Part Two: 2nd Fermentation, Bottling and Flavouring.
Missed How to Make Kombucha – Part One? Click here!
If you are following along from Part One of my series on How to Make Kombucha, you may now be at the stage where you are ready to bottle yours. This is the fun part because you get to choose how you want to flavour your Kombucha! This step is often called the 2nf Fermentation because once you bottle your Kombucha with the various fruits, it begins to ferment again and creates even more carbonation. It will blend with the delicious fruits and takes on the flavour of whatever you add!
What you’ll need for this stage:
– Flip top bottles that seal. The number you need will depend on the size. I’ve used the KORKEN bottle made by IKEA with good results and if my memory is correct, I can fill 2-3 of these bottles with one gallon of brew after accounting for the starter tea you need to leave in for your next batch (read below). If you don’t live near an IKEA, you could very easily just save and re-use other similar bottles from Grolsch beer etc. and they will work as long as they have a tight seal the way these do.
– A plastic funnel and ladle.
– A clean glass bowl. This will be to place your SCOBYs in while bottling.
– Pure white vinegar. For rinsing your hands, rinsing the bottles and keeping your work area clean.
– You choice of fruits, juices and spices for flavouring.
Once you have all of the supplies above, you are ready to bottle!
Step one: Wash your hands well and then rinse your hands, your glass bowl, all bottles and work area well with white vinegar and lift your SCOBYs out of the Kombucha. Place the SCOBYs in your glass bowl and add a little bit of Kombucha to cover them. This just gives them somewhere to hang out while you are bottling.
Step Two: Choose your flavours. In mine I like to use cut up bits of apple, ginger and cherries. I’ve also experimented with adding different fruits in with 100% pure fruit juices like lemon and concord grape. Chai spices, pumpkin pie spices and cinnamon sticks add nice flavours as well. There’s no right or wrong amount to use. For fruit I usually just add enough to cover the bottom of the bottle. For spices, a couple of pinches will do the trick.
Step Three: Put funnel on top of one of your jars and use your ladle to pour Kombucha into each bottle until it’s full, leaving only a half an inch on the top. Seal your bottle and set aside in an area where the bottles can remain undisturbed. It’s important to note that since these are sealed and they are becoming more carbonated, there is a small chance that one could end up breaking or exploding. For this reason, I place mine in a basement sink with a box and towel on top. I’ve yet to have one explode, but just in case!
Step Four: Leave bottles to sit in their undisturbed area for 24-48 hours. After that point, move them to the refrigerator. Chilling them slows down the carbonation (and I personally prefer a nice chilled glass of Booch!)
And that’s it! You’ve successfully made your own Kombucha! It wasn’t that hard, was it? Now you can just enjoy chilled, any time of the day, for pennies a glass!
A couple of random but important things about brewing Kombucha:
– If you plan to make another batch of Kombucha right after bottling, you’ll need to be sure to reserve 2-3 cups of your freshly brewed as a starter for the next batch. I personally leave at least 2 inches of Kombucha in the bottom of each of my big 2 gallon jars to help start off the new batch.
– Because each new batch of Kombucha produces a new SCOBY, you’ll soon find yourself overrun with them if you brew regularly. At this point, you may decide to share them with friends, compost your extras OR, do as I do and start a SCOBY hotel. To create a SCOBY hotel, simply take a clean, large jar, fill it with Kombucha and place your extra SCOBYs in there, cover with fabric and and elastic band and store it in a dark, undisturbed spot in your home. These will live happily in this hotel for approximately 4-6 weeks. At that time, if you still have not used them, simply take them out dump about 50% of the liquid out and replace it with fresh sweetened tea. I strongly recommend that you do this if you intend to make Kombucha regularly or if you decide you’d like to take a break for a few weeks. It’s rare, but SCOBYs can get mouldy from time to time. If this happens, you need to discard the batch and the SCOBY. At that point, having backup SCOBYs is helpful. It’s also nice to have a few waiting in the wings in case you have a friend who’d like to try their own or in case you’d like to brew more.
A little disclaimer: I am not, by any means, an expert on this subject! I, too, am still very much learning by trial and error. Feel free to ask any questions or make any friendly suggestions you wish in the comments section! As I experiment more with different flavours and techniques I hope to post about them so please check back regularly!