Tag Archives: organic

Unser Täglich Brot (Our Daily Bread) Oh What the Lord Might Say…

Our Daily Bread (English title) draws its title presumably from The Lord’s Prayer of the Christian Bible, and after watching it I have to ask myself–what would the Lord say about what we’re doing to our food supply? I can only conjure the oxymoron “roaring silence” to describe this completely unbiased documentary of the food production industry in Germany (probably more tame than the U.S.’). The only source of any dialogue exists in bantering and chit-chat of the laboring workers, be they in a pork slaughterhouse or deep below the Earth’s surface in a salt mine.

There is no Alec Baldwin narration, no naming of corrupt FDA traitors–simply a display of contextual truth. We, the audience, are completely encouraged to make our own conclusions on the matter. Rather than the “bread of life” that Jesus referred to in the Bible, it seems quite apparent that our modern food system revolves around a mechanized “bread of death,” with little regarded to the fact that our food was once alive. The rendering of meat, which was once very human and in perhaps an esoteric way sacred, is now enslaved to cold, stoic process–completely for the sake of yield.

As silly as it sounds I watched the perfectly-engineered, steel behemoths slaying bull after bull, pig after pig, salmon after salmon and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Terminator franchise, where humans are at war with machines. Watching the efficiency of these systems–I have to think that the war as it stands has already been lost.

If you’ve ever seen the size of a full-grown bull, seen the capriciousness of a feisty pig, or seen the majesty of a full-breadth salmon, it becomes depressing to see their lives ended so quickly, their entrails so effortlessly plucked. I see it as not only a bastardization of the entire human condition throughout history, but a blasphemy towards what this documentary may cite as divine providence.

Even the very right of reproduction is engineered with these animals. The mighty bull takes his natural mount behind the heifer only to have his essence extracted and stolen for later use–or genetic engineering. He may have even been lucky compared to the piglets, comprising one of the most graphic scenes, who are swiftly made eunuchs and left tail-less while their head clamps prevent them from protesting the matter. If only Snowball and Napoleon could see this…

Being long enough to be excruciatingly thorough (92 minutes), Our Daily Bread covers a full gamut of the industrial food chain and not just the aforementioned animals. The highly dosed and doused plant crops are shown, as are their robotic attendants. Salt mining is illustrated, olive tree harvesting demystified, and a lovely landscape scene showcases a crop duster–having its way before the combines raze the stalks in the impeding harvests.

Our Daily Bread is by no means an exciting film, nor is it necessarily invigorating as are many of the shock-value films of our current times. It is however completely honest and very thorough, making it suitable and palatable for the seasoned, food-enthusiast or the life-long factory farm diner. The verdict will of course be up for grabs.

Special thanks to Meredith Miller at Icarus Films for recommending this film for review.

How to Kombucha–Wiki Tea Adventures

A few weeks ago I tried Kombucha and think it’s great. It’s a probiotic tea, age-old and time-tested. This seems to be a great guide for the home adventure–I’m going to try it soon and will post the results:

How to Make Kombucha Tea

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Kombucha tea is a sweetened tisane produced through fermentation. It has been claimed as the “fountain of youth”, but only you can be the judge of such a claim. Plain kombucha has an acidic, vinegar-like flavor in addition to the original sweet tea flavor. The strength of the tea flavor can be adjusted with the amount of tea bags brewed per volume of water. It usually has a mild to moderate carbonated texture. In commercial brands, some have a sweet taste, others do not. This depends on length of brewing time, or if the manufacturer has added sugar to the final product. Kombucha also comes in different flavors. This is usually done by adding juices to the base tea after fermentation/incubation has completed. I’d highly recommend trying different pre-made kombuchas before making it yourself. Kombucha is available at most health food stores, and the organic section of some regular grocery stores. The steps below outline how to make it at home. Enjoy!
Ingredients

