Tag Archives: projects

Kombucha Project # 1

We all know I can’t be satisfied with one project in the works. I have to have three, or more, in the works. With two novels in the editing phase, I took on a home project brewing Kombucha and I want to show you how this is coming along.

Kombucha is fermented tea with the health benefits:

*contains probiotics
*alkalizes the body
*detoxifies the liver
*increases metabolism
*improves digestion
*alleviates constipation
*cancer prevention
*reduces blood pressure
*relieves headaches & migraines
*aids healthy cell regeneration
*reduces kidney stones
*high in polyphenols
*improves eyesight
*reduces eczema – softens the skin
*prevents arteriosclerosis
*speeds healing of ulcers
*helps clear up candida & yeast infections
*boosts energy – helps with chronic fatigue
*high in antioxidants – destroy free-radicals that cause cancer and promote healthy cellular development
*rebuilds connective tissue – helps with arthritis, gout, asthma, rheumatism

 

You can do continuous brew (CB) or batch brew (BB), and I thought, since this was my first time I would do BB, and if I liked it well enough, switch over to CB. At $4.00 a pop in health food  stores, it can get quite expensive if you drink a couple of servings a day.

To brew Kombucha at home is really very simple.

You need the following:

A healthy SCOBY (A symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) In my case two. Yes, they’re alive!

1 cup -2 cups strong starter liquid per gallon

A brewing vessel (plain or fancy) a glass pickle jar will do, you can get a fancy ceramic urn with a spigot, or what I have that is a cross between the two, a 2.5 gal glass water dispenser with a spigot. I want to be able to watch the process, but have the convenience of a spigot.

Tea, (green or black)

1 cup granulated cane sugar per gallon (feeds the yeast, not you)

4-6 bags tea bags per gallon

distilled water

tea kettle

cloth cover

rubber band

  Steps

  1. Boil 4 cups of water per gallon.
  2. Add hot water & tea bags to pot.
  3. Steep 5-7 minutes, then remove tea bags.
  4. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Let tea cool down to room temperature to prevent killing SCOBY! Add to vessel.
  5. Fill vessel most of the way with distilled water, leaving just 1-2 inches from the top for breathing room.
  6. Add SCOBY and starter liquid. (Best source for these Kombucha Kamp, Hannah also sells heater strips for those in cooler climates, as ideal brewing temp is around 74 to 82 degrees.)
  7. Cover with cloth cover and secure with the rubber band.
  8. Say a prayer, send good vibes, commune with your culture (optional but recommended).
  9. Set in a warm location out of direct sunlight (unless vessel is opaque). Mine is in my darkened studio, but I also wrap it in a dark blankie.) The area needs to be well ventilated.
  10. Do not disturb for 7 days. (Mine took 14 d/t quantity)
Healthy SCOBY
Healthy SCOBY

I purchased my SCOBY, starter and heating sheet from Kombucha Mama at Kombucha Kamp. I can’t say enough about Hannah and her helpers. Her customer service is impeccable. She really knows her Kombucha and if you have a question about the process, she has the answer somewhere on her site.

SCOBY are stored in my SCOBY Hotel. Here I have two mamas and a baby. There are stored in a glass container with starter liquid which has been pulled from the top of a fermented batch.
SCOBY are stored in my SCOBY Hotel. Here I have two mamas and a baby. They are stored in a glass container with starter liquid which has been pulled from the top of a fermented batch.
Kombucha set-up. I added an aquarium thermometer so I could judge the brewing temp.
Kombucha set-up. I added an aquarium thermometer so I could gauge the brewing temp. The mamas will sink as the baby forms on the top.
With the heating element added around the base (also available at Kombucha Kamp) I'm keeping SCOBY warm and productive. The mamas sink to the bottom, while the baby forms on top. I named my mamas Laverne and Shirley and my baby's name is Stuie.
With the heating element added around the base (also available at Kombucha Kamp) I’m keeping SCOBY warm and productive. The mamas sink to the bottom, while the baby forms on top. I named my mamas Laverne and Shirley and my baby’s name is Stuie. See the yeastie bits forming?
The tea lightens as it ferments.
The tea lightens as it ferments.

