Tag Archives: fermentation

How the Bottles you use for your Kombucha can affect the Fizz!

(Our newest contributor, expert Kombucha maker Ron Chapdelaine, check him out on Facebook – The STEALTH House Naked Kombucha Factory.   Here he shares with us why we may think we’ve made our Kombucha just right, but have no fizz!  No fizz means no fermentation.  The answer may be in the bottles we are using.  Have more questions for him, send them to us and we’ll get answers for you!)  

Dear Kombucha lovers,

Jerri at Homesteader Supply suggested I write something related to kombucha so here is something useful that we can all benefit from.

How many of you keep your empty GT kombucha bottles for your own kombucha bottling needs?  Is it a good idea to reuse GT kombucha bottles?  The answer is yes and no….  Yes if you use GT caps and no if you switch to generic caps when the seal on the GT caps wear out (after about 2-4 batches).  Understand that GT kombucha bottles and caps are 100% proprietary as noted by the GT kombucha stamping on the underside of the bottle.  In short, like several of the big commercial kombucha companies, GT’s has a bottle engineer design a mold to very specific specs mandated by GT’s.  The mold is built by a bottle manufacturer in China and the manufacturer who builds and owns the GT mold (GT does not own its own mold) uses it whenever GT’s places an order usually for 500,000 bottles per order.  Once the order is placed, the bottles are created and shipped in a container from China to GT’s massive distribution center in California.  You may ask why does GT’s kombucha go through the hassle of proprietary bottles?  The short answer is so you don’t reuse its bottles.

The Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) is responsible for establishing uniform standards for glass neck finishes.  All of the 38/400 replacement caps you purchase for your GT bottles are certified GPI; however, a proprietary bottle does have to be manufactured under GPI standards.  Even though a 38/400 (neck diameter of 38mm and fits a bottle with a 400 GPI thread finish) after market GPI certified cap fits perfectly on a GT Dave proprietary bottle it does not mean it will provide a perfect seal crucial to maintaining kombucha natural carbonation during the curing period.  In fact, a GPI 38/400 cap may seem to fit perfectly on a GT cap but it truthfully does not create a good seal because the diameter on a GT bottle is actually a tiny bit smaller than the standard GPI 38/400 bottle.  Therefore, a GPI 38/400 cap actually has a tiny bit larger neck diameter so when you use an after market 38/400 GPI cap, it is slightly larger that GT’s so carbonation will seep out during curing time and within a few days your kombucha will be totally flat never able to cure properly making all your hard work a lost effort which is what GT wants.

GT’s knows this and that is one reason why they have proprietary bottles.  They would rather waste resources and landfill real estate than have you reuse its bottles.  See two attached pictures – one measuring the inside diameter of a GT kombucha bottle @ 29.18 and the other measuring the inside diameter of a GPI 38/400 standard bottle @ 30.09.  Notice the GPI certified 38/400 bottle is slightly larger in diameter than the GT proprietary bottle.  When your GT caps wear out and you use GPI 38/400 caps that are designed for a 30.09 neck they are too large for a GT Dave 29.18 neck so carbonation will leak out quite quickly.  You may say the difference is not material but it is material….try sticking a pin through the sidewall of your tire.  Now you have a slow leak and within a short amount of time your tire will be flat.  My advice is to avoid GT kombucha bottles and to purchase your own bottles certified GPI.  A good place to purchase your own bottles is Filmore Bottle in PA, Burch Bottle in NY or SKS Packaging.

You will have a peace of mind that whatever cap type you use, it will be designed for your bottle ensuring your carbonation stays intact.  I welcome your comments.

Enjoy and have fun!

Ron Chapdelaine

Visit him on Facebook – The STEALTH House Naked Kombucha Factory

Click here to get Kombucha supplies!

Want to buy Ron’s Kombucha?  Contact him on his facebook page!

Beginner’s Guide to Making Yogurt

If you’ve ever tried looking up the instructions for making yogurt on the Internet, you probably became overwhelmed rather quickly by all the different recipes and techniques. It seems like everyone has their own way of doing it. For a beginner, it can be too confusing to sort out what works best–and to anticipate where things might go wrong!

Fortunately, the Homesteader’s Supply staff has come up with a tried-and-true method for making the creamiest, most delicious yogurt ever! Once you try making yogurt our way using any of our yogurt cultures, you’ll never want to eat store-bought yogurt again.


A Word about Our Yogurt Cultures

We carry a variety of yogurt cultures, including Bulgarian, Italian, and ABY-2C. The main differences between them are in the flavor and the viscosity. Some are more sweet, and some are more tart. Some are thinner, and some are thicker. If you like a very thick yogurt with a mild, sweet flavor, try our Italian culture.

