Making natural 'live' sodas

with warmth comes the annual party of our microbial friends

We can’t get enough of this summer. After long months of cold and darkness (not to mention quarantine) never-ending bright days appear to be the remedy to those pent-up anxieties.

The brightness seems to make us more awake. More lively. More social.

Think about how many picnics you’ve already had with friends as soon as the temp hit 15c and skies as clear as you could remember.

Apparently, it’s not just us who loves the warmth.

Even microbes do. In fact, they go in frenzy when the thermostat hits their preferred ‘party zone’

Leave anything that they find appetizing (which is anything that will decompose) and they’ll surely start feeding on it sooner than you like.

So why not take advantage of this quick fermentation season by making some fermented drinks that are not only beaming with live beneficial bacteria, but also refreshingly zingy with its natural carbonation.

Today, we make Kombucha and Tepache.

For those who haven’t been introduced yet to these wonder duo of drinks, there are plenty of literature on the web if you’d be interested to go deep and even technical. But to briefly explain it, these are fermented water-based beverages made through an anaerobic process of microbial reproduction by using the sugar content of the liquid as the food for the microbes.

So basically, they (the microbes) eat and multiply.

These so-called ‘live’ drinks are found to be beneficial for our gut and have been receiving some revival especially in the developed parts of the world.

For the kombucha, we need to introduce the mother SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) to a cooled down brew of sweetened black tea. The mother (which looks like a jelly spaceship) then starts to feed on the sugars present in the mixture.

On the other hand, the tepache solely relies on the present microbes on the skin of the pineapple which is why this is one of the smartest way of getting the most out of the fruit. It’s literally adding the peel to some water, sweetened with some crude sugar and maybe a spice or two (cinnamon is common)


So anyway, here’s the recipe I used for these home brews. :)

Kombucha

12 bags black tea (I have been using Lipton ever since)

2L of water

250g of white sugar

healthy SCOBY. (which one can buy online, or if you have foodie friends, one of them would most like have some)

  • simply brew your black tea however strong you want it. let it cool. then sweeten to a little more than your preferred sweetness since once the microbes have eaten the sugars, it will taste considerably less sweet (plus, you’re feeding sugar to the microbes)

  • transfer to an airtight jar and wait for several days, depending on your climate. (warmer weather speeds up their frenzy, while the cold holds the opposite)

  • allow the mixture to release gas (burp) from time to time. (once to twice a day)

  • rebottle in soda pop containers and keep in the fridge until you want to be refreshed.

Tepache

peel of 1 pineapple

2.5L water

250g jaggery, muscovado or palm sugar

2 sticks cinnamon

3pcs dried apricot (optional)

  • simply combine everything in your tight fitting jar. no need to even dissolve the sugar!

  • let it di its groove for about 3-5 days depending on your weather. the longer it’s fermented, the more sour it becomes. re-bottle and store in the fridge before consuming.

after making your own first batch of brews, feel free to experiment on flavors!
I have made some batches with some added fruit peels and other spices which worked out fantastic. :)

will be sharing some other brews in the future!

that’s it for now! :)