 

Here is Stuie being born, sealing off the top and doing his job.
Here is Stuie being born, sealing off the top and doing his job. Bubbles of carbonation are building under him as he grows to seal off the tea from the air.

Once Stuie has done his job (7-14 days, a little longer if you have slow starter or a large quantity. Only three or four days if you use continuous brew method.) the mamas and baby are set aside into the scoby hotel. If you are doing CB, you don’t even have to do this step, just decant a third from the bottom, then pour in replacement fresh sweet tea. I wasn’t sure about the first batch, but will be CBing in the future.

Ready to decant. I have my SCOBY Hotel to the left. Bottles for second ferment, and the mature KT
Ready to decant. I have my SCOBY Hotel to the left. Bottles for second ferment, and the mature KT. My currently unused art studio serves as my KT brewing room. You can brew in a lovely ceramic brew pot, also available at Kombucha Kamp, right on your kitchen counter top.
Kombucha Brewing First batch 010
I’ve prepped my fruits and herbs and spices. I’m making pear with ginger and cinnamon, peach ginger, strawberry, and hibiscus with cinnamon. A little goes a long way. You only need about a teaspoon per 16 oz bottle. The KT acts on the natural sugars to add more carbonation to this fizzy drink during the second ferment, which takes three or four days.
My bottles are prepped with fruit and spices. You don't have to puree the fruit. You can cut into bits and drop in, but I have another use for the leftover fruit I'll tell you about later.
My bottles are prepped with fruit and spices. You don’t have to puree the fruit. You can cut into bits and drop in, but I have another use for the leftover fruit I’ll tell you about later.

Decant into your 16 oz bottles from the spigot, or you can pour from a jar over the sink. The spigot is a lifesaver. My funnel has a screen which filters the yeasty bits.

You want to fill your bottles nearly to the top so as little space as possible is there for air. This speeds carbonation. VERY IMPORTANT: Burp your bottles every day or two to avoid EXPLOSION!!!

Place bottles into a cooler for safety and to keep dark at room temp. Don't forget to BURP them every couple of days. Keeping them in a cooler prevents glas and booch from spraying all over the place in case carbonation builds up and you have an explosion.
Place bottles into a cooler for safety and to keep dark at room temp. Don’t forget to BURP them every couple of days. Keeping them in a cooler prevents glass and booch from spraying all over the place in case carbonation builds up and you have an explosion.
Clean up is a breeze with vinegar. Never use soap and water...even trace amounts of soap will kill your culture.
Clean up is a breeze with vinegar. Never use soap and water…even trace amounts of soap will kill your culture. If you are doing continuous brewing instead of batch brewing, you only have to do this about every four to six months. Once fully fermented, I’ll be poring off into the Grolsch-style bottles.
Once your KT is ready, you can pur yourself a refreshing glass and drink right away, or strain into fresh bottles to get rid of the organic matter, which will continue to decompose if not removed. I strained into Grolsch-type bottles to go into the fridge right away. KT will not spoil.
Once your KT is ready, (about a week) you can pour yourself a refreshing glass and drink right away, or strain into fresh bottles to get rid of the organic matter, which will continue to decompose if not removed. I strained into Grolsch-type bottles to go into the fridge right away. KT will not spoil.
If you have leftover fruit. Mix it with two or three tablespoons of chia seed for fresh fruit chia jam and place in fridge. It will be great on nut butter toast for breakfast.
If you have leftover fruit. Mix it with two or three tablespoons of chia seed for fresh fruit chia jam and place in fridge. It will be great on nut butter toast for breakfast. It keeps fresh for two or three weeks.

I can’t say enough about Kombucha Kamp and the Kombucha Mama. Hannah Crum is truly awesome and she is available to get you started with all the supplies you need. She also supports you through the process if you have concerns. She’s been in production for seven years and has attended many seminars and appeared on TV shows where she explains Kombucha and how to make it. Here is a cool video where she explains how to flavor during the second ferment:

The Murphy-Harpst Home: Writing About the Past

Rolling some ideas around in my head. I guess I should tell you where I am before I embark on something new. I have a tendency to get several projects going and bounce around between them.

