Leave your next batch of kombucha brewing a little longer and let the resulting vinegar add a probiotic punch to sauces and sides.

After making kombucha part of our daily lives, we discovered that it can be used to enhance many recipes, particularly in the form of delicious, robust kombucha vinegar, which is as easy to make as ’booch itself.

To make the vinegar at home, simply let a batch of kombucha tea ferment for longer than usual, anywhere from 4 to 10 weeks. As the sugar and other nutrients are consumed by the bacteria and yeast, the sourness of the tea increases. This means that the older the batch, the more potent the flavor and the higher the acetic-acid concentration. When the flavor is very sour, your kombucha tea is now kombucha vinegar.

You can infuse your vinegars with fresh herbs and spices, but we suggest also trying it in your favorite condiments or side dishes that traditionally call for vinegar, like sweet-hot mustard or crunchy, spicy apple-ginger sauerkraut. That’s right, the tangy ketchup on our fries, the spicy mustard on our hot dogs, and all the other traditional condiments are supposed to be alive (!) with beneficial bacteria and yeast that bolster both the digestive and the immune system. With the probiotic and nutritional power of kombucha vinegar, even the simplest sauces and sides are elevated from ho-hum to hubba-hubba. They’re also a delicious way to make sure you’re getting your daily dose of the “good guys.”

How to Make It

To make kombucha vinegar, start with a batch of kombucha (1 gallon or less) that is already at least four weeks old; it should have about 1 percent acidity at that point. To increase the acidity of the vinegar to 2 percent, add 2 teaspoons of sugar per pint of vinegar every two weeks for a period of six weeks (that’s three rounds total). More rounds can be added as desired. Use immediately or flavor with herbs and ferment for up to six months, depending on how strong you like your vinegar. A SCOBY may form; you can either ignore it or remove it.

There are two methods for pasteurizing vinegar — heat and chemical. To pasteurize on the stove, heat the vinegar to 145°F (63°C) and hold it at that temperature for 30 minutes. To chemically pasteurize, crush 1 Campden tablet per gallon of vinegar and stir to dissolve. Cover the vessel and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours; then bottle.

Notes on Using Kombucha Vinegar:

The longer uncooked foods with kombucha vinegar sit, the more the natural flavors may be altered. Some fermentation may improve the flavor, but at a certain point the yeast takes over.

For this reason, we recommend making sauces and sides in small batches. Alternately, you may want to pasteurize the vinegar. Be aware that, while pasteurizing the vinegar prior to use allows for a longer storage time, it kills off all the probiotics. Though the probiotics are sacrificed with pasteurization, the liquid retains its nutritional value, including healthy acids, and the flavor is unaffected.

Because it has a relatively mild acetic-acid profile, kombucha vinegar tends to be less tart than other vinegars. When you’re cooking with it, if you prefer a stronger vinegar flavor you can increase the amount of kombucha vinegar or supplement with another, tarter vinegar such as balsamic or apple cider.

 

Banana Ketchup

Responding to tomato rationing during World War II, a Filipino food scientist named Maria Orosa utilized the country’s natural resources and invented banana ketchup! The bright orange color of the commercial product still sold in Filipino markets comes from adding annatto seeds. Since we left them out, this version has a more yellow-orange hue. We predict that kids and adults alike will go bananas for this delicious dipping sauce.

Yield: 1½ cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste, or 1–2 fresh chiles (Thai, jalapeño, or serrano), chopped
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 medium bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup kombucha vinegar, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
FLAVORING SUGGESTIONS (Mix and match to create your own favorite flavor.)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt

Directions

  1. Heat the peanut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and chili paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bananas, tomato paste, vinegar, water, sugar, soy sauce, and whatever spices you prefer, and stir well.
  2. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and let simmer, partially covered, until the mixture thickens, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. If you used a bay leaf, take it out and discard.
  3. Use a food processor or blender to purée the mixture. Taste. Add more kombucha vinegar to thin the consistency or add tartness, or add more sugar to sweeten. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 3 weeks, or pasteurize to store for an extended period of time.

