombucha tea beverage.

Copyright 2006 – Organic-kombucha.com

Traditional Tempeh? Don’t Have no Banana Trees in My Backyard…


 

tempeh banana
Inoculated Tempeh in Banana Leaf

New July, 2014 Follow Up…

This has been a great method, developed by Organic Cultures, for wrapping soy beans inoculated with tempeh spores. The culturing/fermentation times are shorter, which could be in part from the wild yeast spores on the burdock leaf. Burdock wrapping of the tempeh cakes makes it easier and faster to produce vs. filling plastic bags.

The burdock leaf is prefect this time of year for trying this tempeh production method yourself. Hurry though as the burdock will start the flowering and seed production cycles soon, which is still OK for wrapping the soy beans. This method is more like the traditional recipe and replaces plastic bags and the mess of poking all the holes.

Once the cakes are inoculated and growing tempeh spores medium, simply place cakes into a freezer bag and freeze. We find it best to take the finished cakes out right before you plan to use them and allow thawing about half way through. Letting the cake thaw completely seems to make a softer lower grade product.

Let us know in the comments how this method goes for you. Remember to identify correctly the plant used or have someone knowledgeable in herbal medicine assist you.

_END

As with most of North America, we cannot produce tempeh in the traditional manor.  Traditional tempeh is a mix of cooked soybeans inoculated with the proper spore starter.  The inoculated tempe mixture is wrapped in fresh banana leaves to ferment outside for a day or two.

Here in the USA, it is common use plastic bags with perforated with holes for fermenting the soy cakes; however, this is not following traditional ways or sustainable methods.  The following experiment, brought about by looking for an alternative, is as follows: …

Experiment #:  Tempe1012AB274 –
Alternative Sources for Tempeh Fermentation

Equipment Used: Dehulled split soybeans, tempeh spores, burdock leaves, common kitchen and lab utensils and glassware.

– Experiment started via the standard tempeh recipe found on our organic-cultures.com website.  Once soy beans are cooked and processed, the steps changed from placing tempeh mixture in perforated plastic bags to encasing the spore inoculated soy beans in a sustainable and eco-friendly wrapping.

burdock leaf  –  Cakes then wrapped in fresh burdock leaf.  Found single layer of leaf material breaks and needs more holding strength.  Some blanch the burdock leaves; in this case, we did not.  Used two to three leaves placed opposed to each other.  Proper amount of tempe spore soybean mixture placed within leaf ‘basket’.  Secure with toothpicks or bamboo.  Amount of mixture can very due to size of leaves, however, for better fermentation times use around
a 1/3 cup or 4 oz/ 113gr per leaf.

– Fermented cakes for 29 hours at 75 degrees F on breathable rack lightly covered with layer of plastic film to keep moisture in.  Cakes need air circulation but not enough to dry out.  Cover with additional layers of burdock leaves for future testing.

– Extra mixture placed in glass baking tray vs. plastic bags, mixture pressed down to better inoculate soybeans and covered lightly with plastic wrap.  Within same time frame as above, soybeans showed complete growth with pure white ‘fuzzy’ growth on top of the soy beans.  This method seemed faster for quick use or where a sliced ‘cake’ packaged in plastic bags, is not desired.  Allows easier mixing of a sauce or marinade with the fermented tempeh.  In our test, we mixed the tempeh with BBQ sauce, pressed into cakes, battered and deep fried.  Not the healthiest tempeh recipe it is a great vegan substitution for meat!
With a cultured dipping sauce, it makes a very nice appetizer or snack.

tempeh spore cake
Buy Tempeh Spore StarterRagi Tempe Spore Starter