HOW TO BREW KOMBUCHA

Originally from Asia, known in China as ‘the exlir of life’, Kombucha is fermented, sweetened tea. The Kombucha SCOBY is a gelanitous layer of cellulose which grows on the surface of the sweetened tea. It is composed of different yeasts and acetobacter. The yeasts convert the sugars into ethanol and the acetobacter convert the ethanol into acetic acid. There are smaller amounts of several other bacteria strains within the SCOBY, including lactobacilli. As well as sugar, tea is essential for the growth of the SCOBY. It is thought that at least 75% of the caffeine is consumed during the fermentation. 

Ingredients

  • 160grams sugar
  • 2 litres filtered or spring water
  • 8 teaspoons or 8 teabags of green tea
  • 1 x SCOBY large enough to ferment 2 litres (you can purchase a SCOBY from us - just email)
  • 200 ml of ready Kombucha

Equipment

  • Sieve
  • Plastic spoon
  • Plastic Jug
  • 2 litre glass jar
  • Muslin or tea towel
  • Muslin for teabag
  • String
  • Elastic band
  • Scales

Method

  • Wrap tea in muslin and tie with string
  • Boil 1 litre of filtered or spring water and add to 2 litre glass jar
  • Add tea and sugar to jar and stir, then leave to infuse for 20 minutes
  • After 20 minutes add remaining litre of water to glass jar
  • Add the SCOBY as well as the 200 ml of ready Kombucha
  • The jar can now be placed somewhere warm to ferment. This needs to be between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, ideally between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius. A Kombucha will take anywhere between 7 to 14 days approximately. When to stop the fermentation (by decanting the liquid and bottling) is to some extent down to personal taste. Generally it is ready when most of the sweetness is gone and there is a slight but pleasant sourness. The longer it is left to ferment the more sour it will become. 

 

 

Alone we rot, together we ferment!!

Alone we Rot, Together we Ferment is the slogan of Iggy’s Live and Cultured – an inspirational brewhouse and fermented foods enterprise in the Salish Sea.

These are some words for a brewing revival culture. A forest tribe called the Baka have this as their maxim: “The world is abundant with plenty for everyone, scarcity is caused by people who have forgotten how to share”. It is from this place we brew. For to brew is an ancient process, not restricted to the brewing of beer. To brew is to harvest and infuse, to steep and to simmer, to decoct and to blend. It is the art form extracting the power of plants in water, and the production of drink that we can consume, for our bodies and for our enjoyment. 

When brewing is practiced, the realisation of plenty creates stronger social relationships. When there is loads to go round, loads goes round. And when there is loads to go round new circles are created. New circles create new collaborations. Friendships gain currency and scarcity and waste are reduced when people build capacity to grow and produce together. Abundance is created when people take brewing and gardening back into their hands. 

Alone we Rot, Together we Ferment

Like Apples scattered about the earth, we can either be consumed by the forces of nature or pull ourselves together and make nutritious foods and drinks, (precious juice, cyder and vinegar)!

The human body contains approximately 37 trillion human cells – a huge but tiny number compared to the number of bacterial cells we co-exist with – coming in over the hundreds of trillions. These bacterial cells that make up so much of our bodies are known as our microbiota or micro biome.

A healthy microbiota helps our bodies: digest food, produce vitamins and essential amino acids, influence fats and glucose metabolism, help maintain normal body weight, regulate energy levels , reduce inflammation, neutralise carcinogens and build a healthier immune system. Its now thought that the microbiota might even effect our behaviour and cognitive functions such as learning and memory.

As within so without. In studies of bacterial life both in the human body and in our agricultural soils theres been observation that greater microbial diversity results in increased stability, nutrient cycling, disease resistance and resilience. 

However modern we may feel, our biology is ancient. As the weight of the bacteria in our stomach alone is approximately 1KG, the same weight as our brains, and as 1/10th of our bodies(bacteria are continuous in the soil, we can say that: –  

"Bacteria keep both our human bodies and our Earth's body alive and continuous." – Pheobe Tickell, Microbial Sceintist (These two sentences are quotes by the co-founder of the Future Farm Lab project).

