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I’ve seen a lot of kitchenware in my time. Most of it is functional, but not particularly attractive. Let’s face it- pots and pans generally aren’t works of art. They’re useful, but they aren’t very decorative for your living space. Many women purchase decorative items for their kitchen that aren’t really functional, they’re just pretty and they collect dust. They don’t actually get used. I’d rather not have more items to dust, so I’ve never bought pretties for my kitchen.
Fermentation vessels are another item that is generally thought of as useful but not very attractive. Most home fermenters I know don’t leave their vessels on the counter to display. They tuck them away in a closet or cabinet so they’re out of sight. That is, until now.
I was recently contacted by my affiliate partner, Kombucha Kamp, about the new USA-Handmade Stoneware Crock kombucha brewing vessel they are bringing to the market. I quickly became excited about the product when I heard it was hand-made by artisans in the US. I am always looking to purchase American-made items over their foreign-made counterparts. Our economy is so difficult, and times are so tight that any time I can support a fellow American with my purchase, I’m all about that.
I purchased the Stoneware Continuous Brewer Deluxe Package so I would have both the crock and everything else I needed to get started with continuous brewing. I chose the ‘floating blue’ color and I decided to have it personalized so it would say ‘Foster’s Kombucha.’
I waited patiently for it to arrive. I was happy about having a vessel that was large enough for continuous brewing, but I wasn’t *really* excited about it.
Then it arrived.
I became very excited about this kombucha brewing vessel when I saw how PRETTY it is. It is far more beautiful than I ever expected from a brewing crock! The girly-girl in me popped out and was excited to finally have something that was both pretty and functional in my kitchen! It is a piece of artwork that you will be proud to have visible in your kitchen. You won’t have to hide this one in your closet or pantry. I was absolutely amazed at the beauty and the quality of the piece when it arrived at my house.
And with it having a brewing capacity of two-and-a-half gallons, I was past thrilled that it was both pretty and extremely functional.
Why Brew Kombucha?
Kombucha is a ferment that not only has probiotics, it is also loaded with beneficial organic acids that can support your liver’s ability to clear toxins from the body. It also has wonderful B vitamins in a readily absorbable form. In short, it’s both good quality nutrition and a fermented product all in one tasty package. Historically, kombucha has been used to support health and well-being for all people and to help bring the body back into balance when dealing with a wide variety of health conditions.
It has a wonderful, tart tangy flavor that my family and I just love. I have had absolutely no problem convincing my children to drink flavored kombucha. However, we didn’t love the price at the grocery store. Authentic, unpasteurized kombucha at our grocery store costs $3.33 a bottle! Even with limiting us to splitting one or two bottles a day, which we could easily do, that’s just far too much out of our budget.
I decided to begin brewing kombucha at home so I could give my kids the benefits of kombucha without the cost of the grocery store. Continuously brewing it yourself just takes a few minutes a day and saves a lot of money in the process. For pennies a day, you can produce a first ferment that you can then flavor in any way you want.
As an added bonus, kombucha can be made to be bubbly in the second ferment, which gives my kids a soda replacement that is absolutely awesome for them! When we go somewhere, I can take along kombucha and they’re more than willing to drink that instead of the soda that is offered. It’s bubbly and fizzy like colas, and I allow them to choose which flavors they want to make and drink so they’re always interested.
Kombucha is made by placing a SCOBY, a Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeasts, into brewed, sweetened tea. It is allowed to ferment, then the liquid is drawn off and the scoby is re-used for another batch. The liquid you draw off is what you drink. You can drink it as-is, or you can do a second ferment (with or without additional flavorings) to add carbonation and allow the flavor to become more complex.
The Artisan Crock
I cleared off my baker’s rack in my dining room and put my beautiful new USA-Handmade Stoneware Crock on display. It is a very high quality piece of pottery and I’m quite impressed at the workmanship. And I love that it has our name engraved into it!
The piece is glazed both inside and out. The spigot is made of wood so no plastic touches your kombucha. The shape of the vessel is ideal for brewing kombucha, with sloped sides to encourage the spent yeast to collect below the spigot. However, it is wide enough at the top to give the scoby plenty of room to breathe and grow.
