I look forward to cranberry season each fall; the tart, astringent berries are a real treat! Although there are always cranberries in the freezer section, I prefer to buy them in season to save money and appreciate a special fruit of the fall. Around the holidays I like to make several cranberry concotions, including the recipe below for cranberry kombucha.
If you’ve never tried it, kombucha is live culture beverage of fermented tea. It can be flavored with different types of tea, herbal additions, and fruit juices. It has a slight acetic character that lends it a touch of vinegar flavors, some residual sweetness, and a bright acidity that I enjoy immensely. Many folks I know are proponents of kombucha for its purported health benefits. For me, it serves as an alternative to afternoon coffee, soda, or sugary drinks that makes me feel great!
There are lots of great sites on getting started with kombucha, so with this recipe I thought I would provide a peek into a kombucha recipe utilizing seasonal ingredients. In recent years I have stopped adding bottling sugars and using fruits in general, instead preferring to source high quality teas and use seasonal herbs and fruits for flavor expermentation. This recipe is for a regular kombucha brewer.
This kombucha is a lovely pink color with a fruity cranberry flavor. It’s perfect for holiday celebrations and cocktail mixers!
I won’t go in to much detail here on brewing kombucha in general, although kombuchakamp.com, culturesforhealth.com, (sign up for their newsletter for a free kombucha ebook) and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz are all excellent resources to get started and discover recipes and resources. Post in comments with questions or for more advice on kombucha brewing!
You will need a wide mouth, 1 gallon jar.
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 3 tbsp loose leaf black tea
- 1 tbsp loose leaf rooibos tea*
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup kombucha SCOBY** and 1 cup starter kombucha tea or apple cider vinegar
- Boil 3 cups water. add the cranberries to the cold water and let them cook with the boil.
- After about one minute of rolling boil, remove the water from heat and steep the teas in the water for 12 minutes.
- Remove the tea and stir in 1 cup sugar. This is your tea concentrate. Let the brew cool to body or room temperature.
- To a 1 gallon jar, add the tea concentrate, SCOBY, and starter tea. You can add the cranberries if you like, just make sure they are under the scoby. Remove any fruit particulate between batches.
- Top with chlorine free water, leaving 1-2 inches from the lip of the gallon jar. Cover with a cloth or paper towel to keep bugs and dust out but encourage oxygen exposure.
- Leave to ferment at room temperature for 2 weeks – 4 weeks. I find in a cooler, winter house at 65° F my kombucha takes a month to reach the level of sweetness to my liking. In summer it can take as little as two. Taste every few days to understand its progress.
- Optional: when the kombusha is to your liking, bottle in thick glass with swing tops and leave to condition for approximately 4 days, until you hear a “pfft” when you open the bottles to test for carbonation. Refrigerate for safety and longer storage.
*If you have a SCOBY that is used to a 100% Black Tea brew, you can train it to rooibos slowly. Batch 1: 25% Rooibos, 75% Black Tea. Batch 2: 50% Rooibos and Black Tea. Batch 3:75% Rooibos, 25% Black Tea. I would not recommend switching beyond this ratio as your SCOBY needs tea leaf nutrients to survive long term (Rooibos is a different plant).
**This is not exact. it is perfectly acceptable to add a fresh layer of SCOBY from a previous batch of kombucha. If you operate a SCOBY hotel, start a new batch with 1/2 volumetric cup of SCOBY per gallon!