How to Introduce your Kids to Fermented Drinks (Kombucha & Shrub)
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Fermented foods and children don’t always have a happy relationship. I’m sure most parents can readily agree with this, especially if you’re having a hard time trying to switch kids from commercially prepared sugar-filled beverages to natural alternatives such as kombucha or shrub.
Introducing kids to fermented foods is a learning process for everyone involved and there are two things to keep in mind when making this healthy transition.
1) Include your child as much as possible in the process of preparing the food as this can turn into a fun learning objective—-did somebody say tasty science experiment????
2) Introduce fermented foods with commercial flavors in mind; ask them which drink they miss the most or which flavor is their favorite.
Guaranteed you can come up with some tasty alternatives that everyone in your household will be fans of or you can create them together. I’ve come up with some pretty crazy flavors with the help of my family.
In this article I introduce you to two options for fermented drinks: kombucha and shrub.
Kombucha is a fantastic beverage that is easily made at home with very little preparation, it’s a “set it and forget it” process that generally takes from 2-6 weeks. It’s a naturally fermented beverage that is full of healthy bacteria and yeasts (AKA probiotics) that improve the health of your gut flora.
Getting started with fermenting at home may seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it it’s very easy to experiment with and create many different flavors.
If you have never made kombucha before, follow this link for Lesson 1: At Home Kombucha as a step-by-step guide on beginning your first batch.
The basics to keep in mind for brewing kombucha at home are:
1) Remember to use filtered water, NOT tap water;
2) Keep 2-3 cups of starter liquid (this is kombucha that has been brewed from a previous batch and will jump start the fermenting process of your new batch);
3) Use proper bottles with a tight fitting lid. I use swing top bottles, as they have a rubber seal that prevents air from escaping, this is important because it will allow the carbonation to build up.
4) Keep your SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) happy by regularly brewing kombucha and providing a warm, room temperature atmosphere.
I always add a piece of ginger to each bottle when I begin the F2 process (this is the 2nd fermentation process, when the kombucha is initially brewed it is left out at room temperature for 2 weeks, then the F2 process is started by decanting the brewed kombucha into smaller jars/swing top bottles and flavoured with various ingredients) because the ginger increases the carbonation and I really enjoy super fizzy kombucha.
Here are some recipes that my 3 year old loves.
Shrub is a very easy beverage to ferment at home. It’s especially good for those that are just starting out with fermenting and are wanting to try a project that is basically fool-proof. It only requires 3 ingredients in a 1:1:1 ratio.
1) Pureed or smashed up fruit (you can use either fresh or frozen, if using frozen allow to come to room temperature or warm it up on the stove/microwave);
2) Apple cider vinegar (always use raw apple cider vinegar that has the “mother” in it);
3) Liquid honey, unpasteurized and raw.
How to Make Shrub
Step One: Add the pureed fruit to a jar with a tight fitting lid, add an equal part of apple cider vinegar and an equal part of raw honey.
Step Two: Place a tight fitting lid on top and secure, give it a good shake to get all of the ingredients mixed together.
Step Three: Allow to sit in the fridge for 2 days, strain out the fruit and what’s left is the shrub.
Keep in mind that shrub is like creating a syrup. When you use it you want to add it to water or sparkling water as a flavoring. Start with a couple of teaspoons of shrub to a cup of sparking water and see how you like it. Add more or less to your personal preference.