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Kombucha Tea Concentrate

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Kombucha Tea Concentrate

These are my kombucha brewing vessels. Aren’t they amazing?! The first one is a toasted oak barrel made specifically for kombucha from Kombucha Kamp. The center handcrafted ceramic crock is also from Kombucha Kamp. The one on the end is a vinegar barrel I bought a few years ago which works great with kombucha. While both are great, I prefer the one from Kombucha Kamp because the opening on top is wider and the spout is located higher up which is more ideal for a continuous brewing system.

When I make kombucha, I go big. Really big. I have a family of 6 and everyone loves kombucha. Keeping up with 6 people drinking kombucha regularly can be a big task but with a big enough barrel and kombucha concentrate, it’s totally doable. So I make about 4 gallons of kombucha at a time in a 5 gallon oak barrel.

To make 4 gallons of kombucha, I need to brew 4 gallons of tea. I don’t have a pot large enough to do that, and making 4 separate brews just takes too much time and space. To save time and space, I brew this kombucha concentrate. 4 gallons worth of kombucha in 1 gallon.

Making the concentrate quickens up the tea making process as well. No need to wait for the tea to return to room temperature, just add cold water to the hot concentrate and use right away.

I use this tea concentrate to get my large system going and I also use it to whenever I need to add more tea to my system.  I usually harvest my kombucha once or twice a week (depending on when it tastes ready). Instead of brewing more tea every week, I just grab my concentrate and add water. It will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. To make it last longer, freeze the concentrate in smaller portion sizes. I freeze mine in 1 cup portions so I can make any amount, 1 quart and up.

Tea Concentrate Ingredients

  • 24- 32 tea bags or 1/2- 2/3 cup loose leaf tea*
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 3 quarts filtered water

In a large pot, heat water and sugar to a boil. Turn heat off and add tea. Let steep for about 15 minutes. Remove tea bags. Pour tea into a 1 gallon container. Top off with more filtered water, if needed, to make exactly 1 gallon. Use right away or store in the fridge until ready to use. Will keep for up to 2 weeks. Freeze in 1 cup portions to extend the life of the concentrate.

*I recommend using at least 25% black tea to maintain a healthy SCOBY. If using green or white tea in addition to black tea, place different teas in a separate tea balls. Steep the green or white tea for only 3-5 minutes to keep the tea from getting bitter. Let black tea steep for 10-15 minutes. Adding herbal tea, or different types of tea like rooibos is perfectly fine. Steep for as long as recommended.

How to Use Tea Concentrate

You can use the tea concentrate to make any amount of tea desired using a 1:3 ratio, 1 part kombucha concentrate, 3 parts water. Adding water to the concentrate while it is hot will bring it down to room temperature. Don’t add hot concentrate to the SCOBY without diluting it with cold water first.

1 Quart = 1 cup kombucha concentrate + 3 cups water.

1 Gallon = 1 quart kombucha concentrate + 3 quarts water.

4 Gallons = 1 gallon kombucha concentrate + 3 gallons water.

Recap on How to Add Tea to Your Continuous Brewing System

If you are unfamiliar with continuous brewing systems, see my post on them here: Kombucha Continuous Brew System

To use this tea in your continuous brewing system, be sure to add 2 cups of starter per 1 gallon of reconstituted tea. For a 5 gallon barrel like mine, I add 4 gallons of tea plus 2 quarts (8 cups) of already brewed kombucha.

If you don’t have brewed kombucha on hand, you can use apple cider vinegar in place of the starter tea as long as it is not raw (just boil your raw ACV for a minute to kill off ACV producing bacteria).

Place your kombucha mother on top. If it ends up sideways or at the bottom, don’t worry, it’ll still work. It usually rights itself after a few days. If you are in need of a kombucha mother, find a friend who brews. They usually have some extra SCOBY’s. If you don’t have a kombucha making friend, Kombucha Kamp sells top quality kombucha SCOBYs along with some great brewing systems. They’ve produced beautiful kombucha for me over the last few years.

For ideas on how to flavor your kombucha, check out my kombucha page.

Home on the Homestead

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I asked on Facebook if ya’ll would be interested in reading about our adventures (or misadventures) in homesteading here on the blog. It was a pretty overwhelming yes. So, I’m going to try to do a weekly post about what we are doing.

I will warn you upfront. We are not vegan or vegetarian. We raise animals to butcher. They live a very happy life and meet a quick ending. Yes, I do believe killing animals can be humane. If you’ve ever seen the aftermath of a raccoon or mink killing, you would know nature can be very inhumane. I’m not going to avoid the subject of butchering animals because it is a very important part of our homestead. I will try to avoid posting any graphic pictures.

Continue reading Home on the Homestead

Radish Top Soup

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Creamy Radish Top Soup

After a long and particularly cold winter, our garden is finally growing. One of the first things that can go in the ground here is radishes. Mine were planted a little over a month ago but due to a chilly spring, we’re still waiting for them to mature. Soon, soon, but not soon enough.

Most people think of the root part of the radish plant and toss out (or compost) the tops. The tops are edible and actually quite good. I add them to salads, sauté them with onions, juice them or make them into this creamy soup. Radish greens are rich in vitamin C, folic acid, anthocyanins, B vitamins, and phosphorus.

