Moldy Kombucha

I could have cried when I went to taste my kombucha last week and discovered mold floating on top.  We had made two previous successful batches in quart-sized jars, so we got a little crazy and brewed up a whole gallon.  Unfortunately, after about two weeks, the baby SCOBY floating on top had a blueish-green tinge to it, and the liquid tasted off.  Once I jiggled things around a bit, I noticed a small spot of mold floating by itself.  It just about killed me, but I dumped the whole batch down the drain, mother culture and all.  Better safe than sorry.

The large blob on the right is the baby SCOBY. Before I started fiddling with it, it had a greenish-blue cast.

Although I had followed the instructions to the tee and used only quality organic ingredients, something had obviously gone wrong.  After a few minutes of internet research, I identified my mistakes:

  1. Keeping the kombucha in the kitchen  – Kombucha is a food; it seemed to make sense to keep it in the kitchen.  According to Organic-Kombucha.com, the kitchen is actually the worst place to brew kombucha due to the food particles, yeasts, molds and other bacteria floating around.
  2. Not maintaining the proper temperature – In the winter, we keep our home at a balmy 63-65 degrees, nowhere near the 75-85 degrees recommended for ideal fermentation.  To keep the kombucha warmer, I placed it on the countertop near the stove (see mistake #1).
  3. Using an old jar with a spout – The only gallon-sized jar in our house has a tap on it (the kind where you push the button in and liquid comes out).  I washed the jar well and figured it would be fine.  Now I suspect that the plastic spout may have harbored unwanted bacteria.

Before I try my hand at kombucha again, I plan to track down a few gallon-sized jars that I can easily sterilize.  I also think I will allow the kombucha to ferment in our spare bedroom.  I need to check the temperature, but I’ve noticed that it stays much warmer in there, probably because it’s upstairs and the door is usually closed.

I have to admit that I get really frustrated with all of this sometimes.  Making traditional foods sounds like it should be easy.  I mean, people were making yogurt, cheese, saurkraut, and kombucha long before thermometers, refrigerators and basic sanitation practices.  Why is it so difficult for me to get good results?  I should add that I also had to dump an entire half gallon batch of yogurt last week because it was sour.  I think I tried to re-use my culture one too many times.

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One Response to Moldy Kombucha

  1. Never mind! Give it another try. Kitchen bloopers can be taxing. Do drop by my space to check out my savoury tartlets, I’d love to hear from you. And happy new year!

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