Molasses Kombucha

I used blackstrap molasses in place of sugar in this 1 quart micro-batch that’s otherwise normal. Unlike white sugar, molasses contains vitamins and minerals, and I’ve seen it mentioned as a potential additive for kombucha and water kefir. A potential risk is that many vitamins and minerals beneficial within specific bounds, but detrimental above those. For example, magnesium and zinc are each needed for yeast to function, but too much zinc can reduce yeast growth while excess magnesium does not.

  • 5 days: pH 4.4? Judging by pH, this wasn’t any where close to done, so I didn’t taste it. Scoby was thin and irregular. This looked dark, with a 1/2″ layer of lighter sediment at the bottom.
  • 14 days: pH 4.0? The scoby was a few mm thick, dark, and bumpy. The liquid was dark, and opaque. Even with a very bright flashlight, I couldn’t see through it, or even more than 1 cm into it. This made it very difficult to assess the pH using litmus paper. Regardless of the acidity, it tasted sour, and very molassesy.

This isn’t all that good, but is drinkable. It has a strong blackstrap molasses flavor, and seems a bit salty. However, Over the source of a week and a half, the molasses flavor has softened, and it’s become a little better than merely tolerable. It might be interesting to try it again with oats.

To address to the question of “too many nutrients”mentioned in the opening paragraph, the answer seems to be “maybe”. Although this tasted sour, a scoby formed, and otherwise seemed to “work”, the pH was much higher than I’d expect. Perhaps a later experiment with a smaller proportion of molasses would be good. I’ve also discovered that molasses is reported to contain high levels of “Free Amino Nitrogen” (FAN), which means that, like malt extract,  it should be able to serve as the nitrogen source (in place for tea) and the carbon source (in place of sugar) in a kombucha-fermented drink. That’s another experiment I’ll have to try. There’s quite a bit of available information on yeast nutrition that could also be mined for future experiments.


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