It wasn’t like that when I wrote Red Clay and Roses. The idea for that story had rolled around in my head for twenty years. Having the time to put the words down brought it all together in a hurry. I didn’t really intend for it to become a published book. It isn’t set in a standard novel template and has its share of faults, but I’m proud of it just the same as if I had set out to accomplish writing a novel.

Naked Alliances was my first attempt at actually putting together a totally fictional story. There are things I like about it and things I don’t. I can’t say that I’m totally thrilled with it. I know authors are supposed to be very confident and write what they want to read and be all excited about putting it out there. I’d be lying if I said that I did not have any reservations.

At any rate, I know it has improved thanks to some wonderful beta readers and a couple of fantastic editors. I just got the novel back from its last pass through an editor’s hands and I am on chapter twenty-one of thirty finishing up those edits and I am much more excited about it now than I was at the start. I plan on continuing the Naked Eye series.

I have rough outlines completed for the next two novels. One involves missing elderly, and another involves development encroaching on wildlife habitat.

I still have Surviving Sister in the works, a 1950s-60 saga that continues with Hannah Hamilton’s family members, particularly her mother and her Aunt, who both suffer from mental illness during an era of major changes in how the mentally ill were treated. Concerning the Hamilton family members, it could be read as a sequel to Red Clay and Roses or a standalone. One of the biggest hindrances to writing this novel is the research required. There is so little documentation of treatment modalities in that era. My personal psychiatrist has given me some reference books that might help move things along. There is also a romance in that book that has slowed me down.

A nice lady from the orphanage that I lived in back in the mid-seventies has written to me. She found a blog post in which I mentioned the Harpst Home. That really has me thinking. I’ve done loads of research on Ethel Harpst and the Harpst Home and still have contacts there. Although it is primarily a treatment facility now, no longer an orphanage as most children are housed in foster care nowadays, it is still home to dozens of youth who would be at serious risk if the home did not exist.

Here is an excerpt on Ethel Harpst from “Georgia Women of Achievement”

 

Ethel Harpst
Ethel Harpst

 Perhaps Ethel Harpst’s biggest gift was the time and effort she gave to so many children in need. Harpst began her long career of caring for children at the McCarty Settlement House at Cedartown’s mill village. During her time teaching there, she took in a number of children who had been orphaned by parents who succumbed to illnesses. The Ethel Harpst Home opened in March 1924 and housed many children until the walls could expand no more.

Harpst traveled to raise funds for a new home, and in 1927 the first modern building, James Hall, was completed. And just in time for children who were displaced and orphaned during the Great Depression. An answer to prayer was the interest and attention shown by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Pfeiffer of New York. Through the Pfeiffer’s and several other friends, money was raised to allow more buildings to be constructed on the campus over the next 20 years, and hundreds of acres of land were contributed to the cause. All this is thanks to the dedication and tenacity of Harpst to continue fundraising. Today, the site houses the Murphy-Harpst residential program, where Georgia’s severely abused children can go for healing and therapy. In 2010-11, the program served nearly 300 children, which included 97 children in residential treatment.”

Sarah Murphy
Sarah Murphy

Long after her death in 1967, the Harpst Home merged with the Sarah Murphy Home. Sarah Murphy was a black woman in the area who had created a home for black youth.  Harpst Home became the Murphy-Harpst Home in 1976, during my last year there when it started integrating.

So, I’ve been wondering if I should write a book about them. It would either be non-fiction or a historical fiction based on their stories.

OR, Should I write a purely fictional story about a resident there and how she saw her world and the changes she went through?

Having been a resident there myself, I could better relate to a fictional character and write in the first person. There were so very many different coming-of-age stories to come out of that place during my short time there, I think it would make for a most interesting read.

What do you think?

What would interest you most?

Historical Fiction about the founders?

An orphan’s personal story?

I remember the first black girl that came from the Sarah Murphy Home to the Ethel Harpst home, and her roommate. I’d love to tell their story.

What would you, my audience, like to read?

Any ideas you’d like to share?