In the age of Industrial food, where bacteria are nuked out of existence to give many of the products we buy as food shelf life, and when our most popular food and drinks are crammed with sugar water or pasteurised for higher profit margins, and when we are all consuming largely dead foods.. brewing can make us more alive.

To brew is to be connected to the seasons and to a wider web relationships. To make the most of the earth’s fruits that are produced in abundance by the power of sun, rain and insects alone, each year. It is to expand your sense of self, what you identify with, to the whole of life.

Fermentation and gardening can give us a better relationship with our own bodies, with the people around us, with the soil and water that feeds us and with plants that can surround and nourish us.

The culture of Remembering How to Brew.

It is this culture that we will share freely, as it is only through the sharing of knowledge that our culture will evolve. As our brewing and gardening histories are so rich, this evolution is to remember: to remember how to be gardeners – how to forage, harvest, prepare and ferment – the abundance of our living landscapes. We do not need to rewrite cultural history as much as to revive and share it.

We need to open-source this culture, because the faster it spreads the faster it can heal the damage being caused. We need resource sharing networks of small-scale producers for all forms of resilience.  

When our biosphere is dying, and we depend on its health for ours, we need to displace the destructive culture for one that can help it self heal. This culture starts with reclaiming our food and drink systems by growing and producing locally for as many of our primary needs as possible. Every human being on Earth deserves the means to access healthy food and drink, as every organism deserves an uncontaminated environment to feed from.

As our stomachs share bacteria with soil, we can feed ourselves in the future. As the branches of an Oak tree are in an Acorn, we can can create a culture that sustains life.

From this place, we invite the world to brew.

 

Join our mailing list or follow our blog for the launch of our brewing and plant drink revival WIKI in 2017. 

Operation Apple Press 2016!

Old Tree's first harvest festival – 2 day mass Apple Scrump in an abundant Somerset orchard. We juiced nearly 2000 litres in two days and still couldn't get all the Apples! We have a massive resource of unharvested Apples in this country and a rich orchard (cultural and genetic) heritage, which we are planning to revive through events like this. 

We have many more Apple trees in Somerset and Sussex that we haven't built the capacity to harvest and process this year but next year its all possible! No Apples should be behind when you can make such incredible juice, cyder and vinegar from them with very little energy. NO APPLE LEFT BEHIND FESTIVAL for 2017! Get in touch with us if you know of fruit that goes unharvested so we can map it for next years event or if you'd like to attend the next scrump or foraging event we organise... oldtreecoop@gmail.com

Please spread the word and checkout the slide show from this years event below.

Elderflower cordial

RECIPE for the Hedgerow drink of summer time! 

For 8 litres (enough for 200 drinks!) ...

Weights and measures – 

125 g of dried Elderflowers 

200 g citric acid

9KG of Sugar 

5.5 litres of water 

10 Lemons

10 limes 

n.b – Fresh Elderflowers are even better if in season – use approximately 7 times more in weight than dried Elderflowers and remove most of the green stems... 

What you need…

Hob

10 litre pan

Funnel

2.5 litre Jug

Weighing scales 

measuring spoon

stirring spoon 

tasting spoon 

 

What to do… 

Heat Water with Elderflowers to dissolve the sugar and make a sweet sweet Tea…

Add the citric acid, get the temperature over 72 degrees celsius. 

Turn the heat off! 

Juice the lemons and limes – add the juice to the clean container(s)

Pour the cordial into the container with a funnel at 70 degrees 

Crash cool the containers in the fridge to preserve shelf life.

Serve 1 part cordial to 5 parts water for supply to any cafe, restaurant or events…

How to serve... 

1 litre makes makes 25 drinks….

Dilute with still or sparkling water 

Mixes well with Gin! 
 

 

 

 

"Over consumption results from our fear of scarcity"

This article sumarizes the ideas put forward by Jeremy Rifkin in his book Zero Marginal Cost Society. 

