Kombucha: Bottling, Second-Fermentation, and Flavoring

image from Autoimmune Paleo

image from Autoimmune Paleo

Yesterday, we learned how to brew Kombucha together. That was a lot of fun. Now, round two.

Once your Kombucha is finished brewing (1-2 weeks) and the sweetness/vinegar level tastes good to you, you're ready to bottle, second-ferment, and flavor.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Air-tight swing-top bottles. I use these ones here.
  • Funnel if your glass jug doesn't have a spigot (HINT: I highly recommend a spigot)
  • Vinegar
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Jar or bowl to temporarily store your SCOBY
  • Flavors. For example, candied ginger, fresh berries, frozen or fresh fruit, fruit juice, etc.

Let's get started. Go grab your Kombucha from wherever you've stored it and head to the kitchen. I'll meet you there.

Takes 20-30 minutes.

  1. With vinegar, clean your hands, the wooden spoon, the counter space, and the jar/bowl to store your SCOBY in.
  2. Start your next batch by boiling 2 cups of water. While you're bottling the finished batch of Kombucha, you can start your next batch at the same time. Boil the water as you bottle, and throw your tea/sugar into the pot when it's hot enough. While you're bottling, the water will be cooling, and by the time you're done, you'll already be halfway through the process of making batch #2. #multitasking
  3. Remove the cloth and rubber band.
  4. With vinegar-cleaned hands, Remove SCOBYs (the mama and the new baby) from the jug and place in a jar for temporary storage. 
  5. With the spigot or a funnel, pour 1-2 cups of your Home-Brewed Kombucha into the jar where your SCOBY is resting. You'll use this for your next batch.
  6. If you want to flavor your Kombucha, add fruit/juice or any other flavorings to individual bottles. You can use ginger, berries, fruit juice, frozen fruit, etc. Get crafty. Feel free. There's a lot of flavored recipes out there, and it all tastes great. I honestly prefer unflavored, original Kombucha, but it's all about finding what you love best. 
  7. Pour Kombucha into swing-top bottles. If your jug has a spigot, you can just pour it directly into the bottles from here. If not, use a funnel to pour the Kombucha without making a big mess.
    Important: Be sure to top-off the bottles. You want to leave as little air-space at the top as possible. Your bottled Kombucha will continue to ferment, and if there is a lot of room at the top, gasses will build up and your bottles can explode.

That's it! You've now bottled your first batch of Kombucha, and the second-fermentation process has already begun.

But wait, what is second-fermentation?

Glad you asked. Second-fermentation is the best part because that's where all of your fizzies come from. It's likely that your jug-brewed Kombucha has a little bit of a sparkle, but if you're looking for a nose-tingling beverage, second-fermentation is where it's at.

Basically, once the Kombucha is bottled, it continues to ferment. This time, it is brewing in an air-tight space, so the gasses cannot escape. Hence, the fizz.

There are some important things to note about second-fermentation though, so listen up.

  1. Fill your bottles up as much as you can. Like I said before, leaving too much air in your bottles can result in explosions of bacteria and shards of glass. Yikes.
  2. Burp your bottles. I'm super paranoid about explosions, so I burp my bottles once a day. I've read that you can do it every couple of days, but I'm not that brave yet. Burping your bottles essentially means: "Open the cap for a second to let the gasses out and then close the cap again".
  3. Store your bottles in a closed-space for 2-4 days. I keep mine in their own separate cabinet just in case one of them ever exploded, that way I wouldn't have to clean up a sticky, broken glass-ridden kitchen.
  4. Do not refrigerate until you're happy with the fizz-level. Once you refrigerate, the fermentation process will cease.
  5. Refrigerate once you like the fizz-level to keep your Kombucha cold and bubbly.
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

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A Comprehensive Guide to Brewing Your Own Kombucha