SCOBY is an acronym for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Bacteria and yeast you say?? Gross! Be honest, how many of you had this as your initial reaction? I know I did at first! Luckily for us, this colony of bacteria and yeast is a powerhouse of gut-busting awesomeness packed into a flavorful, easy to make beverage! We have all heard about how our guts have good bacteria and bad bacteria. The good bacteria in our guts, also referred to as gut microbiota, are the living microbes in our intestines that keeps our digestive system running smoothly. Not only do they help with digesting certain foods, but they also can help create B and K vitamins, fight off invasive organisms, and maintain a healthy, thriving gut that allows our immune systems to function properly, keeping us healthy all year long! However, with the heavy emphasis on processed, convenient foods in America and your ever nagging social life, it can be hard to keep the beneficial bacteria abundant and thriving when all these bad microbiota have the chance to invade and take over. When this balance gets corrupted, you may start to suffer from conditions such as irritabel bowel syndrome, allergies, weight gain, lethargy, intestinal distress, and other uncomfortable bowel disorders.
I think my gut flora might be out of whack!
First step: Don’t panic! Recognizing that something is funky with your system is the first step to fixing the issue.
Second: Focus on diet! Pay attention to what foods trigger your problems, and see if you notice any correlations. Cut out processed foods, and simple sugars and carbs. Really try and eat a whole foods diet such as fresh, local fruit and vegetables, preferably organic if possible. Don’t beat yourself up over slight indulgences, but just be able to recognize when you take it too far. If you notice you have issues with eating a specific type of food such as dairy products or grains, that may be an indication of a larger issue, such as an allergy or intolerance. Try to cut gluten or dairy out of your diet for a whole month and see if your symptoms subside. If they don’t, there’s a good chance that’s not the problem… yay! Keeping a food journal may help to pinpoint any issues – write down what you eat at each meal and as snacks, and note how you feel after consuming those foods.
Third: Consider investing in probiotics that can help build up those good bacteria in your gut. Keep in mind that this isn’t a one and done deal. You have to maintain a healthy environment in your intestines for these little guys to thrive. However, supplementing with them is a great way to give them a kick start.
Kombucha is HOW much in stores?
This price of Kombucha at your local co-op may be rather pricey if you intend to drink it as often as suggested, which is a bottle a day. To make things easier on yourself and your budget, try making this fizzy, healthy drink at home, right in your own kitchen!
How you may ask? Easy! You can either buy a SCOBY online, or grow your own from a store bought Kombucha. Once you have a healthy, happy SCOBY, you can start brewing your Kombucha!
Steps to growing your own SCOBY:
- Buy a bottle of Original Kombucha, one with no added flavors or anything. Try to find one that has a brown mass swirling at the bottom, the signs of a baby SCOBY.
- Bring one quart of water to a hot temperature, just before boiling point, preferably filtered water, but tap water won’t hurt anything. Once the water is hot enough, poor the water into your quart sized, clean glass jar, leaving a few inches of space at the top, enough to add ½ cup more liquid.
- Stir in ¼ cup sugar and add 2 tea bags of black tea (make sure the tea has no added flavorings or essential oils, has to be pure black tea). Steep tea for as long as you’d like, remove tea bags once done. Put jar to the side and let cool to room temperature.
**Try to remove all traces of soap, or just don’t use soap at all when cleaning your glass jar or anything used to make the SCOBY, because it could kill it. Also, do not use metal utensils or equipment, stick with wooden utensils because the metal may harm your SCOBY as well**
- Once your mixture is cooled to room temperature, combine ½ cup of the Original Kombucha that you bought from the store, making sure to include the baby SCOBY swirling at the bottom. Do not perform this step too early! If you add your Kombucha in before the tea is fully cooled, it will kill the beneficial organisms and your SCOBY will never form.
- Once this step is complete, cover your jar with either a coffee filter or cheese cloth, and put in a cupboard or out of direct sunlight at a temperature between 65-85 degrees, for 7 – 30 days, or until you have a rubbery substance forming on top of you mixture. Try to move your jar as little as possible during this time.
- Voila!! After allowing to sit for a few weeks, your very own, home-grown SCOBY will form! Pat yourself on the back for a SCOBY well done.
**Your SCOBY should be a light tan, brown color and will by rubbery and kind of alien-like. It is normal for darker brown strings to be hanging off of it or suspended in your tea. If mold that looks like bread mold or any other types of mold starts to form on the top of your tea, completely throw out the SCOBY and tea and start the process again.**
That first batch of Kombucha you made to form your SCOBY will most likely taste too vinegary to consume. It’s best to keep this batch to house your SCOBY. Start the process with a new batch of tea, and use this Kombucha as your starter tea. Repeat the steps above, except instead of using the store-bought Kombucha and SCOBY use the batch you just made. This batch should take less time to ferment, maybe only a week or so. Taste it as you go to get the flavor you’d like. Once it’s to your liking, remove your SCOBY from the mixture and place it along with enough Kombucha to use as a starter for a different batch. Bottle the rest of the tea in resealable jars or glass bottles. You may add fruit at this time and allow to ferment a few more days. This is how your Kombucha will become fizzy! Make sure not to ferment too long after this step, as carbonation may build up and cause your container to explode! Once to your liking, refrigerate and enjoy! Experiment with different flavors to find which ones are your favorite!
Kombucha isn’t the only food you can consume to increase you good gut flora. Fermented foods like Kefir, greek yogurt, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables can all help get your gut back on track!