In case you haven’t noticed, kombucha is everywhere these days. It started growing in popularity a few years ago and the whole Lindsay Lohan scandal only made it more well known. Here in New York, any bodega has a wide selection of flavors and a number of local ‘buch brewers are popping up. That’s great news for our health, as kombucha contains tons of probiotics, antioxidants, and aids digestion.
But if you’re addicted to the stuff, it can get expensive real fast. So why not try making your own?
First, you’ll need to locate a scoby. This can be a bit hard, but you can look on sites like craigslist or buy a kit from Brooklyn Kombucha. Once you start brewing, your scoby will produce babies that you can peel off and give to friends or even sell. The scoby might look a bit scary, like a cross between a jellyfish and a pancake, but have no fear.
Next, you’ll need to boil a gallon of water, stir in 1 cup of sugar to dissolve, and then add 8 bags of black tea. Let the tea cool until it’s room temperature, which can take a couple of hours. Once it’s cool, remove the tea bags and pour the mixture into a large glass jar. Add the scoby and 2 cups of kombucha (just buy the unflavored kind). Cover the top of the jar with a clean dish towel or 2 layers of paper towels and secure with a rubber band. Place the jar in a warm, dark spot and let it sit for 7-10 days. After 7 days, start tasting your brew. If it tastes too sweet and not acidic enough, let it continue to brew for another few days. Once it’s to your liking, you’re ready to bottle your kombucha. You’ll want to use bottles with plastic lids, as metal can erode. If you want to make another batch, remember to save 2 cups of your starter tea.
If you choose to flavor it, add your desired amount of flavoring (try herbs, fruit, and spices) to each bottle and fill it almost to the top, leaving about ½ inch of room. Store at room temperature for 1-3 days until it is carbonated, then place in the fridge.
Now go ahead and enjoy your homemade kombucha. It’s way more satisfying than dropping too much money on the commercial stuff.
If you’re like us, you wait all year for tomato season. It’s ten long months of tomato-less burgers, no caprese salads, and no fresh salsas. It’s hard, but mealy, out of season tomatoes are worse. Who wants a flavorless, cardboard tomato in January?
So when tomatoes finally arrive in late July, we can’t stop ourselves from buying them by the handful. From candy-sweet Sungolds to meaty Brandywines, heirloom tomatoes have an enormous range of flavor. They’re great just eaten out of hand with salt, drizzled with olive oil, or tossed into salads. But this far into tomato season, you might be looking for more creative ways to use your tomatoes. We’ve featured some of our favorite recipes, so enjoy your tomatoes before they’re gone. After all, you got a long fall, winter, and spring ahead of you.
Heirloom Tomato Bloody Marys
Who says you can’t drink your tomatoes? Especially with some vodka on Sunday morning?
Heirloom Tomatoes Stuffed with Corn
Forget boring stuffed peppers. These tomatoes are much better.
Lemon Chicken with Tomatoes
Let the tomatoes melt into the chicken fat to form a delicious sauce.
Tomato Cobbler with Cheese Biscuits
It’s the summer, vegetable-laden version of chicken pot pie. With cheese…
Pasta with Marinated Heirloom Tomatoes
A beautiful use of heirloom tomatoes for a perfect late summer meal.
Meatballs with poached egg by chef Meny Vaknin of Grata
Now that the best summer fruits are gone, it’s time to embrace fall’s harvest. That means grapes, pears, apples, and figs. They’re a little richer and more complex, making them perfect for sweet and savory dishes. Our favorite, the fig, is especially versatile.
The fig has been around for a long time. There are references to it in the Bible, Ancient Greek literature, and Shakespeare. And for good reason—the fruit is incredibly sweet, soft, and earthy. It pairs beautifully with a variety of foods, from nuts to goat cheese and balsamic vinegar.
We love, however, to use figs in our cocktails. The complexity of figs complements a variety of alcohol and its high sugar content means you don’t need much extra sweetness. You can muddle figs in a cocktail shaker, then add them to a classic Old Fashioned. If you have any rye, try substituting that for the bourbon. You can also make an easy herb-infused simple syrup using either thyme or rosemary, then mix that with the muddled figs, some lemon, and vodka. It tastes like fall in a glass.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, you can try making a homemade balsamic fig puree. Roast some figs with balsamic vinegar until caramelized, then puree and incorporate it into your favorite cocktails. It’s pretty flavorful, so start by just adding a little bit. The puree goes especially well with whiskey and bourbon.
Figs have a short season though, so get them while you can!
Hey, Gotham! One of the many joys of living in New York is fall apple season. The orchards bring down the freshest crops to our awesome greenmarkets and we get to take advantage. Apples go with everything! Pork! Chicken! Cocktails? Get crazy.
But the adventurous will hop on MetroNorth or rent a Zipcar and head up to Westchester or Connecticut for the real deal - self-pick orchards. Grab some friends and take a weekend day trip out of the city (the best thing about living here is getting out, right?) Prices vary, but you’ll come back with (literally) the fruits of your own labor. Punny, right?
The stuff you’ll find at local orchards is just on a different order of magnitude from the over-polished fruit you’ll find at the supermarket around the corner. Try a new recipe with your pickings, make some applesauce, or just eat one for breakfast. Also, all your city friends will be so jealous that you got to spend a nice afternoon getting back to some country roots without them. Why wouldn’t you take advantage?
HEADS UP - Because of the extremely warm spring we had (bless the weather gods), the harvest is earlier than expected this year. Check Time Out NY’s list of nearby orchards, call them up, and see when’s best to go grab some fruit.