Nata – SCOBY Candy
You know the giant, white, yeast strand-coated blob you use to make kombucha? The one that elicits an “Ewwwww!” from almost anyone who doesn’t drink kombucha (and many who do)? You should eat that.
Well, I’m not saying you should eat it. Only that I’m offering you a way to use up excess SCOBYs and you might want to consider giving it a try. I confess that my first nata-eating efforts were marred by thoughts of placenta eating. I don’t know why this was the though stuck in my head, and props to you if you’re the bold mama who muscled down that organ, but for me, it made eating the SCOBY nearly impossible. I worked through it though, with some recipe tweaks and now I can honestly say if you were the type to eat gummy bears or Dots or Hairbo as a kid, I can’t think of a reason that you wouldn’t enjoy this. It tastes a lot like a lightly tea-flavored gummy candy.
Unlike many things we discuss here, this isn’t going to be a health food, unless your only dietary need is getting a bit more fiber in your diet. The cellulose of the SCOBY gives a chew that is a DEAD ringer for kombucha-flavored gummy candy, as does the not insubstantial amount of sugar you’ll be using. Plus, the way I do this, the SCOBY is dead and therefore you’re not getting the microbial benefits you get from drinking ‘booch. If you want to eat it alive, there is a great method detailed in The Art of Fermentation. I had good results with that method, but even though I make this candy very rarely, I prefer the easy way given that the microbe content in my diet is more than sufficent.
NATA SCOBY CANDY RECIPE
Adapted from The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
There are a couple ways to make this detailed in The Art of Fermentation, but I developed a few tricks based on my inherent kitchen laziness and a need for more specifics. Alternative sweeteners will not work in this recipe, so go for the cane stuff.
- 1 – 1-inch think kombucha SCOBY
- Cane sugar equal to the weight (preferably) or volume (okay) of the SCOBY
- 1.5 inches grated ginger (optional)
- zest of one lemon (optional)
- Cut your SCOBY into small cubes. The size of the piece is up to you, but chunks should be a size that you’d like to eat like a gummy candy. I have found that the best way to cut a SCOBY is with kitchen shears. That way you get nice, even pieces and the cutting is very easy. A sharp knife is a distant second since as anyone who has ever tried to separate partially connected SCOBY layers knows, these things are seriously strong.
- Rinse your SCOBY pieces, removing any excess slimy bits or yeast strands. At this point, you could either weigh them or measure them. In either case, you want to mix sugar equal to the amount of SCOBY in with the SCOBY.
- Add both to a saucepan on your stove. If you want a bit of extra flavor, add the ginger and lemon as well.
- Turn the heat to medium and stir frequently as the sugar starts to boil. If you have a thermometer, turn off the heat at 244F. If you don’t have one, turn off the heat when the sugar is fully liquid, coats the SCOBY pieces and has been at a vigorous boil for about 7 minutes.
- Using a metal slottled spoon, remove the SCOBY pieces to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or a silpat. Pour the syrup that remains in the top over the SCOBY pieces until pretty well coated. Using the spoon, space them out so they’re not torching. You also don’t want the syrup near the edges of the cookie sheet. It will liquify a bit in the oven.
- While this mix is setting at room temperature, bring your oven up to 350. Once the syrup is tacky, put the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Candy should be lightly caramelized in appearance and sticky to touch.
- Enjoy immediately or keep at room temp for a day or two or up to a week in the fridge.
Note: You can boil these and bake them for longer if you want a more candied, caramelized flavor. These are bright and kombucha-tasting, and that’s how I like them.
For step 5, you can actually just pour the whole pan onto a silpat and move the pieces around to coat them once the syrup has cooled a bit. You will get better coverage doing it the way written into the recipe, though.