The spigot is positioned high enough on the two-and-a-half gallon vessel that the excess yeast that floats to the bottom so it doesn’t get into your drink. It is also high enough that you don’t have to put the vessel on a stand to draw off some kombucha, which is a nice, space-saving bonus.
The pottery is thick enough to be sturdy, but not so thick to make it heavy enough to be unwieldy. Even with it full of starter tea and a SCOBY, I was able to pick up the vessel and move it to another location with no problem.
The pictures of this vessel really don’t do it justice. There is a depth to the glaze that makes it look as though the coloring is in layers. The color is called ‘floating blue.’ I’ve had several friends drop by since I received the vessel, and they all commented on how pretty it is!
It takes days to make this crock. This video shows you the process, so you can see how much work, time and love go into making just one crock!
I love that this piece is American-made by an artisan. However, if this vessel is out of your budget, Kombucha Kamp does offer another vessel that is also American-made, but is produced in a factory. So it is a lower-price, but you’re still supporting American workers. Their Modern Porcelain crock can be purchased with any of their three Continuous Brewing Kits, so you can pick which package fits your needs and your budget! You can choose between two colors- white and blue stripe. The vessels have a capacity of two gallons.
Either way, you can’t go wrong with choosing American-made!
Continuous Brewing Kit
The Stoneware Continuous Brewer Deluxe Package I purchased from Kombucha Kamp came with everything needed to get started, including the SCOBY, the dried tea leaves and even the sugar, a tea ball and some choices for second-ferment flavorings. When your kit arrives, you’re all ready to brew without needing to head to the store.
But more importantly, the Stoneware Continuous Brewer Deluxe Package comes with a series of videos and an eBook showing you ever.y.thing you need to know about brewing kombucha. From how to set up your kit, make the tea, when and how to clean the vessel, they’ve got it covered. If you know very little about kombucha, these videos and the book are so detailed that you will have no problem getting started successfully.
The eBook is a 132-page document that goes into great detail on the history of kombucha, the health effects and all of the options for brewing, bottling and flavoring. She even includes uses for kombucha and scobies that don’t involve drinking it, such as home remedies, spa treatments, in the garden, with your animals and more.
It’s a comprehensive package, but it gets even better- it even comes with 15 minutes of phone support and a Facebook Support Group! How awesome is that?!? Even if you’re completely a beginner to real foods and brewing kombucha, you can do this successfully because all of the tools and support you need are included!
All of the continuous brewing kits also come with a pretty cap for your kombucha vessel. You can see in the pictures that I picked out a navy blue cap to match the vessel. Since Kombucha is a ferment that must have oxygen to grow, you need something that will allow air-flow but keep out any dust, fruit flies or other bugs. The caps are pretty and functional at the same time.
And it comes with free shipping to boot.
The Stoneware Continuous Brewer Deluxe Package includes:
- USA Made Handmade Artisan Stoneware Crock – (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!)
- 2 XL Genuine KKamp Kombucha SCOBYs (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) packed in
- 2 cups of Strong KKamp Starter Liquid (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) with live yeast strands
- Custom Made Brewer Cap w/ Gripper Elastic (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – Choose from 8+ colors.
- Organic, Fair Trade Evaporated Cane Juice Sugar Crystals – 1lb bag enough for first batch
- 100% Organic Signature Tea Blends (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – 3 Tea Sampler – Hannah’s Special Blend, Green Goddess & Yin Yang
- Muslin Tea Bags – set of 3 reusable cotton bags
- Large Tea Ball – easy to clean with large capacity to allow for expansion of tea leaves
- 2 Pack of 100% Organic Flavorings – Mix and match or upgrade to the Flavor Saver for even more choice – flavoring recipes included in Complete Handbook
- 20 Lab Grade pH Strips – ensure your brew is in the safe zone
- 40 Servings of KKamp 50x Kombucha Concentrate (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – maintain your probiotic regimen while traveling with 2 travel-friendly 1oz amber bottles
- 3 pack of Thermometer Strips – stick one to your vessel, one to your SCOBY Hotel and an extra
- Continuous Brewer Set-Up Videos (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – $15 Value – FREE
- Continuous Brewer Maintenance Videos (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – $15 Value – FREE
- Kombucha Mamma Complete Handbook (PDF only) (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – $10 Value – FREE
- Lifetime Membership to KommUnity & Facebook Support Group Forums (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – $195 value – FREE
- “Peace of Mind” 15 Minute Phone Consultation w/ the Kombucha Mamma (KKAMP EXCLUSIVE!) – $30 Value – FREE
One of the things I love about Kombucha Kamp‘s SCOBY is that it is fresh and alive. It comes packaged with the starter liquid and you can begin brewing from day one. I’ve tried using dehydrated kombucha scobys before and didn’t have good luck with them. You have to go through a long process to rehydrate the scoby before it becomes functional. If you’re lucky, you might to get some kombucha to drink a month after you start the process, but more often than not, it just doesn’t work all that well. I gave up on purchasing them in their dehydrated state, learned my lesson, and only purchase live cultures now.
