How to Use Kombucha Vinegar as a Brine
Kombucha vinegar is the term commonly given to extremely sour kombucha, which has matured to a point where it tastes as tart as vinegar. All natural vinegars are produced via a process of fermentation, and many of them have their origins in ‘accidental’ brewing, where some other fermented product such as wine was left overly long and continued to ferment until it became a vinegar.
Therefore, while it might seem that kombucha vinegar is called that merely because it of its extreme sourness, it is actually a true vinegar!
Making Kombucha Vinegar
If you are making kombucha on a regular basis it is inevitable that at some point you will produce some kombucha vinegar. The time it takes for kombucha to become so sour that it can be classified as vinegar depends on the temperature at which it is fermenting. However, one rule of thumb is that open kombucha which has access to oxygen will sour more quickly than kombucha sealed up in a bottle in the cupboard.
So, if you have a jar of kombucha going on your counter which you forgot to keep track of – and when it comes to harvesting you realise that it is as sour as anything, then this means that you have yourself a nice big jar of kombucha vinegar! This might not be what you were aiming for, but don’t pour the whole lot down the sink, because there are quite a lot of uses for some kombucha vinegar.
Storing Kombucha Vinegar
When you realise that you have a large amount of kombucha vinegar on your hands, the first question is where to store it. Now with kombucha vinegar, you do not need to worry about refrigerating it. This is because it is already super sour, and it does not matter if it gets a little bit more sour by being left at room temperature. With regular kombucha, refrigeration is the best way to stop the finished product from fermenting further and becoming sour. However in this case it already is, so no need to take up room in the fridge with a big ‘ol jar of kombucha vinegar.
Bottle it Up
So all you need to do is transfer you kombucha vinegar into a bottle and seal it up. Just make sure that it is a glass bottle, as plastic is not suitable. This is because the acids within the kombucha can eat into the plastic cause a leaching of BPAs and other petrochemical components into the liquid.
Vinegar and Plastic
You might be wondering, well most vinegar from the store comes in plastic bottles… This is correct, and stands as a very good for reason saving your kombucha vinegar for use in the kitchen. It is probably a whole lot better for you than any store bought vinegar, particularly brands which are packaged in plastic bottles.
‘Burping’ Kombucha Vinegar
Usually, when storing kombucha in sealed containers at room temperature it is advisable to burp it every day to release any pressure which is building up. Fortunately with kombucha vinegar this is not necessary as most of the sugars will have been processed by the microbes, and this will prevent carbon dioxide building up. However, just to be safe you can check it periodically. If there is some sugar left in the liquid it could continue to ferment and build up pressure.
How to Use Kombucha Vinegar in a Brine
There are quite a few other uses for kombucha vinegar – just about as many as for ordinary vinegar. One of the most popular culinary uses for kombucha vinegar is in the making of brine and marinades in the place of wine or other vinegars. One of the reasons for this is because it tends to impart complimentary citrus like flavors to meat which is marinaded in it, and acts as a very good tenderiser.
There are endless variations to what kinds of marinades one can make with kombucha. This recipe below is merely a simple one, to which you can add herbs and spices of your choice.
Kombucha Marinade Recipe
This recipe is suitable for any type of meat, and can be particularly useful for softening tough cuts.
What you need
- 1 cup kombucha vinegar
- 3 1/5 quarts of water
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 1/6 cup honey (or 1/5 cup cane sugar)
- Herbs to taste
- Spices to taste
- Glass baking dish in which to marinade
- Saran wrap
Combine all ingredients together and mix well until all salt and honey/sugar is dissolved. Next step is to simply let your meat marinade. Minimum time is four hours, or you can simply let it sit overnight for good flavor and tenderness. If you find that you have made more marinade than you will need for the amount of meat which you need to marinate, then simply refrigerate the remainder in a glass jar for later use.
Important: If you are concerned about the leaching action of the acids in kombucha on plastic containers, make sure that you use a glass baking dish to marinate in. Glass baking dishes are not as convenient as plastic containers as they do not have sealing lids, but one can overcome this by simply covering the top with some saran wrap.
Note on Flavoring
You can play with the sweet and salt quantities, and reduce or increase them slightly according to your personal taste. As far as herbs and spices go, you can add in anything you like. Here are some ideas to get you going.
- Rosemary (can make for a very nice marinade ingredient, but do not use large quantities)
- Sage (use in small quantities)
- Mustard (makes a nice pairing with honey)
- Lemon balm
Marinating With Borderline Kombucha Vinegar
If your kombucha is not yet at that point of sourness where it can be called vinegar, but is still a bit sour for your liking, you can still use it for marinating! This can work well, as the residual sweetness which is left over in the souring kombucha and take the place – or partly – of the sugar or honey.
If you are going to tbe using kombucha which is not quite vinegar yet, you might want to do away with any added water and use straight kombucha. This will ensure that there is still a high enough concentration of acid left to break down some of the tough fibres in the meat to make it nice and tender.
Take into consideration that flavors in your kombucha will make its way into your meat. So if you are making kombucha from flavored teas, or flavoring it after with fruit or spices, this might come through in your dish. Could be nice!
There are lots of uses for kombucha vinegar, both in and out of the kitchen. However using mature kombucha in brines is definitely a popular use, as it can impart really nice flavors. There are so many sources of recipes these days that it can sometimes be difficult to come up with something original. But if you have over fermented your kombucha, and are about to use it in a marinade – you might have just hit on a new favorite!