What's Up With Kombucha

| 3/18/2020 12:00:00 AM

Country MoonWhat Is Kombucha?

There is a lot of buzz lately about fermented foods and one of the more popular ones is kombucha. It is a drink that is made from specific strains of bacteria, yeast and sugar. These are added to black or green tea and allowed to ferment for a week or more. The bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like cloud on the surface called a scoby.

This fizzy, sweet and sour drink all rolled into one has a host of health benefits. It is a good source of probiotics, has the benefits of green tea and antioxidants, kills bacteria, reduces heart disease risk, may help manage type 2 diabetes and protects against cancer. Some even toot its help with weight loss.

So, what’s not to like? In certain people, it can promote the growth of bacteria that result in infection. However, this is usually due to unproper processing since it is unpasteurized and contains a mix of bacteria and yeast.

The Fantastic World of Fermentation

Fermentation has been in the news a lot lately. Eating fermented foods is one way to get probiotics into your system, the good bacteria that balances the gut microbiome. Fermentation refers to the process in which microorganisms convert carbs into organic acids and alcohol. Natural bacteria feed on the starch and sugars present in food to form lactic acid which helps to preserve food and extend shelf life.

Preserving foods using microorganisms has been around since we started cooking. Practically any kind of fruit or vegetable can be fermented including beets, carrots, green beans, watermelon and citrus peels. Most people, when they think of fermentation, think of sauerkraut. Icelanders ferment shark meat and folks in Sardinia do it with cheese teeming with maggots. Sauerkraut is fine for me!

When the bacteria break down the sugars into acids, it not only preserves the foods but also imparts a distinctively salty, tangy flavor. Preserving food in this manner creates deeper, more resonant flavors that canning and freezing can impart.

3/20/2020 6:16:26 PM

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