What Type of Brewing Vessel is Best for my Kombucha Culture
Wondering what containers make the best brewing vessels for your SCOBY? Look no further!
Are you about to start making your own kombucha? Yay! It’s so worth it. If you want to know just how worth it it is in monetary terms, check out How to Save $1000 a Year on Kombucha. However making your own kombucha won’t just save you a heap of cash if you are a regular drinker, it will also teach you a lot about fermentation. Not only that – but you get to manipulate the kombucha strength and flavor to exactly fit your tastes. Have I sold you on the idea already?
To get set up, the first things you will need to look at getting hold of a SCOBY and a suitable brewing vessel. For info on reliable places to get a SCOBY, check out this post Best Kombucha Starter Kit Sources. As we have repeatedly mentioned on Kombucha Home, making your own kombucha does not require fancy equipment. You might even have just the right brewing vessel hanging out in the back of a cupboard in your house somewhere.
But it is important to have the right kind of items to brew your kombucha. And of these the brewing vessel is number one. : )
Good Containers to Use For Brewing Vessels
Despite certain preferences in conditions and teas, SCOBY cultures are pretty tough things. They will grow to fit all sort of containers which they might be placed in. However there are some basic criteria with regards to what constitutes a good brewing vessel. Let’s check it out.
The first guideline to keep in mind when it comes to selecting the right brewing vessel is what material is it made out of? As it ferments, kombucha develops natural acids. These acids drop the ph of the brew, to the point where it is possible for the kombucha to eat away microscopically at the walls of whatever container it is in – if it is made out of a reactive material. There are however lot’s of containers which are made out of non-reactive substances such as glass, ceramic and porcelain, which will work just fine for kombucha.
Suitable Materials for Kombucha Brewing Containers
The following materials are suitable for kombucha brewing containers:
- Glass – Glass is non-reactive, and glass jars come in a wide variety of sizes. They are usually inexpensive, and the translucent sides makes it super easy to check at a glance what is going on with your kombucha and SCOBY.
- Ceramic – Ceramic containers are also ok for brewing kombucha in. Check however to make sure that the container you are thinking of using is food grade. Food grade ceramics are coated with non toxic glazes which do not contain lead.
- Earthenware – Earthenware containers are popular with some who say that they produce some of the best tasting kombucha. Once again, the same caution applies as to ceramics, check that the glazing is safe.
Unsuitable Materials for Kombucha Brewing Containers
- Most Metals – most metal containers are not suitable for kombucha brewing containers. The acidity can cause tiny metal particles to leach into your kombucha. Stainless steel is acceptable – but if you can get glass why not just use that instead.
- Plastic – Again, because of the acidity plastics can leach harmful BPAs into your kombucha. Do not use plastic containers for kombucha brewing.
- Crystal – We do not recommend using crystal for trying to brew kombucha, because it can often contain lead.
Size & Dimensions
The next thing to think about is the size and shape of your vessel.
The overall size of your brewing vessel should be suited to how much kombucha you want to make per batch. Remember that if at some point you want to double up, you can always get an additional container. Unless you are looking at getting a continuous brewing system, then the best way to brew more kombucha anyway is to have additional jars, rather than one big one. A massive glass jar or carboy is very difficult to handle.
SCOBYs like to have a decent surface area on which to float. They need to have access to oxygen. For this reason it is best to avoid brewing vessels with narrow necks or mouths. However do not go too far in the other direction e.g. shallow bowl shape.
A massive surface area combined with little volume of kombucha will result in a SCOBY which is too big for the tea it is fermenting. What usually happens in this case is that one gets a ferment which sours too fast and has a ‘flat’ flavor profile. The carbonation is also usually not of good quality.
So stick to dimensions which are middle of the road. Most glass jars are suitable proportioned.
The Best — What I Recommend
So what’s the best brewing vessel exactly?
The bottom line is that I don’t want to overcomplicate things here. Any basic glass jar will work just fine for your first ferment. For your second ferment, I recommend an flip top style bottle, which in my experience, gives a much better second ferment than other jar types.
Both of these bottles can be had for a few bucks each.
If you don’t care about anything fancy (no spigot, no handle) and just want something cheap and easy to use, the Anchor 2.5 Gallon Glass Jar works. And for $19 USD, you can’t complain about the price. This is enough to brew up 2 gallons per batch, which is roughly 2 cups of Konbucha day till the next batch is done in 2 weeks.
If you want something with a spigot and a bit more tailored for Kombucha brewing, then look at the Anchor 2 gallon Heritage Jar with a spigot and replace the plastic spigot with THIS stainless steel one. You’ll be able to siphon off the Kombucha without having to remove the SCOBY/s first which is a time saver.
I recommend this size. These are big enough to store enough Kombucha for you to sip on for a while or share around and it saves you having to fill up and manage a bunch of smaller bottles. With a big batch of Kimbucha (2-3 gallons), you can fill up 6 of these, so a case of 12 should do you good.
As long as you know what to look for, selecting the right brewing container is usually neither hard nor too expensive. Glass jars tend to be all in all the easiest and most practical containers in which to brew kombucha. You can see inside, they are easy to get hold of (you might have some suitable ones already), and they even have lids!
This can be great for making SCOBY hotels, or in case you need to move your kombucha.
Of course there are other options out there, and if you feel the need you can even purchase whole kits from a reputable kombucha SCOBY outlet. If you are thinking of implementing a continuous brewing system, check out this article.
Purchasing a brewing vessel in which your SCOBY will be happy is the first step to brewing great kombucha. So don’t delay! : )