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Sept. 2, 2017 
11am to 5pm


 Our monthly Vital Alchemy meetings

are held at the Sebastopol Grange Hall 


vi·tal  ˈvītl/  1. absolutely necessary or important; essential.  2. full of energy; lively


al·che·my   ˈalkəmē/  1. the medieval forerunner of chemistry, based on the supposed transformation of matter. 2. a power or process of transforming something common into something special




Next group meeting:


universe fermented photo

Wednesday, August 16th at 7 pm


We will be watching a feature-length documentary titled Fermented, which explores the ancient alchemy of our favorite food preservation process.

Limited Seating! Purchase tickets here to reserve your seat!

$5/ Grange Hall Members

$8/ General Public


Look deeper, get a little dirty, and go ahead and find the beauty in rot.

In the feature-length documentary FERMENTED, author and chef Edward Lee goes on a journey to better understand how the ancient process of fermentation is used in modern times both at home and abroad by visiting artisans and chefs around the world. Chef Lee is joined by an all-star cast of characters, including chefs Stuart Brioza and Dominique Crenn, bread mastermind Chad Robertson, craft brewing leader Nick Floyd, and fermentation guru Sandor Katz, to talk, share ideas, and cook with fermentation in mind.


An ancient and mysterious food preservation technique, this is a story tracing back to the origins of humankind. Throughout history it kept people nourished in both barren winters and desert heat. At first, chef Lee seeks out answers to the question of what fermentation is by exploring the process of making cheese, bread, beer, and charcuterie. We find out how flavor has taken over as the main reason for keeping the tradition of fermentation alive through profiles of kimchi, kombucha, and pickles – showing that it isn’t just the process, but the results that keep us wanting more.

Ad Edward shares these experiences, stories, and recipes, we begin to better understand how a tradition can give rise to a contemporary trend, and how the culture and history of fermentation is in all of us. Even in the era of refrigeration and canning, where food is in abundance, fermentation still thrives – not as a means for survival – but as a way of creating unique deliciousness and depth of flavor. It’s something we want, a taste that we can’t get enough of.

Edward travels across the Pacific Ocean to the Japanese countryside to meet with artisans who maintain traditional methods of making soy sauce and miso. The originals, time capsules, profiles of fermentation in it’s most unaltered and ageless form. As we meet these craftspeople and watch them work a timeless trade we begin to understand the risk they face. The processes they’ve kept alive for ages could disappear in future generations as technology and scale become paramount. The risk of the commoditized cannibalizing the craft. As Chef Lee’s exploration of the world of fermentation comes to a close, we are left with the question of if the world is at risk of losing the old ways for the new, and if that happens, what would it mean for the future?



These meetings happen the 3rd Wed of each month at the

Sebastopol Grange Hall


Please read below for details

 Join us on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 pm for a discussion about fermenting basics at home.

Vital Alchemy is a monthly fermenters group that was formed to teach recipes, create fermented foods together, swap tricks and tips, and enjoy the company of other local bacteria whisperers. We offer this class for free with a suggested donation of $5 to help us keep the lights on at the Grange and cover costs of samples. Please stop in and join us!


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By Popular Demand:

Kombucha Recipe and Instructions


How to make your own SCOBY.  (From The


How to make your own Kombucha (Cultures for Health Video)



You will need:

a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria + Yeast)

1-3 cups raw, unflavored commercial Kombucha or “starter tea” (kombucha already fermenting)

a 2 quart glass jar

a wooden spoon (for stirring sugar to dissolve)

Cane Sugar

Black or Green Tea

Bottled or Non-chlorinated Water

a clean paper towel, kitchen towel or old T-Shirt

a rubber band


Two Quart “Sweet Tea” Recipe

5-6 cups non chlorinated

1/2-cup cane sugar. (Do not use honey)

5 grams loose black/green tea or 3 tea bags (Assam Black Tea, English Breakfast Tea) Any green or black tea as long as the tea does not have any oil extracts. Assam does not leave a bitter tea aftertaste.


