First, you are going to need some pretty fall leaves. Take a nature walk, bring a basket, and have fun picking out a variety of colors and shapes
Lay down some newspaper or something to protect your work surface from dripping beeswax.
Heat up beeswax until it is clear. Either use a double boiler, or dedicate an old crockpot for the purpose of heating wax. Do not over heat it. Remove from heat immediately if you begin to see it boil or smoke. Do not leave wax unattended if heating.
Holding each leaf by the stem, dip in the leaf and then pull it out and let it hang above the pot until it is finished dripping. This thin coat of beeswax will help preserve the color long after it would naturally turn brown. You only need a thin coat so to dip it once. Over dipping, or dipping it in beeswax that has cooled too much will result in a cloudy look. Try reheating the beeswax if this happens.
For the best results, once the beeswax is dry/cooled, hold the leaf and dip the stem so that the entire leaf is sealed.
Now you have some beautiful preserved leaves. You can string them in a garland using a needle and thread, tie a fishing line to each stem and hang them individually, or simply display them on your mantle. Keep in mind, if you choose to hang them in a window, choose one that does not have very much direct sunlight, and preferably is shady most of the day. Too much light and not even the beeswax will protect the color in the leaves.
Here at Grow and Make we are constantly looking for new ways to perfect the kombucha brewing process. Every kombucha brewer is unique in their approach and it is always fun to learn from each other! That being said, there are many time-tested tips and tricks that will give you great results every time. We’ve compiled a list of our most asked questions so that you can start brewing incredible batches of kombucha at home!
Sweet tea taking too long to cool down?
We’ve all been there – you’ve just brewed a big pot of tea, mixed in the sugar, and now you’re waiting to add in your SCOBY and starter tea. Minutes turn into hours… the tea just won’t cool down enough! Instead of waiting around all day, fill up your sink with ice water and place your containers of sweet tea into it. This will cut your cooling time by at least half. (Be careful not to burn yourself while doing this, and make sure nothing gets into your kombucha containers in the process!)
SCOBYs keep growing mold?
It’s pretty unlikely that your SCOBY will grow mold, but if it happens during your brewing process it can be incredibly frustrating! There are a multitude of reasons that contribute to mold growth, but it is often a sign that your kombucha does not have enough ventilation. Try brewing your kombucha in an area that is dark and well ventilated. Make sure it is not near anything that could introduce the kombucha to moisture or bacteria. Mold looks fuzzy or dry and is similar to the type of mold that you typically see growing on fruits and vegetables. If your SCOBY does grow mold, make sure to dispose of it along with the kombucha and start from scratch. This is a great reason to start a SCOBY hotel with some of your healthy happy SCOBYs instead of tossing them out.
Kombucha tastes too vinegary?
Brew your kombucha for a shorter period of time! Brewing climates can vary, so if you’re not happy with the flavor of your kombucha, don’t be afraid to play around with shorter brewing times.
Curious if your bottles are finished carbonating?
The plastic on your kombucha bottles will start to bloat and feel hard when it is done carbonating, and this is how you can tell that your kombucha is ready to put in the fridge and drink! Leaving your kombucha too long at this stage could cause your bottle to explode or the cap to fly off, so keep a close eye on it. Once you learn how long it takes to bottle condition to your liking, you can start bottling it in a glass container.
Forgot about your kombucha for two months and wondering if you can salvage it?
We’re not saying that we’ve done this before, but we have a friend who has. Your SCOBY is very resilient, and it’s likely that everything is fine. They can live for very long periods of time as long as they have adequate nutrients and are kept covered with a cloth. Just throw out the kombucha that it’s been living in, and buy a new 8 oz jar of unpasteurized plain kombucha from the store to use as a starter tea and start over.
Sediment, bubbles, discoloration or strings on your SCOBY?
These are all normal signs of healthy fermentation and yeast production! Sometimes the tannins in the tea will collect in darker brown bits, this is totally normal. You can rinse off your SCOBY in clean water before starting a new batch to minimize floaters if you dislike them.
SCOBY doesn’t want to float?
Your SCOBY may sink, float or even hang sideways in the jar. Your new SCOBY should always form at the top, at first it will almost look like a clear film, which should turn into a nice cream colored layer. The older it gets, the thicker it will be. Sometimes your SCOBYs will grow together, the new one forming on top of the old one. Before starting your new batch, you can gently rip them apart, and throw out the older one, referred to as the Mother, or you can start a SCOBY hotel with it.
What the heck is a SCOBY hotel?
A SCOBY hotel is simply a smaller jar where you store healthy SCOBYs for later use. You can store them in kombucha that you don’t intend to drink. Sometimes when you have several in a jar together, they will merge, You can always just rip off however many SCOBYs you need. You will not need to change out the kombucha very often, just make sure to add in a cup or two of sugar every once in a while.
For more information on our Kombucha Kits, check out our website at https://shop.growandmake.com
DIY Alcohol Infusions with Mixology Cocktail Recipes
Mason jars, or large glass bottles with secure lids
Alcohol of choice (typically vodka, bourbon, brandy or rye)
Infusion ingredients (included in your kit)
Fresh fruit, herbs or additional spice
Labels or ribbons for your jars if you are making gifts
Typically you’ll want to fill a mason jar with the alcohol base and then place in spice and fruit over time based on the flavor profile you are trying to achieve. These recipes are recommendations, but you should feel free to experiment. We do not include the fruit suggested in these recipes.
