It’s Alive!

By Beacon Staff

At my house, March Madness doesn’t have anything to do with sports. It’s all about the jars full of fermenting concoctions.

Kombucha: Until recently I had never heard of kombucha. But my fellow librarians love the stuff, so now I’m a “booch” drinker too.

Kombucha is made by fermenting tea and sugar, with the aid of a scoby (which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”). It tastes tangy, fizzy and fresh.

Since it’s cheaper to make than buy, my house is now filled with jars of fermenting tea. We’ve grown two scobies so far, and they will multiply.

A tip: Before you try kombucha, don’t look up pictures of a scoby. It probably won’t pique your thirst.

Sourdough: I’ve baked my own bread for years, but I just learned some crazy things about yeast.

1. There is yeast in the air. Sourdough starter contains just flour and water, added gradually over several days. With frequent mixing, the dough feeds off the yeast, becoming bubbly and sour.

2. Salt interrupts the progress of yeast. For sourdough, you don’t add salt until you’re almost ready to bake it. It’s essential for flavor, but it has to be added at the right time.

Kimchi and sauerkraut: Coming soon! I hear that these are easy to make, and I’ve watched my mom make sauerkraut. All you need are cabbage, salt and time. Kimchi requires a few more ingredients, including the all-powerful fish sauce. My house is going to smell great.

For recipes, scientific descriptions and a serious passion for fermenting, our go-to book is “Wild Fermentation” by Sandor Ellix Katz.

ImagineIF Libraries encourage exploration, fresh ideas and self-discovery. Learn more at

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