Making Kombucha and Jun

Kombucha is a probiotic drink with many health benefits. It is made by fermenting tea and sugar with a kombucha culture, known as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Community Of Bacteria and Yeasts). Sometimes this gets called a mushroom, although it is not actually a mushroom.

Jun is similar to kombucha but is made using a different SCOBY and uses honey instead of sugar. I started out making kombucha until I discovered jun. I prefer to use local honey rather than sugar, and I prefer the flavour so I stick to making jun now.

Health Benefits

There is a lot written about kombucha, but not much about jun. It is assumed that the health benefits are similar, some say jun is even better.

Kombucha is known to help with detoxification. In fact it is recommended that people new to kombucha start with only a small amount the first few days so that the detoxification is not too strong.

Like other fermented foods, jun and kombucha are full of probiotic lactobacillu bacteria which help with digestion and also the immune system.

Kombucha is also good for energy levels as it is high in B vitamins.

Recipe

This the recipe I use for jun. Kombucha is usually made with black tea rather than green tea, and sugar rather than honey, but the basic idea is the same.

I generally use a mix of green tea and rooibos tea (sometimes called red tea), and then with each batch I add various additional herbs, recently I’ve been using lemon verbena as I particularly like the resulting drink.

Different types of honey affect the flavour of the resulting jun, but the specific flavour of the honey is usually lost. Eg if you use lemon honey, the jun will not taste of lemon, although it will have a lighter flavour compared to if you used a stronger honey such as heather or chestnut which give a deeper flavour to the jun.

I use a 4 litre jar, although I don’t fill it to the top so make slightly less than 4 litres, here’s my recipe:

2 tablespoons green tea
2 tablespoons rooibos tea
2 tablespoons of another herb to give flavour or medicinal benefits – lemon verbena, chaga, chanca piedra, lemongrass, etc
375g honey

Make the tea. I generally make the tea in the evening and leave it to brew overnight and then I continue the next morning.

Mix the honey into the tea, until it is fully dissolved. Top up with more water but don’t overfill the jar.

A couple of weeks ago I put more honey in by accident, I used around 485g and it made very good jun, with a stronger flavour. Experiment and find the amounts you are happy with.

Add some jun from the last batch (if this is your first time, you should get some with the SCOBY) and put the SCOBY on top. (Where to get a SCOBY? If you have a friend making jun, ask them. The SOCBY will keep growing so you can share pieces of it with friends. If not you can try asking on this Facebook group.)

Cover with a light cloth, so it is open to air but dust and flies can’t get in.

Fermentation time is dependant on room temperature. I go from 8 days in winter to 7 days as it is getting warmer, to 6 days in summer. I live in Portugal and have no heating so room temperature varies quite a bit through the year. If you have heating you might find your room temperature stays more constant and you don’t need to vary the fermentation time. I usually taste it when I think it should be ready – with experience you will be able to tell whether it is ready or needs another day.

Use only glass or ceramic containers to ferment in – the acids in the jun or kombucha will eat into plastic and contaminate your drink and metal can kill the cultures.

Bottling

When the jun is ready, take the SCOBY from the top and reserve for your next batch. Strain the jun and put in bottles. The flavour improves and the jun will become fizzy from being in a bottle for a few days – I find a week is a very good time. You have to be careful at this point, bottles can explode if the pressure builds up too much. And be careful opening the bottle, it can spray out if there is too much pressure!

Now it is time to experiment! Recently I used lemongrass for the first time, the resulting jun had an amazing flavour like a bitter beer. Let me know your favourite herbs to use in the comments below.

How to make Fermented Tangerine Drink & Natural Lemonade

I love this recipe, it’s so simple but makes a really delicious and refreshing drink, naturally carbonated. Plus it contains natural beneficial probiotic bacteria from the fermentation.

Tangerine Drink

Ingredients to make 1 litre – just multiply up to make larger quantities (I usually make 4 litres)

I usually make this with honey, but I experimented with dried figs as an alternative. I’m sure you could experiment with other sweeteners, although honey and figs both have natural yeasts which probably help with the fermentation.