He argues that the emergence of the collaborative commons we see exemplified by the internet is paving the way for the end of market capitalism towards a new economic system defined by sharing energy and information.

"The creation of a collaborative commons" is a big idea, that we are planning to explore with our botanical drinks fro edible landscapes. We want to feed the D.I.Y culture with all our knowledge of plants and fermentation and invite everyone to share theirs... This cumulative effect of this could be to kickstart more local production processes and sow the seeds of abundant landscapes that reduce over-consumption and production inherent in our present system. 

We are starting a wiki, a collaborative encyclopedia, with the working title – drinkforests.net 

Its a "collaboratively edited encyclopedia for plant drink revival"

We will be sending out our first seasonal newsletter when its done.

Sign up at the bottom of this to be informed :-) 

Elderflower to Meadowsweet!

The Elderflower's moved quickly this year.. But Meadow Sweet has come out and can be used with the same recipe! Its another beacon of white flower in wild British landscapes. This one usually found growing near water.. Smells as sweet as it sounds and brews well.

Here is our recipe: -  

Requiem for a Garden Economy

Plants create soil that create more plants

That create more soil, that create more plants

Forest gardens get more and more fruitful each year

Life in trees is

Cooler when its hot

And warmer when its cold 

We're breathing in forests

Gaining energy from plants

And we're made out of water 

Gardening heals the earth

Abundance feeds us 

Time is of the essence

To garden

 Or just consume

Small is Trinity

E.F Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful before any of us were born, and this little book fell of our book shelf and onto our desk recently. 

Its a brilliantly written manifesto for 'economics as if people and planet mattered'... The same idea that is the very slogan of think-tank NEF - The New Economics Foundation today. This bit had to be blogged as it encapsulates our vision for Old Tree growth.

“Our most important task is to get off our present collision course. And who is there to tackle such a task? I think everyone of us, whether old or young, powerful or powerless, rich or poor, influential or un-influential. 

To talk about the future is only useful if it leads to action now. And what can we do now, while we are still in a position of ‘never having had it so good’? To say the least – which is already very much – we must thoroughly understand the problem and begin to see the possibility of evolving a new life-style, with new methods of production and new patterns of consumption: a life-style designed for permanence. To give only three preliminary examples: in agriculture and horticulture, we can interest ourselves in the perfection of production methods which are biologically sound, build up soil fertility, and produce health, beauty and permanence. Productivity will then look after itself. In industry, we can interest ourselves in the evolution of small-scale technology, relatively non-violent technology, ‘technology with a human face’, so that people have a chance to enjoy themselves while they are working, instead of working solely for their pay packet and hoping usually forlornly, for enjoyment during their leisure time. In industry again – and, surely, industry is the pace-setter of modern life – we can interest ourselves in new forms of partnership between management and me, even forms of common ownership.” 

 

All small medium enterprise (SME) owners, know how challenging it is to manifest a small business that can pay the required living wage and still make profit in today's economic climate. What is evident is that the small must survive for our fundamental wellbeing and resilience. In the realm of smaller and slower are the answers to our most prescient social, environmental and (longterm) economic crises. 

Its important to remember that the gigantic can only survive with the availability of cheap fossil fuels. Cheap fossil fuels do the dirty work of industrial agriculture and modern civilisation. The days of cheap fossil fuels are nearly over, whether they last 10 or 100 years more is conjecture, we need to stop burning them anyway to stand a chance of surviving climate change. For sustainable human existence to become possible we need an alternative economy and mode of production that mimics nature. It has to be local, it has to be regenerative to the earth, it has to properly benefit the people that drive it, it has to be small. 

To summarise Schumacher we have to focus on 3 things to create the conditions for the small to be viable again in these times. 

  1.  GROW FOOD, cycle all nutrients, BUILD SOIL
  2. Focus on human-faced production - invest in HUMAN SCALE TOOLS 
  3. COLLABORATIVE PRODUCTION and ownership to increase productivity

OLD TREE are committed to these ends and are calling out to all producers and SME's for the collaboration and networking and peer-support that can help the create the conditions for these key stepping stones towards a sane: economy, ecology and society in these times. 