The Perks of Continuous Brewing
If you’re interested in trying kombucha for your family but you’re hesitant to take on another culture, let me assure you that continuous brewing is the way to go. You set the crock up once and after a few days, you can begin enjoying the benefits of kombucha without a lot of muss or fuss. Each day, I only need to draw off some kombucha from the fermentation vessel and add some replacement sweetened tea to the crock. You can even brew the replacement tea in advance and keep it in the fridge for when it is needed. I normally brew enough tea for 3-4 days ad keep it in a half-gallon mason jar in the back of my fridge. A continuous brewer system is far more convenient and takes up less time than batch brewing.
One of the things I didn’t like about batch brewing is that when I did it, having all of the bottles of kombucha in my fridge took up a lot of room. I bottle my kombucha into swing-top bottles. They’re awesome because they are heavy glass and they’re reusable, but they are large and when you’re bottling a couple of gallons of one time, it can eat up more than half a shelf in the fridge. It became an issue because it was crowding out the fresh produce.
With continuous brewing, I keep a half-gallon mason jar of fresh tea waiting to go into the crock, and then I only have one or two bottles of kombucha in the fridge at any one time, just to get them cold so we can drink it tomorrow. It doesn’t eat up a lot of room in my fridge.
But the nice thing is that if you do skip a day here or there from being busy, it isn’t a problem with a continuous brewing system. But if you miss your window with batch brewing, you’ll wind up with kombucha the kids won’t drink.
The basic principle of continuous brewing is that when you remove some kombucha, you put the same amount of sweet tea back in. But the good part is that you can do it daily because it only takes 2-3 days for a continuous brewing system to turn that fresh tea into kombucha, whereas with a batch brewing system, it takes 5-10 days.
Another benefit to continuous brewing is that more of the beneficial things you want from kombucha is in continuous brew. The organic acids I mentioned earlier show up around day 15 and again at day 30. With batch brewing, you’d reject the kombucha at that stage, because it would be too sour. But with continuous brewing, that isn’t a problem because you’re adding small amounts of fresh tea daily, keeping the sourness at bay.
Because the contents of a brew control the flavor, continuous brewing has a more complex flavor, thanks to those organic acids. With batch brewing, only about 10% of the liquid is fermented kombucha, the rest is still sweet tea. With continuous brewing, about 70% of the mixture is fermented kombucha, with only about 30% being sweet tea. That’s enough to keep the sour taste from making it undrinkable, but gives you far more of all of the goodies that are in a kombucha brew.
With continuous brewing, the crock only needs to be cleaned out occasionally. With batch brewing, the crock has to be cleaned out after every round. I’m all for anything that gives me a superior product in both nutrition and flavor but involves less cleaning time!
I have received nothing but stellar customer service from Kombucha Kamp. They’ve been very patient to answer all of my questions. The materials you receive when purchasing any of their continuous brewing brewing packages are comprehensive and explain everything you need to know. The video series gives you all of the details and allows you to see it all, so you know exactly what to expect and what to look for. If you are new to the process, I encourage you to purchase from Kombucha Kamp so you have detailed guidance, as that is the best road to success.
Still not convinced? You can sign up for their free kombucha making guide. Learn more about the process, check out a few of their YouTube videos, then dive in and start making some kombucha of your own!
Look for videos from Intentionally Domestic about the crock and the benefits of continuous brewing soon. We’ll release them here on the blog and on YouTube. And we’ll be taking an in-depth look at kombucha in our Real Food Cooking School this Summer.