Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Make Flavored Kombucha Tea

We've been brewing our own kombucha tea for several years now.  We brew multiple gallons of kombucha at a time, and over the last year or so we've experimented quite a bit with making different flavors. Making flavored kombucha tea is really quite simple to do, but there are some subtle differences to making each flavor the best it can be.

Start with Some Finished Kombucha

To make flavored kombucha, you need to start with some plain kombucha. You can see my recipe for making kombucha tea here. We pour the finished kombucha into 2-cup jars and flavor each jar individually. We like to save bottles from the GT's kombucha sold in stores for this purpose, and we also use mason jars.  If you want your kombucha to be extra fizzy, Fido jars work well.  I wouldn't recommend using bottles with very small openings with this method, as it will be particularly difficult to clean them out and make sure that all the flavoring bits are removed.

Our Favorite Flavors

These are the flavors we keep making time and time again. With all of these flavors, a short fermenting time on the counter helps develop the flavors and create a bit of fizz.  The ideal fermenting time varies a bit with each flavor, so read below for specific details.  All of the amounts listed below correspond to a 2-cup (16-ounce) jar of plain kombucha.
  • Raspberry - Raspberry kombucha is slightly sweet and delicious.  This is a great flavor to use for people who haven't learned to love the tanginess of kombucha quite yet.
    • I find that frozen raspberries have the best flavor and the least chance of any mold contamination. The berries you use must be absolutely mold-free, else the kombucha will be nasty.
    • Add ~6 raspberries to each jar. 
    • Leave the jar to ferment on the counter for 2 days and then transfer to the refrigerator.
    • When pouring the raspberry kombucha from each jar, a fork can be used to keep the berries from falling into each drink.  Our backyard chickens absolutely love to eat these kombucha-flavored berries, but they would also be a great addition to the compost heap.

  • Fresh Ginger - Fresh ginger added to kombucha makes an amazingly refreshing drink.
    • Use either a garlic press or a juicer to prepare the ginger. I do not recommend chopping/mincing the ginger for use in kombucha because it is rather fibrous.  Using a garlic press or juicer will remove most of the fibrous material, and the kombucha is much better without it. I slice the ginger into roughly 1/4-inch pieces before pressing it in my garlic press. 
    • Add the pressed/juiced ginger to each jar of kombucha.  Even a small amount (< 1/8 tsp) of ginger per jar is delicious, but for the best flavor I like to use a larger amount (~1/4 tsp).
    • Leave the jar to ferment on the counter for 1-2 days and then transfer to the refrigerator.
    • We drink this kombucha and the ginger bits without straining it.
  • Lemon - Lemon kombucha is superb!  Such a simple, fresh flavor.
    • Use a reamer to juice some lemons. Don't be tempted to just squeeze the lemons, as you will get MUCH more juice using a reamer. It is fine if there is pulp along with the juice, but be sure to remove any lemon seeds.
    • Add 1-3 tsp lemon juice per jar. Using 3 tsp will give you a nicely tart drink, whereas 1 tsp of lemon juice adds a more mild flavor.
    • Only allow lemon kombucha to sit on the counter for 12-15 hours. If it sits out longer, it will grow lots of little SCOBY bits that aren't desirable for drinking.
    • We drink lemon kombucha without straining out the pulp.
  • Lemon Ginger - Lemon and ginger combine to make a very tasty drink.
    • Prepare the ginger and lemon juice using the same methods described for the lemon and ginger kombuchas.
    • Add 1/4 tsp ginger and 2 tsp lemon juice to each jar.
    • Only allow ginger lemon kombucha to sit on the counter for 12-15 hours. If it sits out longer, it will grow lots of little SCOBY bits that aren't desirable for drinking.
  • Lemon Raspberry - Lemon raspberry kombucha is reminiscent of raspberry lemonade, but with a delicious tanginess.
    • Prepare the lemon juice using the same method described for the lemon kombucha.
    • Add 6 raspberries and 2 tsp lemon juice to each jar.
    • Only allow lemon raspberry kombucha to sit on the counter for 12-15 hours. If it sits out longer, it will grow lots of little SCOBY bits that aren't desirable for drinking.
  • Triple Tasty! Ginger, Lemon, and Raspberry - For an extra flavor punch, try combining all three flavorings.
    • Prepare the ginger and lemon juice using the same methods described for the lemon and ginger kombuchas.
    • Add 4 raspberries, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 2 tsp lemon juice to each jar.
    • Only allow triple kombucha to sit on the counter for 12-15 hours. If it sits out longer, it will grow lots of little SCOBY bits that aren't desirable for drinking.

Some Flavors We Haven't Enjoyed

There are a few flavors of kombucha we have tried that did not turn out so well: strawberry, orange, blueberry, and blackberry.  They are still drinkable, but nearly as tasty as our favorite flavors.

Do you brew your own kombucha?  Do you enjoy it plain, or flavored?  What is your favorite flavor?

This post is part of Fat Tuesday! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One Ingredient Face Moisturizer - Healthy and Effective!

Why Avoid Storebought Face Moisturizers?

Most storebought face moisturizers contain ingredients I'd rather not apply to my skin. Chemicals in contact with skin can be absorbed into our bodies.  According to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website, storebought moisturizers such as L'Oreal and Olay contain ingredients that can potentially cause cancer, endocrine disruption, and reproductive toxicity.

What About "Organic" Face Moisturizers?

"Organic" face moisturizers generally contain better ingredients, but they tend to be very expensive.  And I have found them to be totally unnecessary, since my One Ingredient Face Moisturizer works wonderfully.  If you eat real foods, this is probably something you already have on the shelf!   

