By: Brew Your Bucha Posted: October 16, 2018 in Kombucha
So you brewed another tasty batch of kombucha and have grown a baby SCOBY as a result. Since it is the result of your hard work, you don't want to just throw it out. But what will you do with it? How long will it keep? Where will you keep it?
Let me introduce to you the SCOBY hotel. It's no 5 star luxurious Vegas hotel. But it will give your SCOBYs a safe place to live before they ultimately find their next use. And many uses there are. So after you have your hotel set up, we will explain to you a few of the many uses of having extra SCOBYs at your disposal.
What is a SCOBY Hotel?
A SCOBY hotel is a name given to a method of storing your kombucha SCOBYs. Since it is difficult to find a use for an extra SCOBY right away, you need to have a way of keeping the SCOBY alive until you figure out what to do with it. To break it down very simply, to make a SCOBY hotel you need to have:
- A glass container large enough to hold the amount of SCOBYs you will keep
- Extra kombucha to keep SCOBYs active and alive
- Extra SCOBYs that need a home
Each time you are done brewing your batch of kombucha and have a baby SCOBY you can place the SCOBY with a cup or two of extra kombucha in to a glass jar. Each time you add a new SCOBY add a bit of kombucha to top it up, to ensure all of them are covered in liquid and do not dry out. Cover the glass jar with a piece of cloth and secure it with an elastic band or piece of string. There is no limit as to how many SCOBYs you add to your hotel, we have seen brewers with upwards of 20-30 SCOBYs in one hotel!
Where do I keep the SCOBY Hotel?
Similar to how you brew kombucha, you want to keep the SCOBY Hotel in a cool, dark and undisturbed place. This could be a cupboard or downstairs in your basement. The cooler the area, the slower the fermentation which can minimize the amount of maintenance you will need to perform on it.
Many people ask if it is okay to store the SCOBY Hotel in the fridge and the answer is highly debated. If you are going to be away for an extended period of time and will not have time to maintain the SCOBY Hotel, then you can consider placing the hotel in the fridge. However, placing it in the fridge sends the bacteria in to a dormant stasis which in the worst case scenario, it does not recover from. Our recommendation is to only keep it in the fridge for a maximum of 1 month, and then immediately perform the SCOBY Hotel maintenance tips recommended below.
On regular basis, we would recommend keeping it outside of the fridge unless deemed necessary.
SCOBY Hotel Maintanence
Just like any hotel needs to having cleaning and maintenance done on a regular basis to keep their guests happy, so too does the SCOBY Hotel. Since SCOBYs are a delicate balance between bacteria and yeast, we have to ensure that this balance is kept over time. Naturally, in the SCOBY hotel which remains highly active from a bacterial standpoint, this balance is altered. With many SCOBYs all contained within one jar, the sweet tea and kombucha will be fermented at a much quicker rate than a regular kombucha brew. Therefore, the maintenance we perform is to keep that balance in check.
You will notice over time that the SCOBY Hotel will do a couple things:
- The liquid levels will reduce due to evaporation
- The yeasts in the hotel will increase - you will notice more brown stringy clumps which indicate yeast
- More baby SCOBYs may continue forming on the top layer
So, here are the things you need to do keep your hotel maintained:
- Every 2 weeks, put aside some extra sweet tea that you are using for your kombucha brew and once it is cool, use it to top up your hotel. Not only will this raise the liquid level that may have evaporated, but it will also provide the hotel with fresh "food" to keep the bacteria active and healthy.
- Every month you should consider cleaning out the entire hotel to remove extra yeast. You do this by sterilizing another jar or plate, place all of the SCOBYS on it. Then you want to strain out all of the liquid with a strainer which will remove the clumps of yeast. Wash out the hotel jar to remove any chunks or sediment of yeast that will likely be stuck on the bottom. Then, put the SCOBYs back in the hotel, put half of the strained liquid back in the jar, and top up the other half with some fresh sweet tea.
- When you notice a baby SCOBY growing on the top of your hotel, once it gets to a certain thickness, you may want to push it down in to the liquid to stop it from growing too thick. Another baby may start growing on top layer of liquid and it is better to have 2 regular sized SCOBYs than one really thick one. This is because it is easier to share one with friends if it is a regular size.
How long will it keep?