 

"The Old Trees" - a poem (about us!?) found by a friend, thank you to an anonymous author for these beautiful words.

Go where you can feel the forest breathing and inhale the understanding beyond words.

We climb the banks where the stream has rounded every rock to lapidary softness. We admire every plant for its health, achieved not by some gardener's fertilizer but by the sheer perfection of being in ideal surroundings. We can't help but notice the old trees. They are large, their branches twisting and spreading to catch the light perfectly, their canopies spreading to the sun and their roots firm in the trees' own shade.

The trees are silent and undeniably present. No other thing in the entire universe can take the place of a tree, and the way that it's rooted is perfectly suited to its location. The legends say that these old trees have consciousness and wisdom. We can learn from that. Behind is the whole of a forested ridge. Where the trunks are bare and the canopy thick, the shadows are as black as night and the silence is overwhelming. The sun is fierce, fiery, burning, but the millions of leaves absorb the blaze and leave only shadow below. They transform violent heat into violent peace. 

In the forest, the trees may rustle with the breeze, but they make no words. We may see the outlines of the branches on the sky, but they form no image. the flowers may exude sweet scents, but they compound no perfume.

The old trees do nothing we would do. They are completely what they are, without the slightest veneer of the human, and yet they are supreme in the forest. 

Ferment to Change this World! Cultural Revivalist Manifesto by Sandor Katz

This is an inspiring manifesto from The Art of Fermentation – the book that we encourage everyone who wants to get into brewing with us to read as foundational knowledge. The book is "an in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world". A Cultural Revivalist Manifesto is its epilogue... It captures the spirit with which we can make these changes, step by step, plant by plant and ferment by ferment... We have taken the time to type it out by hand to get a better grasp of it ourselves and because it can only be found as a PDF for free download across the rest of the internet, so get this! 

A Cultural Revivalist Manifesto

 

"WE MUST RECLAIM OUR FOOD. Food is much more than simply nourishment. It embodies a complex web of relationships. It is a huge part of the context in which we exist. Reclaiming our food means actively involving ourselves in this web. 

The foods that fill our contemporary supermarket shelves are products of a globalised infrastructure of propriety genetic material, synthetic and often dangerous chemicals, monocultures, long-distance transportation, factory-scale processing, wasteful packaging and energy sucking refrigeration. The food being produced by this system is destroying the earth, destroying our health, destroying our economic vitality, and robbing us of our dignity by breeding dependancy and reducing us to the subservient role of consumer. We need to cultivate a different set of relationships:  

Relationships with Plants and Animals

This is where our food comes from, plants and animals (with microbial assistance). We cannot continue to distance ourselves from the sources of our food, relegating it to highly specialised, mostly faraway, mass-production monocultures, cut off from our lives. Historically, by necessity, we related to the plants and animals we ate. We knew them, relied upon them, and through their pursuit and cultivation, we were intimately connected to our environment. We need to become reconnected to the sources of our sustenance. Get to know the plants around you. Grow some herbs or vegetables. Glean and use unharvested fruit. Plant a tree, or care for one, or many. Forage weeds from your yard. If you enjoy eggs, milk, or meat, consider exploring the path of raising chickens or other livestock on a small scale. Find a way to observe and participate in slaughtering and butchering. Respect, honour, and appreciate the life that goes into our food. We have coevolved with these other beings, and our fates are intertwined. 

Relationships with Farmers and Producers

Buy local food! Support local agriculture! Get to know farmers, and buy directly from them. Agricultural revitalisation is real economic stimulus and real economic security. Beyond the raw products of agriculture, most people enjoy foods and beverages that have been processed, whether its cheese, salami, or tempeh. Many of these "value-added" processes involve fermentation. Support small–scale local processing and production. It means fresher food, local jobs, decentralisation, and greater resilience in the face of change. Local Production includes not only commercial manufacturers but small informal production, shared through alternative economies such as gift exchange, barter, voluntary donations, herd-shares, community supported models, or illicit underground sales. Find a niche you can fill in the emergent web of food creators. 

