The fermentation process for kombucha varies on how tart or sweet you personally want the beverage. I wanted mine mostly tart, so I waited until day 14 to bottle my brew. After hours of Googling pictures of healthy SCOBY formation, I determined my kombucha fermentation went perfectly – no mold in sight and a healthy new baby!!! (I’m always a bit leery of fermentation projects at first…I have this secret fear I’ll one day poison someone. I have to always remind myself that people have been fermenting beverages and foods for – well – ever pretty much. And in worse conditions than my kitchen. So, I think I’m good.)
I did move my brewing jar to a different location than my original plan, however. I read that keeping the container near garbage and plants can increase chances of mold growth… YUCK! While my storage area wasn’t super close to the trash, it was still too close for comfort, and there are plants in my kitchen, so I had moved my ‘fermentation station’ to the top shelf in my pantry. Far away from trash and plants. Just FYI.. 😉
On day 14, I scooted the new SCOBY to the side and dipped in my wooden spoon. The taste was tart, yet still pleasant. My first batch of kombucha was a success! I couldn’t believe how easy that was! Now, I prepared my bottles. I decided to put the plethora of beer bottles accumulating in the ‘recycle corner’ of my kitchen to good use. I ran them through the dishwasher first, which actually made removing the labels SUPER quick and easy. I followed that with a vinegar rinse. Kombucha LOVES vinegar (they’re actually close cousins!). Just something to keep in mind when sterilizing your tools… As mentioned in the first post, always keep anything metal, aluminum, or steel far away from your kombucha, as it will weaken the flavor and possibly damage your SCOBY. Glass, wood, and bamboo utensils and storage are ideal.
Once your bottles are washed, sterilized, and dry, you can add your flavorings. This was the part I was really looking forward to! For my first batch, I decided to use one of my all-time favorite ingredients – fresh ginger. I thought a bit of local honey would be a wonderful complement as well.
You’ll want to remove your now 2 SCOBYs and place them in a glass bowl or jar with about 1-2 cups of your brew (I’ll tell you how to deal w/ them later).
I cut the ginger into small pieces and added about a tablespoon’s worth or so to each bottle. Using a butter knife, I drizzled a small amount of honey on top. You don’t want to over-do the flavorings because the kombucha will continue to ferment during this 2nd stage. During the process, your kombucha continously feeds on the sugars of the fruits or other add-ins, building up carbon dioxide. Add too much and your bottles will burst!!! You have been warned! 😉
After you have included all desired flavorings, you’ll want to use a funnel or bottling wand to pour in your brew. (I used a funnel and spilled about half a bottle’s worth. Definitely investing in a bottling wand, SOON!) Bubbles, our tiny boy pup, really enjoyed the spill, though. I have the healthiest dogs in the world. Seriously, they also eat kale and turnips.. And rose petals… I digress…
I left some head room at the top of my bottles because I wasn’t sure how much carbonation would build up. I filled them to about the neck and then used a bottle capper to seal them closed.
Once your bottles are all filled and capped, place them in a safe spot to sit for another few days. I chose to leave them out for 4 days before moving them to cold storage. My beer brewing friend suggested I place the bottles in a plastic bag or other safe container, in case they burst. You just never know… And it’s always better to be prepared! Exploding glass doesn’t sound like fun to clean.
After your beverages have been chilled thoroughly, place a towel over the bottle and slowly remove the cap! Enjoy your homebrewed kombucha!!! I can’t wait to experiment with all kinds of flavor combinations. My next batch I want to do some Lavender-Vanilla Bean and Ginger-Mango-Lime… And whatever else I have lying around that sounds delicious! I’d also like to try some herbal blends, utilizing my favorite calming/stress-relieving herbs like catnip, lemon balm, and gotu kola!
I’ve got 2 more batches underway, however, maybe you don’t want to brew continuously as I am. In that case, you can always store your SCOBYs in a “SCOBY HOTEL” with a few cups of your first brew. Leave at room temperature and ‘feed’ sweet tea as needed. You can use any of the SCOBYs to brew with and the liquid from the hotel can be used for starter tea in other batches. 🙂
Have fun fermentin’!
*Missed the first post? Learn how to start your brew here!!