I added 1/4 cup cascade whole cones to the beginning of a typical 1 quart micro-batch of kombucha fermentation. I wanted to see what affect whole hops would have on the fermentation process, and what the hops flavor would be like when added at the beginning rather than at the end.
- 12 days: pH 3.6. I stirred this every few days to maximize the hops extraction and antimicrobial potential. Each day it grew a thin scoby that connected the hop cones floating at the top of the jar (which my stirring broke up).
- 19 days: pH 3.2. The scoby on top kept getting thicker and stronger, probably because I left it alone for 1 week.
The final flavor is a bit more sour than I’d like, but it’s really not too bad. The hop flavor is a lot more “round” and “juicy” than when I’ve added it at bottling, and I like the contribution it makes to the whole.
Increasing acidity and scoby formation indicates that the culture continues to work, so either the antimicrobials aren’t being extracted, or they aren’t affecting the kombucha microbes. Another possibility is that I didn’t use enough hops. While 1/4 cup is a relatively high percentage of the total 1 qt volume, it is < .1 oz. But even considering that, I was clearly able to add enough to taste hops without inhibiting the fermentation, so it works.
In the future I should make a 1 gallon batch like this, and then add a new round of hops at bottling time. Maybe I should find a complementary variety before I begin…