Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.
— Hugh Prather

The start of a new year can offer opportunities and challenges. I’ve experienced both in these last few months which has led to having to work with changing dynamics with our SCOBY’s and ferments.

With the busyness of the last part of 2014, I kept ignoring a niggling health issue that came to the fore over the holidays. A quick trip to the doctors was followed up by surgery a week later. This was not in my planning but had to be accommodated.

My recovery was quick and all is good. And the SCOBY’s, which were a little neglected, are mostly coping - except for the water kefir which didn’t like the warmer weather and less attention!

A second layer of complexity was I needed to increase the scale of growing cultures to meet the demand of the new season classes. So, a little neglect but increased demand is teaching me lessons too….

The classes have been so much fun seeing people enjoy ‘getting their hands dirty, playing with food and learning about gut health” along the way. Fermenting makes me feel bubbly and alive (whether I’m learning or teaching), kind of like the beneficial bacteria and yeasts I’m working with. I’ve seen it occur in classes too. Participants just seem to enjoy the re-connection to their food that fermenting rekindles.

Class formats are changing too. People want to learn but their schedules mean one format does not suit everyone. The public classes range from 1 ½ hours to all day sessions, either evenings or weekends. And the content covered can be 1 ferment or many. Everyone has a different starting point, different requirements and a different availability. So, I now offer private classes for small groups that can be tailored to suit the individual group needs.

Maybe someday my adventure on how to teach fermenting will stop evolving too, but probably not as it’s all an evolutionary journey. I have too many dreams seeing people having fun connecting to their food, their health, their land and their cultural heritage. Fermenting has a place in all of these.

So what impact has all of this had on the SCOBY’s.

The water kefir did not like the warmer weather and neglect which led to a longer ferment time. I didn’t have time to dehydrate the grains beforehand so some just died and vanished in a swirl of sediment. Of those that lived, I moved them to a cooler room on tiled floors and shortened the fermentation period. I had to draw in daughter assistance (taking responsibility for this one) as well as the share community to get more grains to be able to be ready for upcoming classes. I appreciate it very much and am thankful for the culture share community’s generosity.

The milk kefir grains fared well as they could be slowed down by simply moving them to the fridge initially and then re vitalised with fresh milk and extra grains from the stored ones in the freezer. Milk kefir is so accommodating and the extra fermented kefir is being made into yummy labna style dips with fresh herbs from the garden.

The milk kefir grains fared well as they could be slowed down by simply moving them to the fridge initially and then re vitalised with fresh milk and extra grains from the stored ones in the freezer. Milk kefir is so accommodating and the extra fermented kefir is being made into yummy labna style dips with fresh herbs from the garden.

Kombucha 8.JPG

The kombucha SCOBY’s are just getting bigger with the longer ferment time. The kombucha itself is too vinegary for me to enjoy but the cultures are happy enough. The (mostly) dormant SCOBY’s in the kombucha hotel look lovely. They are a favourite with everyone. The ones in the nursery are fat so they will be very vibrant for the next round of classes coming up and the one in the continuous brew is huge so I’ll cut pieces from her for the next batch in the nursery. It sounds harsh to say I cut them up but sometimes I have to either cut them or pull them apart to reduce the ratio of culture to the volume being fermented. This means I don’t end up with too quick a ferment for my personal needs. I have also stored the kombucha vinegar separately to use as the starter liquid for the kombucha classes or modules. Nothing has been wasted.

Thankfully we’re all happy and back on track. The next adventure is just around the corner …

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