KOMBUCHA PART 2, FIRST FERMENTATION!

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Submitted Date 04/07/2019
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(Refer back to Kombucha Part 1 for the scoby birthing process)

So you have a scoby, now what? If you got it from a friend, bought it, or birthed the lil guy yourself, once it's ready, happy and healthy to use, you're ready for the first step to kombucha brewing.

You can either move on to brewing in larger one-gallon jars, but I still brew them in my normal smaller jars. I do have plans on moving forward to a one- or two-gallon jar because I find that my smaller one’s yield about two to three bottles of kombucha. This isn’t a big deal to me since I don’t drink kombucha every day (though I would not mind doing so), but it does seem nice to be more stocked with ready-to-drink kombucha (again, who's complaining?).

So you're probably thinking, "first fermentation?" Yes, first, there's a second process for flavoring the kombucha as well as creating that distinct fizzy-ness and carbonation to it that is optional. It depends on if you want it flavored or like it bubbly, and it's not as complicated as this first process may seem.

First Fermentation.

First thing to ask yourself (if you have created your scoby yourself for the first time): "Is my scoby ready?"

You’ll know when it’s ready when it’s a lot thicker. I wouldn’t expect it to be an inch thick, though. In fact, your first brew is probably not going to be your favorite. I ended up discarding most of my first brew just because it wasn’t flavored to my liking. I find that once you do a second brew your scoby is a lot stronger and ready to thread onward, you also get to know what tastes you like and how long you should ferment once you play around with ingredients and measurments and waiting time after a while, so your love for your brew will only grow with time. I can't speak for store-bought or friend-gifted scoby because I've only created my own, but that's my take.

FIRST, make sure everything is super clean around your working station, especially your hands. Wash your hands like crazy before touching your scoby (yes, you will have to touch it). Okay, you don’t have to touch it, trust me, it’s not gross, just a slimy little thing. When I first did this I just didn’t want to touch it because I was scared of contamination, but now I do and it’s fine as long as you wash your hands really well. You’ll want to transfer the scoby to a small bowl while you get everything else ready. If you’re squeamish, don’t use a metal spoon to fish it out. Use wooden utensils to get it from the jar to a clean bowl, no silverware! Now pour about a cup of the liquid it was in in the bowl the scoby is now transferred to, pour more if you’ll be using a bigger jar. I’d say about two cups for a gallon or more.

Most people discard the rest of that liquid, but I don’t really recommend that. I left the rest of the liquid in the jar and had it sit alone for a while to develop a second scoby as backup if anything were the happen to my first, this way the jar is out-of-sight-out-of-mind, but will still serve as a good backup where you don’t have to wait even longer to make another scoby if anything goes wrong with your first brew (always good to be prepared!)

OKAY STEPS:

- Place Scoby in a clean bowl with some of the extra starter liquid, cover with a cloth to keep fruit flies and dust away while you prep the rest

- Now the only thing that should be in your kombucha jar is the rest of the starter liquid, a cup or more for 32 ounces and two cups and on for larger jars. The measurements aren’t too important, you just don’t want to have less than a cup for a lot of liquid

- If you want, you put that starter liquid into a different bowl and clean the jar if it’s very grimy inside. I just clean my jars with good ol’ hot water. For a deep clean I’d just pour boiling water into the jar and let that sit for a while and scrub it down, nbd!

- Brew black (the same way you did to start the scoby) I do 8 ounces with two tea bags for my 32 ounces jar. You can still brew 8 ounces of tea with a gallon sized jar, just add more tea bags. I brew tea in a small cup so that I can dilute it with colder water to keep wait time down, since you don’t want your scoby to be added to hot water.

- Add sugar to black tea. I do one cup. Your scoby needs sugar to eat, like you’re feeding it. A lot of sugar is a good thing to keep it alive and happy, don’t skimp on this part. The amount depends on how much Kombucha you’re going to make, so a bigger jar = more sugar

I wait a bit for the tea to cool down and then add 8 more ounces of cold water to it and take the tea bags out.

Now the waiting game moves onward as you need the liquid to be at least room temperature or under 75/70 degrees. (I know, it sucks waiting, but it’s prepping you for more waiting since the first fermentation is about a week to ten days long).

Once the now diluted tea is cooled down with tea bags discarded, transfer it into your kombucha jar which should have the starter liquid inside of it. Then, add your scoby.

Important: don’t worry if your scoby sinks, flops to the side, and does random poses around the jar. I know most pictures online show them sitting happily at the top, but it doesn’t matter whichever way it ends up, it’s just chilling.

Now, your jar, I’m guessing, is probably not super full. You can get it to fill to the top by adding more water to it. Not to the brim of the lid, but to the top part where the kombucha can sprawl out and sit comfy if it was to be at the top of the liquid.

And voila. Done. Now we wait a week or ten days, and you can taste-test the kombucha a few days in.

For first timers, I recommend taste testing every few days, because this is how you get to know what you like. The longer kombucha ferments the vinegary it will taste. Therefore, it’s important to find that sweet spot before it turns into straight-up undrinkable vinegar (unless you’re into that kind of thing). Some people like their kombucha to taste sweeter, that means that the fermentation process will probably be shorter for them because the kombucha would have eaten less of the sugar in two or three days. I like mine about a week to five days in. If you like your kombucha because it's fizzy and carbonated, you’re going to want to do the second fermentation process which I’ll talk about in the next post. Second fermenting makes it fizzy, but you’ll want to stop the first fermentation process a little earlier like I do because it will become vinegary in the second process, too.

But we’ll visit that issue soon. Hopefully, this was maybe helpful! It’s not all science and goggles, as long as you keep your utensils and area clean and go with the flow, you’re good to go. Don’t worry too much about measurements and all mumbo-jumbo, things will pan out well and you’ll be left with some good ol’ booch!

This is what the next second fermentation steps look like! Some nice jars. If you used to buy kombucha in stores, those bottles are great to reuse, since usually kombucha is sold in glass, and should be prepared in a glass when brewing at home. I use mason jars, too, though the canning lids aren't too preferable. I also have glass peanut butter jars that I reuse, and some other glass cups with regular lids. Try to find some around so you can get ready for the second fermentation (which is optional), however, in general, you want some bottles so you can take your kombucha to-go. I've seen people brew kombucha in large gallon jars with spouts at the end, which could be like kombucha on tap if you don't care much about flavoring it later, too. Whichever works best, see ya in the next post.

 

 

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  • Tomas Chough 5 months, 1 week ago

    I admire the work and dedication you put into this, don't think I could pull it off. I'd just get impatient or maybe not even start, lol. Still great explanation. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  • Miranda Fotia 5 months, 1 week ago

    So glad you posted more information about this. Would really like to try doing it myself. Thanks for sharing!