Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Pets

Toby, my pet SCOBY

This is Toby.  He's alive.  I know that Toby looks like a placenta but he's actually a SCOBY - a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast - and he's alive.   I think of him as my pet.  

Although Toby likes to eat, he's as picky as a toddler.  All he wants is one thing: sweet tea.  Toby floats in about a gallon of sweet tea which I refresh every seven to ten days.  If Toby were a cat, you'd change his litter that often, wouldn't you? So my pet doesn't take any more maintenance than your cat or dog.  And, I don't have to walk him.  Totally a plus.

What Toby does, and does well, far better than your pets - even if you have gerbils or mice, is procreate.  He breeds faster than a rabbit! Every week when I change his tea, I take Old Toby, who is now lying below Baby Toby and remove him, allowing Toby Junior (the clone) to bask in the sweetness of the new batch of tea all alone.  Papa Toby goes into my SCOBY hotel, a resting place for Toby, Toby Senior, Grandpa Toby, Great Gramps and so on.  
The SCOBY Hotel

I could just pitch Old Toby onto my compost pile or eat him like gummy candy but I prefer to "put him out to pasture" in the friendly gallon jar with his family.  That way, if something happens to my current Toby, I have one in reserve.  Or two.  Or ten...  

Another, happier, alternative for me is that I can give Old Toby to YOU.  YOU take Old Toby, put him in a jar full of sweet tea with a cup or two of his fermented tea and then you have your own cute pet.  

What's that?  You don't think Old Toby is cute?  Didn't your mother ever teach you that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything?  Maybe I don't think your pet is that cute either, but you don't hear me announcing it to the world.

You could buy yourself your own Toby online.  Tobys there cost $50.  Makes my gift idea seem more generous, right?

Toby can sit on the counter, all but ignored, for several weeks, just happily floating in his sugared tea water and growing more SCOBYS but the longer he sits without fresh food, the more sour his pool water becomes.  Ultimately, Toby will be swimming in vinegar - lovely if you want to use it for salad dressing, but pretty tough to drink.  


Yes, that's right.  The byproduct of Toby's sweet tooth is KOMBUCHA, a fermented tea that's chock full of probiotics, 38 - 43 strains of those little buggers, all just waiting to improve my gut health when I swig down a drink. And swig I do.  

When I put Baby Toby into his new tea (again, with a cup or two of old tea, just to keep it acidic), I bottle his used-up pool water which is now Kombucha, add flavoring and let the tea sit on my counter for a day or so.  Then I put the bottles into my fridge.   

Because I like the taste of Kombucha, which is like a sparkling apple cider with a champagne-like fizz, I also change the SCOBY hotel once a week and bottle that tea, too.  My fridge is filled with fermented-tea-in-beer-bottles at all times and usually more is just a day away.  I am happy to let guests who wander down taste test the current flavors.  Usually there's one that's a standout and we chug down that bottle immediately.  The rest will improve as they age.

Kombucha sells everywhere these days.  Somebody told me you can even buy it at WalMart.  I have never seen it sold for less than $2.50 on sale and some brands sell for nearly $4.00 each.  Mine costs me $.50 a gallon.

Now that you know that, I don't seem to be one cat shy of crazy anymore, do I?

* * *

This is Karen.  She's alive.  Karen is a Water Kefir Grain.....


Nastase Nutiness said...

You're just about to convince me to get my own SCOBY. They freaked me out, but I never thought about naming them. Calling it by name makes it seem more friendly--and less likely to crawl out of its tea bath to smother me in my sleep. My kefir grains died after I was stranded in AZ for five weeks (even though I gave Jay instructions on how to feed them--I'm lucky the chickens survived), so if I'm going to start over, perhaps I should do Kombucha.

Anonymous said...

My scoby doesn't seem to procreate as fast as his grandparent Toby did, can you really split yours weekly?