So today was the much-anticipated day number 7 of the kombucha brewing process, the day we got to bottle it for its second fermentation! My little girl was asking all day, “Do we get to taste the kombucha?!”
Since it had to sit undisturbed for 7 days, I had only peeked at it in the pantry occasionally over the course of the week. I did see the new SCOBY that had formed at the top as expected. It forms a ‘seal’ over the top of the kombucha, above the first SCOBY…
You can see that an air pocket formed under the new SCOBY as a result of the carbon dioxide gas being released in the fermentation process… but wait, what is that there on the edge?!
Imagine my surprise when I got up close and saw this…
Oh. My. GOODNESS. What in the heck is that?!?! Is it mold?? This is what the top of the new SCOBY looked like just above that brown mess…
Mold is a very rare but dangerous thing that could potentially happen when brewing kombucha. If it happens, you just have to throw everything out. I immediately emailed pictures over to Kombucha Kamp to see whether this was mold or not, and I got a response along the lines of, “Nope, not even close to mold! You have a beautiful new SCOBY!” Hahahaha!
Those hideous brown strands are dead yeast from the process and are completely normal. Mold would appear – well – moldy! It would be fuzzy and blue/green/black in color. It would look like mold on bread or a piece of fruit. Phew!! My little girl was very relieved we got to continue our kombucha adventure this afternoon as planned. :)
After confirming my kombucha brew looked good (and not moldy!), the next step was to stick a straw under the SCOBY to taste it! After seeing all that brown yuck, I was really grossed out and just didn’t want to. I asked my little girl if she wanted to, and she was a definite ‘No.’ So I had to.
Wow! It was surprisingly good! I wasn’t sure what to expect. My instructions said that it would be ready for it’s second fermentation in bottles when the main kombucha tonic smelled like apple cider vinegar. Well that it did! It tasted kind of sweet, kind of tart, and definitely fizzy. I thought that even at this first stage, it tasted better than anything I have bought in the store!
My 5-year old was hilarious. She wanted to try it, but she was totally put off by the smell. So I stuck a straw in, covered the top of the straw with my finger to trap some liquid in, and let her taste it through the straw. She really liked the taste! “Mom, the smell is just horrible, but it tastes good!” It definitely has a sweet-ish, vinegar-y smell, but it was surprisingly tasty!
At this point if the brew is too sweet, you should let it continue to ferment so the yeast and bacteria can continue to consume the sugar. But it tasted nothing like the sweet tea we started with, so from my amateur perspective, it was ready for bottling and for the second fermentation. Now is the fun part!
To create new flavors and to make the kombucha more fizzy, you can add an endless variety of flavorings when you bottle it! This being my first time out, I decided that the ‘Strawberry Lemonade Kombucha’ recipe sounded pretty good. Basically, I just needed to add 1 teaspoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and 1 cut up strawberry to the bottom of each bottle. Here were my supplies…
But first, I had to get those awful-looking (or ‘Beautiful,’ however you want to look at it) SCOBYs out of the jar. With clean hands, I had to reach in, pull them out, and put them in a bowl. Well, in the process, the brown part got stuck in my fingers, and I. WAS. SCREAMING. To a 3- and a 5-year-old, watching your mom running around the kitchen and screaming at the sink is just hilarious. To the said mother, it is not. Boo.
Here are the ‘beautiful’ SCOBYs, ready to brew another batch!
YUUUUUCK! Anyways, I also had to ladle out 2 cups of the kombucha liquid with the SCOBYs to use as a starter for my next batch. Now I was ready to bottle…
Next, I just added the lemon juice and the strawberries to the bottom of my glass containers…
… then using a funnel I poured the kombucha into the bottles until it almost reached the top. I figured I had about 10-11 cups of kombucha to bottle, and I found 4 glass bottles/jars to use. For some reason, I made quite a mess during the bottling process.
You probably can’t really tell from the photo, but my island was covered in wet. Here are the finished bottles, ready to start their 2nd ferment!
Yes, I need to find better bottles. I thought I would have had the chance to get some this past week, but it didn’t happen. I really want some of those bottles made for brewing beer with the wire stoppers on top, but I need to keep searching. These will have to do for now. :)
I just need to cap these tightly, put them in a warm-ish, dark spot, and wait another 1-3 days for these to become flavored, fermented, and bubbly! Then I will put them in the fridge to stop the fermentation process, and they will be ready to consume! In the meantime, I need to ‘burp’ my bottles to make sure they don’t explode. Yes, EXPLODE. The carbon dioxide can build up so much in the bottles that the glass breaks, so you have to ‘burp’ the bottles periodically. As a novice brewer, they say to do it every day. The recommendation is to store them in a cardboard box so, should they explode, the mess would be contained.
Just what have I gotten myself into?!
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