  • A fermentation/incubation container. It is recommended that this container be made of food grade glass. Use of other materials (i.e. ceramic, metal and/or plastic) may leach chemicals (including lead if using ceramic) into the ferment due to the natural acidic generation within the kombucha fermentation process. Some have claimed good success with stainless steel and food-grade plastic, but glass is preferred. Anywhere between a quart to a gallon should be a good starting point. Most people start with 1oz per day, as the digestive tract may need some time to get used to the kombucha. The volume of the container thereafter should be based on the rate at which you will be consuming the beverage, as well as the available area in which you can let the ferment sit. Brewing equipment, such as 5 gallon carboys for brewing beer or wine will work very well.
  • A lint free, tightly woven cloth (such as a clean t-shirt). This will be used to cover the fermentation container to keep insects, particularly fruit flies, dust and other foreign particulates from contaminating the culture while allowing the microorganisms to breathe. The cloth will need to be larger than the opening area of the fermentation container.
  • A rubber band or string. The rubber band or string will be used to secure the cloth cover to the opening of the fermentation container.
  • A kombucha “mushroom” mother, also called a S.C.O.B.Y, for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast — [Note: if you can’t find or don’t want to buy a scoby, you can make one by buying commercial kombucha and leaving it out (covered, in the dark, and at the same temperature described below) for a couple weeks.]
  • A sample of already made Kombucha as a starter, or vinegar if you don’t have that — [Note: this is to add acidity to the brew, so it’s possible that something like pure cranberry juice might also work]
  • Tea. Tea Bags or loose leaf teas will work. Sometimes common, low-grade teas will end up tasting better than expensive teas. Experiment! Many teas will work; Green, Black, Echinacea, and Lemon Balm were studied (Teas containing oils, like Bergamot oils in Earl Grey, can harm your mushroom. but this may mean significantly longer brewing times for satisfactory results)
  • Iodine or bleach for container sterilization. Be sure to rinse out container well with boiling water after cleaning so that no traces of cleanser are left behind.
  • Sugar. Regular refined white sugar or organic cane sugar works fine. You can experiment with other fermentable sugars, like corn sugar. Many brewers prefer organic, if available. It is possible to use honey instead, but SCOBYs originally matured on sugar will not work well with honey, and the fermenting process may take much longer.

Steps

  1. Gather the necessary ingredients and Things You’ll Need, as shown in this article.
  2. Wash your hands very well (hot water & soap, for at least 30 seconds under running water). Use of non-latex gloves is also recommended, especially if touching the culture directly.
  3. Fill up your pot with 3 liters (3.1 quarts) of water and put the stove to high.
  4. Boil water for at least 5 minutes to purify water, especially if your water supply is chlorinated.
  5. Add about 5 tea bags. According to taste, you may remove tea immediately after brewing, or leave them in for the next two steps.
  6. Turn off heat and add 1 cup sugar (for about three liters) Sugar will start to caramelize if water continues to boil.
  7. Cover and let tea sit until it is room temperature, around 75 Deg F will do. It will seem to take a long time to cool, but adding the cultures when it is too hot will kill them.
  8. While it is cooling, pull out your wide-mouthed glass jar or container and wash it well in the sink with very hot water, rinsing thoroughly.
  9. If you don’t have much extra water for cleaning and rinsing, put 2 drops of iodine into the bucket, add a bunch of water, and swirl it all around to sanitize. Rinse out jar, cover, and keep waiting.
  10. When the tea is cool, pour it into the glass jar and add the starter tea (which should constitute about 10% of the liquid)(use about a 1/4 cup per gallon of vinegar also works, it tastes just a bit different, though).
  11. Gently put the culture into the tea, cover the top of the bucket with the cloth, and secure it tightly with rubber band.
  12. Put the jar somewhere warm and dark where it won’t be disturbed. Temperature should be consistently at least 21ºC or 70ºF (30ºC or about 86º is best if you can manage. Lower temperatures will make it grow slowly, but below 70 makes it more likely that unwanted organisms will start growing too.)

Wait about a week:
During this time, you can check on the tea periodically if you like. The culture will sink or float or do something in between, it doesn’t matter. You should see, at some point, a new layer of culture growing on the top. Eventually, it will likely form a film covering the whole top of the tea. It may look strange and discolored, but don’t worry, it’s probably not moldy. Mold that grows on kombucha looks like the mold that grows on bread – fuzz and all.
This website www.organic-kombucha.com
has pictures of both normal and moldy tea, as well as more directions and such if you don’t like the instruction above.
When the tea starts to get smelly like vinegar, you can taste it and start checking pH levels (if you do not have test strips it OK, should be around 3.0 pH). The best way to pull a sample is with a straw. Don’t drink directly from the straw, as backwash may contaminate the tea. Also, do not dip the test strip into the brewing vessel.
Instead, dip the straw about halfway into the tea, cover the end with your finger, pull the straw out and drink the liquid inside. If it tastes right, then you’re ready for the next step. If not, just keep waiting and sampling every couple of days until it is ready. Don’t be impatient. If you move on too soon, it will taste funny, or perhaps too sweet.

