What to Do If My Kombucha is Brewing Too Fast
Think your kombucha is brewing too fast and not sure what to do? Check out this post to find out how fast is too fast, and what to do.
We all want our kombucha get a move on and yield up some ready to drink booch. However there is such as thing as kombucha which brews too fast.
If you suspect that your kombucha is brewing too fast, then there some steps which you can take to slow down the fermentation process. However before we get into that, lefts take a look at what constitutes an overly fast ferment, and why fast ferments are not ideal.
How Fast is Too Fast?
Kombucha can take roughly anywhere between 5 days and 3 weeks to mature. This time frame is dependant on temperatures and also on how weak or strong you like your kombucha. Some people only ferment their kombucha for a couple of days, as they like it sweet and mild. On the other side of the spectrum, kombucha can be left to ferment almost indefinitely to make kombucha vinegar.
However if you are aiming to make a kombucha with a medium level of maturity, then here is a guide as to what the minimum fermentation time should be.
Minimum Fermentation Time for Kombucha – 5 days
To achieve a good flavor profile which is not sharp and flat, you should brew your kombucha for at least five days, depending on what the temperature is where you and your kombucha are. If your kombucha is prematurely souring before this, then you need to look into slowing down the ferment.
Why Overly Fast Matured Kombucha is Not Good
Sharp & Flavorless Batches
As mentioned above, kombucha batches which sour prematurely are usually sharp in taste, and without any depth of flavor. This of course is not desirable, especially if you have gone to lengths to use nice tea and perhaps even a special ingredient such as honey or maple syrup as the sweetener.
Reduced Probiotic Qualities
The other thing which makes over fast fermenting in kombucha undesirable is the fact that such a short fermentation time is thought to produce fewer strains of probiotics as opposed to a longer ferment.
That said, there is a bit of conflicting info on this topic. Some sources state that kombucha has most of its probiotics present within the first few days, while other people feel that kombucha should be left for as long as possible for the probiotic strains to build up. Personally I believe that a middle ground fermentation time is probably where the most strains of live microbes are found.
3 Ways to Slow Down Fast Fermenting Kombucha
So, if you have established that your kombucha is in fact maturing too fast, and that you do not want prematurely soured booch, then here are some steps you can take to slow down the brewing cycle.
# 1 Lower the Temperature
A primary reason for fast ferments is often high temperatures. The hotter the weather, the faster your kombucha will ferment. This is fine to a point, however if the temperature stays above roughly 86 degrees for any length of time then you will probably find that this will cause your ferments to mature too quickly.
Find a Naturally Cooler Brewing Spot
If the temps are a bit high for your kombucha and you think that this is what is causing the problem, then the first thing to do is look for a cooler brewing spot in your house. Sometimes this can be as simple as a nice cool room at the back of the house.
Stone surfaces often tend to retain coolness, as do tiles. So if you can find a spot on a stone or tile floor that is out of the way and very clean, this might also do the trick.
If neither of these types of spots are cool enough, then you can try this hack:
- Find a container which is broader than your fermentation vessel, and roughly as tall.
- Place the bottle of brewing kombucha into it, and fill up the remaining space with water.
- Keep this water topped up.
The evaporating water will lower the temperature of the remaining water and with that your kombucha. If you have a thermometer handy, then check the temperature of the kombucha to see how much it has dropped.
Cooler Box + Ice
If the water bath tip is not sufficient to bring down the temperature of your kombucha enough to get it under 86 degrees, you can try this cooling method:
- Find a cooler box and freeze some ice packs.
- Once the ice packs are frozen (you can also use plastic bottles filled with water), pack them into the cooler box, leaving a space for the bottle of kombucha.
- Place the kombucha into the icebox, but take care that the ice packs do not come into direct contact with the bottle of brewing kombucha. This can cause uneven temperatures within the brewing container, something that the kombucha does not like.
- Close the lid, but either leave it very slightly cracked, or seal it it and open every 6 hours or so as the SCOBY might need new oxygen.
- Refreeze ice packs when defrosted.
If you are going to be having to implement this for some time until temperatures drop, you might want to have a double batch of ice packs going, so that one lot can be freezing, while the other lot is keeping the SCOBY and kombucha cool.
# 2 Reduce the Yeast Count
Another factor which can cause overly fast ferments is an over population of yeasts. This is pretty easy to spot. If you can see a lot of brown strings hanging off of the SCOBY, as well as a lot of brown sediment -then you got some yeast action going on.
Yeasts are a vital component of kombucha’s microbial makeup. However if the balance between the yeasts and the bacteria is thrown out this can cause brewing problems.
So, if you are experiencing prematurely sour brews, and you can see a lot of yeasts strings, here are two ways to reduce these.
Pull off the Brown Strings
Manually pull off the brown strings which are attached to the SCOBY. This will effectively lower the yeast population in your next brew considerably. Some brewers go so far as to wash to SCOBY – however this can cause too much of the yeasts to be lost. Too few yeasts is also not ideal, so unless the yeasts are very overgrown, it might be best to avoid washing.
Use Starter Liquid From the Top
When putting your next ferment together, make sure that the starter liquid which you are incorporating comes from the top of what ever container it is in. The reason for this is that the free floating yeast sediment usually tends to drift down to the bottom. Taking starter liquid from the top means that your are avoiding this additional concentration of yeasts.
# 3 Check Your Sugar:Tea Ration
Lastly make sure that the sugar to tea ratio which you are using is the standard 1 cup of sugar to 1 gallon of tea. This is important, if the sugar amount is out by too much it can cause the yeasts to go into overdrive.
So, if your fermenting kombucha is on fast track – and you need to slow things down a tad, try out the above methods. Once you get a hang of what causes overly fast fermenting kombucha, the next time this happens you will already know what factors to look for.
Are the temperatures high? If so try to get the temp of your brewing kombucha down.
Are the yeasts multiplying like crazy? If so remove some of the strings and use less yeasty starter liquid.
Lastly – check that sugar quantity.
If you are still having problems, give us a shout in the comments and perhaps we can solve the case together. ; P