Making Kombucha in Florida (Hipcamp)

Making kombucha

Making kombucha in Florida is another highlight of our Southeastern United States visit at the end of 2020. Here’s another post that I kept meaning to write, but never quite got around to it. Guess I waited too long, as it appears that Doc Jody is no longer offering RV spots at her Beulah Bee Orchard in Florida’s panhandle. But it was fun for us, so I still want to tell you about it! Is that okay?

Also, in 2021 I’ve decided to write more about what interests me most. If you’re reading this, I hope it interests you too! So this week, I’m really straying from the norm by sharing a recipe.

We stayed on Doc Jody’s property as part of Hipcamp, but as I mentioned, it doesn’t look like she’s still offering stays. It’s too bad, because we thoroughly enjoyed our time with her. She taught us all about making kombucha and even gave us one of her prized scobys. Should that be scobies? I’m really uncertain how to spell it, but here’s what Wikipedia, that denizen of knowledge says it is:

SCOBY is the commonly used acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”, and is formed after the completion of a unique fermentation process of lactic acid bacteria, acetic acid bacteria, and yeast to form several sour foods and beverages such as kombucha and kimchi. 

Wikipedia
Making kombucha
Jarful of scobies

I’ll share the recipe that Doc Jody shared with us, but it isn’t an exact science. We used the scoby at our friends’ home to make a new batch. Jack and Marycarol then made quite a few more batches with it. So while the recipe isn’t exact, it still covers all the bases.

Making Kombucha like Doc Jody does it

Yield: About one gallon

Ingredients:

  • Purified water (We bought a gallon of Distilled water for 99 cents. Doc Jody uses a Berkey Water Filter system for hers.)
  • 1 1/3 cups Organic, finely granulated sugar
  • 5-6 tea bags Black tea (can be flavored if you prefer, can also be loose leaf in a strainer ball)
  • Kombucha (from last week’s brew or buy a bottle from the store)
  • Scoby (you can buy them on Amazon)

Steps:

Make the black tea. You want it to be on the concentrated side, so heat 5-6 teabags and 3-4 cups purified water in a saucepan. Bring almost to a boil, then turn off heat. Let the bags steep an hour. Then return to almost boil, turn off heat and let the bags steep again. This process makes for a darkly concentrated tea. Over time, you’ll figure out whether you like black tea or a flavored black tea. Also you’ll fine tune how concentrated you like it, but this is a good starting point.

In a gallon glass jar, add in the scoby. Then the sugar. Now pour in 8 ounces of kombucha. This can be some that you saved from last week’s brew or it can be from a bottle that you buy at the grocery. Either is fine and will work. Now pour in the tea concentrate and enough purified water to fill the glass jar.

Here’s the important part! Give the jar 50 stirs clockwise and then 50 stirs counter clockwise with a wooden or plastic spoon (no metal). It’s what Doc Jody does and it worked well for us. Maybe it’s part voodoo, but trust me, just do it.

Now rubber band a bit of cheesecloth around the top of the jar and leave it alone for a week. 6 days at 85 degrees is best, but who really keeps their house that warm? Mostly just don’t mess with it, it’ll be hard, but let it do it’s magic-y science.

After one week, decant the kombucha into quart jars. Also refrigerate the scoby in its own jar, covered with kombucha. This will be your starter for the next batch.

This step is where you can get creative and add apple, pickled ginger, peaches, lemon or whatever other juice you’d like to. Just put it right into the jar and then pour over the kombucha. Be sure to leave a little headroom, because now the fermentation and carbonation kick up a notch. Tightly cap the jars, then leave them on the counter for two more days. Technically, the lids can pop and bend in because of the carbonation. So keep an eye on them and loosen the lids to off-gas a little if you’re scared.

Related: Check out another Hipcamp stay where we played with llamas!

Drink and enjoy!

Kombucha is now ready to drink and enjoy! Now this isn’t a technical recipe, like I said. So if you try it and it doesn’t work, well then, oops, sorry. But it’s how Doc Jody and her mom having been making kombucha for many years. In fact, the scoby she gave us can trace its roots back to the beginning of her kombucha brewing days.

It’s also how we made it with our friend, who subsequently continued making it for weeks. I don’t really understand the science, but I made beer for years without understanding that science either. And I made a damn fine Hefeweizen too! Go figure!

Jack & Steve relaxing after making kombucha

Anyway, all that to say, we can’t really make kombucha on the road. Well, I suppose we could and Doc Jody did give us some hints to make it work. But we decided it was more work than we want to do in the truck camper. So once we’re established in a sticks and bricks home again, we’ll give it a go.

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