Last summer, I lived on a wonderful old farmstead which had many different fruit trees. One of my greatest joys was gathering and eating fruits (plums, apples, pears, blackberries, cherries) and following the progression of blooms and bounties as the summer progressed. As masses of plums were suddenly ripe right outside my door, I made some preserves, but also decided to experiment with making some kombucha with the fresh plums. I included them directly in the primary stage of fermentation and then went off to the Farm to Fermentation Festival in Santa Rosa, CA expecting to return to a moldy failure. When I returned, I found a wonderfully healthy and tart beverage waiting for me.
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Fermentation time: 10 days
Yield: 1 gallon +
4 lbs fresh plums (very ripe but not broken). If using store bought, please use organic to avoid adding any pesticides to the mix
1 gallon non-chlorinated water
4 black tea bags or 2T loose black tea
1 cup sugar
1 Kombucha SCOBY – I recommend that if you only have one kombucha SCOBY that you peel it in half and use only one half of it. Some of the fruit mash on the surface will meld together with the SCOBY during the process of fermentation and you may very well not want to use it again for non-fruit-based kombucha.
- Make tea using the black tea and hot water (some or all of the 1 gallon). If you wish, you can use up to a 50/50 blend of green and black tea
- Add remaining water to the tea so that total water use is 1 gallon
- Dissolve the sugar into the tea
- Place it in the container you will use for the fermentation. I like to use a 1 or 2 gallon glass Anchor Hocking wide mouth jar, but use whatever you like. It’s best to use a container with a wide opening so you have sufficient surface area for the culture
- Wash the plums thoroughly
- In a large separate container (this is the fun part) mash the plums by hand and remove the pits
- Once the sweetened tea water has cooled to room temperature, add the plum mash and 1/2 cup of kombucha from a previous batch (if available) and stir
- Lay the kombucha SCOBY on top. If it doesn’t fully cover the surface, don’t worry, a film of the expanding SCOBY will gradually cover the contents.
- Cover with a cloth to allow it to breathe some while keeping other dust and microbial invaders from settling in your batch.
- Let it sit for about 10 days, If the temperature of your fermentation space is warmer than 70 degrees or so, the fermentation may go more quickly. Cooler and it may take more time.
- The best way to tell if its done is to taste it. The longer it sits, the more tart/acidic and less sweet the taste will become. If it sits too long, it will become vinegary.
- Once it’s done, you’ll need to strain out the fruit mash, bottle it up and refrigerate it. I left a bottle out to see what would happen and it got super fizzy, but also started to become more alcoholic.
Since some of the fruit was floating and exposed to the air as I began this batch, I feared that mold would grow on the surface, but I was very pleased to find that the surface fruit had become encapsulated by the growing SCOBY. The taste of this kombucha came out a little tart for my liking so I ended up adding a little additional sugar just to balance the flavor. Of all the kombucha batches I’ve ever made (and trust me I’ve more than my fair share) this was by far my favorite.
If any of you have experience making kombucha with fruit in a different manner or using different fruit, please comment and let us know what you’ve learned. Thanks and enjoy!