My first batch of kombucha-fermented cider turned out pretty well, to the point of sparking interest from my kids, so I quickly made another batch. This was largely the same as the first time around, this time remembering to have the heat on the whole time (as the first batch was intended). There was also a small procedural difference: since the first batch ended up over-fermented, I was careful to check pH and flavor every two days.
I started simply by combining 1 gallon of pasteurized cider and a scoby. I used the same scoby as the previous batch.
- 14 days: pH 4.0, maybe 4.2. Despite the fact that the acidity is at (or close to being at) the point where I was planning to bottle this, it still tastes very sweet and simple.
- 19 days: pH 3.6. It’s starting to taste relatively neutral. There’s some sweetness, but not really any tartness yet. The heady aroma is now present. I gave my daughter 2 oz or so with supper tonight and she said “it was good”, so I bottled three quarts and left the rest to go a little longer.
The flavors didn’t change as much with refrigeration as it does with normal kombucha. The main change seemed to be that the odd heady aroma is gone, and a balancing tartness appeared.
Plain is great! My brother thought it was nicer than the first batch, and I think it’s cleaner and more balanced, while still reasonably complex.
I added a few drops of blackstrap molasses to a small sample of plain cider and it was pretty good, so I added 1 tsp of molasses to 8 oz as a larger experiment, and let it rest in the fridge for a day. This is also well-received, but has a clear molasses flavor. Half as much fills out the cider flavor a bit, so somewhere in the middle may be the happy medium for a cider that isn’t overtly molasses-flavored. Perhaps it could be a decent addition to all future cider.
21 days: pH 3.6. Maybe slightly less sweet and slightly more sour… It’s very similar to what I bottled two days prior, but since the 2-day younger bottles seemed perfect, and I want to maximize the amount my daughter will drink, I decided to bottle this. As the bottom of the jar, it contains a lot more of the apple cider solids than the others, so I ran it through a paper filter. I added a bag of True Blueberry tea, and it smelled good, but the flavor didn’t work so well, and was a bit harsh. The girls thought it had an unpleasant aftertaste. It’s possible that this was due to two extra days fermenting, and not due to the blueberry, but I suspect the ingredients in the tea that come before blueberry (hibiscus, rosehips, orange peel). I’ve picked up a different variety of blueberry tea to try in a future batch.
I’ve started batch 3 with a fresh gallon of cider. Because the sweet/sour balance of batch 2 seemed perfect, I didn’t add the initial acid I had planned. Instead I added 1/4 tsp of powered chestnut tannin.