Grow and Make DIY Maker Blog
Still looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift? We’ve got you covered! With kits ranging from bath & body to candle making kits – no matter what she likes, you can find it here!
Use offer code MOTHERSDAY at checkout and receive 15% off your entire order of any kits in our shop! Offer ends 5/11/18.
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
Light Up Your Night With This DIY Canvas Project
Callum Mundine is a father of two and the co-owner of LED World (with his brother). They are an Australian based lighting design firm. In his spare time, he enjoys photography and creating DIY projects with his children.
This DIY canvas light is the perfect way to add a unique touch to your home. It doesn’t matter how artistically inclined you are. Grab some paint brushes (or use your hands!) and let your creativity run wild.
Things you’ll need:
- A blank canvas
- Acrylic paint
- Paintbrushes or sponges
- LED lights
- Masking tape
- Pencil and permanent marker (optional)
- Glitter, stars, anything to add a decorative touch (optional)
Choosing your canvas
All you need to start is a blank canvas. Square, rectangle, round, whatever fits the space you have in mind. These will look great in your living room, kitchen, kid’s room, on a shelf, etc… and they also make really personal gifts.
To keep your workspace clean, set your canvas down on some newspaper or old towels. Getting a little paint on you is all part of the fun. Ruining your table or floor isn’t!
I chose acrylic paint as it dries faster, but you can use anything you like. Adding thicker layers helps add some texture to the painting, just remember it will take longer to dry (more time to enjoy a cup of tea). I also added some gold as I love the way it contrasts with the blue and it also helps illuminate the canvas.
You could go for an abstract look, use bright colours, choose just one shade, draw a landscape or write your favourite book quote over the top.
If you like this idea, wait until the paint is completely dry, then write it out with a pencil first. Slanting your writing to the right and making your downward strokes thicker will help give it more of a calligraphy look. Once you’re happy with the way it looks, trace over the pencil with a permanent marker.
Light it up
I’m the first to admit I find it hard to throw things away, so when I’m working on DIY projects I try and use any bits and bobs I have in the house. This canvas project is a great way to use any extra Christmas lights, as long as they’re LEDs which don’t get hot.
Remember to plug them in and check each light is working before you get to work, as it’s incredibly disappointing to see fused bulbs when you think you’ve finished the project.
Coloured lights also look nice, but this time around I chose white bulbs with white wiring, as I prefered the final look on the wall.
If you don’t like the idea of a cord hanging out of the canvas, choose battery-operated lights instead. Even better if they have a timer, as you won’t need to lift the canvas to switch them on and off.
You can tape the switch to the back of the canvas to keep it hidden and secure.
Cutting holes for your lights
Once the canvas is completely dry, turn it over, and use a pencil to mark where you want the lights to go. LED strands come in different lengths, so if you’re working with a smaller canvas, you’ll probably find strands with 10 or 20 bulbs will work best.
You can follow a pattern or space them randomly, but I found it helpful to measure the space between each bulb so I didn’t make the holes too far apart.
This is probably the hardest part of the project, as a uniform spacing will give a more professional finish, so take your time and think about where you want the lights to come through.
Next, use a sharp knife to carefully cut a slit in the canvas where you’ve marked each spot.
Push each bulb through the slits you’ve made in the canvas, just enough so you see the light poke through on the other side, and then secure them in place using some masking tape.
And that’s it! Hang your canvas on a wall or prop it up on a bookshelf. You’ll be amazed at how a little unique wall art can light up your room. I’ve received so many nice comments about mine I can’t wait to start work on the next one.
Grow and Make is excited to announce our new line of Retail DIY Kits. Currently only available wholesale, but soon we will sell direct.
We want to acknowledge and thank all of those who serve and have served in our armed forces. Your sacrifice and service is valued and appreciated.
We’re excited to be included in the Healthline.com DIY Crafter Holiday Gift Guide.
Our products will be available in HomeGoods stores starting in December. We’re very excited about this new relationship.
Grow and Make Deluxe Hot Sauce Making Kit is on Family Living Today’s list of Best Gifts for Dad. Check it out.
We received these two questions this week regarding cheesemaking. Thought we’d pass on our suggestions for those making cheese.
Q: How can I clean my cheese cloth for reuse?
A: It’s a good idea to not use soap for cleaning your cheese cloth. We recommend putting it in your washing machine or dishwasher on ‘quick cycle’ without soap. Make sure to use a hot setting. You can also just do it by hand with hot water.
Q: What do I do with all of the whey left from my cheesemaking?
A: You can substitute for water when baking this will give your baked goods breads a sourdough flavor. You can use it in smoothies for the nutritional benefits. You can also feed it to animals for extra nutrition.
DIY Alcohol Infusions with 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.
Spiced Whiskey: Gentian, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove
Apple Ginger Bourbon: ½ Sliced Apple, 1 tbs Ginger
Fig Rye: 2 sliced figs
2 Fig & 1 Cardamom pod
½ sliced Apple & 1 Cinnamon stick
Spiced Brandy: Gentian, Orange Peel, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove
Cardamom & Anise
1 tsp Lavender & 1 Orange peel
1 teaspoon Juniper Berries & 2 Cloves
Bloody Mary: 1 tsp Coriander, 1 tsp Caraway, 1 tsp Juniper Berry, 1 tsp peppercorns
1 Chipotle Chile & 2 Anise Stars
1 tsp Peppercorns & 1 tsp ginger
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.