Bottling for fizzy Kombucha
Once your brew is fermented to your liking, which should take about 7-14 days depending upon the size of your batch. Smaller batches will brew quicker than larger batches. Quart sized mason jars take about a week, a gallon can take up to three weeks. Temperatures will also affect brewing times, when it’s warmer the brew will ferment more quickly.
What you need:
- Flip top “grolsch” style bottles
- Plastic funnel
- Flip top “grolsch” style bottles
Depending upon how big your batch is and the size of your bottles you can figure out how many bottles you’ll need. You can easily get 16oz or 32oz bottles online, or your can reuse Grolsch beer bottles which are 15.2oz. Just be sure whatever you use is clean.
- Plastic funnel
You’ll use this to transfer the kombucha to the bottles from your mason jars.
In order to get carbonation you need to add sufficient sugar to the kombucha so that the yeast has something to digest. I like to use frozen organic blueberries or raspberries, so that they are on hand when I’m ready to brew. I also use fresh organic ginger for my brews. It adds a nice sharpness to the kombucha, and has many health benefits of its own.
It is important when you are bottling to be clean and follow the same precautions as you do when brewing (if you haven’t read the brewing blog, read first). Be sure to clean everything well using non-antibacterial soap and warm water. Use wooden utensils to transfer your SCOBY to the next fresh tea batch.
After you have transferred your SCOBY to the fresh tea batch and added the appropriate amount of starter tea you will be left with the kombucha that you are going to bottle.
1) I like to prepare a mixture of blueberries and ginger or raspberries and ginger.
Chop up the ginger in small enough pieces to put into the flip top bottles. I typically add about a ½ tsp of each to the bottom of the bottle. You can add more fruit if you like depending on how sweet you want the kombucha.
2) Using the plastic funnel transfer the kombucha to the bottles, filling them pretty close to the top, leaving about a ½ inch of space at the top.
Voila! You now have a nice batch of Fizzy kombucha well on it’s way!
3) Set the bottles aside for a few days to let the yeast do their magic! Be sure to crack the top of the bottle every couple to days to check on the progress. It will be pretty clear when there is carbonation when you crack the top. Don’t let it go too long or the bottles will explode when you open them. Until you get the hang of the carbonation you might want to open the bottles over the sink. And don’t wear anything white. Trust me on this.
How do I know when my batch is done?
Depending upon the size of your brew it will be ready to bottle in 7-14 days. It can stay for up to 30 days, but will be very acidic if you leave it too long. When you first begin you might want to test the brew to see how sour it has become. You can use a clean plastic straw to extract a bit of liquid (place the straw in the brew under the SCOBY a bit, and cover the top with your finger. If you keep your finger over the top you can pull a bit of liquid to taste. Do not sip from the brew directly. Backwash=bacteria=bad.)
Once you have brewed a few batches you will be able to tell if your batch is ready by the color and the smell. The tea will be a dark color when you first brew a new batch. As the kombucha ferments the color will lighten significantly. At first the batch will have very little odor. As time goes on the batch will get increasingly acidic, hence the sour odor. Eventually you’ll smell the brew and notice it is time to bottle.
What is a SCOBY hotel?
Eventually after brewing several batches you will have more SCOBYs that you need to brew with. You can save these in a SCOBY hotel for later. This is a good idea to have just in case something goes wrong with your SCOBY (mold, contaminations, poor brewing). Simply peel off the extra layers of the SCOBY (the bottom is the oldest) from the bottom and place in a clean jar. Add a mixture of half sweet tea (freshly brewed tea) and half starter tea. Cover with the coffee filter and leave the hotel on the counter.
Some people store their hotels in the refrigerator, but others caution against it. The key is to monitor your hotel for signs of mold or other contaminants. If you do put your hotel in the fridge it may take some time for the bacteria to warm up and become active to re-brew.
Fruit fly woes
Fruit flies will love the kombucha brewing in your kitchen and hover around your brews. No body likes these little pests in their kitchen, so a simple and effective way to trap them is to take a glass jar and put something sour (if you want to sacrifice some kombucha you can, but I use vinegar) in the bottom. You only need a little bit to cover the bottom and not evaporate too quickly. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and poke tiny (slightly larger than fruit fly size) holes in the plastic wrap. Fruit flies have a keen sense of smell, but a poor sense of direction. Once they go in they can’t get back out, the occasional Einstein of a fruit fly will get back out, but most won’t.
What is a SCOBY?
SCOBY stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”. The bacteria and yeast in a culture live symbiotically and this combination is what ferments the sweet tea into kombucha. The SCOBY is pretty hardy, but it is important to take precautions to handle it appropriately so that the balance between the bacteria and yeast is maintained so that no harmful bacteria or yeast are introduced to the culture.