Adapted from our friend Steph Vigneaux and
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
1 L water
1 tbsp loose black or green tea; or 2 tea bags
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup acidic kombucha liquid (that the starter comes in)
Kombucha starter (other names: Mother, Scoby - Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria & Yeast)
1.5 L wide-mouth jar or large bowl, pot, mesh strainer, cheesecloth, rubber band
1. Bring water and sugar to a boil in a pot. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat. Add tea into the pot.
2. Cover the pot and wait 10-15 minutes, swishing the pot around to help it brew. Remove or strain tea out.
3. Wait for the kombucha to cool. Test your tea with a clean finger - if it’s not hot, then it’s ready to start fermenting.
4. Gently pour the mixture into a jar or bowl, and add the starter liquid and mother. Tilt the jar as if you were pouring a beer. Fill the jar to 1-2 inches from the top.
5. Cover the opening with a clean cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Place out of direct light in a warm spot (ie. on top of the fridge, in a cupboard).
6. After 3-7 days, you will notice a skin forming on the surface of the kombucha. Taste the liquid.
If it's too sweet for your liking, let it sit and ferment some more. If the kombucha is to your liking, strain it into another resealable glass container, leaving 10% of the liquid to preserve the Scoby. Store kombucha in the fridge for drinking. This recipe makes 1 liter.
7. Store the Scoby with 10% of the kombucha in the fridge, or make a new batch. You can separate the old mother from the new skin that formed, and pass either of them onto a friend. Each generation will give birth to a new mother, and the old mother will thicken. Take the mother out of the fridge once a month and feed her some sugar.
You'll know she's still alive if you see some bubbling when you add the sugar.
Do not use flavoured black teas like Earl Grey, or herbal teas -- decaffinated is OK
Kombucha works best if the diameter of the container is greater than the depth of the liquid, ie. a large bowl (make sure your cloth is wide enough to fit over the bowl, and tie a bunch of rubber bands together to make a mega-band)
The longer the kombucha sits and ferments, the more acidic it will become
Not a fan of refined sugar? Neither are we, but don't worry because the mother will eat up most of it! Be careful about using alternative sugars like honey, as the bacteria may become toxic.
Unlike kombucha, you can create your own ginger bug starter from scratch. All you need is ginger, sugar and water!
Adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
6-10 inches or more fresh organic ginger
2 cups sugar
2 lemons, juiced
5-6 resealable bottles with screw tops (reused cider, juice, beer bottles)
Small glass jar, large pot, mesh strainer, cheesecloth, rubber band, small funnel
1. In a small jar, add 2 tsp finely grated ginger (skin on) and 2 tsp sugar to 1 cup of water.
2. Stir and cover with cloth and rubber band. Leave in a warm spot (ie. on top of the fridge).
3. Feed and stir the same amount of ginger and sugar every day or two.
4. Once it starts bubbling (2 days to a week), you're ready to make the ginger beer! If you aren't able to make it yet, keep feeding the bug the same ginger and sugar every 2 days.
1. Boil 2 liters of water. Add 2-6 inches of grated ginger (depending on how mild or intense you'd like the flavor), and 1 1/2 cups of sugar.
2. Boil this mixture for ~15 minutes, then cool completely. While you're waiting, sanitize bottles with hot soapy water.
3. Once cooled, add the lemon juice and ginger bug, and stir. Strain the whole mixture into another pot and add enough water to make 4 liters of liquid.
4. Stir the liquid thoroughly and use a funnel to bottle the ginger beer. Seal the bottle tightly, rinse and dry off the outside of the bottles. Leave them to ferment on top of the fridge for about 2 weeks.
5. When you're ready to open, cool the bottles in the fridge for a few hours. This will stop the fermentation process. When opening the bottles, be prepared as the carbonation can be strong (like opening champagne!). Be ready to pour with a towel and drinking glass. Once opened, drink immediately.
This ginger beer is a soft drink, fermented enough for carbonation but not enough to be alcoholic. However, the longer you ferment it past the 2 weeks, the higher its alcoholic level.
Experimentation is key to ginger beer, as there are many approximate measurements in this recipe (ie. 4-6 'inches' of ginger). The main thing to remember is to keep your ginger bug alive -- if it's bubbling, it's happy!
The ginger bug can be used as yeast in any alcohol ferment, or to start a sourdough.
To keep a continuous cycle of making ginger beer, save a few tbsp of the ginger bug before adding it to the whole mixture, and replenish it with more water, ginger and sugar.
