Ruby salt bush (Enchylaena tomentosa)

ruby-salt-bush

Ruby salt bush is really easy to grow and it’s part of my bush tucker garden out the front yard. It likes full sun and can survive off rain fall once established. While it was growing I pinched out the top growing branch to keep it short as it’s known to be top heavy and can fall over and snap. Mine is a low sprawling 1 metre high shrub.

At this time of year the little red berries are starting to ripen up. To harvest just place a your hand under the branch and tap the berries with your fingers. The ripe berries knock off really easily and fall into your hand. They can be eaten fresh by putting them whole into your mouth and mash lightly between your teeth. Suck the juice then spit out the seed. I don’t break the seed in my teeth as it’s a bit bitter. The flesh has light delicate sweet flavour with an undercurrent of saltiness. Small amounts of the leaves can also been eaten, preferably after boiling to remove some of the oxalic acid.

Ruby saltbush kombucha recipe

A handful of ripe ruby salt bush berries

700ml kombucha

Prepare the first ferment of kombucha like you normally would. Remove your scoby and set aside in your scoby hotel. Prepare the berries by washing them and removing any damaged ones. Place them into a bowl then crush gently with the back of a fork. Put the berries and any released juice in the bottle leaving 3cm of air below the lid. I use a recycled Bickford soft drink bottle for this. Secure the air tight lid on the bottle and place overnight at room temperature in a dark cupboard.

It will gain fizz, a ruby red colour and the delicate sweetness of the berries. I strain the fruit out using a tea strainer and decant into a new bottle and refrigerate. If the berries are left in it will progressively get saltier and lose any sweetness.

Strawberry beer

Our household has developed a taste for kombucha and at $4 a bottle in the shops I’ve had to work out how to brew it at home. A friend lent me the very easy to follow book on ‘The art of probiotic nutrition’ by Kale Brock. It takes you through step by step on how to make kombucha. If you think it’s hard to make just check out this video from Kale to see just how easy it is.

Remove the scoby and place in glass jar with breathable lid and make sure it’s covered with Kombucha. Put the scoby aside in cupboard. With the rest of the Kombucha it’s time to do a secondary ferment.

While local hills strawberries are in season in the shops the varieties in my backyard come through earlier in October, November and into early December. I used about half a punnet for this recipe.

1/2 punnet strawberries

700 ml kombucha

You need a bottle with a nice airtight lid. I recycled a Bickfords soft drink bottle for this.  I mashed about half a punnet of strawberries and placed in the sterilised bottle. Then I topped up the bottle with kombucha leaving about 2 cm of air. I tapped the bottle to get rid of any air bubbles and gave the fruit a little stir to ensure good contact with the liquid. Seal the lid and ferment for 1-3 days depending on the weather. Put it in a cupboard while it’s fermenting. Test each day and put in fridge when ready.

strawberry-kombucha

Be warned, to get the fizz you need to have a small amount of air up top. I left about 2cm and when I opened the bottle to test it, strawberry beer exploded out the top and kinda went everywhere. I’m not sure if it’s because it has been so hot the fermenting process sped up or if I should have left more air up top or I used too much fruit. Probably a combo of all three. The bad news is I lost about a quarter of the bottle. The good news is my ceiling, walls, floors and everything else in the kitchen have now had a good wipe down and I now have delicious fizzy strawberry beer. I didn’t strain the fruit out but if this was being kept for a while in the fridge before drinking I would strain the fruit out.

I have since read that it’s good to open a secondary ferment using a tea towel over the kitchen sink. And… I’ve found out that others find that strawberry kombucha is extra fizzy. I’ll be making this again for sure and making sure I open with tea towel over sink next time.