Victoria was predicted to have a cooler summer, yet the Australian Open Tennis centre court hit 69’C last Thursday as Melbourne sweltered in the 40s. I guess it’s safe to say that a cooler summer meant we wouldn’t have days on end of very hot weather, only the odd few days when the thermometer would soar with warm temps in the 20’Cs in between. Even with air conditioning, summer eating demands cold smoothies, cool salads and fruit desserts. To keep us hydrated, I keep a supply of freshly squeezed fruit juice in the fridge and fruit yogurt popsicles permanently in the freezer for unpredictable hot days, and for weekends make frozen cheesecakes or granitas similar to this ruby red raspberry and ginger kombucha granita. The granita can easily be adapted to use any seasonal fruit you prefer, like soft juicy peaches or succulent mangos. I used thawed raspberries from a frozen packet to reduce costs, even though raspberries are quite cheap at the moment. The fresh ginger adds a spicy note to the granita that’s refreshing. If ginger doesn’t appeal, mint could be used instead. The bought bottle of kombucha was ginger in flavour, yet I’m thinking any flavour would be delicious.
For those unused to kombucha, here’s an introduction. Kombucha is a fermented beverage consisting of black tea and sugar (from various sources, including cane sugar, fruit or honey) that’s used as a functional, probiotic food. It contains a colony of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once combined with sugar. After fermentation, kombucha becomes carbonated and contains vinegar, B vitamins, enzymes, probiotics and a high concentration of acid (acetic, gluconic and lactic). These bacteria are known as “cellulose-producing bacteria,” meaning they produce cellulose, which acts as a shield to cells. The sugar-tea solution is fermented by bacteria and yeast commonly known as a SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast). Although it’s usually made with black tea, kombucha can also be made with green teas.
· Kombucha has been touted as a magic elixir, curing everything from digestion problems to arthritis and cancer. Most of the big curative claims about kombucha are unfounded: there have been just a few animal studies on it, and no solid research has been done on people. But some health benefits are likely since kombucha, when raw or unpasteurized, is rich in probiotics, good gut bacteria (like those in yogurt) that have been shown to boost immunity and overall health.
· Kombucha is not a magic potion, but it is a potentially healthful, flavourful drink that is relatively low in calories and sugar. Kombucha tea is viewed as a healthy drink because it is packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and nutrients, and functional, probiotic food. As with any food or drink, it is wise not to overdo it but to enjoy it in moderation.
RASPBERRY KOMBUCHA GRANITA
Makes 1 tray
2 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
400 ml kombucha
½ cup rice malt syrup
2 teaspoons coarsely grated ginger
Blend all ingredients in a blender until very smooth. Pour into a tray and place in the freezer. As the liquid freezes, scrape with a fork to form crystals. You will need to do this several times, scraping from the outside of the tray inwards as it freezes, (usually taking up to 6 hours). Scrap the granita with a fork before serving. Serve in glasses immediately. May be garnished with berries, if desired.