Can You Add Sugar to Kombucha If You Forget It
We have all been there. You have set up your kombucha.... and suddenly realize that the sugar is missing! If you are in this situation right now, don't stress. Because in this guide we have you covered on what to do.
Making kombucha is simple. But, the first time you make it, you may make a mistake here or there. Like forgetting to add the sugar! Fortunately kombucha and the kombucha SCOBY are quite forgiving, and there are ways to rectify this.
And, just to get things straight here, even if you are a seasoned kombucha making pro – there are still times when one forgets the sugar. So no biggie.
The question is of course, what to do if you have forgotten to add the sugar to your kombucha. Can you still add it in? If so, how long after is it okay to still add in the sugar? Will the kombucha be different?
In this post we are going to answer these burning questions, and give you the choice between two ways to add in sugar during fermentation.
Yes You Can Add the Sugar If You Forget It
To start off with, if you have forgotten the sugar in your kombucha recipe, you can totally add it in. So in the event that you made your tea, cooled it, added the SCOBY, and then realized that you omitted the sugar, you can still add it in.
You may find that the sugar does not dissolve as well as if you had added it when the tea was hot and freshly brewed. Sugar dissolves best in hot water as opposed to cold water. However it will still dissolve, you may just have to be patient and stir a lot.
How to Add Sugar to Kombucha If You Have Forgotten It
The way to go about adding that sugar in to your already setup batch of booch is simple. All you gotta do is remove the SCOBY. Set it on a plate. Then scoop in the appropriate quantity of sugar for the amount of tea. Take a wooden spoon and stir until you see that all of the sugar has dissolved. As mentioned, this may take a little while because of the tea being cold. But with a little patience and lots of stirring you will be able to get all of the sugar dissolved.
Now simply replace your SCOBY, place the cover back on top, and leave to brew. Easy!
But what if you have forgotten the sugar and it is already day two or three?
Can You Add Sugar to Kombucha After 2 or 3 Days of Fermenting?
Maybe you were not so quick to realize your omission of the sugar in your batch of kombucha. Maybe it is already day two or three of fermentation, and you suddenly realize that there is no sugar in that booch.
If this is the case, things are a little more tricky than in the first scenario.
If the SCOBY does not have any sugar to feed on, it will stall and little to no fermentation will happen. So if you are on day 2 or 3 with no sugar, chances are that no fermentation has taken place.
At this point, you can try adding in the sugar as explained above.
If you have incorporated enough starter liquid into your batch, then everything should be fine. The SCOBY might take a day or two to shake itself out of its hibernation mode. However once it does that fermentation should take off. The main difference will be that your kombucha will be delayed by roughly 4-5 days. Thanks to the period with no sugar, and then the recovery time for the SCOBY to kick into brewing gear. So be sure to delay your harvesting day to accommodate this.
If you see that bubbles are forming in the kombucha, and it is developing a tart smell, then all is well.
There is however a chance that all will not go well, if the kombucha has been brewing for a number of days without sugar. Firstly, if it is very hot in your area, this can cause the tea to go off. With sugar present the SCOBY would be busy fermenting the tea and protecting it from spoiling. However with no sugar, there won’t be any fermentation and chances of spoilage are higher if the temperatures are very hot.
Also, if you have not added all that much starter liquid, this can also increase the chance of spoilage. Starter liquid is acidic, and acts to protect the brew in the first few initial days against pathogens. If your starter liquid is a little on the measly side, and temperatures are warm, this could cause the standing tea to spoil.
When either of these factors apply, hot weather or minimal starter liquid, smell the tea before adding the sugar. If it smells pleasant, go ahead. However if it smells off in any way, you will need to chuck it out and start again.
But do check beforehand, because if the tea is fine, there is no need to waste it by throwing it out.
Also, if you deem the tea to be okay, and add the sugar, keep a sharp eye on the fermentation. If, as mentioned above, you see bubbles, and smell tart tones, everything should be fine. If these are absent then that means that fermentation is not happening. No fermentation will mean that the batch will spoil at some point or another, the question is just when. So if no fermentation is happening at all, be prepared to throw out this batch and start a fresh one.
How to Add Sugar to Kombucha That Has Already Fermented
Besides the above two scenarios, there is a third case where one may need to add in sugar. This is if you have fermented your kombucha, and then realized that you did not add the right amount of sugar in the beginning. Maybe you misread the quantities, or miss measured.
In this case the first thing to do is to check to make sure that the kombucha HAS fermented properly, and has not spoiled. If it spoiled due to too little sugar and a lack of fermentation, then you will need to throw it out.
However, if the kombucha has fermented properly, then it is time to add sugar.
Now if you just add in the sugar, and leave the batch to go on fermenting, it will probably end up being too tart. And if you add in the sugar and harvest it directly, there will be a lot of unfermented sugar hanging around in your booch. This can make the flavor profile flat and sweet. And, you will ingest more unfermented sugar in the kombucha.
A great way to avoid these two scenarios is to do a second ferment without the SCOBY. Second ferments are a great way to improve the quality of your kombucha. They are an awesome brewing practice to get into in general. So if you are not yet familiar with second ferments, take notes, because you may want to implement this for every batch going forward.
Second ferments deepen the flavor of your kombucha. They are a great time to add flavoring ingredients such as fruit. They also allow fermentation to continue, without excessive tartness developing.
Doing a Second Ferment
Second ferments are super simple to set up. All you need to do is remove the SCOBY. Add any extra sugar that you left out. Then pour your kombucha into sealing bottles. Flip-tops work best for this. At this point you can also add in fruit or spices if you want to do extra flavoring. Then simply stand the bottles at room temperature out of the sun for 1 day. The next day, burp the bottles and transfer into the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 1 about week. At this point the kombucha is ready to drink.
This technique works great for adding in extra sugar. It allows the sugar to be processed to some degree. However it keeps tartness levels down for a more palatable booch. And, it increases fizz levels.
We highly recommend that you also try this out for batches where you did not forget any sugar. Second ferments work really well for making kombucha that is store bought quality, with lots of fizz and great flavor.
For and indepth guide on how to do second ferments, check out this post.
As you can see, forgetting to add sugar to your kombucha is generally not a train smash. Because usually one can go ahead and add it, even after the ferment is set up.
However if the tea has spoiled in any way, be sure to chuck it out and start a fresh. Nobody wants mold on their kombucha, or funny smells.
We hope that this guide was helpful in your kombucha crisis, and that you harvest a fantastic batch of booch.
If you have and questions, please hit us up in the comments and we will be happy to help.
Until next time, happy fermenting folks!