Kombucha Fermented on Raisins

How will the flavor of kombucha change if raisins are added at the beginning of fermentation? I’ve seen raisins recommended for water kefir and other kitchen fermentations, and the seem to be helping my water kefir grains (which have never thrived) come back from the brink of death. I added 1/2 cup of Thompson raisins to an otherwise normal 1 quart micro-batch.

Since raising contain sugar, but I didn’t reduce the usual amount of sugar, this had the potential to be overly sweet. Since the grape skins had the potential to add a lot of astringency, I hoped the two potentials might balance out.

  • 6 days: pH 3.6. Nice scoby. Flavor is mild all around, without any “off” flavors, but with a slight fizziness.
  • 13 days: pH 3.6. The 3mm scoby had grown on top of the floating raisins. This has a distinct dark/earthy flavor and astringency, similar to when I make water kefir with raisins. In this context, the sourness seems a little overwhelming, and I wonder if it would benefit from more sweetness. The sourness was toned down when chilled.

I’m surprised by how the acidity increased quickly, and then stopped. Also, the astringency and the perceived sourness didn’t really develop until the second week. This might have turned out better if I’d bottled it sooner. I can’t help but think that the raisins are having a definite effect here, and might be a useful addition, but I’m not sure what the effect is. More experimentation is needed. I could try different amounts of raisins, different kinds of raisins, or adding the raisins late (or removing them early).

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