I didn’t set out to be the person who drinks weird stuff out of a jar, but that’s who I’ve become.
I took a class at 18 Reasons called Fermentation: Making Kombucha, Vinegar and Shrubs. The teacher, Dr. Nishanga Bliss offered some science, some holistic food info and didn’t get too bogged down in either. During class we made a shrub (drinking vinegar) out of lemons, blood oranges, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon and ginger. After letting it sit for a week as instructed, I mixed it with a little Topo Chico bubbly water and it was refreshingly delicious. It was suggested that we could add a little tequila to make an alcoholic version. Also good.
I made a (homework!) shrub of my own, at home, this one also featuring blood oranges and lemon, but with the addition of kumquats and star anise. It’s sitting on a shelf and should be ready in a couple of days.
The shrub success gave me the confidence I needed to try making my own yogurt. I had previously read and summarily dismissed a NYT recipe for making yogurt. I mean, maybe in a world where we’ve run out of supermarkets. Now I was ready, though. I bought a digital thermometer and some Straus Organic Whole Milk. I had my 5% FAGE to use as a starter. I followed the directions of the recipe and let it sit for eight and a half hours on top of the fridge in a La Creuset dutch oven (the recipe recommended 6-12 hours). Then I transferred it into glass Tupperware and put it in the fridge. I was excited to check it in the morning. It felt like Christmas.
Yogurt-Christmas didn’t happen. I had glass Tupperware filled with milk that had a yellowish slick on parts of it. It tasted good, however, it had the viscosity of… milk. Did the temperature get too high? Did my digital thermometer lie to me? Was transferring it from the pot before putting it into the fridge a mistake? Obvs, something went wrong with my process, because the comments attached to the NYT recipe were like, “Yay! Yogurt!” I will try again.
Next up was kombucha. I drink a lot of commercial kombucha, usually GT’s Gingerade or GT’s Original. Health-Ade’s Ginger-Lemon has a serious ginger kick when I’m in the mood and I also like Health-Ade’s The Original. The brand Wild Tonic, which comes in a cobalt blue bottle, has excellent and unusual flavors like Blueberry Basil. We each got a little kombucha starter at the end of the 18 Reasons class. I brought mine home and dutifully transferred it to a glass mason jar. There it sat, neglected. I got caught up in shrub making and life and I let it sit and it grew. On a rainy San Francisco day I felt like I needed to get out of the house and decided to brave Rainbow Grocery for some ingredients.
This is what I fantasized as my time away from work: me scooping rose hips out of a giant glass jar, because I’m going to make my own rose flavored kombucha.
I hope my kombucha pal is still alive. It’s hard to tell, because kombucha has a strong odor and it looks like mold, so when people tell me to check for mold I’m like ??? Right now it’s stewing in some sweetened green tea. Hoping for the best.