Kombucha: First Try

>> Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I drop mention of things periodically.
Have you noticed?

Things I've promised to do or declared I'm setting out to do. You know. It happens to bloggers all the time. It happens to non-bloggers, too. But with bloggers, there's this whole accountability bit. The words are out there. In black and white, depending on your site's color palette, alive for eternity on the web.

(Aside: I need to stop promising so much and just DO. I need to stop saying so much and just LIVE.)

Anyway, we were brewing our own kombucha as part of our fun-things-to-do-in-2013 plan. And we were entirely too excited about the first step: The process of watching the scoby -- the mother -- grow and flourish in its own disgusting, sixth-grade-science-experiment sort of way.

Almost the full two weeks in // on January 11, I remember specifically -- a day that will now live in infamy // Ada and I had gone out to the store to fetch some baking supplies. Chocolate chips and other essentials. Some eggs and almond milk, too. A head a broccoli. We got home + I proceeded to make Ada lunch and put away the items from our haul on empty shelves.

Ada sang to me as she shoveled in bits of tangerine and tofu. I stopped for a moment to erase the chalked Christmas tree that was still proudly carrying the room's decor for a full half month after the holiday. I drew a sparse, but colorful, winter scene in its place. Ada clapped and I continued my work of the grocery bags.

The scoby looked quite robust and slimy from its perch atop the refrigerator. It wouldn't be long now, I thought. The birth of our first batch was imminent. After lining up all the cold goods on the counter, I grabbed the refrigerator handle without much thought -- a tub of Earth Balance clutched in one hand, the other flipping open the dairy compartment -- and CRASH.

Down came the glass gallon jug.
Down came the fermented sludge.
Down it all came,
through a thin cheesecloth cover
onto
. . . me.


Hair, clothes, and toes wet with strange, foul liquid. I stood a moment in disbelief. Snapped a photo so there'd be proof when Stephen found the jug scrubbed in the sink. He'd be devastated. I knew it. Ada giggled. Then: What to do? It -- the mother -- was splished and splattered e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. On the floor, in the fridge, on the wall, on the stand mixer, creeping ever-closer to Ada's high chair.

I'm almost 90% sure some droplets made it into my mug of tea.
Ironic, no?

Thankfully I Stephen had done a large load of bath towels the night before. They were folded and waiting on the couch for their journey to the linen closet. I grabbed a few and wiped down everything. I stripped down to my skivvies, right there in the sunny kitchen, desperately hoping my 80-year-old neighbors (Jack + Diane, yes -- like the song) weren't home to see the pathetic display. In one swift motion, I grabbed my clothes and scooped up Ada. We headed upstairs so I could shower off my hair and change.

For once in the past two years, I had been wearing a nice sweater that requires dry cleaning. I choose to blame this event for my current fashion disaster status. (At least grubby sweatshirts can be tossed into the wash without a thought beyond light or dark.) When we got back downstairs, Ada finished her lunch while I scrubbed and dubbed everything some more.

We haven't conceived another scoby since. I don't know when we will. I have a sour taste on my tongue over the matter. I've brushed my teeth many, many times since . . . so, I'm pretty sure that's not the leftover microbes from whatever splashed into my gaping mouth that day.

Lesson learned: Don't store so much darned stuff atop the refrigerator. Bookends are bound to slip and slide. And when your scoby has a great fall, all the king's horses and all the king's men do not come to your aid.

It's all on you.

Quite literally.

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