What to do after you brew
By Jacey Gibb, Distribution Manager
Welcome to ‘Bucha Basics, where we cover everything there is to know about homebrewing kombucha
In my previous article, we covered the initial brewing steps for kombucha and had just added the SCOBY in the sugar-tea mixture. However, this is only one leg of the journey; we still have a ways to go before you’re slinging fresh kombucha to your loved ones.
Following last time, your pre-kombucha should have spent the last week sitting undisturbed in a dark, cool area. (Jealous!) The one-week timeline is open for interpretation: if you have a larger, more active SCOBY, then the fermentation process will be accelerated by a few days; a smaller, older SCOBY will need the full week. The only way to know is by trial and error, so make a note of how much time was spent in the primary fermentation phase, and adjust accordingly for the next batch.
If in the end, your kombucha comes out bitter and almost vinegary, shorten the fermentation time. If it’s overly sweet, try adding a few days. Enjoy the process, as they say.
Once your ‘buch has finished the primary fermentation process, it’s onto the flavouring step. Remove the SCOBY to a glass bowl with approximately half a cup of the kombucha. (We’ll come back to this bowl later on.) Pour the rest of the kombucha into large (at least a few litres) glass swing-top bottles, leaving about a cup of space in each. Swing-tops are important here because they give a bit of leeway in terms of pressure buildup. I’ve used non-swing-top bottles at my own risk, but usually, they don’t carbonate as well. Plus, there’s a chance they will blow up on you, so just do some thrift shopping for swing-tops.
Back to the kombucha: I’ll cover flavours in another article, but for now, I recommend buying a few packages of frozen fruit and just keeping them in your freezer. How much you add to each kombucha depends on your preference and which fruit, but half a cup in each jar is a good baseline. There should still be a few inches of room in each jar from the top.
Return the fruit-filled kombucha jars to the place where you conducted the primary fermentation, and leave them for two to three days. You’ll notice some bubbling, which is completely normal at this stage. (It’s actually what’ll make kombucha fizzy.) After the time has elapsed, strain the gnarly-looking fruit bits out, and voila! Your first batch of kombucha is ready. Pour the liquid into jars (screw-top is fine at this point) and pop those puppies in the fridge, since kombucha is always better chilled.
As for the SCOBY and remaining liquid, this is the beginning of your next kombucha batch! I generally have a routine on the final day of the first fermentation process, where I brew a new batch of sugar-tea in the morning, and when I come home, I’m able to slide the SCOBY and half cup of kombucha into the sugar-tea. This way I always have a new batch of kombucha on the way in case I drink all of it or something goes wrong with one batch.
My last piece of advice for this stage of kombucha-making, and I’ve already mentioned it before but it’s worth repeating: sanitize everything. From the jars to their lids to the strainer you use, you only want the good kind of bacteria in your kombucha, so be fanatical when it comes to sanitization.
When all the steps are laid out in a single article, brewing kombucha might seem like an intimidating process, but it truly is a simple activity. The first few brews might involve a lot of double-checking steps and measurements, but after those initial forays, you’ll realize how straightforward and easy it is.