A scoby can be seen floating in the pot below. It may look strange, but it will produce a healthy, tasty fermented kombachu tea that is a rich source of probiotics and antioxidants. The color of the scoby will be a lighter shade of the color of the tea in which it is grown.
Is it safe to grow your own scoby? Part of the job of the scoby is to protect the kombucha while it ferments. This means that a jar of kombucha without a scoby is vulnerable to all of the bacteria floating around in the air. It also means that you need to be very vigilant. Make sure the jar and utensils you use are thoroughly cleaned and rinsed of any soap residue before you begin. Keep the growing kombucha covered and away from direct sunlight. Also keep the jar somewhere out of the way so it won't be bumped or disturbed. Wash your hands before touching or handling the scoby. Keep a close eye on the jar. Bubbles, gritty brownish residue, and jelly-like masses are good. Fuzzy black or green moldy spots are not. The liquid in the jar should always have a fresh, tart smell that is slightly vinegary. This odor will become more pronounced as the process progresses. If it smells rancid, cheesy, or otherwise bad, something has gone wrong. You must discard everything and begin the process again.
It's very important to be safe. If you suspect something has gone wrong, definitely get rid of the batch and start over. You need to use your best judgement when growing a scoby if you haven't done it before. It's a fairly unusual process that most people haven't tried. When there's too much doubt, throw it out. If something is wrong, it will only get worse. If it's a normal part of the process, it will even out. The process is more forgiving than it may seem but care and vigilance are necessary.
It takes approximately 2-4 weeks to grow a scoby from scratch. The time may be shorter if your kitchen is warm or longer if your kitchen is cool. In general, try to keep your kombucha at an average room temperature around 70°F. At that temperature, your scoby should be ready in a little over two weeks. For additional tips, click here.
You might want to experiment with any extra scobies you may have to make scoby candy, fruit leather, or jerky. If you don’t like gummy bears, you won't like the candy. It resembles an apple-cider flavored gummy. All you need are your extra scobies and a simple syrup (heat a 50/50 solution of sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved).
For best results, cut the scoby into 1-inch chunks that are 1/2-inch thick. If you have a very thick scoby, you’ll need to slice it into thinner rounds and then cut into chunks. Layer the chunks into a baking dish or bowl, sprinkling with a little sugar as you go. Pour the sugar syrup over the chunks until they are almost completely covered and marinate for 24 hours.
If you own a dehydrator, spread the chunks out on a fruit leather sheet and set to a raw food temperature around 115 degrees. Dehydrate until you’ve got gummy bear texture. Store the finished snacks in a glass jar at room temperature.
If you are using an oven to dehydrate, spread the chunks on a parchment-lined baking sheet and dry at the lowest temperature possible. Be sure to check them frequently.
Ingredients: kombacha scoby and white sugar (do not use any other type of sugar)
- Thoroughly coat the scoby pieces with sugar, using about the same amount of sugar as there are scoby pieces.
- Put the coated scoby into a pot and heat to boiling. Boil for 15 minutes, then cool slightly.
- Pour off extra syrup and spread on parchment paper to cool completely.
Ingredients: Kombucha scoby and raw honey
- Using a sharp knife, cut the scoby into 1-inch chunks.
- Place scoby chunks in a bowl and cover with raw honey; soak for 24 hours.
- Drain and spread on lined dehydrator tray.
- Dehydrate at 110ºF for up to 48 hours or until desired consistency is reached.
Ingredients: Kombucha scoby, maple syrup or honey, filtered water
- Using a sharp knife, cut the SCOBY into 1-inch chunks.
- Place scoby chunks in a bowl and add a liquid mixture of 50% sweetener and 50% water, to cover; soak for 24 hours.
- Drain and spread on lined dehydrator tray or parchment paper. If not using a dehydrator, cover with a cloth to keep pests away.
- Dry at 80-90ºF until desired consistency is reached.
A scoby similar to the one pictured below can be purchased online and at a number of grocery and natural food stores.
These recipes may start with a kombucha scoby mushroom as the base, but the end result is a tasty snack that's a healthier alternative to those made with corn syrup and food additives.
(Photos: top-https://nwferments.com/kombucha-candy; scoby in pot By Rperez0727 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons; close-up of a scoby By Lukas Chin [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons)