I’ve become a little obsessed with making kombucha. I’ve had a brew going continuously on my bench since I made my first batch a few weeks back.
One of the concerns some of you had was with the use of sugar to feed the yeast and bacteria. As I pointed out, very little sugar is left behind. But if you’re drinking a few nips of the stuff per day, it can add up to several teaspoons. So I gave things a crack using rice malt syrup, which contains no fructose. RMS is a blend of complex carbohydrates, maltose and glucose. It’s fructose free, slow releasing and doesn’t dump on the liver like pure glucose.
I’d read that honey doesn’t work when making kombucha – the theory being the antibacterial agents kill the SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). So I was a little concerned about RMS – it’s a fermented product and I had a picture of the different bacteria squabbling for attention in the bowl, eventually annihilating each other. Plus, I’d used RMS to make my Fermented Ginger-Ade and found it needed to be a blend of sugar and RMS to work properly. Oh, and having spoken to various experts and Googled the bejesus out of the topic, I found no one had tried it this way.
But, I can report back from the moldy frontline: Rice malt syrup makes a perfect kombucha.
Simply swap the sugar for the same amount of RMS in my Kombucha recipe and you’re away. You might need to leave it to ferment an extra day or two, and I think it does produce a slightly tarter result…which I personally MUCH prefer. If you’ve been off sugar a while, you’ll probably be the same.
I’ve since used this adjusted fructose-free version to make flavoured brews. Today I’m sharing my favourite: a Chai flavour.
- 3 cups plain kombucha (my original recipe uses a litre of water, but I find I’m left with a little over 3 cups, a little of which I often reserve to “feed” the next batch)
- 5 cloves (or cardamom pods if you prefer)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3cm fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 1 star anise
After removing the SCOBY from your plain kombucha, pour into a mason jar. Add the other ingredients and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days. Strain and then pour into a 750ml bottle (so that there’s about 2cm of air at the top). You can put this in the fridge and drink as is, or…
How to make a fizzy version
You can try to get a little extra fizz going (the second ferment with the ginger and spices will produce a little) by leaving the bottle out at room temperature for an additional 2-4 days. The live yeast and bacteria will continue to consume the residual sugar from both the first and second fermentation (the RMS and the ginger). In the absence of oxygen (now that the whole thing is lidded), carbon dioxide is produced (and trapped), thus building up the fizz.
All that said, using RMS won’t produce you a great deal off carbonation. I get around this anyway by drinking my kombucha diluted with soda water. If you love a fizz, try a 50:50 split RMS and sugar in the first ferment. Or try flavouring your tea with fruit (see my next instalment on this next week!).
Feel free to share your kombucha tips below and I’ll include them in my next post.