Independent Fermentations Brewing & Kombucha

Brewing Kombucha in a Brewing System

Kombucha is rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and vitamins and minerals. It can help boost the immune system and reduce depression symptoms.

The FDA states that kombucha is safe to drink when brewed correctly. Brewing kombucha at home is simple, inexpensive, and convenient. The process is easy and requires little space.

Equipment

There are several manufacturers that offer systems to streamline the brewing process and ensure consistency. These are ideal for home and small commercial brewing.

Large glass container – Look for a large, solid, two-gallon glass container without a lid. It should have a wide neck to allow more oxygen in. Mason jars, and other containers with narrow mouths, don’t let enough air into the container during fermentation.

A thermometer. Often overlooked, but essential to regulate the temperature of fermentation. A heating mat is also useful in winter for warming up kombucha.

Long, flexible bottle brush: Ideal for cleaning tight corners and nooks. Brewery Wash: Specially formulated for removing stubborn residues which can form on jars surfaces and in narrow necks. Use with a bottle brush to get the best results.

Ingredients

Kombucha is a tea that has been fermented and touted as having health benefits. It is made by mixing a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast with a sweetened tea solution. The symbiotic culture creates a matrix called a biofilm. The biofilm is made up of lactic acid bacteria, yeast and other substances. These acids and substances give kombucha a distinctive flavor and nutritional benefits.

The symbiotic reaction also breaks sugar down into carbon dioxide, and small amounts of ethanol. This is the reason kombucha can be called “the Champagne of Health.” Commercial kombucha typically contains less than 0.5% alcohol, which meets FDA regulations for a non-alcoholic label.

It is important to use only high-quality ingredients when you make your own kombucha. Choose a black or green tea that is not herbal and unflavored, with white or turbinado plain sugar to avoid oils or flavors that could compromise the brew. The sweetener feeds the SCOBY during fermentation and is converted into vitamins, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

Scobys

A scoby consists of bacteria and yeast which form a symbiotic relation and produce kombucha. You can buy a scoby online, or get one from friends and relatives who make kombucha.

Once the tea has cooled to room temperature, pour it into your brewing vessel and add the scoby (store-bought is fine). Cover the scoby with a tightly-woven cloth, such as an old teeshirt or bandana. This allows airflow but keeps out fruit flies and dust.

Place your jar somewhere warm and dark. Ferment it for 7-10days. Check the jar occasionally and gently touch the surface of the scoby. If it feels nubbly, rough or patchy, this is normal; the scoby will become smooth and more uniform with each batch of kombucha you brew. Keep your jars out of the sun, as it can make kombucha taste vinegary.

Storage

When storing your Kombucha, find a dark spot where the temperature won’t fluctuate too much. A closet or cabinet is a good option if it’s large enough and you open/close it often enough to promote airflow. If you do choose to store your brew in a cupboard, consider keeping a jar of starter tea nearby in case you want to re-start a batch.

Remember to always handle a SCOBY with clean hands and to use sterilized equipment. It’s also important to regularly test your kombucha for harmful bacteria and fungi.

If you do discover mold or fungi, dump your kombucha and scoby and start over. Use the starter fluid from your SCOBY Hotel and re-start a new batch. Repeat this process until your SCOBY Hotel is always stocked with delicious Kombucha! Enjoy!