Continuous kombucha is the best way to keep a good stock of kombucha ready. This recipe for continous kombucha from Cultured Palate will show you how.
First, let me introduce myself. I am Dina-Marie, the author of Cultured Palate blog, mother of 10 children (7 of whom are still at home!), wife to the same man for almost 29 years (and I still love him!) and a kombucha enthusiast. As you can probably guess, with 7 children still at home, we go through a lot of kombucha at our house!
At $3 to $4+ per bottle, if for no other reason than economics, it is time to learn the art of making kombucha!
When I began making kombucha a couple of years ago, I used 1 gallon glass jars and covered them with cheesecloth which I secured with a rubber band. The problem was, there is only so much room on the top of a refrigerator for jars and I had reached my limit!
So, I began researching the continuous brew method of making kombucha. I found that not only was it more time efficient, but it also makes better quality kombucha!
As I will show you shortly in my step by step tutorial, the continuous brewing method requires no direct contact with the scoby. This means you avoid contamination of the scoby. Remember the scoby (also called starter or mushroom) is reused from one batch to the next and consists of yeast and bacteria which live together in a symbiotic relationship. SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.
There are two ways to do a continuous brew.
I do the latter. While kombucha is naturally slightly fizzy, we put ours in a kegerator and have it on tap for the children to enjoy at will. Don’t worry though, if you do not keg your kombucha, simply put it in the refrigerator and enjoy!
A couple of notes to insure success:
1. Container – For continuous brewing, the container should be between 1 – 5 gallons in capacity – this should be glass or porcelain. Do not use ceramic, plastic, crystal or metal which are detrimental to the scoby.
2. Spigot – The spigot should be near the bottom of the container. The purpose is to draw off kombucha from the bottom without disturbing the contents at the top and the scoby which floats on top. Be sure to check for a tight seal – you don’t want your kombucha leaking!
3. Cover – The cover should fit snug to keep dust, bacteria (such as, yeast) and critters (like fruit flies) out while allowing the gas of fermentation to escape. If the container does not have a cover, use a tightly woven towel and secure with a rubber band.
I use two 4.75 gallon glass beverage dispensers – that’s right, I have over 8 gallons of kombucha brewing at a time! I also use a tea towels secured with a rubber band as lids. When I started the continuous brewing system, I used two 3 gallon plastic tea dispensers. Not only were they plastic (which lile metal are not healthy for the scoby!), the lids popped up during the fermentation process. This allowed fruit flies in which contaminated my scobies – YUCK – don’t make the same mistake – choose your equipment carefully!
I will give the basic kombucha recipe which can be multiplied to fit any quantity and then show you how I do subsequent batches.
Prepare the tea as above, sweeten and allow to cool completely.
Drain the fermented kombucha into the desired container. Since we keg ours, we use clean tubing and drain it directly into the keg. My containers are on top of the refrigerator and this allows them to be emptied without moving. The tubing used is food grade and does not come into contact with the scoby.
Leave about 20% of the batch in the container to use for the next batch. You can see the layers of the scoby, as well as, the yeast sediment in the bottom.
Now you are ready to refill the container with new sweetened tea to feed the scoby. Add the tea gently. I pour it right on top of the scoby which may sink or be pushed down during this process but always rises to the top again. There is no need to mix the new tea mixture with the amount left from the previous batch, the fermentation process takes care of this!
Cover the top with a lid or tightly woven cloth and secure with a rubber band. Allow the fresh batch 10 days to 3 weeks to ferment. The time will depend on the batch size and the size of your scoby. Taste the kombucha every week or so until the desired taste is acquired.
Dina-Marie is the author of Cultured Palate blog and the mom of 10 children, 7 of whom are still at home. Moving to West Texas to begin a vineyard has brought many changes among them being a return to health through the GAPS diet, learning about “real” food and becoming a chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Dina-Marie began Cultured Palate because of her passion to spread the healing potential of real traditional food and to encourage others with a nutrient dense diet and simple family life.