An Overview of the Process

The process of making yogurt comprises five simple steps:

  1. Heating the milk
  2. Cooling the milk
  3. Measuring and adding your chosen yogurt culture
  4. Incubating the yogurt
  5. Refrigerating the yogurt until it’s sufficiently cooled to eat

Here’s What You’ll Need

You will need the following:

Step 1:  Heat Your Milk

  1. Pour the milk into the stainless steel pot. If using a thermometer that attaches to a pot, making sure the tip of the thermometer isn’t touching the pot. (If using a digital thermometer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)
  2. Gently heat the milk on medium until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then turn off the heat and remove the pot from the burner.

Be careful not to overshoot 180 degrees. It’s better to go slowly rather than to try to turn up the heat too much and then not be able to get the temperature to stop climbing too fast.

Step 2: Cool the Milk

Allow the milk to cool to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. You can do this by allowing the pot to sit on the stovetop (if cool) or counter. Alternatively, immerse the pot in a cold water bath to speed up the cooling process. If you choose to do this, however, be sure monitor the temperature very carefully so the the milk doesn’t cool below 115 degrees!


Yogurt culture is similar to yeast in that the milk needs to be within a certain temperature for the culture to work properly. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yogurt culture. On the other hand, if the milk falls below 100-115 degrees, the culture won’t get activated.


Step 3: Measure and Add the Dried Yogurt Culture

The amount of dried yogurt culture you need depends on the amount of milk and the type of culture you’re using. For example, in this recipe we are using two liters/quarts of milk, so we can use one envelope of our dried Bulgarian yogurt culture. If you are using a different type of yogurt culture, be sure to read the package directions to determine how much to you need.

Once you’ve measured out the appropriate amount of dried yogurt culture, add it to the cooled milk as described below.

It’s important to mix the yogurt culture in very thoroughly; otherwise, your yogurt might separate. The most reliable method is to start by sprinkling the dried yogurt culture on top of the warmed milk and letting it sit there for a minute or so until it dissolves. When the dried culture has dissolved completely, mix it into the milk. Make sure the culture is distributed evenly throughout. If you start mixing before the dried culture has completely dissolved, it can clump; and then you won’t be able to mix it in thoroughly.

Step 4: Incubate the Yogurt

It’s important to keep your yogurt as close as possible to the ideal temperature of 105 degrees for at least 10 to 12 (or up to 24) hours so the beneficial, health-promoting bacteria in the culture can multiply. This process is called incubating the yogurt. The longer you incubate the yogurt, the fewer carbohydrates it will have because the bacteria feed on the sugars naturally present in the milk. And, a longer incubation period results in thicker yogurt!

This step is easy if you have a Yogotherm or VitaClay yogurt maker. All you have to do is transfer the yogurt into the provided container and follow the manufacturer’s directions.


Things can get a little trickier if you don’t have a yogurt maker, but it’s still relatively easy to set-up your own incubator environment using readily available supplies. Be sure to transfer your yogurt into an appropriate container first! Large Mason jars are a good choice,

We recommend insulating the container of yogurt with towels and placing it in a cooler to keep the heat from escaping. You’ll want to fill any extra air space in the cooler with additional towels (or clean rags) to maximize the insulation. Then, set the cooler in a very warm place.

Ideally, you want to keep the temperature of the yogurt as close to 105 degrees as possible during the incubation period. Under normal conditions, the temperature will drop very slowly over time. It probably won’t fall below 80 degrees, though, and that’s okay.

Step 5: Refrigerate the Yogurt

When the incubation period is over, your yogurt is ready to be refrigerated. If you’re using Mason jars, be careful the temperature doesn’t drop too quickly or the jars might crack.

Allow your yogurt to cool in the refrigerator for at least six hours. During this period, the yogurt will thicken. If the yogurt has separated, you can stir the liquid back in.

For thicker yogurt, you can drain off some of the whey. The easiest way to do this is by using cheese cloth to strain it. You can put the yogurt in cheese cloth and hang it over your kitchen faucet, or suspend it over a bowl and let it drain until the yogurt becomes very thick. If you let most of the whey drain out, you’ll end up with delicious yogurt cheese! Simply scrape the yogurt off the cheese cloth, whip it until it becomes very smooth, and then add herbs, spices, honey, or whatever flavorings you like. Place it in the refrigerator to cool, and in a few hours you’ll have scrumptious yogurt cheese! It’s delightful on crackers, with chips, on sandwiches, etc.

yogurt cheese

Incidentally, some folks like to thicken yogurt by adding a few tablespoons of powdered milk before heating the milk; however, some experts claim that powdered milk has damaged proteins and recommend avoiding it.