One Ingredient Face Moisturizer - Unrefined Coconut Oil!

I've been using unrefined coconut oil as a face moisturizer for nearly two years.  It smells great and works wonderfully. When applied sparingly, it is readily absorbed by the skin, and will therefore not lead to an oily appearance. Unrefined coconut oil is also very healthy for the skin.  It contains lauric acid, which is antimicrobial and antiviral, so it is great for acne-prone skin. 

How to Use Coconut Oil as a Facial Moisturizer

The method I use for applying unrefined coconut oil as a facial moisturizer is as follows:
  1. First, I wash my face with mild soap and very warm water.  The warmth helps my pores to open up, and makes the coconut oil absorb better once applied.
  2. Then I lightly blot my face dry with a towel, leaving it still damp.
  3. Right away, I scoop a small amount of coconut oil onto my hands.  I rub this into my hands (front and back of hands) and then use the very small amount left on my palms to apply coconut oil to my whole face and neck.  NOTE: if you don't apply the coconut oil right away after washing your face, it will not be absorbed as readily so you may end up with an oily face.

It Works Great All Over the Body Too!

I also like to use unrefined coconut oil as a moisturizer all over my body. The same rules apply: washing first with very warm water, lightly blotting the skin dry so that it is still a bit damp, and then applying the coconut oil right away.  I find it works best to keep the coconut oil in the shower, so I can apply it before I even step out of the shower. Goosebumps definitely seem to keep the oil from absorbing, so I apply it while I am still toasty warm from the shower.

What do you use as a face moisturizer? 

This post is part of Fat Tuesday!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How Conventional Medicine is Making You More Sick - The Homeopathic Law of Suppression

This post is the second in my series on homeopathy basics.  

The Body Has an Innate Wisdom

In homeopathy, there is a belief in the innate wisdom of the body. This means that, when the body manifests symptoms, it does so at the least vital level. The symptoms are not the enemy, rather they are an indication that there is a disturbance in the body's vital force. The vital force is "responsible for the orderly and therefore healthy running of the body, and for coordinating the body's defenses against disease." [1]  (Another, more simple way to think of the vital force is that it is the body's immune system.) Whether the reason for the disturbance to the vital force is obvious (such as exposure to a flu) or harder to understand (such as eczema or chronic pain), the symptoms are the body's best possible defense against the disturbance.

Conventional Medicine Works Through Symptom Suppression

Conventional medicines work through the premise of symptom suppression. If there is a cough, a medicine is given to suppress the cough. If there is a rash, ointments and steroid creams are applied to suppress the rash. If there is an abnormal growth, it is surgically removed. In the short term, this may seem like a reasonable path to follow, but the problem with this approach is that it does not address the fundamental disturbance which led to the symptoms in the first place.

Suppressing Symptoms Cannot Lead to Health

Given that the body has innate wisdom and wants to express any disturbance of the vital force by creating symptoms at the least vital level, suppressing these symptoms cannot lead to health. When symptoms are suppressed, they are pushed deeper. The underlying disturbance is still present, and the body then needs to express it at a deeper level (since the least vital level has already been suppressed).

An Example: Eczema

Let's use eczema as an example. Eczema is a rash that may appear on the body. When a suppressing ointment such as cortisone cream is used to make the eczema "go away", the rash may indeed disappear but the underlying disturbance that caused the rash in the first place is still present. The eczema may go away, but in it's place there are likely to be respiratory tract problems such as asthma or bronchitis. Thus, the cortisone cream has pushed the disturbance to a deeper, more vital level of the body.

The Hierarchy of Bodily Systems

In The Science of Homeopathy [2], George Vithoulkas gives an excellent description of the level of importance of the bodily systems. He describes that the order of importance of bodily systems (from most important to least important) as follows:
Endocrine System
Liver (including Digestive System)
Reproductive Organs

Skin ailments, such as eczema, are bothersome, but they are at the least vital level of the body. When eczema is suppressed and respiratory problems develop instead, the person has moved further from a state of health than they were with just eczema.

True Health Comes From Curing the Underlying Disturbance Rather Than Suppressing the Symptoms 

When conventional medicines are used, all that is gained is temporary relief followed by even worse health at deeper levels of the body. When homeopathy is used, the body is stimulated to cure the underlying disturbance that led to the symptoms in the first place. In this way, true health is gained.

[1] The Family Guide to Homeopathy, by Dr. Andrew Lockie, 1989, p.3.
[2] The Science of Homeopathy, George Vithoulkas, 1980, pp. 24, 36.

NOTE: I am not a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner. The information I provide is intended to educate, and should not be construed as a prescription. You are responsible for determining whether or not you want to take advantage of the information offered.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Homemade Spiced Ketchup (primal : GAPS : gluten-free)

While we enjoy my basic ketchup recipe as well, lately we've really been enjoying this spiced ketchup recipe. This ketchup is a bit sweeter and more like store-bought ketchup than my other recipe. It is a bit like a cross between ketchup and barbecue sauce. The ketchup is great on bunless burgers, hot dogs, and with french fries.

Since this ketchup is fermented, it is a great source of probiotics too!
Homemade Spiced Ketchup
Makes 1 quart

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl (if using a quart mason jar, you can save on dirty dishes by mixing this up directly in the jar). Stir well to combine. If using pint mason jars, pour the ketchup into the jars.
  2. Ensure that the top of the ketchup is at least 1-inch below the top of the jar(s).
  3. Using a clean cloth or paper towel, wipe the top of the jar above the ketchup clean.
  4. Put a lid on the jar and leave at room temperature for 3 days; then transfer to the refrigerator.