So, you’ve taken the next step, you want to grow your own scoby and brew kombucha. After your first crisp sip on a kombucha, you fall in love with the earthy, tart, refreshing drink. Then you learn you can make it yourself and that it’s not really too hard. It started from a little slimy looking blob, almost like an alien egg in a jar to be a living scoby in your home. Whilst scoby’s aren’t too difficult to look after, here are some tips to help keep your scoby healthy, and make looking after your little bacterial friend a little easier.
Tip 1: Check for Mold
The most important thing when it comes to looking after a kombucha scoby is to make sure there is no mold. It might seem obvious, but you cannot drink kombucha that has mold in it. Unfortunately, you will have to throw it away. Even though scoby is a bacterial culture, mold is harmful to you and will make you sick.
Before throwing it away, make sure you identify that your scoby has mold. Mold will look dry, furry or blue and grow as a film over the top layer of water or as little blue spots on the scoby. If you’re unsure, look at images of scoby mold on google. To prevent mold growth, you have to make sure the glassware and water are clean and sanitised. Always have clean hands and utensils when working with your culture. If you’re unsure about the cleanliness of your water, boil it before you start your culture. Temperature is key in keeping mold away, keep it at around 25-29°C so it’s nice and warm. If your home is a bit cool, keep a heat pad underneath and monitor the temperature.
Tip 2: Prevent Kahm Yeast
Kahm yeast, unlike mold, isn’t a dangerous substance, as it’s yeast grows, much like the scoby itself. It may look a little odd and be tempting to throw your culture out, but you shouldn’t as it isn’t dangerous. You should remove the kahm yeast as it does affect the flavour negatively.
To identify if it is kahm yeast you will notice a white wrinkly film growing along the surface, it kind of looks like crinkled paper when it’s grown fully. Simply remove it with a clean plastic spoon or knife, it should come up in one piece. If it doesn’t, just keep removing it until you can’t see it anymore.
To prevent kahm yeast growth, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, ensuring your hands are clean and equipment is sanitised is always a must, and can reduce chances of kahm growth. Another thing to monitor is the temperature. Yeast thrives in warmth, so try not to go over the recommended temperature. Also maintaining the correct salinity levels will kill kahm yeast growth. Kombucha is acidic, so use a pH strip to check it. When first starting your brew, it should be below a pH level of 4.5, and when it’s close to being finished it should be between 2.5 and 3.5.
Tip 3: When should you add flavour?
There is a simple answer to that question; Any time! But depending on personal taste there are different points for when you should add flavour. Sugar, tea, and starter liquids all have a role to play in the flavour of your kombucha in the initial brewing process. To make sure it isn’t too sharp or weak, follow the instructions on your kombucha kit.
On your first fermentation process, you can add blended fruits after you remove the scoby (make sure to keep it so you can start your next fermentation process!). Choose your favourite fruit combination and blend them. You can infuse the fruit flavours into the kombucha by adding them and leaving it for a few days. After a few days, drain it into a glass through a mesh to drink. But if you want to drink it straight away with pulp you can do that too!
On your second fermentation and onwards you can add fruit flavouring so it brews with the scoby, but it’s up to you. There are thousands of different ways to flavour your kombucha, and it all depends on personal taste. Brewing multiple scobys is the best way to experiment and try out different combinations.
Tip 4: Start a scoby hotel!
If you’re comfortable with the process you can start what’s known as a scoby hotel. As you become used to the process, you’ll know the scoby will reproduce and replicate itself. This cycle can continue effectively forever, but essentially making a scoby hotel lets you either take a break from the brewing process or store extra ones for backup.
By now you know how to start a scoby culture, with room temperature water, some tea leaves, and sugar.
Starting a hotel is much the same process, but just in a bigger jar so you can store more. As you start growing more scobys you can add them to the hotel, so your count will go up. By keeping the hotel at room temperature, you should be able to keep them like that for months without having to worry about them. If they start to look dry you can add unflavoured kombucha mix to keep them going.
Tip 5: You can eat your scoby!
To some this may be a surprise, as they might not even consider the likes of eating bacteria. It turns out that eating your scoby can be healthy, so long as the scoby itself is healthy and free of mold or not dead. Eating a scoby is good for you as it’s full of good bacteria that will benefit your immune system.
There are a few different ways to prepare your scoby, and you can experiment if you like. If you want to eat your scoby raw, you totally can but it is a bit chewy, and some don’t like the texture. Cutting it up into small pieces and soaking them in clean water for around an hour will soften them and lessen the acidic flavour. If you like sushi, try replacing the fish with a slice of scoby, it’ll add a fun tang to your sushi platter. Another common way to eat it is to dehydrate it on some parchment paper and eat it like jerky. People have a multitude of ways of preparing and eating their scoby’s, check out some recipes and have fun!
Caring for and maintaining your scoby doesn’t have to be too difficult.
Caring for and maintaining your scoby doesn’t have to be too difficult. With some regular monitoring, you will have a healthy scoby family in no time. If you’re in need of a simple and easy to manage kombucha kit, try out the Kefirko Kombucha Fermenting kit with a spigot. In no time you’ll have a whole hotel of these weird, yummy, healthy, pancake aliens.