When your yogurt is nice and cool and has reached the desired consistency, it’s ready to eat. You can enjoy it with fruit or whatever flavorings or sweeteners you like.



What the Heck Is a SCOBY?

Once you try your first bottle of store-bought kombucha, you’ll probably become a fan for life. No, wait…scratch that. If you’re anything like me, you’ll get hooked and become a die-hard kombucha addict! At $4 (or more) for a 16-ounce bottle, your habit is going to become more expensive than a latte fixation. And then, before long, you’re going to find yourself Googling “how to make your own kombucha at home,” just like I did.

For the uninitiated, kombucha is a fermented beverage made from sugar, tea, and a living kombucha culture. Unflavored kombucha is both slightly acidic and slightly sweet. The longer you brew it, the less sweet it becomes because the kombucha culture continues to feed on the sugar in the tea and uses it up.

When brewing is complete, you can add ingredients like ginger, herbs, dried fruits, dried flowers, or extracts to flavor the drink to suit your personal preference. Fizzy and refreshing, kombucha makes a terrific substitute for commercial carbonated sodas.

Kombucha Is a Health Tonic*

Kombucha detoxifies the liver and dramatically boots immune function. Like all fermented foods, it’s alkalizing and makes the body more resistant to degenerative diseases and cancers.

Kombucha drinkers report a wide variety of health benefits, including improved digestion, weight loss, improved energy, and reduced stress. Many claim that itcures constipation, skin problems, and hangovers. Some people even notice that kombucha restores hair color and strengthens the hair.

The wide variety of complaints relieved by Kombucha is almost not comprehensible. But it is explainable on the basis that Kombucha does not target a specific body organ but, rather, influences the entire organism positively by effecting a stabilization of the metabolic situation and the detoxifying effect of its glucuronic acid. In many, this leads to a heightened endogenic defense capacity against those toxic influences and environmental stresses which inundate us from many sides. The result is the invigoration of a damaged cellular metabolism, and the restoration and firming up of one’s well-being. 

~ Gunther W. Frank, leading authority on kombucha tea and author of Kombucha: Healthy Beverage and Natural Remedy from the Far East

It All Starts with a SCOBY

One of the first things you’ll discover is that the kombucha brewing process begins with a weird, slimy thing called a SCOBY. Remarkably, the SCOBY — which looks like a flat rubbery mushroom — is what gives kombucha its famous, health-promoting benefits.SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, and it’s the secret ingredient that turns sugar-sweetened tea into kombucha.

All over the internet, you see kombucha brewers obsessing about their SCOBY. Is it healthy? Does it float? Does it sink? Does it stink? Does it have black spots? The list of things people worry about is practically endless. But, truthfully, there’s no need to worry if you start out with a top-notch SCOBY and follow the directions carefully.

Our kombucha making supplies are of the highest quality, and we think our SCOBY is the best on the market. We get our freshly grown, organic SCOBYs from Kombucha Dave, and when you buy your kombucha products from us, you get a discount, plus all the instructions, videos, and support you need to brew your own kombucha for life.

About the Brewing Process

Simply stated, to make kombucha, you add your SCOBY to a gallon jar containing sweetened tea that has been allowed to cool. It starts out looking like this:

Then cover it, and let it sit in a clean, warm place like on your kitchen counter. In a few days, it’ll be ready to drink. Best of all, you’ll have an unlimited supply of kombucha for just pennies a bottle.

Bottoms up! bottles

By the way…

Our good friend Kombucha Dave has a fascinating article on his blog where he talks about why a SCOBY is sometimes mistakenly called a mushroom. He has kindly given us his permission to republish it here. Enjoy!

Is Kombucha Really a Mushroom?

One of the most frequently asked about Kombucha is, “Is kombucha really a mushroom?” It’s because most people call it Kombucha mushroom. Some people call it Kombucha SCOBY. But kombucha mushroom is the most common. So, is it really a mushroom?

kombucha mushroom

No it is not, maybe at most it could be called fungie, or a type of fungi. I’m a type of fun guy, but again you can call it a Kombucha mushroom, we refer to it sometimes on our site as mushroom tea, mainly because that’s how other people refer to it. So if you’re at a party and someone says, “oh this kombucha mushroom tea is awesome”. Don’t take the bottle and spill it on them and say it’s not really a mushroom, but let’s talk about how it got it’s name then.

