by Rachel Hommel, a.k.a. Patti the Pickle
Patti the "big dill" Pickle here, sharing tidbits of what you can look forward to at this year's Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some "brine" with Hannah Crum, a.k.a. "The Kombucha Mamma." In kombucha circles, Hannah is also kind of a big dill - she is the owner and founder of Kombucha Kamp, an online resource that teaches people everywhere to "Trust Your Gut."
Look for her on stage, in the Cultured Petting Zoo, and sharing her amazing 'bucha at this year's event!
Patti the Pickle: Why Kombucha? For those new to fermented drinks, how do you suggest they get started?
HC: If you can brew a cup of tea, you can brew Kombucha! Kombucha is a gateway ferment; easy to make, delivers immediate benefits to most, and inspires a love of fermented foods. It combines the benefits of tea, vinegar, and living nutrition into a delicious, bubbly beverage.
The best place to start learning about Kombucha is online: sign up for our free e-book and grab a bottle of Kombucha from your favorite health food store.
We recommend starting with 2-4oz on an empty stomach, 1-3x a day. This allows you to feel how the Kombucha is working in your body or what we call, “closing the feedback loop.”
For those who already love Kombucha, head on over to Kombucha Kamp to find high quality cultures, kits, and brewing supplies to get started at home! According to our clients, home brewed Kombucha tastes fresher and saves loads of money. We also have other cultures such as water kefir, milk kefir, and jun for those looking to expand their fermentation horizon.
Patti the Pickle: What is the craziest kombucha flavor you've ever concocted? Do you have a favorite "experi-ferment?"
HC: Maple Bacon Booch! We created it for the Baconpalooza fundraising event for Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund in 2013. As strange as it might sound, it is really quite tasty! Because Kombucha is an acetic acid ferment (like vinegar), it blends really well with savory flavors as well as sweet.
We love inventing new flavors and non-traditional ferments. Bacterial technology is so flexible that it lends itself to creativity. We will be featuring a host of new flavoring recipes in our forthcoming 400 page tome by Storey Publishing coming out in 2015!
Patti the Pickle: You recently launched Kombucha Brewer's International, the first trade association for commercial Kombucha producers (bottlers) - please tell us more about how that got started, which California companies are members, and some of the most interesting/eclectic drinks being brewed!
HC: We love the commercial Kombucha industry because many people, including ourselves, first tried Kombucha from the store. KBI came about at the request of the commercial producers that Alex and I have been working with on our various projects - the Kombucha Kamp blog, our 30 Day Kombucha Challenge, and the highly successful New Year’s ReVolution promotions.
These companies needed a safe space to come together and begin work on the issues that affect them all. We were uniquely positioned to help make that happen with the trust of many of the largest companies out there. We are proud that the organization represents over 90% of the brands on the shelves today, with over 40 companies from around the globe, including Canada & Australia. View the entire member list online.
California members include GT’s Kombucha, House, Revive, Health-Ade, Better Booch, Anne’s, Bucha, Reed’s, Clearly, Kombucha 2000 & The Bu. Some of the newest offerings include a Yerba Mate & Coffee Kombucha from Revive. Health-Ade & Bucha have new flavors for summer - Plum & Yuzu Lemon, respectively. As the popularity of Kombucha continues to grow, it is exciting to see the diversity of offerings for the consumer.
Patti the Pickle: What are the top five signs of a healthy kombucha brew?
HC: Excellent question! Check out this post for more details.
We use our senses - smell, taste and look - to determine the quality of the Kombucha culture and fermentation process. Many newbies are afraid they will make a mistake or will potentially harm themselves due to lack of experience. Kombucha is very safe and easy to brew at home. Heck, people have been making it for nearly 2,000 years!
Patti the Pickle: Any fermentation flops? What should newbies avoid?
HC: The best advice for any newbie is to select a quality culture from a quality source. Since a healthy Kombucha culture will net a lifetime supply of Kombucha, starting with a robust specimen will ensure brewing success. When you choose a quality source like KKamp, we support you through the process. Our clients always get the quickest response to their questions and concerns, so if you have a question drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patti the Pickle: Your slogan is "Trust Your Gut." What does that mean to you?
HC: Trust YOUR gut is the philosophy of reconnecting with your instincts and “closing the feedback loop” between your body and your mind - also known as personal science. Our bodies are unique universes that provide a lot of feedback when we take the time to tune in and sense the messages being communicated through our physiological reactions, excretions, and experiences. Taking the time to listen to those signals and heal the root cause leads to a longer, healthy life!
Patti the Pickle: Last year you brought us the Cultured Petting Zoo. What was your favorite memory at last year's festival and what are you excited about for this year?
HC: Our mission at Kombucha Kamp is to “heal the world, one gut at a time.” We have been sponsors and partners with the Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival since its inception in 2011 and have continued to evolve with the Festival, which inspired us to create the Cultured Petting Zoo. We were especially grateful for the volunteer last year who helped us at the Cultured Petting Zoo. A kombucha newbie, she helped educate hundreds on the benefits of the drink, encouraging participants to literally get “hands on” with their bacterial brethren! If you are inspired by the work of the festival, we encourage you to sign up as a volunteer.
This year, we will not only have the Culture Petting Zoo but also presence from Kombucha Brewers International. Plus, many of our KBI members will be in attendance sharing their delicious Kombucha with everyone!
When Rachel Hommel is not parading around town in her pickle suit, she can be spotted at the farmers market, practicing yoga, and dancing to the beet of life. She has written for Edible Magazine and the Santa Barbara Independent and is this year's press contact and festival staff member.