Relationships with Ancestors

Our ancestors paid much more attention to their ancestors than people in our time typically do. We have our god, and canonise various historical or mythological hero's into icons, but in our time we have very little appreciation for the general continuous lineage itself. However mixed our heritage may be, we are, each of us, the spawn of ancient lineages, which have bestowed upon us incredible cultural legacies. We must remember, rediscover, and reclaim our ancestors, however we can, and honour, protect, and perpetuate their gifts, including tangible ones such as seeds and fermentation processes. Cultural revival is necessary in order to maintain their greatest legacy to us. Keeping it alive is the ultimate in ancestor worship.

Relationships with Mysteries

Mysteries endure. Despite all the impressive advances in microscopic imaging, genetic analysis, and other forms of scientific investigation, the realm of the microscopic is still very little understood. For that matter, so is much about our own bodies and minds. Let us honour the mysteries and revel in the fact that we will never understand everything. Relationships with community. 

Relationships with Community

Self-sufficiency is a dangerous myth. We need each other. Love your circle, cultivate it and enlarge it. Share food you grow or make with your community, and encourage others in their food production activities. Community is never perfect and takes hard work, because people have such varied visions, ideas and values. But do the hard work of finding common ground, and build community with the people around you. 

Relationships with Movements of Resistance

Our growing awareness as individuals, creating change in our own lives, and communities can (and must) build into galvanising social movements. While reviving local food systems we can also address inequitable access to resources by becoming part of existing movements for food justice and food sovereignty. While making use of indigenous wisdom in our cultural revival efforts, we can also acknowledge and act in solidarity with indigenous peoples struggling for survival. While trying to limit our own carbon footprints and environmental impact, we can also join social movements demanding the same of corporations and government policies. Personal actions can be powerful, but nothing like the force of collective action. 

Relationships with Materials

We must strive to maximise the use of whatever is abundant, easy, low impact and re-useable. We do not need infinitely more special equipment and gadgetry, we must interrupt the disposable society. Where feasible, scavenge materials to re-use them; process fibres from plants or animals; build a house from earthen materials. D.I.Y Culture! 

These are but a few strands of a densely interwoven web of relationships that can sustain and enrich us. Fermentation is one way in which we may consciously cultivate this web. This is the daily practice of cultural revival. By engaging life forces, we rediscover and reconnect with our context.  

 

 

Pear Tree Well Spring Water

Pear Tree Well Spring Water

We are incredibly excited soon to be stocking Pear Tree Well Water - the only mineral water bottled at source in Sussex. This water has at least 16 natural minerals and trace elements, zero Nitrates and a balanced ph. Its bottled by friends of ours near Uckfield and comes from a 120ft deep underground river beneath 5 ft of solid rock. It was discovered with the help of real dreams from a deep puddle, where an old Pear Tree used to stand. 

We are hoping to create synergy between Old Tree and Pear Tree by collaborating in both drink supply and re-fill culture. 

We also plan to be making our fermented soft drinks such as Water Kefir from this water as soon as we have all the big enough re-fill containers and logistics sorted out

Watch this space and if you live in Sussex, think about getting Pear Tree Well water today. 
You can bring the containers back to our Botanical brewhouse for-return and re-fill/exchange!

Beet Kvass

A simple lacto-fermented medicinal drink. It uses the natural process of fermentation to preserve and enhance the nutrients locked within the mighty beetroot. Drink it as a digestive aid or to replenish and repair your intestinal flora.

This beauty of this recipe is in it’s simplicity. There are only 2 ingredients. The simpler the recipe, the easier it is to make using surplus/waste produce. So, when you’re intercepting or urban foraging, always save the beetroot!

