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


 

Kombucha Tips for the Week 10-26-2013

Using Herbal Teas, Flavored Teas and or Wild-Crafted Plants – A Quick Word

Traditionally, brewing and maintaining kombucha mushroom culture required black tea and a sugar source.  There are reasons for using black tea that aid in the longevity of the cultures vitality by working as a nutrient solution.
When using herbal teas or plants to brew kombucha tea mushroom cultures the concern lays is the amount of volatile oils contained within the plant in question.  Using herbs, plants, or flavored traditional teas with high amounts of volatile oils may affect the growth of the Kombucha culture.  An example of a tea not to use would be peppermint tea.  Also, avoid herbal or flavored teas that contain high amount of bitters.  The benefits of using medicinal herbs when preparing kombucha tea can greatly enhance the beneficial properties of the kombucha tea tonic.

A great old time Kombucha recipe, from Russia, is an alternative to traditional black tea is dried rose hips, dried elderberries, and a sugar source.  This is a very old traditional recipe as both ingredients could be gathered in most areas with very low cost, if any, compared to imported tea, which only the wealthy could afford.

Teas NOT recommended for brewing kombucha tea, include but are not limited to: Sage, peppermint, St. John’s Wort, chamomile flower, ginger root, or plants
within the pepper family
.

Herbs Safe to Use for Brewing:
Aniseed, young blackberry or raspberry leaf and berry, chicory root, club moss, dandelion, elder flowers and berries, fennel, hibiscus flower, nettle leaf, oat straw.  In addition, Rooibos tea (red bush tea), plantain leaf, rose hips common, yerba maté leaf, and valerian root.

NOTES on Fresh Plant/Herbs:  First, use low oil teas, Google herbal sites for complete listing.  One draw back to using herbal tea is that they contain more wild yeast spores over green or black tea.  This may contaminate the kombucha cultures; on the other hand, the wild yeast may assist in producing a fizzier beverage.  This happens by introducing more yeast into the brewing vessel.  The draw back is that you have no control over what type of yeast you introduce.  In short, there may be a higher chance of contaminating your kombucha mushroom cultures by using herbal teas or plants.  Use a backup culture for experiments!  To prevent contamination, make sure your pH readings are within the proper range.

Kombucha Tip For the Week 10/16/2013

kombucha tea cultureKombucha Tip For the Week… As requested again… Kombucha Tea Fast Brew Method V02:
Our fast brew method can save a bit of time and the tea/sugar solution is ready to inoculate with the kombucha cultures and start tea.
KT Classic Recipe… is as follows: – 1 gallon water, bring to boil – Add 6 teabags or teaspoons per gallon – Add 1 to 1½ cups of sugar, stir – Allow to cool to room temperature and inoculate with culture – Brew 7 to 14 days
KT Fast Brew Method: – ½ gallon of water, bring to boil – Add 6 teabags or teaspoons per gallon – Add 1 to 1½ cups of sugar, stir to dissolve – Add ½ gallon of cold water, mix – Allow to cool to room temperature and inoculate with culture – Brew 7 to 14 days   The difference is that the fast brew method will require less time to cool the raw tea/sugar solution, thus, getting the round brewing faster. The basic difference is cutting the water in your recipe by half and then adding the other half of the water (cold) at the very end. This cools the solution faster, to get the batch started and help to prevent mold.
Happy Brewing, Nirinjan Singh