What To Do With Extra SCOBYs
At first, it’s like a miracle. Every batch of home-brewed kombucha makes a new SCOBY! You’ll never have to buy another bottle of kombucha at the store! You’ve got lots of SCOBYs to use and share with friends!
Then the reality of this never-ending abundance hits home: your SCOBY hotel is full, your friends are all busy brewing up their own endless supply of kombucha and SCOBYs, and you can’t make enough jars to use all of the fresh kombucha SCOBYs, much less all of the ones that are getting older (and still creating even more SCOBY babies).
Don’t worry – there are ways that you can take advantage of the health benefits of kombucha by recycling your older SCOBYs into delicious food, inexpensive cosmetics, and other useful household items.
Cooking With SCOBYs
A SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast) is completely edible, though you might not think so just by looking at it. In fact, you’re eating part of the SCOBY every time you drink kombucha tea, because a percentage of the yeast and bacteria remains in the tea, even if you use a filter when bottling kombucha. The layers and mats of microorganisms are bound together with cellulose, an organic fiber that can help your digestion. The SCOBY itself usually has very little flavor, so you can blend it in with other ingredients without changing the flavor of a dish. The SCOBY may have a slight laxative effect.
Add a SCOBY to Your Smoothie
Many people add part or all of a SCOBY to their morning smoothie, blending it up with the rest of the ingredients to get a probiotic boost. How much you add will depend on the size of your SCOBY. This is a good way to get the raw food benefits in the SCOBY, though you can also cook with it.
Make a SCOBY Stir-Fry
You might hear people call a SCOBY a “mushroom” – so why not treat it like a mushroom? You can slice up a SCOBY into thin strips and add it to a stir-fry along with sliced fresh vegetables.
Try Jerking SCOBY
You can turn thin layers of SCOBYs into vegan “beef jerky” when you marinate them and dry them. Very thin layers will dry more quickly and evenly, so be sure to divide the SCOBY before putting the layers in the marinade. You can use your favorite marinade recipe, or try this spicy one:
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/3 cup Sriracha or other chili sauce
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
Mix all ingredients together and toss with the SCOBY layers to coat thoroughly, then refrigerate overnight. Put in one layer on the rack of a dehydrator and dry for 3-5 hours at medium-low.
Make SCOBY Candy
Rinse the SCOBY well and peel off any tough outer layers. Cut the SCOBY into cubes. Make a sugar syrup by boiling together equal parts of white sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved, then let it cool. Add the cubed SCOBY and let it soak overnight at room temperature. Remove the cubes of SCOBY and put them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and put in the oven at the lowest possible heat for several hours, or until they have dried. Toss the cubes in powdered sugar and store in an airtight container.
Using SCOBYs in the Garden
The residual acids in the SCOBY help change the pH of your garden soil, and are particularly good for acid-loving fruits and vegetables like parsley, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, blueberries, and strawberries. Azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangea bushes will also benefit from a bit of SCOBY in their compost. You can grind up your extra SCOBYs and put them around the roots of the plants, dig them into the soil before you plant, or add them to your compost heap.
Making SCOBY Health and Beauty Aids
The natural cellulose fibers of the SCOBY can help protect and heal small cuts and burns. The low pH of the SCOBY will help fight off bad bacteria, and the SCOBY will help keep your skin moist. You may want to rinse off the SCOBY with distilled water before using it. Peel off the outer layers and use the cleaner inner layers that are free of excess yeast strands.
If you like making your own face mask or facial scrub, try adding a SCOBY to the blender along with the other ingredients. Be careful not to get any of the mask or scrub in your eyes (just as with any other homemade or purchased facial product).
Blend up a SCOBY with olive oil and lemon juice – no, not for your salad (though you could do that too!) but for your hair. Use it as a conditioning agent for 5-10 minutes after you wash your hair, then rinse your hair well with clean water.
Other Creative SCOBY Ideas
You can use the SCOBY hair treatment on your pets, too. Some people have noticed that their animals have fewer problems with fleas or skin rashes after such treatments.
You can also feed leftover SCOBYs to dogs and cats (blended into their food) and to your backyard chickens. Dehydrated whole SCOBYs make great chew toys for active dogs, too.
If you make handmade soap, try adding a blended SCOBY into the liquid mixture before pouring it into mold.
The cellulose fibers in the SCOBY can also be used as part of the mix for making homemade paper. Blend them up with your other paper scraps and screen and dry the pulp into sheets as you usually do. Since kombucha SCOBYs are helpful in the garden (see above) you can make “ready-to-plant” cards by sprinkling some lettuce seeds on the pulp when it is nearly dry, pressing them in lightly. Send them to your friends with instructions to plant the whole card in their garden for a quick and easy garden-fresh salad mix!