Caramel Kombucha

I read the results of few different experiments on the effects of different sugars in the fermentation of beer, and was inspired to make my own caramel use as the sugar source for a batch of kombucha. One of the reasons this appealed to me is that I’ve never followed the conventional advice to dissolve my sugar in my steeped tea as it cools. I’ve avoided this out of a concern that some of the sugar might caramelize, which could have some effect on the flavor of the kombucha (seems somewhat likely) or health of the microbes (seems unlikely).

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Date Syrup Kombucha

I was intrigued to see that date sugar is nothing more than dehydrated dates ground into a coarse powder. I wondered what the effects would be from the non-sugar components, so I decided to give it a try. While shopping I noticed that date syrup was a lot less expensive than date sugar, so I decided to use 1/4 cup of that in place of the usual sugar in an otherwise normal 1 quart micro-batch.

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Erithritol / Stevia Kombucha

I know many people are wondering about this, because they want to limit their sugar intake and think this may be a way to do it. The big question is whether the yeast and bacteria in kombucha can actually use the erythritol or stevia as a carbon source. Everything I’ve read says that they won’t, but there are yeast and bacteria that will ferment stevia, and I’ve found one reference to a bacteria that will ferment erythritol. The big question is whether any of those yeast or bacteria are in the kombucha culture. I used 1/2 cup of stevia-blend sweetener in place of the usual sugar in a 1 quart micro-batch of my usual kombucha to find out. Continue reading

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.

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Malted Kombucha

I made a 1 quart micro-batch of kombucha, following my usual recipe, except that in place of sugar I used Briess Pilsen omried malt extract (DME). Malt is a particularly interesting sugar source because a kombucha culture should be able to thrive on malt alone. In this case, malt + tea should have provided a surfeit of nutrition. Would this produce similar effects to my double-sugar kombucha?

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Lactose Kombucha

Lactose isn’t fermented by normal beer yeast and is added to make it sweeter without increasing alcohol content or carbonation. But some yeast and bacteria can use lactose, and some of the species that can (*) are known to be common in kombucha, so I sweetened a micro-batch of kombucha with it (in a 1:1 replacement for my typical white sugar) to see what would happen.

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Kombucha-Fermented Coconut Water

I added scoby to jar of Simple Truth coconut water. This brand appears to have quite a bit less sugar than other brands (even the unsweetened ones), so I wasn’t sure if I would need to add sugar to get it working. I decided to leave it for a week or two, and play it by ear. Most recipes for fermented coconut milk are either CW + water kefir grains, or CW + <your favorite probiotic capsule>, so I hoped CW + scoby will work just fine.

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Kombucha-Fermented Red Wine?

Yes, fermenting something that’s already fermented sounds a little crazy, what can I say? Inspired by my success at adding vodka to the normal kombucha fermentation process, and the ongoing batch of kombucha-fermented cider, I decided to see what would happen if I added a kombucha scoby to a bottle of red wine. Rather than a nice continuation of the vodka experiments, I mashed the two together.

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Glucose Kombucha, Take 2

I’ve taken notes on quite a few different batches of kombucha that aren’t yet documented in a blog post. This is one of those…

I’ve made glucose kombucha before. I made it again in hopes of stopping fermentation before all of the sugar fermented out. I wouldn’t expect it to taste sour at that point (despite a relatively high acidity), but it would probably be rather drinkable while still imparting the usual probiotic benefits to my vinegar-phobic family. If nothing else, it could be used to make lemonade, sweet tea, etc.

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Kombucha Cider, Batch 2

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. Continue reading

Piloncillo Kombucha

I’ve taken notes on quite a few different batches of kombucha that aren’t yet documented in a blog post. This is one of those…

I picked up 4 cones of piloncillo from Meijer, and grated three of them to make ~1 cup of sugar. Piloncillo is made by putting sugarcane juice into a mold, and letting the moisture evaporate. It’s a lot like brown sugar used to be, before they made brown sugar by mixing a little molasses into plain white sugar.

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Kombucha-Fermented Apple Cider

I’m fond of cider, and I was curious what would happen if the “usual” cider fermentation process was augmented with a kombucha culture. I dropped a scoby into unpreserved apple cider to find out. On one hand, it seemed promising, since hard cider (fermented “naturally” or otherwise) tends to happen readily and has tasty results. On the other hand, I wasn’t adding anything with acid or alcohol to help ensure that the kombucha culture dominated the process. It would be possible to end with something disgusting, or even toxic.

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Xylitol Kombucha

This 1 quart experiment was started early March, and ran for 6 weeks. At the time I wrote:

This is a quart of “normal” kombucha except that the white sugar has been replaced with xylitol. I’ve read that xylitol doesn’t work in kombucha, so this has the same expected minimal fermentation as the sugar-free kombucha, except sweetened by all of the starting unfermentable xylitol. In other words, I may end up with plain sweet tea. However, there are a few yeast or bacteria that can use the xylitol, and perhaps some are in my culture. We’ll  see!

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Agave Kombucha

Apparently, agave syrup is 60-90% fructose. I used C&H Organic Blue Agave, but I don’t know what the fructose content was. I’ve read that fructose becomes acetic acid while glucose becomes gluconic acid.  Since one of my goals is to produce a probiotic drink that doesn’t taste like vinegar, I want to better understand the process by which acetic acid is formed, and see if I can influence it. Thus, I made a batch of agave kombucha expecting it to taste very vinegary. It didn’t.

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Brown Rice Kombucha

The “sugar post”. I should really have more references, even it’s just a URL where I read about different things, but I wasn’t taking notes. Sorry.

Virtually all kombucha recipes call for sucrose (table sugar), though some call for brown sugar, sucanat, or other things that are still basically sucrose. Some even call for maple syrup, honey, molasses, etc. Chemically, sucrose is almost a 50/50 split between fructose and glucose, and the same is pretty much true for most natural sweeteners, including more exotic things like date sugar or coconut sugar (though not stevia, which is magically sweet without sugar). This means that, chemically, the difference these things will make in the final brewed kombucha will primarily come from whatever additional things (impurities) happen to be flavoring the sugar you use.

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