Category Archives: Brewing

Muscadine Wine

Tomorrow evening I will be teaching a Muscadine Wine class in coordination with Augusta Locally Grown and the West End Market & Bakery in Augusta.  I sat down yesterday to write up a handout for my class and thought about how lucky we are to live in an area of such abundant, year-round produce.

Wild Muscadine Grape Leaves
Wild Muscadine Grape Leaves

The ice storm we had back in February broke a lot of my neighbors vine covered trees over onto my property. I’m not so happy with the trees, but those vines were wild muscadine vines. About a month ago I pulled a tarp underneath the vine-laden trees and shook the grapes out of them. I gathered several pounds of wild grapes and made a batch of wine that I’ll use tomorrow night to demonstrate how to rack the wine from one container to another.  I’ll be using a blueberry wine that’s been fermenting away for a couple of months to show them how to bottle the wine.  The blueberries were from a local farm where my hubby and I went and picked them ourselves. I love taking things that are foraged, that I’ve grown or at least picked myself and turning them into something wonderful and complex that can be enjoyed months later!

I’m sure we’ll have a good time tomorrow night and I hope to have some pictures taken so that I can post them here. I think my next class will be on Kefir or Mead, Cider & Ciser. I’ll let you know when I get it scheduled!

Kombucha

Several months ago I decided that I wanted to make my own kombucha. I had bought some from a lady at my local online farmers market a couple of years ago and I couldn’t help but remember how she talked about how easy and affordable it was to make. Being the nerd that I am, I did some research and found out that one used to be able to buy a bottle of kombucha, pour it into a jar of sweet tea, wait a few weeks and then enjoy your own homebrewed buch as well as having a lovely SCOBY to use thereafter. But due to an FDA regulation that was enacted a few years ago, the commercially marketed kombucha that you buy nowadays has been filtered to the point that it cannot propagate a new SCOBY and, therefore, it is really only good to drink that one time. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to pay $3.00 or more for one drink it better lead to a buzz down the road. I decided to go online and purchase a SCOBY so that I could make my own yummy, nutritious kombucha.

For those who may not be too familiar with the acronym, SCOBY is short for a Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. In other words, it’s a fermentation culture. If you look at a SCOBY through the side of a clear glass jar, it can look kind of like a jellyfish… an alien jellyfish even. Shortly after I made my first batch of buch we had a major ice storm and were without electricity for a few days. I knew that the kombucha was supposed to stay between **76°-82°**. If it gets too much cooler, it can grow mold. When we got our power back on I was afraid that it had gone moldy, but I contacted the person I got it from, sent her some pictures and it was actually fine.
I originally brewed my buch in a one gallon jar that I covered with a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band. Like anything brewing with yeast, you have to keep light, especially sunlight off of it. I eventually found an old water cooler at an antique store and snatched it for less than $30! I cleaned it up and replaced the spigot. Then I placed a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), a small amount of brewed kombucha, and a LOT of organic sweet tea in the cooler… did I mention that my old water cooler/new kombucha continuous brewer holds five gallons?

So now I drink around three glasses of kombucha each day, especially if I’m out working in the yard. It’s so yummy and refreshing!

Recently it started getting acidic very quickly. You see, SCOBYs reproduce every so often. That’s really great if you want to set up several jars or continuous brewers, or if you want to share SCOBYs with your friends. I hadn’t taken a good look at my SCOBY since setting up my continuous brewer, so you can imagine my surprise when I found that it had reproduced many times and I had SCOBYs about 6” in thickness and around 14” in diameter! No wonder the buch was so acidic! So now I need to thin them down. I think I’ll take on that challenge this weekend.