Q: I am interested in fermenting. Is it hard to make kombucha or sauerkraut?
Kim W., San Luis Obispo
A: Fermenting foods involves a few simple steps. It does not require any refrigeration, preserving methods or special equipment.
Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage using salt, while kombucha is fermented tea using sugar. Both foods feature healthy bacteria known as probiotics.
Sauerkraut is very fun to make. The process involves mixing shredded cabbage and salt, packing the mixture in a jar or crock and placing it in a dark place for three to four weeks.
It is important that you store your sauerkraut at 70 to 75 degrees for fermenting.
At 60 to 65 degrees, the sauerkraut will take longer to ferment, and below 60 it will not ferment at all. Go above 75 degrees and your sauerkraut will become soft and mushy.
Once it’s done fermenting, you can preserve your sauerkraut using the boiling water method. I usually place mine in the fridge.
A batch can last several months, but don’t be surprised if yours vanishes in a couple of weeks.
Kombucha consists of black or green tea and a sweetener such as cane sugar, fruit or honey. It is made by fermenting the tea and sugar with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).
SCOBYs can be found online and in local stores. With a little patience, you can even grow your own from raw kombucha purchased at a store.
It is important to use a reputable recipe for both these processes. If you do not use the correct ratio of salt to cabbage when making sauerkraut, you could end up with a non-fermented product or mold.
With kombucha, if you do not add enough sugar at the start or during the process, the SCOBY will not have anything to feed on and your tea will not ferment.
Learn more at the UCCE Master Food Preservers’ Fermentation Workshop this weekend. It takes place 10 a.m. to noon Saturday August 25 at 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo, and is held in the auditorium next to the parking lot.
Admission costs $10. Reserve your spot at http://ucanr.edu/fermentation2018.