How to Test the PH of Kombucha
Are you interested in testing the ph levels of your kombucha? If so, rest easy because testing the Ph level of kombucha is pretty simple. There are a couple of ways you can go about it – and neither are too costly or time consuming.
Besides being simple to do, ph testing is a great practice to incorporate into your kombucha making routine. Let’s have a look why.
Reasons to Test the Ph Level of Your Kombucha
Through its brew cycle, kombucha goes through some rapid changes in terms of Ph. Ph determines the end level of tartness, and it also plays a major role in keeping your kombucha and SCOBY safe from pathogenic microorganisms.
Testing Kombucha Ph At the Start of Fermentation
Testing the ph level of your ready to go kombucha brew is the most useful time at which to test. This is because it is very important to make sure that the starter liquid makes the sweet tea solution acidic enough to protect itself and the SCOBY from invasive organisms. As starter liquid can vary in acidity, sometimes the regular amount is not enough to drop the ph sufficiently for complete protection.
Optimum Ph Level for Starting Kombucha
The optimal ph level for a ready to go kombucha brew is between 4.5 and 4. If the kombucha batch which you have set up reads this at the start of fermentation – then your kombucha is protected from pathogens.
Best Way to Protect Against Mold
Mold is one of the most common pathogenic problems that brewers can encounter. The surest way to protect against it is to monitor and regulate the ph level of your ready to brew kombucha.
Testing Kombucha Ph Before Bottling
If you want to, you can also test the ph of your kombucha before bottling. While you can easily do a taste test of your kombucha to ascertain how sour it is – there is a value in doing a ph test before bottling.
Know Exactly When to Bottle or Do a Second Ferment
What can happen at bottling or before the second ferment is that the one ends up bottling too late, because while the level of tartness is just right at that point, it will continue to increase once bottled. If you are doing a second ferment this is even more pronounced. To compensate brewers usually bottle and/or second ferment slightly early, so as to achieve just the right level of sourness in the final kombucha.
Determining this, particular with changing seasons (which influence the rate of fermentation), can be a tricky process. However if you have a method to test the ph, doing so can take out all of the guess work ,and act as the perfect indication of when to bottle or do a second ferment.
Ideal Ph Level for Finished Kombucha
Unlike the ph level for ready to brew kombucha – the optimum ph level of finished kombucha is up to you. A ph reading of 3 is a common middle ground of ph for finished kombucha. However this is really a personal choice.
Ideal Ph Level for the Second Fermentation
This is also dependant on personal preference. The ph level at which you should do a second ferment is entirely linked to what ph level you want your finished and ready to drink kombucha to be at. Perfecting this can take a little trial and error, but being able to use ph testing to refine your process can be really helpful!
2 Ways to Test for Ph in Kombucha
So, now that we have established how useful ph testing can be in kombucha making, let’s look at how to do it! Below are the two main methods used for testing the ph of kombucha.
# 1 Ph Strips
Ph strips are the most basic way to test ph levels.
Where to Get Them
You can get ph strips from your local chemist, or online from Amazon.
Ph strips are pretty cheap to purchase.
How to Use Them
Ph strips are strips of litmus paper that change color depending on what ph level they are exposed to. They work by being soaked into a solution, and removed at which point they will change color. A color chart provided will show what ph level the different color readings indicate.
- Dip a strip into your kombucha.
- Allow the color to develop.
- As soon as this has happened, refer to the chart provided to ascertain what the reading is.
Ph strips are not the most accurate when it comes to fine levels of testing.
A ph meter is a slightly more sophisticated way to measure ph levels.
Where to Get One
You can purchase a ph meter online, or have a look at your local home brewing store.
Ph meters are more expensive than a packet of ph strips. However if you choose one of reasonable quality it will most probably last for years.
How to Use One
Ph meters can seem complicated to use at first, but once you get the hang of one its quite simple.
- Calibrate the ph meter using the buffer solution.
- Set the reading to 7.
- Wash off the buffer solution.
- Place the meter into your kombucha (you can scoop some into a cup for testing).
- Allow for up to half a minute for an accurate reading to stabilize.
Ph meters give very accurate readings, down to decimal points.
Ph Strip Versus Ph Meter for Kombucha Testing
If you are trying to decided which method to use, take into consideration the following points.
- Good for general testing
- Are not reusable
- Good for accurate testing and readings
- More costly
- Lasts for years (if reasonable quality)
If you are just starting out with kombucha and ph testing, then perhaps go for the strips. If you decide that you want to make ph testing a regular part of your kombucha brewing process – then seriously consider investing in a meter.
As you can see, measuring the ph of kombucha can be very useful. Whether you want to do it for a more controlled end product, or for ensured protection from pathogens – ph testing can take out a lot of guess work. It is particularly useful for those of you who might be wanting to brew kombucha to sell.
Ph strips and meters are easy to get hold of and simple to use. Ph meters can be costly, but the outlay might be worth it if you have decided that you want to do ph tests with every brew. Ph strips are less costly and make for good a product to start out with. They are however not nearly as accurate as meters.
And there you have it! The low down on ph testing. Hopefully this is a help to you, and we wish you all happy and successful brewing!