Step One: Make a tea concentrate by using only 3 cups water to brew tea. Go ahead and put the tea into your clean 2 quart container and add 3 cups of hot water. After steeping for 5-8 minutes, remove the tea leaves/bags, and stir in the sugar. Add 3 more cups of non chlorinated water and allow it to completely cool to room temperature (covered so that dust/bugs don’t get in)


Step Two:

FOR THE FIRST TIMERS: This is often called the “First/Primary Fermentation Process.”

Add your 1-3 cups starter (or original flavor commercial kombucha) into the 2 quart jar of ROOM TEMPERATURE sweet tea.

If you have a SCOBY in your starter tea already, it may sink to the bottom of the jar. That’s fine. In a few weeks when a new SCOBY forms, it will form on the top surface.

Cover with a paper towel/old piece of a T-shirt and a rubber band.

Put the jar in a dark place where it will not be disturbed. In 5 days you can start to “taste” your Kombucha. I like mine at 7-10 days. It will get less sweet each day. Just take the paper towel/cover off and stick a clean straw alongside the SCOBY and remove a small amount to taste. If possible, do not move the jar until you are sure you are ready to drink it and make another batch. This will help the SCOBY remain on the surface where it will grow in thickness quickly.


Step Three: When you like the sourness of your kombucha, it is ready to drink. If you’d like to add juice or other teas to flavor it, now is the time (after 5-15 days of fermentation with only green or black tea.

You may also drink it just like this – “plain” or combine it with juice or other room temperature herbal teas/beverages to consume right away. There will be no fizz, but plenty of great flavor and good beneficial microorganisms.

Or,  follow the instructions below for a “2nd fermentation” – also called “bottle conditioning.”

To bottle your kombucha in order to capture the effervescence and create a carbonated beverage, you will want to use “swing top” or “grolsch-style” bottles. (If this is your very first time experimenting with bottle conditioning, it is recommended to use plastic soda or water bottles to get the hang of times and temperature. By squeezing a plastic bottle you can tell how much carbonation has built up within it by how little the bottle indents when you squeeze.)

Many things (including olive oil) are sold in these swing top bottles, but many bottles are thin glass if they are not designed specifically for fermented beverages. You may re-use swing top bottles from other kombuchas or fermented beverages, but do not use the ones from “Italian soda” or any olive oils. The recommended brand is EZ-Cap and can be purchased online or through local homebrew stores. 

Add your kombucha to the bottles and experiment with flavors. You can add up half of a cup of fruit juice or sweetened herbal tea, but know that the more sugar you add right now, the quicker your kombucha will build carbonation. Apple juice is extremely high in sugar. You may want to only add a few tablespoons of fruit juice at this time. You may also add 2-5 raisins to each bottle instead of juice, or any chopped, dried or fresh fruit.

Leave the bottled Kombucha on the counter in a swing-top (or plastic) bottle for 1-2 days. Open the top (over the sink!) to release pressure from the bottles after 24 hours. In colder temperatures, you can leave your bottle for up to 5 days on the counter, but do check it by opening it over the sink and releasing some pressure each day. In the summer time, you shouldn’t need more than 1-2 days.

Lastly, refrigerate your bottles before opening and serving. Just like champagne, it is best to open the bottles cold, which helps keep the CO2 in solution and not make an overflowing kombucha fountain.


-5-15 days of first fermentation at room temperature (with the SCOBY, loosely covered with a towel)

-2-5 days of secondary fermentation in a bottle with 1/2 cup flavored beverage or some fresh/dried fruit.

-1-7 days of refrigeration



Here is a most favorite recipe from our Vital Alchemy Kombucha Queen, Tedi!


Tedi’s Ginger Kombucha Recipe

In a 32 oz swing top bottle add:

-Approximately 28 ounces of fermented kombucha (after 5-15 days of “first fermentation”)

-2-3 teaspoons fresh ginger juice

-1 Tablespoon organic sugar

-Let if ferment for 2-5 days in the bottle.

Just the best drink ever!

If gifting bottles of flavored kombucha to your friends, tell them that it must remain refrigerated and needs to be consumed within one week. Also tell them to open it over a sink :)