How to Bottle Kombucha
When I was a young child, I watched my mother climb a tall ladder and harvest oranges in our backyard. Together, we would enjoy the oranges that had bright, sweet flavors with a note of tartness. As years pass and I’ve grown, I come back to climb that ladder to bring down oranges to share with my mother. When I began to bottle my own kombucha, I experimented with a wide variety of ingredients fresh from that backyard. With every sip I take, I am reminded of the nostalgia of harvesting fruits with my mother. Bottling kombucha is an expressive way to tell your own story in a drink.
When you bottle kombucha, there are flavors and textures created that you would never have been able to experience without the aging. Bottling is an important step that has a big impact on the final taste of the brew. Here is a crash course on how to bottle your own kombucha:
How do I bottle kombucha?
Choose an airtight bottle/jar
Funnel finished kombucha brew into bottle/jar
Add fruits or herbs
Seal the bottle/jar with a cap
Store in a cool place for 1-4 days
Place in refrigerator to stop second fermentation
Which bottles or jars should I use?
The first main step in bottling kombucha is deciding what kind of bottle or jar to use. Here are various options:
EZ Cap Glass Bottles:
If you like your kombucha extra fizzy and carbonated, this type of bottle is ideal. With airtight bottles, less CO2 escapes and thus increases carbonation in the drink. The only time you loosen the cap a bit is when you are making your bottle or jar burp (more on that later).
Old Wine Bottles:
This classy take on bottling can handle the pressure of storing kombucha. Enthusiasts often times go with recycling old liquor bottles with a secure cork to seal them. So in case that it “explodes”, instead of busting the bottle itself, the cork just pops out. Be prepared to clean up the mess though.
Glass Bottles with Screw-On Caps:
As long as the glass bottle is thick and the cap is made of strong steel, then this method will work. Avoid using aluminum or plastic caps. The built up carbonation and level of acidity will deform these caps and can potentially cause them to pop off.
How long do I leave the kombucha out during the bottling period (second fermentation)?
At room temperature (about 65-72°F), the kombucha should be out for at least 24 hours and no more than 4 days. After a day, have a teaspoon of the kombucha to see if the flavors have settled. If the flavors are not strong enough, try again in a day or so. Note: Don’t shake the bottle.This can lead to a fizzy mess.
What flavors should I use?
Fresh fruits and herbs are recommended especially when they are in season. If you want a healthy version of kombucha, lemon and honey are 2 of the first ingredients that come to mind. For a 16 oz. bottle, a good estimate is half a teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice and half a teaspoon of raw honey. Adjust flavoring based on preference. Your taste buds will guide you to a good tasting brew of kombucha made right in your home. For more recipes, check out the link here
How much kombucha do I funnel into the bottle?
Funnel the kombucha into the bottle with a maximum 1 in. headspace. The less space you have, the more carbonation will form. Be sure to burp your bottle!
How can you make your bottles “burp”?
Simply loosen the cap for a couple of seconds, let the air out and tighten the cap again. It lessens chances of getting your bottle popped. To be safe, have the bottles or jars stored in a cupboard or some other place where nobody gets hurt if any of these bottles pop. Mistakes happen along the way, so preventative methods are valuable.
How long does a kombucha brew last before it goes bad?
The longer the kombucha brews, the more acidic it will become. Good news. It does not “go bad”. It just affects the taste of the kombucha brew as the fermentation process continues. You only have to worry once it strays from the flavor that you had in mind.
How can the kombucha brew get more carbonated when bottled?
It comes from the difference in procedure. During the first stage of fermentation, you used a cloth to cover the jar that fermented the kombucha. During the second stage of fermentation, you bottled the kombucha with a tightly sealed cap. The cap, as opposed to the cloth, traps the carbon dioxide found in the kombucha brew. This leads to the delightful fizziness!
How do I stop the second fermentation?
Simply place the bottle in the refrigerator. This will slow the fermentation and prevent significant CO2 buildup.