Method

Squeeze the tangerines. I like to add the pulp too. Stir in the other ingredients; if using honey stir until it is completely dissolved. Top up with water, but don’t fill right to the top.

I like to use a kilner jar (as pictured), this has a rubber seal which allows gasses to escape during fermentation, but doesn’t allow oxygen back in. If you use a jar with a tight seal, you will need to open it every day or so, otherwise it could explode…

Leave to ferment. I turn the jar upside down once a day to mix the contents up a bit, I think this makes it ferment a little quicker. The time depends on temperature, I find usually it is ready in 5 to 7 days. You can tell when it is getting ready as you will see small bubbles, and some of the pulp tends to float to the top as you can see in this photo.

Start tasting it every day, it will constantly change. Once it is to your liking, you can put it in bottles and put in the fridge, this will slow the fermentation down so that it will change less.

Orangeade

Follow exactly the same recipe as above, just substitute freshly squeezed orange juice. Just be careful not to squeeze the orange too hard at the end or you will get some of the bitter oils from the skin in the juice which negatively affects the flavour.

LemonaidLemonade – makes 1 litre

I had to adjust the recipe slightly for lemons:

  • 200ml freshly squeezed lemon juice (or maybe less, see below)
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • pinch of salt
  • water (approx 800ml)

Note slightly less lemon juice, and 3 times as much honey (1 tablespoon rather than 1 teaspoon). I’ve not tried this with dried figs, but if you want to try I would  try 6.

And the other major difference is fermentation time, it takes much longer. I’d actually given up on this recipe, but tried it again today and found that it is finally ready, almost exactly one month since I made it. (Maybe it has been ready for a while, I’ve probably not tasted it for 2 weeks.)

Actually, I’m drinking this as I write, and maybe 200ml is still too much lemon juice, it is quite acidic in the back of my throat. If I was making this again I might try only 150ml. If yours turns out too strong, just dilute with water when you want to drink it.

Tips and Ticks

Once I tried adding orange zest to the ferment – it didn’t work, it really slowed down the fermentation process and didn’t particularly make much difference to the flavour.

Approximate amount of juice, of course this will vary with fruit size:

250ml tangerine juice = approx 6 tangerines

200ml lemon juice = approx 4 lemons

Oranges are much more variable in size so harder to say, but 250ml is probably somewhere between 2 to 4 oranges.

Let me know what you think if you try this. Any improvements?

Mulberry Chocolate Recipe

Mulberries in bowlWhen I was younger, all I knew about mulberries was the nursery rhyme “Here we go round the mulberry bush”, and even that was wrong, mulberries grow on trees! It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I tasted my first mulberry, when I was in Sicily. It was a fresh white one, and I love it. I then tried black ones and loved those too.

I’ve since found that you can grow mulberries in the UK, at least in the south, although they are a lot more common in the Mediterranean.

Mulberries are great nutritionally, they are high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron and some B vitamins, plus they contain the antioxidant resveratrol which may have health benefits, lots of studies are been done on it.

While fresh mulberries are amazing and are one of my favourite fruits, they are only available for a couple of months in the summer, but dried mulberries are available all the time and amazing for making all sorts of sweet recipes. I particularly like to use them to make raw cake bases along with walnuts or other nuts.

Ground mulberriesMulberries go really well with chocolate, here’s my recipe:

40g cacao paste
25g cacao butter
15g coconut butter
45g dried mulberries, ground
35g lucuma powder
20g carob powder
½ teaspoon raw honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla powder (optional, but really improves the flavour)

(Note, if you prefer to use cacao powder rather than paste, you can use approx 20g cacao powder and change to 45g cacao butter.)

The first step is to grind the mulberries. I did this in my Vitamix, although a coffee grinder might also work. I did it in small batches as they get sticky and clump together – don’t grind for too long as this makes them stick back together. I then put them through a sieve to remove the larger chunks.

Melt the cacao butter, cacao paste and coconut butter gently (I use a bowl in a pan of warm water). Once it is all liquid, slowly stir in the rest of the ingredients. You want the consistency to be fairly stiff, if it seems too liquid, add a little more lucuma, carob or mulberries.

Pour into moulds and put in the fridge to set. The chocolate is slightly chewy, not smooth, hope you like it.