Kombucha Mustard

Mustard has been spicing up hot dogs, egg salads, and Reuben sandwiches for centuries. Using whole mustard seeds creates a distinctive, flavorful mustard that trumps any store-bought processed fare. Anywhere you need some extra zing (and digestive help!), this mustard delivers bold flavor. It requires about a week to ferment, so plan accordingly.

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • ½ cup yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • ½–⅔ cup kombucha vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
FLAVORING SUGGESTIONS (Mix and match to create your own favorite flavor.)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon curry powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground turmeric (for classic “mustard yellow” color)

Directions

  1. Place the mustard seeds in a glass jar and add enough vinegar to cover the seeds. (They will plump up a lot as they ferment.) Add garlic and onion, if desired. Remember, a little bit goes a long way with the booch. Resist the temptation to add other spices at this stage or the mustard may become too bitter.
  2. Cover with a tightly woven cloth, secured with a rubber band if needed, and let sit in a cool (65–74°F [18–23°C]), dark place for about 1 week. Check daily to ensure that the seeds remain fully submerged, topping off with additional kombucha vinegar as needed.
  3. After about a week, the mustard seeds should be soft and break easily when lightly pressed. Pour the entire mixture into a food processor bowl, add the salt and whatever other spices you want to use, and pulse until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Add more vinegar if needed.

Klassic Kraut

This is the foundation recipe for creating whatever variety of kraut appeals to you. Caraway seeds make for a clean and classic flavor.

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup kombucha vinegar

Directions

  1. Add shredded cabbage and salt to a medium bowl and toss to combine. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours. After having time to sweat, the cabbage will release some liquid into the bowl. Use your hands to pound or squeeze the cabbage to release even more liquid. When it seems like you’ve extracted as much liquid as possible, add the spices, fruit, or herbs, and toss to combine.
  2. Pack a quart jar tightly with half of the cabbage mixture. Pour the liquid from the bowl into the jar, followed by the kombucha vinegar. Fill the jar with the remaining mixture of ingredients, pressing down with a tamper or wooden spoon as you go to create a layer of liquid across the top. Use a kraut weight to hold the cabbage under the liquid. Cover the jar with a towel and let sit in a cool, dark place for 5 to 14 days. Taste frequently. When the kraut has the right balance of tart and salty, store in the refrigerator.

Apple-Ginger Kraut

Crispy apple and pungent ginger pack a flavorful punch in this dynamo kraut. Crunchy, spicy, and delicious, it’s the perfect topping for a gourmet burger and adds pep to any plate.

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 head green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 apple, diced or thinly sliced
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup kombucha vinegar

Directions

  1. Follow directions for Klassic Kraut above.
Note:

So long as the food remains submerged in the brine, it is protected against unwanted bacteria and mold. Sometimes bubbles push some material out of the liquid, leading to mold. Traditionally, the moldy layer would be scraped off and the properly fermented kraut below the surface would be enjoyed. However, now that many people have compromised immune systems, most recommend tossing a moldy batch into the compost pile. Others with more robust immunity might consider removing the moldy layer and digging in anyway — trust your gut!

Text and recipes excerpted and adapted from The Big Book of Kombucha © 2016 by Hannah Krum and Alex M. LaGory. Banner illustration © Yao Cheng Design, LLC. All rights reserved.

Alex LaGory

Alex LaGory is the co-author, with Hannah Crum, of The Big Book of Kombucha. LaGory is a writer and producer who, with Crum, mentors kombucha homebrewers… See Bio

Hannah Crum

Hannah Crum is the co-author, with Alex LaGory, of The Big Book of Kombucha. Together they created Kombucha Kamp as a one-stop destination for the highest quality brewing… See Bio

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The Big Book of Kombucha

by Hannah Crum , Alex LaGory and Sandor Ellix Katz

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