Be sure to clean your mason jar and thoroughly wash your fruit before placing in infusion.
Store you infusion in a cool, dark place.
The infusion should be for 3 weeks. You can and should taste as the infusion progresses, to make any changes you desire.
When you have achieved the desired infusion, strain the alcohol, removing any of the organic ingredients.
What you should know before you start:
Typically use a standard brand alcohol at a mid-price range for creating your infusion. Don’t by the top-shelf for infusion, but also avoid the cheap stuff too. Smirnoff is perfect for vodka infusions.
Create a flavor profile which is for the intended cocktail you are envisioning it’s used in. For example Bloody Mary of Old Fashioned.
Typically you want to give your infusion 3 weeks to build the flavor profile. If you want to highlight a flavor, keep it in longer and remove something which you want to be a complement.
Start out with less and add more if and as desired. The longer your infusion sits, the stronger the flavor profile. If you over flavor, you can dilute with more of the foundation alcohol.
Vodka, brandy and bourbon are what we recommend for infusions. They tend to not have complex flavor profiles and can be more easily infused.
Generally Rum, Scotch and Tequila are not great for infusions, because they have their own character. We do include a Tequila recipe though.
When using citrus, use only the peel and make sure to scrape off the bitter white pith before use.
We don’t have any recipes which include gin, because gin is itself an infused alcohol.
Apple Rye – Combine 2 oz of your Apple Ginger Bourbon with 4 shakes of apple bitters. Stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar and serve over crushed ice.
Bloody Mary – Combine 2 oz of your Bloody Mary Vodka with 3 dashes worchestire, small can of tomato juice, dash hot sauce, salt and black pepper to taste, ¼ tsp horseradish. Mix well and serve with celery stick on ice.
Brandy Bean – 2 oz Fig and Cardamom Brandy, add hot coffee, 1 tsp sugar and cream. Stir well and serve on a cold day.
Ta-kill-ya – 2 oz Chipotle and Anise infused Tequila, tropical juice (passion fruit, mango, papaya), splash grenadine, serve over ice.
A mason jar with a tight fitting lid (at least 8 oz)
4 oz (about 1/2 cup) of high ABV spirits or 6 oz (about ¾ cup) vodka or other spirits with 50% alcohol per volume
How to make your bitters:
Clean a mason jar well.
Crush the cardamom and the cloves in a mortar and pestle or with a heavy glass. The cinnamon sticks are very hard and do not need to be cut. If there are some flavors you would like to highlight or downplay, feel free to improvise. It is recommended to take notes so you can tailor the recipe specifically to your tastes in future batches.
Place the spices, cinnamon sticks and apple slices in the bottom of jar and pour the alcohol over it. Close the jar and give your bitters a good shake.
Place your bitters in a cool dark place. Shake your bitters every day, or whenever you remember.
Sample the bitters every couple days. When the flavor is to your liking, strain the botanicals out of the alcohol using the cheesecloth. We let ours sit for about 10 days.
If using High ABV spirits:
Do not throw the spices away. Place the spices in 1 cup of water and bring to a boil for half an hour, or until the water changes color and becomes fragrant. Boil with the lid on, so the water won’t evaporate. Let the mixture cool. Strain the solids out of your water.
Mix the strained spirits with the strained water in a 1:1 ratio. This helps dilute the spirit to about 40-50% alcohol by volume, so you can focus on the flavors of the spices, not the alcohol.
If using Vodka, or other spirits with a lower alcohol content: You do not have to add water. Move on to the next step.
Using a funnel pour your bitters into a bottle with a shakeable lid. If you are not happy with the clarity of your bitters, you can strain it through the cheesecloth or a coffee filter a final time.
One of the our favorite tricks for our DIY Soap Making Kits is to add dried lavender buds. If you want a textured side to the soap, just sprinkle the herbs across the top of the soaps before they completely cool. If you want to make soap that has an exfoliating effect, all you need to do is mix the dried herbs with your essential oils into the soap before you pour the hot liquid into the molds.
There are so many other herbs that make great ingredients for your homemade soaps.
Being a part of the Mint Family, Lamiaceae, Lavender is a another small shrub that gives off a pungent wonderful smell. English Lavender in particular is coveted for its sweet overtones, and Lavandin is popular for its strong camphor like fragrance.
Lavender also has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, and can also be used as a mosquito repellent. Lavandula angustifolia is the most cultivated species for culinary uses and lavender oils.
The subgenus Lavandula grows in the Mediterranean to Northern Africa and Arabia. Fabricia grows all over from the Atlantic to India. The Saubadia subgenus only grows in the Southwest Arabian Peninsula. With so many species able to withstand most climates, Lavender has been used all throughout history for perfumes, food, and medicine.
Instructions on How to Make Lavender Soap:
A big part of DIY is being creative and finding new ways to make things on your own!