We broke up with kombucha for a little while.
Brews would be forgotten for too long, flavors were added at the wrong time and sad-looking SCOBYs (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) and less-than-palatable beverages were the result.
Then, it was all water kefir all the time, but I have a hard time keeping that up during the winter. Tibicos are fantastic for what I like to call a fizzy lifting drink, quite refreshing on a hot summer day, but not something I crave when the chill is on. So we broke up with those, too.
It was somewhat liberating not to have any cultures to babysit (excepting the weekly batch of yogurt, which is very forgiving), but then some friends brought over a bottle of their homebrew cranberry kombucha and it was all over. We came crawling back, begged forgiveness and started over, with a bit more research and a lot more enthusiasm. The results have been super-tasty and we find ourselves with wonderfully healthy, rapidly growing mama mushies.
Inevitably, if you’ve got a happy culture going on, you’ll have some extra to give away, feed to your chickens, or…experiment with.
Enter the SCOBY Snack. If you don’t like gummy bears, don’t make this. It’s basically the most delicious apple-cider flavored gummy chunk you’ll ever put in your mouth. Seriously, I will take SCOBY donations just to make gallons of this stuff.
All you need are your extra SCOBYs and a very simple sugar syrup.
Sugar syrup: heat a 50/50 solution of sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved.
Cut your SCOBY up into one-inch chunks. You want about a 1/2-inch-ish thickness for best results. If you have a really thick one, that has been hanging out for a long time trying to become the size of your jar, you’ll need to slice it into rounds and then cut it up.
Layer the chunks into a baking dish or bowl, sprinkling with a little raw sugar as you go.
Pour the sugar syrup over the chunks until they are mostly covered.
Marinate for about 24 hours.
If you have a dehydrator, spread the chunks out on a fruit leather sheet and set to a raw food temp (I used 115 degrees). Dehydrate until you’ve got gummy bear texture. So far, I’m storing my finished snacks in a glass jar at room temperature. I don’t they’ll last more than a day or two.
If you are using an oven, then spread the chunks on a parchment-lined baking sheet and dry at the lowest possible temperature, checking often.
***btw, this recipe may have kombucha “mushroom” as a base, but it’s definitely candy. It’s probably better for you than anything made with corn syrup and who-knows-what, but I don’t think you can get away with calling it a nutritional supplement. 😉
As for our beverage brews, we’ve come a long way since our earlier flavor experiments. Now we add our flavors during a second fermentation and our culture is much happier for it.
The best results have been with fruit that we picked and froze for the winter…peach-ginger is such a welcome, happy taste of summer! For each half-gallon jar of poured-off kombucha, we add about 1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit and a tablespoon or so of minced candied ginger and let it ferment for another few days before straining again and bottling.