Finished chocolates

My Favourite Raw Chocolate Recipe

This is my basic raw chocolate recipe. It can be made just as it is, or various flavours can be added such as essential oils (eg orange, lemon, pepermint), orange or lemon zest, buckwheaties (for chrunchy chocolate), cacao nibs, raisins, chopped dried figs, chopped nuts, etc.

Ingredients

40g cacao paste
25g cacao butter
15g coconut butter

3 tablespoons lucuma powder
1 tablespoons carob powder
1 tablespoons mesquite powder (also known as algarroba)
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp mushroom powders (mix of various powders including reishi, cordyceps, lions mane, etc – optional)
1 teaspoon honey (optional)

Makes approximately 150g of chocolate, you can easily double all measurements if you want more.

Method

Melt the cacao paste, cacao butter and coconut butter using gentle heat, using a baine marie or dehydrator, or just a bowl in a pan of hot water. Once this is completely liquid, you can add the rest of the ingredients. Add a bit at a time and stir it in well. I shake the powders through a sieve to stop lumps forming.

Pour into chocolate moulds. If you don’t have proper moulds you can use various things, including silicone ice cube trays or plastic tupperware containers.

It will set slowly at room temperature, but you can put it in the fridge to set quicker, or freezer even quicker (although it will get too hard if you leave it too long, bring back to room temperature ready to eat).

(At Funky Raw we sell a raw chocolate kit with ingredients to make your own chocolate and an “Extra” kit with extra ingredients, both at a discount compared to buying the items separately.)

Raw Vegan Ice Cream Recipe

Raw Vegan Ice CreamAfter living without a fridge or freezer for almost 6 years (first travelling, and now without a finished kitchen), some friends gave us one last month. Which was perfect because this summer in Portugal has been particularly hot! I’ve experimented with a few different ice cream recipes including one with egg yolks which worked well (although at the moment I’m not sure where I wrote the recipe down). But now I want to share this very simple recipe, that makes a really nice ice-cream:

Very simply blend and freeze! It’s good to stir it a bit during the freezing process, this makes it a bit more creamy, although it doesn’t seem to be necessary with this recipe. If you have an ice cream making machine, you could try using that.

I’m sure you can add other ingredients to make different flavour ice creams, let me know in the comments below if you come up with anything good.

What’s your favourite raw ice cream recipe?

Raw Chocolate “Rice Krispie” cakes recipe

I had the idea that maybe buckwheaties would make a good substitute for rice krispies to make a healthy raw treat. Buckwheaties are sprouted buckwheat groats which have been dehydrated making them crispy. You can either make them yourself or buy them ready made (eg here at Funky Raw).

Buckwheatie cakesIngredients

25g cacao paste
15g cacao butter
10g coconut butter

2 tablespoons lucuma powder
2 tsp carob powder
2 tsp mesquite powder
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 tsp honey

70g buckwheaties

First make the chocolate. The ingredients listed make approximately 100g of chocolate, so you can make the same amount of chocolate using your preferred chocolate recipe, or even melt some ready made raw chocolate bars (a couple of Vanoffe Dark bars might work well).

Melt the cacao paste, cacao butter and coconut butter. Stir in all the powdered ingredients and honey (or other sweetener of your choice, or leave it out completely if you prefer).

Mix in the buckwheaties and form into balls. This is the messy part – hopefully the chocolate is starting to set a little by now which should make it easier! Maybe you could try spooning the mixture into paper cake cases if you don’t want to get messy chocolate coated fingers, although surely licking your fingers at the end is part of the fun!

With these quantities I made 7 balls, although they were a little bit too big so you could make them a little smaller and make 8 to 10.

This should also work well with activated pumpkin seeds, something I will try soon! Or even a mixture of pumpkin seeds and buckwheaties… Let me know in the comments if you come up with a good variation.

Fermented Grape Drink Recipe

This recipe was first published in Funky Raw Magazine issue 25 (2012) – I’ve been making it again recently as grapes are in season.

I’ve recently discovered this drink and I love it. Jolita first made it, adapted from recipes in the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and then I worked out the exact recipe.

