Buch’ it up
Have you been sipping ice-cold kombucha recently to quench your thirst? Do you love its bright and refreshing acidity? Guess what, so do we.
At Empirical, kombucha making is one of the very first techniques we apply when exploring the flavor potential of a new ingredient. Technically speaking, anything with sugar can be used to brew kombucha, making it so versatile. As long as it tastes great, then everything is and should be fair game; fig leaf, marigold, young pine cones, you name it.
How do we make it?
It all started about 12 years ago when Lars managed to get a SCOBY from a lady in a part of Copenhagen called Christiania. Over the years, it’s become extremely strong, quick, and resilient, probably from all the crazy things that have been asked of it all that time.
By now, we don’t even need a SCOBY to get the fermentation going. We take our sweet water and backslope of a previous kombucha batch and give them a very nice house to live in. When they are left at the right temperature and with enough food, the party gets started. We then constantly taste it to assess when it’s ready to be pulled out for various macerations of botanicals.
But what do we do with it?
Well, many things! Kombuchas are an integral part of flavor building in our cans but also a key ingredient in our spirits.
Because it’s delicious.
Reducing with kombucha
When we blend our numerous spirit cuts to make The Plum, I Suppose, for instance, we end up with an ABV above the optimum flavor expression.
Traditionally, distillers only use water to reduce the alcohol volume and make it more pleasurable. It got us thinking. From our experience in kitchens around the world; would we use water to season and balance a dish or add acidity? Would we start a sauce with water or stock? You know the answers. We started experimenting with distilled kombuchas to do the job.
Vacuum distilling our kombuchas the same way we distill our spirits also allows us to have far more control over the spectrum of flavors blended into the final recipe. We painstakingly take between 50 and 200 cuts throughout the distillation run, each of which will possess different flavor profiles. Our distilled marigold flower kombucha provides a beautiful, slightly tannic structure over which to lay the delicate plum kernel distillate of The Plum, I Suppose.
CAN it up
As you can imagine by now, we tend to use unexpected botanicals in our kombuchas rather than only teas. That’s because they are such a great vehicle for expressing different layers of an ingredient. In our CANs, kombucha brings bright acidity and bold flavors, counterbalancing the perceived sweetness of fruitier botanicals.
The resinous aromas of young pine cones complement the very floral blackcurrant buds in our CAN 02. Our CAN 03 would be missing depth without the summery and coconut-like fig leaf kombucha. Kombuchas are a great support in bridging the gaps between the different personalities of our botanicals, but they bring with them the delicious estery notes of the fermentation process for our delight.
The result is a bunch of refreshing cans, ready to go. Get yours now and crack them open
Want to give kombucha a go? Here’s our recipe for a delicious fig leaf one.
All you need to get your hands on ahead of time is a good container, a clean cloth, elastic bands, and an active already-made kombucha. If you don’t have a SCOBY yet, the internet is your friend as there are many networks of buch’ aficionados happy to share a bit of theirs. Oh and obviously, fig leaves.
Let’s get down to it.
*EMBED KOMBUCHA VIDEO*
FIG LEAF KOMBUCHA
1000g (1L) filtered water
20g fig leaves
100g previously made Kombucha
Combine your water and sugar and make a syrup at low heat. If you are a seasoned kombucha head and have a refractometer, we are looking at 12 Brix.
When the syrup has cooled down to room temperature, add your fig leaves and let them macerate overnight.
Strain and add your scoby to the liquid and the already-made kombucha. Basically w,e want to reduce the pH to 5 (if you want to be precise about it).
Cover your container with a clean cloth and use an elastic band to keep it in place. Let it be for 7 to 10 days at a temperature of about 20-22°C.
Keep on tasting until it feels right to you. If it is too sweet then it is not ready yet. But if the vinegar-like flavor is too pungent and unpleasant, then you went too far. If it tastes like death, don’t drink it; something went wrong.
To avoid it from fermenting any further, either drink it, fridge or freeze it for a lar use.
Last but not least, keep your SCOBY in a separate container and cover it with kombucha until you need it again.