Heirloom Tomatoes, Scoby-Making, and Peach Pit Scarification
Last night, we started two new kombucha scobys for winter probiotic fizzies. I tend to do things inverse to the rest of the world: many kombucha enthusiasts start their scobys in early summer, when the natural warmth speeds fermentation. But I like cold-weather projects that keep me busy indoors. The fact that it will take these mother scobys twice as long to make than summer scobys doesn’t bother me at all. I enjoy the process; not how fast I cross the finish line.
Don’t overthink scoby making, but definitely don’t buy a commercially-made scoby on Amazon or anything like that. It’s so insanely easy to make your own organic scoby. For the cost of one small bottle of kombucha, you can make your own mother scoby that will last at least through winter, spring, and most of summer.
So simple: make just shy of a quart of sweet, strong, organic black tea by bringing a quart of fresh spring or filtered water to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 8 organic black tea bags, and let steep for about 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags, and add 2 cups of organic cane sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool to room temperature.
To a quart-sized Ball jar, or two smaller jars (which we did this time), add the bottle of bottled kombucha you bought. Add the sweet tea you made, leaving about 4 to 6 inches of room at the top, and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover the Ball jar with a coffee filter or a piece of cheesecloth, and secure snugly with a few rubber bands. Air needs to reach the developing scoby, but you don’t want fruit flies getting in.
Our new scobys-in-the-making: Kona 1 and Kona 2!
Place the jar in the dark in the warmest part of the house – near a furnace, wood stove, or in a cupboard. I placed ours in the highest shelf of the pantry in our kitchen. Leave it for two weeks, then check on it. The scoby should be developing, but still thin. Check for mold, which would be green. If you find mold, toss the contents of the jar, sterilize the jar, and start again. If there’s no mold, add a little bit more sugar, cover the jar again, and place in back in the dark. Two more weeks later, and you should have a ¼-inch-thick or so mother scoby, ready to go.
When not in use, keep the scoby happy in the fridge in a jar of sweet tea. Feed it weekly with a little sugar. It will grow and thicken and get better over time.
Always name your scoby. It’s a living thing, after all. I’m going to name these scobys ‘Kona 1’ and ‘Kona 2’. Last year’s scoby was named ‘Kailani’. I’m sticking with the Hawaiian-name theme, for reasons that even I don’t understand.
Last night, I planted 6 pits from our garden peaches. The process of germinating peach pits and other large, hard fruit pits is called scarification. It involves planting the pits in a rich soil and placing the pot in a cool or cold (but not freezing) dark spot for winter. Scarification encourages the pit to slowly germinate, just as it would in the wild. In nature, peaches drop from trees, rot or are eaten by animals and insects, and the pit endures winter on its own, very slowly putting down first roots. In spring, growth takes off.
Most pits under these conditions die, but a few strong ones survive and become the next generation of peach trees. We are so thrilled with the peaches we got this year that we’ve decided to try to expand our little orchard. From germination to first fruit takes about 3 years. That’s not too bad when you consider that a fruiting peach tree will produce more peaches than anyone can handle.
I’m going to layer all the pits I plant in this one large plastic pot. I’ve never layer planted before, but since growth will be slow, I’m not worried. If I get lucky and several germinate, in spring, I’ll gently dump the pot out and gingerly separate the seedlings. This is my first time, so wish me luck.
Also last night, my husband went to the peach trees with a garden hoe and stripped away as many peaches as he could. We have about 10 large grocery bags of peaches now. I made an oatmeal peach crisp, which we ate warm from the oven, his with ice cream, mine with cashew cream. Ambrosia. Tomorrow, I’m giving peaches to more friends who want them. My husband wants a peach coffee cake. I’m thinking a simple, pectin-free peach jam. It’s madness, but I love it. In a couple of short months, we’ll be looking back at this with longing.
We also picked a variety of our heirloom tomatoes after dinner. The colors and forms of these beauties always amazes me. Such variety; so much gorgeousness in something so simple and delicious. The tomato plants still have lots of unripe tomatoes on them, but with the cooling weather, in a week or so we’ll probably have to pick the rest of them green and ripen them indoors, and compost the plants. Today’s lunch, as it’s been all week, is an heirloom tomato sandwich. Thank you, Mother Earth.
You’ll notice that I’m trying not to write about the fact that tomorrow is September 1. I’m trying, really trying, not to be too sad about it. We have football to look forward to. I can bake bread now that the kitchen won’t be so hot. There’s indoor gardening, and amaryllis in November and December. We’ll go to Vermont and Moon Dog Café in October. Snuggles with the puppers and husband. Hot cacao, oatmeal for breakfasts, and lots of hot tea to drink. Scobys to make. Time to read books, and write. And next year’s gardens to plan.
Much love,Barbie xo