According to Nourishing Traditions, drinks like this were consumed by traditional people. Modern drinks like soft drinks, stronger alcohol and “sports drinks” have replaced traditional drinks. But of course the traditional drinks were much better! They contain lactobacilli probiotic bacteria which help with digestion, they quench the thirst much better than plain water and contain electrolytes and minerals so also great to drink when exercising, better than the so called “sports drinks”.

The fermentation will make this drink mildly alcoholic, our guess is less than 1%, similar to kombucha.

Ingredients

  • 250g grapes (I like it with black ones best, but green or a mixture works just as well)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • optional: teaspoon of whey (I haven’t been using this)

Method

Remove the stalks from the grapes and place in a bowl.

Crush the grapes – I used the wooden ‘pusher’ from our juicer, maybe a rolling pin would work. (And I’ve recently discovered I can do it with my hands!) Try and make sure all the grapes have been crushed.

Crushed-grapes

Place the crushed grapes into a 1 litre jar – I use a kilner jar.

Mix the lemon juice, honey and some water and add to the jar. Then add more water so that the jar is nearly full, but not completely as you need to leave room for expansion during the fermentation.

finished-grape-drinkFermentation time depends on temperature and other factors – try it after 24 hours but I have found that 36 to 48 hours is about perfect. To drink strain off the grape skins.
It doesn’t keep too long after getting to ‘perfect’, although it will probably keep better in the fridge at this point (we don’t have a fridge at the moment.) Also, the addition of whey is supposed to slow the fermentation down, which means it should keep a bit longer if you use it.

This recipe works with various fruits instead of grapes, we’ve tried with orange juice, lemon juice, pears and melons – lots to experiment with…

Simple Raw Chocolate Brownie Recipe

Raw Chocolate Brownie

A few days ago I saw a post for a raw chocolate brownie with only two ingredients. I was intrigued so I followed the link. The two ingredients were dates and cacao powder. Now, while that might make a tasty snack, without any fat it doesn’t really make a satisfying brownie. So here is my simple brownie recipe, four necessary ingredients and one optional:

I used deglet nour dates, if you use medjool dates then you might need to adjust the recipe slightly as medjool are sweeter.

Remove the date stones and chop the dates and coconut meat. Process well in a food processor.

Add the cacao and carob powder and the vanilla if you are using it and process again, it should start to thicken up, although it is still very sticky! You could add more of either powder if you need to make the mixture a bit thicker.

Enjoy! What’s your favourite simple recipe?

Chia Pudding Recipe

I was at a festival the other week (Tribojam, it was amazing) and of course I didn’t have my usual full store cupboards of food, which forced me to experiment more. I had lots of chia seeds with me and made a few different chia puddings. So this is a very flexible recipe, you can add what you have. Start with the following:

Organic Chia Seeds

  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds – (at Funky Raw they still on special offer until the end of August)
  • Juice of half a lemon (or lime)
  • Approx 300ml water

Mix together and leave to soak for 10 to 20 minutes. The chia seeds will soak up most of the liquid – you can add more water if you want it not as thick.

Then add a selection of fruit and flavourings as you desire. I like chopped pears, a couple of tablespoons of carob powder and a teaspoon of honey. Chopped or mashed banana also works well (this can be in addition to the pears or instead, up to you). I’m sure there are many other variations you can make, switch the carob for lucuma, algarroba or acai powder, add a teaspoon of bee pollen, or goji berries, etc.

Nettle & Red Pepper Paté

Yes, nettles again! I love them! I made this tonight, it was delicious:

  • Nettles1 small red pepper
  • couple of large handfuls of nettle tops (top 4 to 6 leaves from each plant)
  • 4 sun dried tomato halves
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • small handful dried wakame seaweed, soaked for 5 mins
  • oregano (maybe 1/8th teaspoon?)
  • 2 egg yolks (optional)

Sorry, as usual I didn’t measure anything. Put everything except the egg yolks and wakame in the blender and blend, adding olive oil as needed. Then add the wakme and blend a bit more – I left it so the wakame wasn’t blended in fully. The paté was finished at this stage, but I wanted to make it a bit more filling so I stirred in 2 egg yolks.