After finishing Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods by Sandor Katz a few weeks ago, I can attest that this book is a must-read. Katz’s recipes and detailed instructions for fermenting a variety of food and beverages will inspire the novice kombucha brewer to experiment further, and his passion and reverence for the process will appeal to even the veteran fermenter. I appreciated both his philosophy and worldview behind fermentation — both of which showed so honestly through his writing. I felt I had gained a friend by the last chapter.
It was in this book that I was first introduced to rejuvelac, a drink that is made by fermenting sprouted grains. Much like kombucha, this tonic is purported to aid with digestion, due to being probiotic. Instead of using a mother/bug/starter like in the kombucha making process, however, rejuvelac is fermented using the naturally occurring yeasts in the air. Out of curiosity and a surplus of grains, I made two batches of rejuvelac with the same grains.
So what’s my take on it? Because no starter/bug/mother is required, rejuvelac is super easy, something a person with absolutely no fermentation experience can and should try to get their fermenting feet wet. The taste, though my husband and I found it refreshing, may need to be acquired. Seasoned cheesemakers will agree with me that the flavor is comparable to leftover whey, with a tangy, slightly nutty taste. As such, I added mint leaves to some glasses of chilled rejuvelac, and fresh rosemary to others, something I did when drinking leftover whey after making cheese in the States.
But despite its ease, I will not be replacing my morning kombucha with rejuvelac. After drinking kombucha nearly each day for a year and a half, I am loyal to the flavor, the fizz, and even the process itself. I also feel that the benefits of kombucha are greater, as more beneficial acids are produced during the process. However, rejuvelac is a beverage that I plan to make and drink more during the summer months to help beat the heat.
Use the following instructions to make your own rejuvelac at home:
Ingredients (yields 1-2 liters, twice)
A medium to large glass jar
2-4 cups of grains
I used quinoa, a pseudo-grain, and I enjoyed the flavor. Other popular grains to use for rejuvelac include rye (rye boasts the best-tasting rejuvelac), wheatberries, and barley.
First sprout your grains. This is typically done by soaking the grains for 12-24 hours, rinsing them, and then placing them on a finely meshed sieve or tightly woven hand towel. The sieve or towel is then situated (usually involving some form of clever hanging) so that the grains can be sprayed with water a few times during the day, but also allow for proper drainage to avoid rotting. Your grains have sprouted when you can see a little “tail” on each grain. I was fortunate to be able to avoid the hanging and spraying – I found my quinoa had sprouted during the soaking process.
Next, rinse your grains and place them in a medium or large wide-mouth glass jar. Fill the jar with water, and secure with a clean hand towel and rubber band, to allow the drink to breathe, and fermentation to take place.
Leave the jar alone in a warm spot for two to three days. After this time, your rejuvelac is ready. The drink should be a bit cloudy, and depending on the grain you use, a bit yellow. It will smell acidic (think buttermilk) and perhaps, like my batch, a bit nutty. If the batch smells too soured, (think spoiled yogurt) or has developed mold, discard the grains and liquid and start anew. Strain the liquid into a clean jar and place in the fridge. (Rejuvelac is tastiest when chilled). You can now use the grains to make a second batch of rejuvelac by using the same process. After the second batch, compost the spent grains.
Enjoy your refreshing glass of rejuvelac!