You're making Kombucha, and it's going great.
But after several batches, suddenly you notice your scoby (the mother culture) has gotten so big and thick it's taking over the jar.
What to do?
Not only can you share the extra with a friend, your Kombucha batches will turn out all the better for it.
On today's #AskWardee I'm showing you how to divide your Kombucha scoby the right way!
The Question: How To Divide A Kombucha Scoby?
Elaine M. asks:
Would you consider talking about how to deal with the Kombucha scoby — it'd help to see how you divide it, etc. I have the continuous brew system and “Mildred” has just about taken over. Shouldn't have named her — now it's hard to think about doing away with a part of her… oh my.
Elaine, you're in a pickle. Those scobys do take over! So let's talk about how to divide them and/or store them.
Mildred will forgive you. 🙂
What's A Scoby? What's Kombucha?
What is a scoby? It stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It's the mother culture that brews your Kombucha — a probiotic, fermented beverage we LOVE!
It's shiny (when wet) and looks a bit weird. Like a sea creature, actually. A round disc-shaped something or other you'd imagine you'd find out deep sea diving. 🙂
It can be smooth or lumpy. Some contain holes and have ragged edges. As long as there's nothing fuzzy on them, black/white/brown/grey specks are normal, too.
And how does brewing Kombucha work? You combine the scoby with sweet tea; the scoby floats to the top and feeds on the sweetener in the tea for a few weeks until you've got a bubbly fermented beverage with beneficial acids and bacteria.
At that point, you pour off the liquid, then start again with more sweet tea. What gets poured off is your finished Kombucha, which you can drink right away or do a second ferment in soda bottles (we do this a lot!).
When To Divide Your Scoby
So what happens with the scoby is… it grows as it makes successive batches of Kombucha.
It grows to fit the shape of the container, which usually means a round disc because Kombucha is most often brewed in round glass jars or ceramic brewers.
And as it floats in your sweet tea, it thickens up, too. New growth appears on top as lighter-colored layers, while the older scoby shifts downward and turns darker orange-brown.
If you don't share some (or create a scoby hotel), you'll soon be overrun.
In this case, if the scoby gets too big (more than 1-inch thick), it's not good for the Kombucha because it's too much scoby for the liquid and the older scoby isn't as good at making Kombucha as the young part.
So… to keep your Kombucha brewing balanced and efficient, I recommend dividing the thick, growing scobys.
Keep the newest growth in the brewing container and share the older part of the culture with friends, your pets, the compost, or put it in your scoby hotel. (I've even heard of people making jerky from their scoby!)
How To Divide Your Scoby
It may look soft, but it's actually got a tough texture. Put a knife to it and you'll find out it doesn't really want to be cut. 😉
You have 2 choices for dividing it.
The first is the easiest and makes the most sense for brewing. Peel off some of the scoby horizontally, so that you're down to a 1-inch or so thick piece. The younger part (the top) stays in your container and the older part (the bottom) gets passed on.
Or, you can cut off a piece — just use a very sharp knife or it will resist. 😉
And that's how to divide your Kombucha scoby.
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- FREE Fermenting Formulas Cheat Sheet
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How do you divide or share Kombucha scobys?
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