Q: What can I do to make my kombucha more carbonated?
A: Carbonation is created when yeasts in your kombucha convert sugar into energy, creating CO2 and ethanol in the process. The bacteria in your brew then consume the ethanol, converting it into healthy acids. This process leaves your finished kombucha slightly carbonated, and full of healthy bacteria, enzymes and acids. It’s fermentation at its finest.
While there will always be a moderate amount of carbonation that builds in the initial fermentation, there are a number of things you can do to further increase the C02 (fizz), in both the first and second fermentation.
Try these steps to get your kombucha extra bubbly:
1) Let the first fermentation brew for longer. Allowing your initial brew to ferment for at least 14 days will build up more carbonation and strengthen all of the activity in your brew.
2 ) Fill your kombucha bottles closer to the top. Leaving no more than an inch of space. By reducing the amount of oxygen present in the bottle, more CO2 is dissolved into the kombucha.
3) Increase the sugar content in your second fermentation. Either add fruit or fruit juice into each of your bottles (if you've already tried this and it didn't make it more carbonated, try adding 1 teaspoon sugar to each bottle).
4) Allow the second fermentation to go longer—try 5-6 days. Do note, you should burp the bottles once a day after 4 days of fermenting to keep them from exploding (it's rare, but it can happen). To burp, simply open each bottle slowly to release the CO2, then recap.
5) Your second fermentation should always be at room temperature. As soon as you place a bottle in the refrigerator, fermentation—and therefore, CO2 creation—will cease. If you like your kombucha fizzy, don't place your bottles in the refrigerator until they have reached the carbonation level you prefer.
6) Know that your kombucha will change from brew to brew based on a variety of factors including temperature, the length of brewing, the tea used, etc., and each brew may not always reach the highly carbonated levels of commercial kombucha because commercial breweries add artificial CO2 during bottling.
7) Speaking of adding CO2, if your kombucha seems flat and you want some added fizz in a hurry, you can always add sparkling (soda) water to your kombucha. Or, use an at-home carbonator, such as a Soda Stream, to inject CO2 directly into your kombucha.
Q: I finished brewing my kombucha! How long can it sit in the fridge before it goes bad?
A: You can store kombucha bottled in the fridge for months. Like vinegar, kombucha has a very long shelf life due to the low pH. The shelf life can fluctuate based on various storage variables, but we tend to try and drink up our kombucha within 3 months. However, the fresher your kombucha is, the tastier it will be! So if you want it to always taste fresh, we recommend drinking your kombucha within a month of going into the fridge.
Q: Do I need to sterilize my brewing or bottling jars?
A: No, simply rinse with water and vinegar. You can use soap, but not antibacterial soap. Rinse well before brewing or bottling.
Q: Can I do my second ferment in one big jug then transfer to smaller bottles? I like strainging out the fruit before bottling.
A: If your goal of the second fermentation is to increase the carbonation then it needs to be in air tight bottles. However, if your only goal of the second fermentation is to add various fruit flavors, then you can definitely just combine it all in one big jug, add your fruit flavors, let it sit a few days then strain into bottles and refrigerate.
If you'd like to build carbonation once your flavored booch is in bottles, simply let them sit a room temperature for a few days. Even with the fruit removed, there will be enough residual sucrose in the kombucha that letting the bottles sit at room temperature for a day or two will add carbonation.
Q: There's a big yeast bloom in my brew! Is this safe to drink? Should I strain it out?
A: It's perfectly safe to consume the yeast and scoby bits, although some people choose to strain it out along with fruit/etc during your second fermentation. It all depends on what kind of texture you prefer!
Q: Do I have to do a second fermentation?
A: If you'd rather not do a second fermentation, you can certainly just pop your finished kombucha straight in the refrigerator in its jar and drink as is. Or, you can even keep it at room temperature and pour into a glass over ice when you are in the mood for a drink. It may not be as fizzy or have added flavors, but it will have the same great nutrition and taste.
Q: My jars exploded during my second fermentation! What went wrong?
A: Unfortunately, a bottle exploding is always a danger with doing a second fermentation. It's rather uncommon but it can happen.
Carbonation is created in a second fermentation when the yeast in your kombucha eats up the sucrose (sugar from the fruit you add) and turns it into Co2 and alcohol. The bacteria then converts the alcohol into acids. If your bottle exploded, typically it means there was one of four problems:
1) You added just a bit too much fruit juice/sugar into the bottle
2) The bottle was sitting at too warm of a temperature (over 78 degrees) so the second fermentation happened too quickly
3) You let it sit for too many days
4) The bottles are poor quality glass-- if you believe this may be the problem, our bottles are all thoroughly tested and high quality so check them out!
Q: I have gunk stuck on the sides of my bottles that I can't get off. What should I do?
A: Use a bottle brush! We have one available for sale in the shop. Also try using baking soda and vinegar. Let the bottles soak in warm water and vinegar, add baking soda and use a bottle brush to scrub off any stuborn residue.
Q: For my second fermentation, I put fruit in with my kombucha and left the jars in the refrigerator. Now there seems to be little cultures growing around the fruit. Should i have taken the fruit out?
A: It's totally fine to leave the fruit in the bottles and place them in the refrigerator. It's very normal for new cultures to grow up during the second fermentation. That is all that yeast and bacteria goodness in the your kombucha continuing to ferment -- kombucha cultures will always continue to reproduce even in the cold temps of the refrigerator. That's the power of living cultures!
You can always strain out the fruit/tiny cultures should you wish. Some folks prefer to-- it just depends on what kind of texture you like.
Q: I'm doing a second fermentation and there's mold growing at the bottom of my bottle!
A: It's not mold, its yeast! Yeast likes to settle on the bottom of kombucha bottles. Mold can only grow when exposed to oxygen on the outsides of food (i.e. bread, cheese) so that is where mold would grow on kombucha as well - on the top of your scoby during the first fermentation, not in your bottle during the second fermentation.
If you're ever unsure with anything, please email us any questions with a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll give it a look!
Q: My first batch has been brewing for ten days and it tasted good to me. I started filling my bottles when I realized I had not tested the pH. Will this be harmful to drink?
A: It shouldn't be harmful to drink - if your kombucha looks, smells and tastes good, then it is good. Our tongues are our most useful instrument when brewing kombucha. pH strips are provided as a teaching tool and a "just in case" measure for if folks feel unsure about their booch.