Kombucha is a green/black tea sweetened with sugar and fermented by a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). As it ferments, sugars get consumed and transformed. The longer the fermentation time, the more sour the brew becomes. At full maturity, if the kombucha is left to ferment long enough to consume all the sugar, it is vinegar.
Before Covid lockdown hit in March 2020, we were jugging along brewing hundreds of liters of Rise Up Kombucha every week. Lockdown tanked business for all of us. Luckily, no need to toss our brew down the drain, we simply left it brewing to reach the final stage of KOMBUCHA VINEGAR.
In Permaculture, we work with the principle of 'the problem is the solution' so in the case of hundreds of liters of kombucha vinegar on our shelves, we have discovered some dang creative, tasty and effective ways to use it up!
Laundry Detergent. Those of who have taken our Natural Living workshop already know this solution! Vinegar has some great stain removing, odor removing, cleansing properties and we use it in our greywater-safe laundry detergent. We mix it up 1 liter at a time in this ratio: reetha (soapnut) liquid - 750 ml, bioenzyme - 100 ml, and kombucha vinegar - 150 ml. When it ready to wash, we take 200-300 ml of the mix and add a big spoonful of baking soda. The mix bubbles up like your 6th grade volcano experiment! It cleans brilliantly! All DIY, natural, safe, and super inexpensive.
Hair Rinse. Kombucha's naturally low-pH matches the low pH of our scalp and acts as a very gentle rinse for soft, shiny hair. Use it after washing (with reetha, shikakai or chickpea flour) as a conditioning rinse. Or, if you are off using shampoo at all, use this a rinse to clean the scalp and soften the hair. Pretty awesome.
Infused Herbal Vinegar for the Kitchen. This vinegar is super tasty! Makes a mean salad dressing with dijon and olive oil. Kick up your kitchen skills a notch by infusing kombucha vinegar with any herbs or spices. Infuse in a sealed jar in a dark place for 2-3 weeks, strain and use! Some of our favorites are to use herbs like sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary, lemon zest, garlic, onions, and chilies. Yummm.
Homemade Probiotic Ketchup!
What is better than ketchup with a Saturday breakfast? But I can never bring myself to buy that packaged chemical crap (pardon my crudeness, but it really is). Learning to make your own is a breeze. Plus its extra delicious and zero-waste. Here is the recipe we love! Originally from Hannah Crum, author of The Big Book of Kombucha.
Mix together the following:
12 oz tomato paste
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp molasses (we use jaggery)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2-1 c kombucha vinegar (depends on the consistency you want)
It will keep in your fridge for about
2 weeks. Optionally you can add other ground spices for a different kick! We usually add some red chili powder / cayenne to get it to the Indian desired level of spice.
While we do most of our pickling in the traditional fermented form, where the sourness comes from the presence of lactic acid bacteria build up spontaneously occurring by adding a brine to veggies, we do make a some damn delicious cucumber quick pickles with kombucha vinegar. Here are you taking advantage of the fact the your vinegar is already super charged with healthy probiotics. These pickles are as simple as slicing some cucumbers (but you could also use zucchini, beetroot, onions, so many things!) and packing them in a jar with some dill or caraway, a pinch of salt, a couple crushed garlic cloves and topping the whole jar full with kombucha vinegar. Put that jar straight in the fridge and they are ready after 24 hours. Crispy, tangy and delicious!
Other great vinegar uses are as a skin toner, or a detoxifying mask when kombucha vinegar is combined with any cosmetic clay, or simply diluted in water and taken an alkalizing, cleansing and probiotic shot every morning.
If you aren't brewing kombucha to give you a steady flow of quality vinegar, consider making your own from fruit scraps. Our friends over at Herbalists Without Borders in Tasmania, Australia have this handy 9 minute tutorial!
Most store bought vinegar in India is synthetic and has no health benefits. Make your own and experience the diversity that quality vinegar can bring to your zero-waste lifestyle!
Lots of love to you all around the world! Laura