So stop throwing away those green goodies!  If you have more greens than you can eat, you can freeze extras by gently steaming them, bagging them and then placing in the freezer. We have greens all winter long thanks to our vacuum sealer. We also dehydrate and powderize the leaves to sprinkle in all sorts of foods.

I’m going to share with you two ways you can make this soup. The first is with a high speed blender like a Vitamix or BlendTec. The second is on the stove, blending with a stick blender (this is the blender I use Cuisinart Stick Blender). Both ways have their advantage. The high speed blender is quick and easy, makes a very smooth soup, and only one thing to clean. Supposedly this could be considered a raw soup since it’s heated up just enough to be warm. But one drawback is the foam on top of the soup. It bothers some people but not everyone. You can minimize the foam by letting it set a while and then scooping off the remaining foam. But then you have to reheat it. The stovetop method yields a less smooth soup and is cooked but it won’t have the foam problem.  Either way is super yummy. A stick blender will not blend coconut flakes up enough to be appetizing, so be sure to use coconut cream or milk and not flakes.

Creamy Radish Top Soup

Radish Top Soup (Vitamix Way)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped radish leaves (packed, or about 8 oz)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (1/2 cup sour cream for those who can have dairy)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • cayenne to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 thinly sliced radishes for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place radish leaves, coconut flakes, and garlic in high speed blender (like a Vitamix or Blendtec).
  2. Pour in 1 quart chicken stock.
  3. Begin blending on low and slowly increase in speed. Blend on high for 3-5 mins, until smooth and steamy hot (any longer than 5 mins could damage your motor).
  4. Add cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with radish slices.
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Radish Top Soup (stove top method_

Ingredients

  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 4 cups chopped radish greens
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or coconut cream for my dairy free peeps)
  • 2 tbsp butter, ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • cayenne to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 radishes, sliced thin

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, place chicken stock, kale, oil, and minced garlic cloves. Bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until greens are softened.
  2. Add sour cream (or coconut cream) and heat back up.
  3. With a stick blender, blend until smooth.
  4. Add cayenne and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with radish slices.
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Dairy Free Enchiladas with Cheese Sauce

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Dairy Free Enchilada Cheese

Dairy free enchiladas? Why that’s easy, just make it without cheese.

Uh, no. To me, cheese is the second most important ingredient. Right next to a good enchilada sauce. I’d rather leave everything else out.

I love enchiladas but I’m not going to bother making them without cheese. It’s like a pizza without cheese. Sorry, I just don’t dig it.

Sigh, I love cheese.

But, this recipe is not only an acceptable substitute, it’s actually good.  Like not “this is good for dairy free cheese” but actually just plain “this is good” without the disclaimer. The first time I made this, I made half dairy free and half with cheese.  The children request the dairy free version over the real cheese one.

To quote my husband, “Woah, Mel, this is good. I mean, you look at it and it looks all disgusting but then you take a bite and it’s so good.” I think that’s a compliment, right?

30 mins later… I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but this is a really big dish. It’s 9″x13″ and 3″ deep. A lot of food. 2 lbs of beef, 2 cups of beans, about 24 corn tortilla shells, a full recipe of the cheese sauce, and a full recipe of the enchilada sauce.

DSC_0005

It’s not just for enchiladas either. This cheese tastes great as a nacho cheese sauce with chips as well, as a topping for vegetables, over noodles for mac and cheese, and even on pizza.

Dairy Free Enchilada Cheese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 1/2 cups water (add more if needed)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 3 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Soak cashews in water overnight (or at least a few hours in hot water).
  2. Strain cashews and place in blender with 2 1/2 cups water and remaining ingredients.
  3. If using a Vitamix, type high speed blender, blend for 3-5 minutes or until hot.
  4. If using a regular blender, blend until smooth then place in a sauce pan and heat on med-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  5. Add water if needed to desire consistency.
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Beef and Beans Enchildas

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 2 cups black beans
  • Corn Tortillas (about 20-24)
  • 1 full recipe enchilada sauce (leave out sour cream for dairy free)
  • 1 recipe dairy free enchilada cheese sauce (or cheese if you please) use as much as needed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a large skillet, saute onions until translucent.
  3. Add ground beef, break into small pieces, and cooked until well browned.
  4. In a large casserole dish, 9"x13" (or two smaller dishes and freeze one for later), spoon out enough enchilada sauce to cover the bottom.
  5. Top with a layer of corn tortillas, add a layer of beans, then a layer of meat. Pour about 3/4 cup enchilada sauce over everything, then pour a layer of cheese sauce.
  6. Repeat layers. I usually get 3 layers. End with a cheese layer.
  7. Bake uncovered for about 25 mins or until warmed through.
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To use it with enchiladas, simple replace the cheese in your recipe by spooning this over (or inside) your enchiladas.

My family’s favorite recipe for enchiladas is this one, Enchilada Lasagna.

Cauliflower “Popcorn”, Raw or Roasted

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 Cauliflower "Popcorn"

I don’t know if I should admit this or not but… I ate a whole head of cauliflower by myself yesterday. I meant for everyone to have it but the boys had Royal Rangers (church Boy Scout type thingie) and I mis-timed making these.  My husband took the boys to church and I was home all by myself with a pan full of roasted cauliflower “popcorn”.  I couldn’t help myself.

Continue reading Cauliflower “Popcorn”, Raw or Roasted