How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Making Kombucha

While my daughter Katie was home she turned me on to Kombucha. It is a fermented tea that supposedly has beneficial bacteria and other things that are supposed to be good for you. First of all I love anything that is fermented, and I instantly fell in love with the flavor of this drink.

I don’t really know what Kombucha has to do with my yard, but one of the things I enjoy most is that you can flavor the drinks with different fruits, herbs, and spices, some of which I am sure will come from my yard. I love making stuff like this, and try to get creative in the flavoring.

So what exactly is Kombucha?? Kombucha is a fermented tea that is often drunk for medicinal purposes. There is limited scientific information supporting any health benefit. Kombucha is a living health drink made by fermenting tea and sugar with the Kombucha culture. The culture is called a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast). The results can taste like something between sparkling apple cider and champagne, depending on the tea. Actually I was talking to a friend about the flavor today and I described it as kind of a dirty sock kind of smell, which really isn’t that appealing a description. I guess it is kind of an acquired taste, but I love it!

The first recorded use of Kombucha comes from China in 221 BC during the Tsin Dynasty. It was known as “The Tea of Immortality”. Kombucha tea has been reported to be a cure-all for a wide range of conditions including baldness, insomnia, intestinal disorders, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and cancer. Supporters say that Kombucha tea can boost the immune system and reverse the aging process. Between the Kombucha and the bee stings I should live forever!! Kombucha tea is said to contain antioxidants, a compound that blocks the action of free radicals (activated oxygen molecules that can damage cells).

I have been thoroughly enjoying making Kombucha tea. I bought some old Grolsch bottles on Ebay to bottle my tea in. They are perfect because of the hinged closure, great for the fermentation process. Just like in brewing or wine making there is a secondary fermentation when you add the different fruits etc. After I bottle the Kombucha, I flavor it with things like Gogi berries, raspberries, ginger, chai spice, etc. I leave very little space at the top of the bottle, and the sugars that are in the fruits allow for a secondary fermentation to occur. I let the bottles sit on my counter for 3-4 days, and then I put them in the refrigerator to slow the fermentation process. You need to be careful when you open the Grolsch bottles, remembering in the fermentation process CO2 is released as the yeast feeds from the sugars. The Kombucha can become quite effervescent.

I am really grateful that my daughter taught me about Kombucha. Not only do I enjoy the thought of the possible health benefits, but I love the fermentation process. The good news also is that it has very few calories because most of the sugars are fermented out.

So I hope I turned you on to making some “Buch”!

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