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How I Killed the Kombucha & Other Green for the Mainstream Confessions

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Have you tried kombucha lately?  Apparently, people have been making the stuff for ages — an interesting concoction based on a glob of goo that creates a tasty fermented drink for your health. Now that modGreen for the Mainstream at ShiftConern science is confirming what some have known for centuries, drinks like kombucha are all the rage.  I tried to be a good sport at a couple of taste testing events, finally getting hooked on some flavored versions at the local grocery stores.

When I attended ShiftCon social media conference last year, I met the sweetest small business owner who was touting her own version of a do-it-yourself kombucha kit.  It sounded interesting, but a lot of work.  Eventually, during a Twitter party event through ShiftCon creator Mamavation, I found myself the winner of a kombucha starter kit.  The starter is similar to that stuff your grandmother might have used to make a special yeast-based cake. They call it a skoby, (not to be confused with Scooby from the 70s cartoon).  Some of the tongue-in-cheek language they use at Kombucha Kamp and other places where they foster skobies is a little silly — not something I could relate to not having been a child of the 60s and all of that hippy nonsense.  But, I was a good sport and ambitiously tried using the skoby and starting my own kombucha.

My first attempt at homemade kombucha was successful.  I followed the directions that are careful about sanitation, using the proper container and so on.   My kids, who had gotten accustomed to the occasional treat of trying flavored kombucha with me from the grocery store, were equally enthusiastic about trying our homemade health drink.  It tasted wonderful!  In a way, it was no more difficult than making bread at home.

However, for optimal homemade kombucha success, the directions tell you to have a regular system for what they call a continuous brew of your health drink.  You know how life can be — I got busy and neglected my skoby.  A couple of times I reached out to the master kombucha brewer for help and she reassured me about what to do and how to tell if the concoction was still safe.

Then, my family launched headlong from a busy summer of activities into an even busier school year, my work obligations were piling up, and yes, I got too busy to tend to my project once again. Finally, the skoby had multiplied in the container, but the liquid was running low, and one sniff made me wonder if I could stomach the thought of even trying to revive this mess of a home brew once again.  If you look into the information about proper kombucha making, you’ll note there are serious food safety considerations to keep in mind.  So, just like making your own bread, you certainly can make your own kombucha. However, thank goodness there are convenient alternatives for those of us who get too busy and don’t need an innocent homemade kitchen project to turn out looking like a science experiment gone wrong.  I am ashamed to tell the nice lady who sent me the free starter kit that I killed the kombucha…but sometimes life just gets too busy to make everything from scratch as much as we would like to.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love cooking from scratch for my family whenever possible.  If you have the skills to make your own kombucha every day, more power to you.  Same with bread.  Some weeks my girls and I enjoy mixing the ingredients and kneading the bread together for homemade loaves we can bake right in the oven.  Many other weeks, we are on the go and I’ll happily pay a premium for the best quality bread I can find locally that someone else baked without harmful additives and preservatives.

I’ll be sharing more of my Green for the Mainstream confessions this week at the second annual ShiftCon social media conference, where along with Chef Dennis Littley and blogger Jenny Bradford, I’ll be co-hosting a workshop on this very topic.  Where do you start when you know you want to make healthier shifts for your household?  Where can you save money with DIY ideas in the kitchen and where should  you splurge?  If you miss the conference in person, don’t worry.  We’ll be sharing lots of related content online in the coming weeks.

My confession to you is this:  everyone can strive for a greener approach to life, but we are all busy, whether we are full-time stay-at-home parents, work-from-home bloggers with flexible schedules, or on-the-go executives with a nanny.  It’s up to YOU to pick and choose what works best for you and your family, where you need to spend your time and resources.  You neither need to be intimidated by the other mom who bakes everything from scratch for her child’s baseball team every week or the mom who has twice your spending power at Whole Foods.  You can use common sense strategies to prioritize with things like #CleanCouponing so you don’t have to feel like a failure if, like me, you accidentally killed the kombucha.

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