If all goes well and you keep to a regular maintenance schedule above the SCOBY Hotel could theoretically last forever. The only time you will encounter problems is if you fail to maintain the hotel, the liquid will evaporate and dry out the SCOBYs, or the yeast will overrun the batch and ruin the bacteria.
WHY DO I NEED A SCOBY HOTEL?
Having a SCOBY Hotel is important for a few reasons. As any brewer will experience at one point, sometimes a bad brew is out of our control. Maybe it was a bad batch of water, tea or sugar, or maybe the circumstances led to high dust or bugs in your home. In any case, you might grow mold in your brew and will have to throw the entire batch out. In this case, it is handy to have a few extra SCOBYs available so that you do not need to go out and buy a new one and can start brewing again right away.
In addition, we find more brewers are wanting to experiment with alternative types of tea. We highly recommend trying new teas to benefit from the diversity of flavor and health contribution. However, in doing so you place your SCOBY at risk when putting it in a new environment. This typically puts the SCOBY in a situation where it has highest chance of something going wrong. Please check out our article regarding making Jun Tea and converting your SCOBY in stages to reduce the risk of a bad brew. If the worst scenario happens and you have to throw that one out, at least you have a few more to experiment with before you ultimately succeed in converting. Note that once you have successfully converted a SCOBY to a different tea or sugar, you should always keep that SCOBY separate from ones using different ingredients.
WHAT CAN I DO WITH EXTRA SCOBYs?
Extra SCOBYs can be very useful if you know what to do with them. We always suggest keeping 2 or 3 reserved in case you have a bad brew and have to throw out an entire batch. Beyond 2 or 3 the world is your oyster. Here are a few ideas for what you can use them for:
Probiotic Boost for your Smoothies
Your SCOBY is loaded with probiotics and can be a great addition to your smoothy recipes. I wouldn't add an entire SCOBY as it will really thicken it up, but a 1/8th or a 1/4 of a SCOBY should work great. If you are proactive with your SCOBY Hotel, you can push down the baby SCOBY when it is very thin and translucent. This way it is already a nice size to throw directly in to the smoothy without having to cut it up.
On top of that, the very thin and translucent SCOBY is actually very nice for eating. In this state it is easy to chew and is very similar in texture to coconut jelly or jelly candies. We have experimented with thin SCOBY deserts and they turn out quite nice and are good for your gut!
Share with Friends or Double Your Brew
The simple way of using extra SCOBYs is to give them to your friends or family along with a tutorial on how to brew kombucha. Since you know how simple and easy it is, it should be easy to pass your knowledge to them. You can check out handyman connection if you need some help. Giving them the gift of kombucha brewing is a wonderful gift because you are promoting good health!
Maybe they don't want to make their own kombucha but they will certainly drink yours. In that case, maybe it is time to start increasing your brew capacity and having an extra SCOBY is a perfect way to get that started quickly. You will need to get another jar and other accessories which you can find in our shop.
Great for Skin Care
SCOBYs can be very beneficial when it comes to keeping your skin fresh and revitalized. Many people have found success using a SCOBY either directly as a face mask, or using a recipe in which the SCOBY is blended and used on a mask. See our article here relating to Kombucha Skin Care.
Make SCOBY Jerky
If you have a nice supply of SCOBYs and you have very little room for new ones, consider making a batch of SCOBY jerky. SCOBYs when eaten have a fleshy chewy texture which works very well as a savory jerky. It's a fantastic way to make a nice vegan friendly jerky or if you are trying to cut back on the cholesterol of a meat based jerky.
We have found that there are many option of the web with their own take on kombucha jerky recipes. So for an example here is one from Yumuniverse which we have tried making ourselves.
Use as a Bandaid
You can cut off small pieces of your SCOBY and place them on a cut or wound. Secure the bit of SCOBY on with bandage wrap and keep on the wound for 5-10 minutes. This will sting a little bit due to the acidic nature of the SCOBY. However, the PH of the culture eliminates the chance for harmful bacteria to grow and create an infection.
Feed to Pets!
You can try feeding the extra SCOBYs to your pets as it is very much safe for them to consume. Place small chunks in their wet food, or dry the SCOBY and feed it to them as jerky. If they will eat it, it is certainly good for their digestive system as well!