Okay so you’ve been making your own homemade kombucha but now you want to take a break from the continued brew? Let me show you how to store the SCOBY for up to six weeks and then just some minor maintenance once a month.
What is a SCOBY?
SCOBY stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and it is a living organism.
Like every living thing, if you want to keep a healthy SCOBY you will need to “feed” it regularly.
There are may different opinions on the internet about how to store SCOBY for longer periods of time. I will give you my best advise of what I have tried in the last three years that I have been brewing my own kombucha here at home.
Start a SCOBY Hotel
The easiest way to keep a SCOBY in hibernation if you will, is to start a SCOBY hotel.
Every time you make a new batch of kombucha tea, the active yeasts the SCOBY feeds on during the fermentation process makes it so it doubles in size making a new layer. These are new SCOBYS.
About every other time you make a new batch of kombucha, you will want to separate the mother SCOBY from the new baby SCOBY.
The reason you want to keep separating them is because if it grows too big it will keep any oxygen from reaching the kombucha brew and you don’t want that to happen.
So wether you need a place to keep the new baby SCOBYS or you just need a break from continued brewing, making a SCOBY hotel gives you a place to keep them alive while you take a break from kombucha fermentation.
How to Make a SCOBY Hotel
This is my preferred SCOBY storage method.
- Start by making a regular batch of fresh sweet tea. Bring four cups of water to boil, add the three tablespoons of black tea and the one cup of sugar. When the tea is all done, transfer the tea to the hotel jar you will be using. You will want to use a one gallon glass clean jar. A wide mouth jar is best.
- Fill 3/4 full of cold filtered water and wait for it to come to room temperature.
- Once it’s not hot at all anymore, add the starter culture liquid from a previous kombucha batch and with clean hands place your current SCOBY or any extra SCOBYS you may have inside the container.
Cover it with a cotton cloth and secure with a rubber band.
Keep the SCOBY hotel away from direct sunlight in a cool dark place in your kitchen or in the pantry.
RELATED: Watermelon Kombucha recipe
How to Maintain the SCOBYS in the SCOBY Hotel
Once you have SCOBYS living in a SCOBY hotel you can leave them alone for 4-6 weeks at a time.
Every six weeks you will want to take out 3/4 of the kombucha vinegar (because that’s what it turns into) and fill it the rest of the way again with more fresh sugar tea just like the one you originally made for the SCOBY hotel, but make sure it has cooled down. By doing this you will keep them happy and fed for another six weeks.
The most important thing for you to remember in this process is to always leave enough liquid in the hotel jar (about one cup). That will be the starter liquid.
The SCOBY hotel needs starter liquid the same as when you are starting a brand new batch of kombucha.
Why you Should Keep SCOBYS in a SCOBY Hotel
There are several reasons why keeping a SCOBY hotel is a good idea if you like fermenting kombucha on a regular basis:
- With proper care you can take a break from the continued brewing process.
- You will ensure you have backup SCOBYS in case something happens to your current SCOBY. Like if it grows mold or it gets fruit flies, or it dies from malnutrition….remember it is a living culture!
- And there’s also the added benefit that you will always have something to use in place of vinegar for salad dressings or homemade mayo if you run out of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The raw kombucha liquid you discard every six weeks will have a very strong vinegar taste so it works as a perfect vinegar substitute.
- You can give them away as gifts to other kombucha lovers.
How to Store SCOBY
Other Ways for How to Store SCOBY
I myself have not tried any other ways of storing SCOBYS because the SCOBY hotel has worked so well for me.
But I do know there are other ways of storing SCOBY if you need to take a longer break in between brews. I know six week intervals might not seem like a very long time to a lot of people.
Other ways of storing SCOBY long term include:
- keeping it in the fridge inside a sealed container
- dehydrated SCOBY
- freezing SCOBY
Feedback from the online community on how effective these other ways of storing SCOBY is a bit mixed.
But if you want to check out ways of storing SCOBYS for longer than six weeks I recommend checking out the cultures for health blog.
What to do With Extra SCOBYS
Okay so you started your SCOBY hotel and now you have more SCOBYS than you know what to do with!
Here’s a few things you can do with extra SCOBYS:
- If you are brave enough to try (I’m not yet!) you can eat raw SCOBY or you can incorporate it into different recipes. Culturedfoodlife.com has a great list of recipes that use SCOBY if you want to check them out.
- Feed it to your chickens.
- Chop them up and put them in your soil when you’re preparing your garden beds leading up to spring planting. This is what I will be doing this year.
How to Store SCOBY Closing Thoughts
If all this seems like it’s too much time spent on trying to keep SCOBYS alive, you can always just start from scratch again and buy a new kombucha starter kit. They are fairly inexpensive and you get a new baby SCOBY with the starter tea already included.
I would recommend going that route if you need to take a break from making kombucha that will last a few months. You can usually buy these starter kits for around $20 on the cultures for health website or $14 on amazon.
If you have other kombucha questions read my blog post where I answer all the most asked kombucha questions I receive.
If you still have questions after reading these posts then make sure to ask away in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer just as soon as I can.
I hope this how to store SCOBY post was helpful to you!
Now go make yourself a happy little SCOBY hotel or a new batch of kombucha tea. Happy brewing!