When the tea tastes ready

  1. Make a new batch of regular tea the same way you did before. When it is cool enough…
  2. Bring glass jar into the kitchen, take cloth off top.
  3. With clean hands (and non-latex gloves if you have them), gently remove mama and baby cultures and set them on a clean plate. Note that they may be stuck together. Pour a little of the kombucha on them to keep them protected.
  4. Using the funnel, pour your finished tea into storage container(s). Fill it all the way to the top. If you don’t it will take forever to get fizzy. If there isn’t enough, you can either get smaller containers or fill the rest with regular tea. Only do this if there is only a slight gap, though, or else you risk watering down the tea. Another option is to fill it with juice to give it flavor. Fresh pressed is best, of course, but regular works too. Only do this after it’s in a bottle, though. You don’t want to contaminate your next batch.
  5. Leave about 10% of old tea in the glass jar as starter tea. This keeps the pH low to prevent mold and things from growing while the tea is getting started. This insures that the fresh tea solution is acidic enough to combat any foreign molds or yeast.
  6. Pour the new tea in, and put the culture back in, cover, etc. You may use each layer of culture to make a new batch of tea; some recommend using the new layer of culture and discarding the old one. It is not necessary to put both layers of culture back into a single new batch; one will suffice.
  7. Cap your jug or bottles of finished kombucha tightly and let sit for about 2 – 5 days at room temperature to get fizzy.
  8. Refrigerate. Kombucha is best enjoyed cold.

Kombucha tea and pH Reading

For kombucha tea beverage pH, you should take two readings, one as you add the starter tea to the new batch of tea. This test pH reading should be below 4.6 pH, if it is high then keep adding starter tea from your old batch until the desired pH is reached. Vinegar or Citric Acid (not Vitamin C; that’s too weak) will also work in your first batch, but be careful with solids, because they’re strong.
After your first round is at the finish of the brewing/culturing process.
After your tea has set for the required amount for time, 7 to 14 days in most cases, then you’ll want to test the pH until it is at, or close to 3 pH.
This tells you that the brewing cycle is complete and the tea is at the correct point to drink. Of course this can vary a bit to suit your needs and taste. If this final pH is too high, then either the tea will need a few more days to complete the brewing cycle, or it should be chucked.

Tips

  • You can get a kombucha “mushroom” and starter tea at many different places on the Internet. Or if you’re lucky, from a friend who has an extra! You can also try the Worldwide Kombucha Exchange
  • Try to get your kombucha culture from an organic source if possible
  • Use organic ingredients as they do not have chemicals or anti-bacterial additives.
  • Note that some natural products that have anti-bacterial properties (such as honey) will not necessarily kill your SCOBY, but may drastically lengthen brewing time.

Warnings

  • Be warned when using plastic, metal, ceramic or non-food grade glass containers to make Kombucha – they may (and will most likely) leach toxins, such as lead. If you use a glass container that is too thin, it may fracture when pressure builds inside as the kombucha effervesces. A heavy, food-grade glass jar or large glass Pyrex container is your best bet.
  • Before you begin, make sure that you wash your hands very well, clean your workspace very well, and keep everything sterile and clean while you are working. If the kombucha gets contaminated while it is still young, you may end up growing something that you didn’t mean to. This usually will just ruin the drink, but it can be dangerous.

Things You’ll Need

  • A kombucha starter/mother/. A Google search for “organic kombucha starter” will get you in touch with either a local source or mail order source for the starter. Once you have a starter, you will never need to buy/obtain another starter if you take simple steps to preserve old starters. Every fermentation cycle creates a new child from the mother. So once you have fermented your first batch you will now have two starters, one from the original mother, and one from the new child. This multiplication will occur for every subsequent fermentation.
  • Large tea ball or tea bags for steeping the tea.
  • A large pot for heating water and adding tea and sugar. Stainless Steel works well. It should be large enough to hold the volume of fluid in the fermentation container.
  • Large size glass jar or other food-grade glass with wide opening for brewing the kombucha
  • Glass bottles with stoppers. You will need enough glass bottles to accommodate the volume of the ferment. They will need to be sealed sufficiently to prevent CO2 escape. The size of the bottles should be based on a serving portion that you prefer to drink.
  • A large pot. Large enough to hold the volume of fluid in the fermentation container.
  • Funnel. To transfer fermented kombucha to serving bottles.

Helpful but not Necessary

  • pH Test Strips – You want a short range strip for easy reading, just search google for “pH test 0-6 range”
  • Straw/Small Baster/Pipette. To test the ferment for its Ph level.

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Kombucha Tea. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.