Makes just under 1 litre:

Ingredients

1.5 kg beetroot

2 teaspoons salt

Water (unchlorinated preferred)

Equipment

Knife

Chopping board

2l glass jar with sealable lid

1.     Wash and scrub beetroots. Do not grate or peel, as the skin is important for the fermentation. Chop beetroots into small, different size chunks. Place all chunks into the glass jar.

2.     Sprinkle the salt into the jar.

3.     Pour enough water into the jar to fill the level 1” from the top.

4.     Seal lid and keep jar at room temperature to ferment for up to 7-days.

5.     Every day, release the lid to taste kvass and let out excess gasses. When you’re happy with the strength, pour and strain liquid into another vessel, refrigerate, and enjoy!

A tip – To start your next batch of beet kvass, leave a small amount of liquid in the jar and start the process again. The residual liquid will help to kick-start the fermentation again.

What we want this blog to be

Our vision for this blog is to open source our recipe's through it. We also want to intersperse it with all our stories and discoveries of our work with plants and landscape regeneration, to bring about more collective knowledge of brewing and growing plants, and open the field up to more innovation... We know that there are many home-brewers out there and that we are missing a collective platform through which to develop and distribute their goods, as well as keeping a record of recipes and improvements to allow the quality and effectiveness of small-scale brewing to evolve. 

The platform offered here would need to be a wiki page in its own right to open the conversation and facilitate a collaborative brewing and plant growing platform, but this is an idea whose time has come and we are looking to work with someone who can help us turn this idea into a reality.  

Please be in touch with us on Oldtreecoop@gmail.com if you think you could make this idea come true. One of our team is an illustrator who could help make the site beautiful and we would pay the creator of such a platform in a constant supply of drinks of their choosing! 

 

Grasp the Nettle Beer!

Nettle Ginger Beer.

Nettles are one of the most abundant plants on this island and the most nutritional, they are also the most useful and leased used. The can be used for everything from rope to pesto, skin care to medicinal tea and then plant food! But perhaps most glorious, they make a great beer. They make a beer that has been recognised for thousands of years as delicious and health giving drink. Before agriculture, beer existed in the form of meads made from fermented honey and water, and nettles made one of the most enduring recipes

Our message is to leave the honey for the bees in these industrial times and head for making the most of the ingredients that are abundant at our fingertips now. Grown in greenhouses or saved from the food system, GINGER is available from most green grocers and also affordable dried. This Recipe uses just 5 ingredients to make a glorious brew thats good for you! 

·       1 carrier bag nearly full of nettle tips

·       600g brown sugar

·       one lemon

·       20g cream of tartar

·       a sachet of beer yeast

·       20g root ginger, chopped and bruised (optional)

·       8 pints of water

To make this for a fundraising event, multiply all by 5 to have enough for a crowd to enjoy.. you'll need a 30 litre brewing bucket with an airlock, a 15 litre pan a thermometer and small area of a household kitchen. Another 25 litre bucket or barrel, a sieve, a large funnel and a colander.

The evening before you make the Beer, fill half the water in the clean bucket and put the nettles in to steep. Bruise and dice the Ginger, squeeze and chop up the lemons and add all of that to the bucket too. Close the lid and leave for 12 hours, this will extract their flavour and nutrients overnight and make a nutritious cold brew that can also be drunk as a tonic. Rinse the nettles and heat up half of the water in pan, add the sugar and heat just enough to dissolve it and make a clear syrup, pour the sugar syrup over the steeped nettles and stir in, add the cream of tartar, stir well and then pitch the yeast! This is called an inoculation!

 

Where are we going?

Life on a Leaf

I sit up high, so far away, no one below can hear. I shout but never a reply, my words just disappear. I think of all the things out there, the person i could be. If i could just let go and see the world beyond this tree. And without even noticing, i'm no longer holding on.  The branches that surrounded me, just like that are gone. And i fall with birds full of colour following their flight. I could fall like this forever from darkness into light. I open up my eyes and i lay beneath the tree, looking up at all the branches that once held onto me. And i watch leaves fly, just like me how they tumble and fall. And i laugh to myself and the leaves laugh too. How they fall with no control.