How did Kombucha turn into mushroom? Well the theory is, the story goes like this, in Japan, they were brewing something with seaweed and ‘Kombu’ actually means seaweed in Japan and ‘cha’ means tea. So it was originally called seaweed tea, and they were using seaweed, it wasn’t Kombucha, but a culture came about. Something to keep in mind, there’s lots of things to ferment that will form a culture, but not necessarily makes it Kombucha, make sense?

A mother vinegar forms a culture, you have sour dough starters, wine uses cultures and things like that, so eventually what happened kombucha mushroomis that at the same time, people were also doing Kombucha tea. They saw the culture, so I’m looking at the seaweed culture we called Kombucha and I’m looking at this Kombucha culture and I’m just going to label it Kombucha, so there you go. In addition to that, to make things even more confusing, if you ever look at a Kombucha SCOBY or a Kombucha culture, I kind of think it does look like a cap of let’s say a portobello mushroom, so again hopefully that answers your question, is Kombucha a mushroom.

Also, I’d like to think that it is called kombucha mushroom because it looks like a mushroom and the texture is similar to a mushroom’s texture.

* Per FDA regulations, we can’t tell you about the health benefits of kombucha without also disclosing the following:

Legal Disclaimer  Information about the health benefits of kombucha is for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the advice or attention of a qualified health-care professional.

Sourdough bread

A quick and easy sourdough bread recipe

Sourdough bread isn’t supposed to be quick. The starter should ferment until its full flavor develops. The bread should rise slowly in a cool room to allow more flavor to develop. Those air pockets created by the yeast, the ones that hold globs of your butter or olive oil or jam, need time to grow. It’s all very lovely and tasty when you have time to wait, but that’s not how my day is going.

It was 2 pm before I realized we’re out of bread. Normally I mix up my starter, the water, some organic whole wheat flour and unbleached bread flour around 4 pm. I mix and knead by hand, feeling the dough as it changes, knowing exactly when to stop kneading. Then it sits in the bread pan I’ll bake it in, on the counter by the cool outer wall of the kitchen to rise overnight. First thing next morning, around 4:30, I pop the bread into a 400* oven, but that’s not how my day is going.

Pickle-Pro sourdough starter

Pickle-Pro sourdough starter

Today I’m making quick and simple sourdough bread so that I can have it with dinner. My starter is kept in a pint canning jar with a Pickle-Pro lid. It’s been the best starter I’ve used. The airlock has kept alcohol from building up on the surface of the starter if I don’t use it fairly quickly.

Sourdough Bread Recipe

Oven: 400*  Bake for 30-40 minutes

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water, around 100*
1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
Approximately 3 1/2 cups bread or all-purpose flour
2 tsp yeast

I used the mixer today so I could let the mixer do the kneading and unload the dish washer. Use the kneading hook. Add sourdough starter, warm water and yeast to bowl. Turn mixer on and add the whole wheat flour in 1/2 cup increments. Add bread or all-purpose flour in one half cup increments. For the last cup of flour, allow the mixer to knead for a minute. Turn off the mixer and touch the dough. It should be moist but not sticky. The dough should pull away from the sides and be wrapped around the hook. If the dough is sticky add 1/4 cup of flour, knead and check. Experienced bread makers will “just add it” and know when they’ve reached the right look and texture.

Oil two bread pans with olive oil or butter if necessary. Today I need bread for sandwiches so I’m not looking for a loaf with a big rounded top. I like a wide loaf with a flat top so that a slice holds a nice amount of sandwich filling with one slice of bread. Remove the dough from the mixer and set aside to rise until it has doubled in size. Gently slice the dough in two and shape into two loaves. I don’t knead, just separate and shape. Allow to rise the second time. It’s ready for the oven when you gently press on the firm dough and it recovers slowly.

Make a slice down the center of the loaf (two slices if you’re making a round loaf) and spritz it with water. The slice and the water allow the dough to rise easily, forming nice pockets. If the crust starts to dry out, spritz it again.

It’s conveniently chilly and damp today so the wood stove is going this afternoon. I’m breaking my slow rise rule and put my bread on the clothes rack in the warm living room to rise quickly.

Sourdough rising

Sourdough rising. This is almost high enough for the size loaf I’m after.

Sourdough bread bakedWhile the dough is rising I mixed up another batch of starter. I use the same jar or scrape the last tablespoon or two of starter from it and add it to a new jar. The only time I don’t have starter in the jar is on the original batch. Notice how much lighter in color this new batch is compared to the one above. As it ages and develops it becomes darker. This jar sits in a cool spot in the kitchen. I don’t tend to it daily. Tomorrow morning it will be at the top of jar. I’ll stir it down if necessary but otherwise it’s on its own until I use it in a day or two.

Sourdough bread