How To Remove the Baby SCOBY From The Mother
A healthy SCOBY mother is a very fertile creature. Every time you use a SCOBY mother to make a container of kombucha tea, a new baby SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) will be born. If you brew two batches of kombucha tea every month, that means you’ll end up with two dozen new SCOBYs by the end of the year. What’s more, since every baby SCOBY grows up to be a mother, each of those SCOBYs will be producing a new baby, and each of those babies will grow up to be a mother … if you’re not careful, you could find your kitchen overrun with SCOBYs!
The process isn’t really that out of control, though. By keeping track of the signs of a healthy SCOBY you’ll know when it’s time to get rid of a SCOBY that is past its prime, which will cut down on the numbers. You can also put SCOBYs in storage to slow down their growth rate. You can use your extra SCOBYs to make a nutritious compost for your garden. And of course you can give away your extra SCOBYs to your friends and relatives, so that they can start making home-brewed kombucha themselves.
When to Separate the SCOBY
Healthy, active SCOBYs are ready to be separated when the new “baby” layers at the top have reached a total thickness of about 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The “mother” SCOBY will continue to create new babies as you use it to make more kombucha. Make sure there’s at least a half inch left on the mother SCOBY, so that you don’t weaken it unnecessarily.
Use Clean Hands to Separate the SCOBY
Remove all jewelry from your hands, scrub under your fingernails, and wash your hands well before you handle the SCOBY. Make sure there’s no soap scum on your hands, and be sure to avoid using any kind of anti-bacterial soap or hand wash. The SCOBY is made up of bacteria, after all, and you want to keep them alive and healthy. However, you need to clean your hands thoroughly so that you don’t accidentally introduce any contaminants, especially onto the younger more fragile baby SCOBY.
Carefully Separate the SCOBY Layers
You should be able to peel off the top layers of the SCOBY that are the collection of baby SCOBYs, and in general they’ll come off in one piece. Don’t worry if they tear a little bit, or if they stretch and get a few holes. The colony will repair itself quickly.
If the layers aren’t separating easily, you can use a clean sharp stainless steel knife to carefully cut between the layers where they’re stuck together. Again, be sure that there is no soap residue on the knife that might harm the colony. If you’re not sure whether your knife is free of soap, try rinsing it in distilled white vinegar.
Put the Baby SCOBY Into Nutrient Liquid
The SCOBY needs to be protected from contamination and provided with a source of nutrition. You can do this by using the baby SCOBY to start another batch of kombucha tea, or by putting the baby SCOBY in a SCOBY hotel and adding some fresh sweetened tea to the container.