What to Do If Kombucha SCOBY Has Holes In It
Holes in SCOBYs are not necessarily a sign of compromised health within the culture. If your SCOBY is a decent thickness, is firm feeling and not falling apart, then yes – it is totally fine. In fact this is usually a good sign, indicating that there is lots of yeast and bacteria activity and CO2 production is on the go.
Carbon dioxide is responsible for the fizzyness and carbonation in kombucha tea, which gives it its pleasant effervescent quality. A thick SCOBY shows the yeasts and bacteria are growing and increasing the cellulose mat in which they live, and the holes are usually caused by bubbles of carbon dioxide pushing their way through this layer.
However, if the culture is fragile and feeling like it is going to fall apart, or generally weak (for more reading on what SCOBYs should and shouldn’t look like, go to What Does A Healthy Kombucha SCOBY Look Like?) then the bacteria population within the SCOBY is in recline, and the yeasts are dominating the culture.
This is common in warm climates and seasons, and typically is an imbalance which occurs after one has been brewing for some time. If this is the case, and your culture’s bacteria population is taking strain, here are the main methods for encouraging them and suppressing the yeasts a bit.
How to Eliminate Holes in SCOBY
Here are some tips that may result in a SCOBY without holes, given a few batches after you apply these changes
1. Replace Some Sugar With Glucose
Replacing a portion of the sugar which you are using with glucose is a good way to encourage the bacteria. Karo and corn syrup are good sources of glucose, corn syrup being the preferred one.
2. Make Weaker Tea
If you want to promote the bacteria activity within your SCOBY you can also decrease the strength of the tea which you are using to make your initial sweat tea base. However, be sure to use this in conjunction with the replacement of sugar with glucose, as the two methods work together to manipulate the yeasts into supporting the bacteria rather than competing with it.
3. Getting The Temperature Down
Yeasts prefer warm ranges of temperature, while bacteria do better in slightly cooler conditions. If it is summer or you are brewing in a hot climate, try to manage it so that your fermentation is at less that 73o Fahrenheit (22o Celsius). However, don’t store it in the dark, and this can make the microorganisms sluggish.
It is important to ensure that the bacteria and yeasts are in balance with each other, as it is their symbiotic relationship which enables the kombucha fermentation process. One cannot complete its fermentation function without the other, and they need to be supporting each other, and not in competition.
SCOBYs are Tough
The heading says it all. While there are various ways a SCOBY can look, and imbalances which occur within the culture, and optimum conditions and not so optimum conditions, SCOBYs are tough colonies of organisms, and it takes a lot to completely kill one. Smell your brew often, and use this as a check to see that everything is ok, rather than the SCOBYs appearance so much. SCOBYs vary vastly in the way they look, from quite pretty young white ones, so quite gross looking old ones!