What to do after your kombucha First Fermentation
The first step of brewing kombucha is relatively standard. Make a sweet tea, add a SCOBY and starter fluid, and wait. This guide is for people who have finished the 1st step of the kombucha fermentation process and are ready to flavor, bottle and carbonate their brew. The second step of kombucha bottling for the second fermentation is what will really set your kombucha apart and give it the custom characteristics that make it your own.
Why Bottle Kombucha
The first fermentation of kombucha serves two primary purposes. First, is to infuse your kombucha with the probiotics that are present in your SCOBY. Second, is to feed your SCOBY to allow it to thrive so you can continue to use it for future batches. When the first fermentation is done, you should be left with a probiotic beverage, that is low in sugar, and uncarbonated. What really turns it into the kombucha we are all used to, is the second fermentation. That is where the flavor and carbonation are added.
How to Know if your kombucha is ready to bottle.
The best tool you have at your disposal for knowing if your kombucha is ready to bottle is your tongue. Feel free to taste your kombucha regularly throughout the 1st fermentation process so you can pick the exact right time to bottle. During the first fermentation, the probiotics are converting sugar into acidic acid, giving kombucha the signature tart flavor. You want to bottle when your kombucha is almost tart enough for your liking. The kombucha will continue to become tarter during the second fermentation but at a slower rate. This means you want to bottle just before your kombucha has the right amount of tartness. Kombucha bottling will take multiple batches and some experimentation to get perfect. Stay patient and enjoy the learning process. Kombucha making is an art.
Picking Your Kombucha Bottle
The most popular choice for brewing kombucha at home is a swing-top bottle. If you get really into the process, kombucha bottling will be apart of your regular routine, so you want to make sure you have the equipment that makes it the easiest and most fun. They are an excellent choice because they can seal tightly again and again after many uses, and are not very expensive to get started. Bucha Belly uses swing-top bottles from Ikea to deliver kombucha to our customers. Please feel free to use what we do for your home-brew! https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/korken-bottle-with-stopper-clear-glass-40227983/
What To Add to the Bottle With Kombucha
When you bottle your kombucha, be sure to remove the SCOBY from the fermentation vessel first with enough of the unflavored kombucha to cover it. Stir the remaining liquid, so that your bottles of kombucha will have consistent kombucha in all of your bottles. For flavoring, be sure to add something with sugar, or simple syrup itself. This gives the yeast enough to eat, so they can produce the CO2 that will carbonate your kombucha. Now for the fun part! You can pick any flavors that tickle intrigue you, or try to copy your favorite flavor that you found at the store. Here are some ideas to get you started, with portions appropriate for a 16oz bottle:
- 4 Fresh raspberries mashed
- 8 Fresh blueberries mashed
- 2.5 Tbls Fresh pineapple juice
- 3 2″x.25″x.25″ sticks of ginger & 1Tbls lemon juice
*Warning: Do not use any fruit juices that contain sulfites! Your kombucha will smell like rotten eggs!
*Be sure to leave 1-2 inches of headspace at the top of the bottle. There needs to be room for CO2 to accumulate, and start forcing its way into the liquid.
Kombucha Bottle Storage
Once you have your bottles of kombucha filled with your brew and whatever flavoring you decided on filled up within 1-2 inches of the top, seal the bottles. Yeast thrives most when in temperatures between 75-80deg Farenheight. Do what you can to keep the bottles in this range, without going over 85deg or you could risk killing the yeast and probiotics in the bottle. The yeast will consume the additional sugar that you added, and producing CO2. This CO2 is trapped in the bottle and will begin forcing itself into the liquid, carbonating it with the light effervescence we all love.
To ensure that you do not build up too much pressure in the bottles, it is smart to “burp” them every 1-2 days. All this requires is to simply open the swing-top bottle for a second, and then re-seal it. It is best to do this over a sink because if the carbonation has built up too much, the kombucha can foam out like a shaken soda can.
Continue waiting and burping your kombucha for a total time of 3-6 days depending on how much carbonation you want in your kombucha.
What if My Kombucha isn’t carbonated enough?
There are 2 major factors that go into how carbonated your kombucha will get, assuming that the yeast is still alive.
First is how much sugar is available for the yeast to convert into CO2. If you think the problem is that there is not enough yeast for the sugar to eat, but don’t want to change your flavor much, add some simple syrup. Simple syrup can be made with a 1:1 ration of sugar and water, bring to a boil while stirring, and then immediately remove from heat. Once it is cooled down, you can add it to your brew to help get your yeast going.
The second major factor is temperature. Try to find a place in your house that is between 75 – 80 deg Farenheight. If none exist, a great option is to put a heating pad into a cupboard with your bottled kombucha. Just be sure that the temp never gets above 85 deg Farenheight or you risk killing all of the probiotics and yeast in your kombucha.
Keeping Bottled Kombucha
Once your kombucha has the right amount of carbonation, it is time to put it in the refrigerator. The yeast and probiotics slow down their activity in cold environments, and this will greatly slow down the fermentation process. Even with refrigeration, it is best to consume the kombucha relatively soon, as you will start to lose probiotic potency gradually after the first 1-2 months.
Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions about brewing!