Bitters are an aromatic flavouring agent made from infusing roots, barks, spices, fruit peels and herbs in high-proof alcohol. Traditionally used for medicinal cures, bitters are now a popular way to spice up cocktails or non-alcoholic beverages. The process of making bitters doesn't actually require fermentation, but we put this recipe here because it goes so well with our other fermented drinks!
Adapted from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons
apple peels from 6 medium to large organic apples
zest of 1/2 lemon, cut into strips with a paring knife
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp allspice berries
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cassia chips
1/2 tsp cinchona bark
2 cups high-proof bourbon, or more as needed
1 cup water
2 tbsp rich syrup*
1 L mason jars, funnel, mesh strainer or cheesecloth, glass dropper bottles
1. Place all of the ingredients except for bourbon, water and syrup into a mason jar. Pour in the bourbon, adding more if needed until the ingredients are covered. Seal the jar and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks. Shake the jar once a day.
2. After 2 weeks, strain the liquid into a clean jar using a strainer/cheesecloth and a funnel. Use a spoon to squeeze all the juices out of the solids, and squeeze excess liquids from the cloth as well. Keep straining until all the sediments have been filtered out. Seal the jar and put it back in the room temperature spot.
3. Take the solids and put them into a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the saucepan and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and cool completely. Once cooled, add all the contents (both liquid and solids) to a clean mason jar. Seal the jar and store at room temperature out of direct light for 1 week, shaking the jar daily.
5. After 1 week, strain the jar with the liquid and solids with strainer/cheesecloth and funnel into a clean mason jar. Discard the solids. Add this liquid to the jar containing the original bourbon/liquid solution.
6. Make rich syrup*: In a saucepan, bring 2 cups Demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 cup of water to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it boils, remove from heat and let cool completely. Store syrup in a glass jar with a lid. It will keep in the fridge for up to a month. Makes 1 1/2 cups of rich syrup.
7. Add 2 tbsp of the rich syrup to the jar and stir to incorporate, then cover and shake to fully dissolve the syrup.
8. Store the mixture at room temperature for 3 days. After, skim anything that floats to the surface. Strain and funnel the mixture one last time to remove any solids.
9. Using a funnel, distribute the bitters into glass dropper bottles and label. If there's any sediments left, or if the liquid is cloudy, give the bottle a shake before using. Bitters will last indefinitely, but for best flavour use within a year. This recipe makes about 20 ounces.
Find specialty bitters ingredients (ie. bark and cassia chips) at The Modern Bartender (28 E Pender St).
Source good quality organic apples and spices. However, you don't need to use high-quality bourbon to make bitters -- save the good stuff for drinking!
Why apple peels instead of the apple itself? The peel introduces bitterness, and contains less water and sugar (which is a good thing)
Use apple bitters with bourbon, rye, whiskey, applejack, apple brandy, or in an old-fashioned or Manhattan
Although the bitters use hard liquor to make, you only use a few dashes in a drink, so it's more for adding flavor
Mix Your Own Drinks!
1/2 orange juice
2-3 dashes orange bitters
The Perfect Summer Drink
0.5 oz lemon or lime juice
3 oz ginger beer
4-5 dashes apple bitters
mint to garnish
simple syrup (depending on how sweet ginger beer is)
Method: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Serve virgin, or replace half the ginger beer with bourbon or rum.
Dark 'n' Stormy
6 oz ginger beer
2 oz dark or spiced rum
1 lime wedge
from Shady Morels
1 oz Mezcal
1/2 oz Amaro
5 dashes apple bitters
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 egg white
1/4 oz honey
Method: Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain and serve with apple slice garnish.
Moscow Peach Punch
6 ripe peaches or nectarines, pitted and chopped
juice of 3-4 lemons
2 tbsp organic cane sugar
1 cup water
handful of fresh mint, stemmed
Optional: 4 oz vodka
Garnish: peach slices, mint
Method: Bring chopped peaches, lemon juice, sugar and water to a boil over medium heat. Simmer, stirring often, until peaches begin to break down (about 10 minutes). Puree until smooth, then refrigerate until cool. In a large pitcher, gently muddle the mint. Add 2 cups of the puree, (vodka), ginger beer, lots of ice, and stir. Serve with peach slices and mint. Then sit back and enjoy the taste of summer!
Bitters and Soda
4-6 dashes plain bitters
club soda or seltzer
Smoky Scotch & Apple Sour
from Shady Morels
1.5 oz peaty Scotch
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz honey
1/2 egg white
3 dashes apple bitters
peel from 1/2 apple
Method: Muddle the apple peels in a shaker. Add everything but the ice and shake vigorously. Add ice and shake again. Strain with fine mesh.