Getting started with making homemade kombucha, and not sure how to store your kombucha scoby between batches? Here’s how!
A kombucha scoby is a starter culture that allows you to initiate the fermentation of kombucha.
And it can be used over and over again! Simply retrieve it after the kombucha fermentation is complete, and store it to start a new one.
The easiest way to store the kombucha scoby is to immediately start a new fermentation. However, you can space out two fermentations if you keep the scoby at room temperature or in the fridge.
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How Much Kombucha Scoby Should You Keep?
To make a 3 litre kombucha recipe, we recommend storing about 500ml (2 cups) of starter culture (pellicle + plain kombucha).
The quantity of scoby to be stored depends on the volume of your next recipe. You should always add enough scoby to ensure a good start to the fermentation process.
The general rule is to save about 10% of the volume of your next recipe.
- To make 3L, keep 300ml of starter culture
- To make 15L, keep 1.5L of starter culture
You could use more (as we do with our kombucha scobys made from organic ingredients!), but it is not recommended to use less to prevent it from going mouldy.
Did you know that the gelatinous pellicle (or film) is optional in the preparation of kombucha? The majority of microorganisms needed for fermentation are found in the liquid kombucha.
The quality of the kombucha is important, as it guarantees the vitality of the scoby:
- A good kombucha will create very good starter cultures
- A bad kombucha will pass on its flaws to its starter cultures
Kombucha pellicle is very porous and therefore contains a large number of microorganisms, but quality natural kombucha contains considerably more.
You can still keep the pellicle, but make sure it comes with a sufficient amount of liquid starter culture.
Want to learn more about scobys? Read Is kombucha really a mushroom? and Where to find a kombucha scoby?
Storing Your Kombucha Scoby in the Fridge
The easiest way to store your kombucha scoby is in a sealed container in the fridge.
Always label the jar so that no one in the household gets rid of it by mistake!
The scoby then goes dormant and can be stored for up to 6 months.
However, we have seen scobys forgotten in a corner of the fridge for more than a year that have come back to life without any problems. These little creatures are resilient!
Storing Your Kombucha Scoby at Room Temperature
You can store your kombucha scoby in a jar covered with a cloth, at room temperature. However, you will need to feed it regularly.
At room temperature, the microorganisms in the kombucha are not dormant the way they are in the fridge, so the scoby will continue to acidify. So you will need to add sweet tea from time to time.
- Place the kombucha scoby with some kombucha in a jar (about 10% of the volume of your next recipe).
- Boil 250ml (1 cup) of water.
- Brew 1 tea bag (2g) for 30 minutes.
- Add 50g (¼ cup) of sugar.
- Stir to dissolve the sugar.
- Once it is lukewarm, pour the sweetened tea into the jar.
- Cover with a cloth with a rubber band.
- Repeat the process of adding lukewarm sweet tea every fortnight.
If you store your scoby this way for several months, new pellicles will form on the surface. Compost, cook, give away or throw away the old ones and only keep the one on the top. It is the youngest and most active.
Kombucha Hotel: Bad Idea!
A kombucha hotel is several kombucha pellicles stacked in a jar filled with kombucha. It is not recommended to use this technique to store kombucha scobys.
The most important thing is to have live liquid kombucha to add to the pellicle. A scoby hotel leaves almost no room for the liquid.
Furthermore, the kombucha scobys at the bottom of the jar do not have access to the oxygen at the top. They will therefore lose their vitality.
Is My Kombucha Scoby Still Alive?
It is not possible to tell if a kombucha scoby is still active by its appearance, colour, or smell, except for the presence of mould, in which case it should be thrown away.
The only way to know if a kombucha scoby is alive is to ferment it again. If there are enough active microorganisms, the sweet tea will acidify, the sugar will gradually disappear and a new kombucha scoby will develop on the surface.
If, after 3 weeks of fermentation at room temperature, the kombucha is still quite sweet, not very acidic, or no scoby is present (appears) on the surface, then you can conclude that your kombucha scoby is probably dead.
For more information, check out Is my kombucha scoby sick?