This must be what it feels like to be a Mom!
That is a baby scoby, soon to become a mother culture by which I hope to start my new project: Brewing Kombucha!
Kombucha is a fermented tea drink rich in probiotics, beneficial yeast, acids, esters, and an itsy bit of alcohol and bubbling with carbonation when brewed correctly. I bought a bottle from the grocery store once for $3.50. It was good (tangy & slightly sweet), but not $3.50 good. Not when you can brew your own at home for less than $1 batch.
But I digress–back to the scoby. SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” Sounds delicious. Almost as delicious as it looks! Sometimes referred to as a mushroom (just based on appearance, it has no relation to actual mushrooms), the scoby is the magic that makes kombucha what it is.
The basic process is pretty simple–you take the scoby, add it to tea (which has to be sweetened–the sugar is the food that the scoby uses to produce probiotics, fizz, and acids), and let it brew for as long as you like. The shorter the brew, the sweeter the tea, the longer the brew, the closer it will be to vinegar.
A great resource for information on how to brew kombucha is Cultures for Health. There is a Kombucha Challenge on Real Food Forager’s blog which I’ve learned a lot from. Several places you can order a scoby online (here, here, or here), but I would recommend first trying to grow your own (see cultures for health above–they have a free Ebook describing in great detail how–which is pretty amazing coming from a company that makes a profit from selling their cultures). I gave it a shot and it looked like nothing for 2 weeks, just a bit of white film. I was pretty discouraged so eventually contacted a few people to try to find a scoby, actually obtained one from a recommendation at the local Co-op I belong to …..and then something spectacular happened at about 3 1/2 weeks (might have helped that I moved it to right next to a heater) and I had a little scoby!
I named him Charlie. Charlie the Scoby. Gonna throw Charlie into a vat of tea & see what it does in a week or so!