How to Brew Kombucha with Powdered Sugar
A guide on how to brew kombucha with powdered sugar.
Are you trying to find out if you can brew kombucha with powdered sugar?
If you were wondering if it is possible to brew kombucha with powdered sugar, then the short answer is yes.
Why You Can Brew Kombucha With Powdered Sugar
Although it might sound unlikely, it is very easy for the SCOBY to brew kombucha made with powdered sugar. The reason for this is that the sugar is just as refined, and more, than white cane sugar. It is pure sucrose, and in a very simple state. SCOBYs find sucrose and simple, refined, sugars easy to feed on and convert into natural acids.
In fact, your SCOBY will probably find powdered sugar easier to work with than other healthier forms of sweetening. Such as raw sugars, date syrup etc.
If You Have Run Out of Regular Sugar, You Can Substitute Powdered Sugar in its Place
So, if you are in the position where you are busy setting up your next batch of kombucha only to find that you have run out of sugar (!), you can absolutely substitute in powdered sugar, instead of racing off to the store.
You may find that there are some minor differences in your fermenting and finished kombucha. But any changes will not be anything serious.
Why You Might Not Want to Brew Kombucha With Powdered Sugar Indefinitely
While it is totally possible to make a successful batch of kombucha using powdered sugar, you might not want to adopt this as a long term brewing plan. Here are the reasons why.
Powdered Sugar Contains Cornstarch
To prevent caking, most brands of powdered sugar contain small amounts of cornstarch. While this will not harm your kombucha or your SCOBY (at least not over the short term, or that we know of), it can leave a fine layer of sediment, or cause a cloudy brew.
On the whole, cornstarch might be acceptable in a once off brew. However on the long term it is not desirable. Besides being unnecessary and a cause of cloudiness and sediment, cornstarch also poses the following dange:
Most Cornstarch is Genetically Modified
As you probably already know, most cornstarch and other corn products produced nowadays are made from genetically modified corn.
If you are a kombucha maker, then it is likely that you are health conscious, informed of the dangers of genetically modified foods, and therefore DO NOT want any in your kombucha!
Powdered Sugar is the Most Processed Sugar
Powdered sugar is even more processed than white granulated cane sugar, and as such is a very unhealthy form of sugar. To make a once off brew of kombucha with powdered sugar is not going to kill any one. In fact, if you brew your kombucha to a good level of maturity and tartness, most of the original sugar in your kombucha recipe will have been converted away.
There will however always be some residual sugar left, which is why some kombucha brewers are turning to healthier forms of sweetening in their kombucha. We have guides on how to brew with some of these, check them out if you are interested.
1 How to Brew Kombucha with Raw Sugars
2 How to Brew Kombucha with Sugar Cane Juice
3 How to Brew Kombucha with Turbinado Sugar
4 How to Brew Kombucha with Piloncillo Sugar
5 How to Brew Kombucha with Coconut Syrup
6 How to Brew Kombucha with Coconut Palm Sugar
7 How to Brew Kombucha with Date Sugar / Syrup
If you do not feel that it is worth the money to brew your kombucha from these more pricey raw sugars, then by all means use regular sugar. But as regular sugar and powdered sugar are similar in price, stick with the regular granulated sugar rather than consistently brewing your kombucha with powdered sugar.
How Powdered Sugar Will Affect Brewing Time, Flavor and Finished Kombucha
Powdered sugar shouldn’t change your brewing results too much, because it is very similar to refined white sugar, only slightly more processed, and in a powderized form. You may however notice that following:
The brewing time of your kombucha may decrease slightly. This is because the powdered sugar is so easy for the SCOBY to convert. So keep an eye on your kombucha, as you may want to stop the first ferment a day early if it is fermenting at a faster rate. This is to ensure that the finished kombucha is not overly sour for your liking.
Powdered sugar will not alter the flavor of your kombucha if you were brewing with white sugar previously. If you were brewing with a sugar which has more molasses in it, such as brown sugar or a raw sugar, then you may notice that the flavor will decrease in richness as there is no molasses in powdered sugar.
When you harvest your kombucha you may notice a layer of sediment on the bottom of your brewing vessel from any cornstarch which was in the powdered sugar. If you do not want this in your kombucha, then you can try to pour out the clear kombucha, leaving the bottom bit of kombucha as undisturbed as possible. Leave the sediment behind to be thrown out.
If at the point of harvest, your brewing vessel has been moved quite a bit, then this could disturb this sediment and cause it to cloud up your kombucha. To try and avoid getting it in your final bottled kombucha, you must allow the brewing vessel to stand undisturbed for a while until the sediment has collected on the bottom again.
How to Substitute in Powdered Sugar Into Your Kombucha Recipe
Because powdered sugar is very easy for the SCOBY to process, making a batch using it in place of regular granulated sugar is pretty straight forwards.
The only main thing you will need to do differently is to adjust the volume used, because powdered sugar and granulated sugars have different densities.
Use 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar for every cup of granulated sugar:
Powdered sugar has a much lower density than granulated sugar. This means that to get the same amount of sucrose into your kombucha, you will need to add in more of the powdered sugar then you would usually use of your regular granulated sugar.
For every cup of granulated sugar that you would usually use in your kombucha, you must use 1 3/4 cups of powdered sugar.
The standard recipe for kombucha is 1 cup of sugar to 1 gallon of tea.
Once you have measured out how much powdered sugar you will need, all you have to do is make your kombucha as usual. Boil the water, steep your tea and add the sugar. Let the whole lot cool right down to room temperature and assemble your ferment. : )
If you have never made kombucha before, check out our full guide here.
When You add the Powdered Sugar to the Tea it Might Fizz
A word of warning – if your tea is still hot when you add in the powdered sugar, the whole lot will probably fizz a bit when you pour the sugar in. This is normal.
Keep an Eye on Your Kombucha While it is Fermenting
Once you have set up your kombucha and it is fermenting, keep an eye on it. It is always a good idea to check in on your kombucha while it is fermenting, that way you will notice any changes in brewing rate early, and be able to stop you kombucha if it has reached maturity faster than expected.
In the case of kombucha made with powdered sugar, this is doubly important. As mentioned above, the powdered sugar might cause your kombucha to ferment at a slightly faster rate than usual. If this is the case, then you will want to be in the know. So that you can harvest your kombucha before it gets too sour.
Most people like to do second ferments. If you also do second ferments (or want to start), then it is usually preferable to stop your kombucha earlier rather than later. This way the fermentation can continue in the second ferment without over souring your batch.
As you can see, it is absolutely possible to brew kombucha using powdered sugar in place of granulated sugar. It is easy to do, and won’t affect your brew much at all.
So, if you were stuck at home wanting to make kombucha but all out of regular sugar – then you have your answer. You can use that powdered sugar that is sitting in your cupboard in your booch. All you need to do is substitute it into your kombucha recipe in a 1:1.75 ratio of granulated to powdered sugar.
However, if you were thinking of brewing kombucha using powdered sugar on a long term basis, I would advise against it. Powdered sugar is heavily processed. It also contains cornstarch which (especially if it is genetically modified) one does not really want in one’s kombucha.
So for long term brewing stick to your granulated sugar. But for a quick fix – powdered sugar is an workable kombucha ingredient.