Happy Holidays! I hope you are enjoying the dawn of that wintry mix of parties, family and too much good food. Writing a fermentation cookbook has been very exciting. It has also been very, very time-consuming, so this is definitely a year when I would not mind having access to a jolly old elf/personal shopper to provide perfect gifts for all of my friends and loved ones. The good news, though, is that giving quality, last-minute gifts can be pretty easy when you’re a fermenter, especially if you make cultured ferments.
Here are a few last minute gifts that an active fermenter could give to a new kid on the block. I guarantee they’ll be very grateful and for you it will be cost-effective and simple.
KOMBUCHA GIFT KIT
If you currently make kombucha, there’s a good chance you’re overwhelmed by the number of SCOBYs that brewing booch produces. Here’s your chance to surprise a DIY type with a great gift while getting rid of something you really don’t want.
What you need:
1 SCOBY – Take a spare SCOBY and put it in a small ziploc bag with a little bit of finished kombucha. Seal the bag tightly.
9 tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose tea – Include a box of your favorite kombucha tea. I like a blend of oolong and sencha. Loose or bagged tea is fine, just make sure that you include enough for at least one batch of kombucha. If you have them, linen or cotton tea bags make a nice addition. Small jars or baggies also work wonderfully.
1 cup of sugar – I have best results with plain cane sugar, although I do use an organic, fair trade brand.
2 cups of finished kombucha – Give the gift of starter tea. You can put this in nice pint jar or in a decorative bottle. Anything that fits inside your larger jar will do. Recycle condiment jars often make great options.
(optional) Fine Mesh Strainer – A small fine mesh strainer can be purchased at most kitchenwares stores and they usually cost about $2. You can, of course, just use a regular strainer or pluck your SCOBY out with tongs or clean hands, so this is purely optional. It does help to remove the little less-than-lovely bits of yeast strand and SCOBY that may be floating around in your booch.
Gallon Jar – A large, recycled pickle jar is a great choice for the budget-concious. Just make sure that you have thoroughly washed it to remove the label and the smell of tasty pickles. If a large jar isn’t immediately available to you, try a smaller jar or a large ziplock back tied with a big ribbon.
Place everything into the gallon jar. Tie with a ribbon.
WATER KEFIR GIFT KIT
I originally made this water kefir kit as a last minute food swap item and it was a big winner! You can prettify the holiday gift version by putting it in a pretty jar (a Ball green jar would be great if you have one on hand) and decorating it with a big ol’ bow.
What you need:
1/2 cup water kefir grains – Place 1/2 cup of well-rinsed, recently fed grains into a snack-sized ziploc bag. Add a bit of filtered water, so the grains are covered and seal the bag well.
6 tablespoons coconut sugar and 3/4 cup cane sugar – Make up a snack-sized bag of your sugar mix. I include enough for 3 quart-sized batches and I use a mix 2 T of organic coconut sugar and 4 T of organic cane sugar per quart batch. Fits perfectly in the snack bag. Seal carefully. Feel free to sub more cane sugar for coconut sugar if necessary.
1 lemon and 3 dates– Put a small, whole organic lemon and dates into another snack-sized bag.
Quart jar – Place sugar bag, then lemon bag then grains bag into a quart jar. Print and insert the how-to. If you don’t have a jar on hand, you can lay everything into a gallon ziploc bag and tie it up with a big bow.
The recipe – You can download the simple how-to I included in my kits here. And of course you can always send giftees to the Phickle Water Kefir Recipe for further details. Cut out the circle and place it, face out against the side of the jar. Kefir Kit Recipe
(optional) Fine mesh strainer – A small fine mesh strainer can be purchased at most kitchenwares stores and they usually cost about $2.
COMPLETELY NOT FERMENTED SMELL-PRETTY GIFT IDEA
If you know someone who loves making giant open crocks of fermented vegetables, you may also know someone who looks for great, natural sources of good smells in the home. I found this stovetop air-freshner on Pinterest ages ago, but only extreme time constraints finally drove me to make them. I wasn’t familiar with this blog, but if this project is any indication, I would happily try out a few more things from Dandee. Feel absolutely free to substitute whatever fruit and spices you have on hand, although I highly recommend getting dehydrated citrus in there if you can.
What you need per bag:
- 2 orange slices
- 1 to 2 tangerine slices
- 2 lemon slices
- 3 apple slices
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg powder (I ground mine fresh and it smells amazing)
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup whole cloves
- 1/4 cup whole allspice
- 2 to 3 bay leaves
- pretty ribbon or label
- cellophane bag (or wide-mouth jar)
Other Culture Kit Gift Ideas
Yogurt – A 1/2 cup of finished yogurt with a small bottle of high quality milk. Bonus points for a pretty, glass milk bottle.
Kefir – 2 tablespoons of kefir grains with a quart of high quality milk. Bonus points for a pretty, glass milk bottle or vintage jar.
Sourdough – A 1/2 pint jar of sourdough starter tied on top of a small bag of high quality flour with a beautiful bow.
Happy Holidays, everyone! May the gifts you give light up the eyes of your loved ones.