Monthly Archives: December 2014

Five bottles of Good Buzz kombucha photographed in studio.

GoodBuzz in Wainuiomata

Kombucha, booch and SCOBY are new words in my vocab after a visit to photograph the GoodBuzz soft drink factory in Wainuiomata.

The GoodBuzz process combines sugar, tea and water (from the Te Puna Wai Ora artesian aquifer in Petone) with the SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) and turns into an effervescent, healthy, non-alcoholic  drink.

In the short time GoodBuzz has been operating they already have  five kombucha brews in more than 60 cafes in Wellington, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay, New Plymouth and Nelson, and recently have been included in Auckland’s Nosh outlets.

The drinks come in five flavours – Origins, Green Jasmin, Lemon and Ginger, Jade Dew and Feijoia. A new brew made with coffee cherry (the outer red skin of  discarded coffee beans from  Go Bang in Petone)  with an amazing light apple flavour is coming soon.

Each  brew takes 8-10 days to ferment and another 7-10 days of bottle conditioning before heading out the door. The best before date is four months unchilled (a bonus when there is space restrictions in the fridge), and can be extended to nine months if refrigerated.

Another buzz emanating from the factory came from discovering owner Alex Campbell and I grew up in the same small Northland town – Kaikohe. This is where Alex’s first memories of kombucha came from – his grandmother Amy made what she called Manchurian Mushroom tea in the 1970’s. Kaikohe Kombucha – who would have thought?

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Carla Carkeek making Ruth Pretty's Xmas cakes

Making Ruth Pretty’s Xmas Cakes

Every year in August Ruth Pretty’s commercial kitchen gets into the mid-winter Christmas spirit.  It’s the start of a festive ritual which ends with more than 4000 Christmas cakes despatched for celebrations far and wide by the special December day.  

The never-published Christmas cake recipe arrived hand-written after Ruth asked her staff for contributions for end of year client gifts.  Thirty five other recipes were tried but fell short of the magical combination.

Long-time Ruth Pretty staff member, Carla Carkeek bakes 74 cakes a day several days a week from August until December. One year 17,000 Christmas cakes were made as staff gifts when two banks merged (Carla had extra help for this one).  The cake won top prize in Christchurch’s 2007 Royal A&P Show commercial bakery section and at least one cake a day heads offshore, delivered mainly to expats in Asia and as far as soldiers in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The fruit is first soaked in sherry and after the cakes are cooked they get doused in brandy, ensuring a long life.

One cake in 36 is cut and tested, with the slices then devoured by visitors to Ruth’s shop. Made by Carla’s steady hands, the testing seldom finds errors. Although one year the team did pick up a change in the potency of Hansell’s essences after the company changed hands.

Watching her handle 23 different ingredients to make 74 cakes and prepare mis-en-plas for the next day’s 74, it’s easy to see why Carla is referred to as the Christmas Cake Queen.

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