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Old 07-24-2012, 03:59 PM   #1
drinkingcoffee
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Default monster old kombucha -- still safe to drink

So, I've been making kombucha off and on for a couple of years now with great results (originally started from a commercial bottle).

Due to various distractions, beer brewing and overall laziness I left two (2 litre) jars of kombucha in a corner of my pantry for a long time. One went obviously bad (no mold, but a noticeable musty smell like an old dish rag. yuck), but the other one is starting to organize a society and demand voting rights.



The jars were labeled at 2010-10-02 -- however, that is nearly impossible, as I know that I was making kombucha in the summer of 2011, so I'm assuming it was just a brain malfunction and I meant to write 2011-10-02. So, the kombucha has been sitting there for at least 8 months and possibly (unlikely?) for 20 months.

As you can (sortof) see from the photo, the SCOBY extends almost all the way through the jar. I've never seen anything like it.
You can see the original mother at the bottom, and the rest was floating at the top until
I took it out of the pantry about two weeks ago and had a sniff, which disturbed it a bit (so the big beast sank). Since then, it's actually started a new layer on the surface (no idea what it could be eating at this point). I tend to think this means it's still healthy?

I had a small taste the other day, and it was good -- *extremely* sour, but tasty (I am a sucker for sour)

So, aside from sharing that photo, I'd like to know if it's still safe to drink this thing, or if I should just dump it. I have a batch of raspberry wit beer that will be ready to bottle this weekend and I'd *love* to add this kombucha to the mix to sour it up (I imagine it would add quite a nice kick to a 20L batch of beer), but am a bit worried about this. I'd even be willing to pasteurize/kill the kombucha beforehand if necessary (doesn't sound like it would be). Also, my girlfriend thinks I'm crazy for even considering it.

But, I figure if I can drink 3-year-old lambic, this should be just fine.
Also, would it be wise to use a piece of this... thing .... as a starter for another batch, or should I take a mother out of my freezer? I only wonder if the balance of yeast/bacteria has skewed too far in one direction or the other to start a new batch.

thanks!

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Old 07-25-2012, 06:39 PM   #2
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I have the same question with regards to using an old SCOBY. The only difference being that yours appears to be in a sealed jar. Ours has been in a dark closet for the past 6 months with just a handkerchief covering the jar.

My wife and I took a break from brewing approx 6 months ago and left our mother to feast on the last batch of sweet tea instead of bottling. The mother continues to grow and appears to be healthy without any sugar additions along the way. I'm sure the liquid has turned to a pure vinegar by now, but is it safe to start a new batch using a fresh bottle of GT's (for fresh yeast) and the top "baby" layer instead of growing a new mother from scratch?

With regards to using a SCOBY from the freezer....I would think that would be a big no no, but I'm not an expert.

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Old 07-26-2012, 12:27 PM   #3
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Quote:
The only difference being that yours appears to be in a sealed jar. Ours has been in a dark closet for the past 6 months with just a handkerchief covering the jar.
It does look sealed from the photo, but that lid is just sitting loosely on the top of the jar, so gas can still escape and it keeps the bugs out, etc.


Quote:
With regards to using a SCOBY from the freezer....I would think that would be a big no no, but I'm not an expert.
I've done this before in the past without problems (storing a spare mother in the freezer). I had never tried it with a mother that was in the freezer for so long, but the batch I started a week and a half ago seems to be doing okay (though slower than usual)...
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Old 08-23-2012, 07:54 PM   #4
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so, as a follow up to this, I'm still standing! (your results may vary)

after my girlfriend vowed that she would absolutely not drink anything with this kombucha in it (she says the 2010 date on the jar actually is accurate), I decided to play it safe and only mix part of my raspberry beer with the kombucha.

I was worried about wasting too much beer, so went for about half-half, and mixed a total of 2L (I had two big 1 litre flip-top bottles that were calling out for it) beer/kombucha. So the resulting blend was probably something like 60/40 beer/kombucha.

After letting it sit for a few weeks, I finally decided to try out a bottle. Delicious!
Unfortunately, it only barely carbonated up (it occurs to me that I should probably have added extra sugar), so I will let my other 1L bottle sit for another few weeks before trying it.

As expected, it was *extremely* sour. I think my original plan of mixing it into the entire 20L batch would have still been pretty sour, but this was off the charts. Luckily, I've never had a beer/kombucha that was too sour for me, so I found it quite good. At this ratio, it was definitely more like drinking kombucha than beer.

I drank half the first night, and had the rest the next day. My girlfriend even gave in and had a glass after she saw that I hadn't spent the night in the bathroom.

I also went ahead and sliced off a portion of the SCOBY from the picture above (quite a weird thing to hold in my hands, I tell you) and started a fresh batch of kombucha which took off right away, and is now ready to be bottled.

Now, of course, I wish I had made more, but it's easy to make that decision in hindsight, and not when you're about to waste 20L of good beer!

cheers

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Old 10-12-2012, 04:51 AM   #5
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Test the pH of your monstrosity. The pH of the kombucha batch should be between 2.5 and 4.6. If it is within this range, it is likely safe. You can test the SCOBY by placing a portion of it in a brewing batch, following your usual routine. If you have fresh kombucha in a week, your SCOBY is viable

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Old 10-26-2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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I was about to make a new thread but I saw you got the same thing going on. I forgot about my kombucha brewing for like 6-8 months and now I got 10 gallons of vinegar and huge ass mothers! I just am wondering what to do with all the vinegar. I'd hate to throw it out but I don't know how I am going to use that much or store it cause I want to start brewing again.

Couple questions. Is there any advantage to using a mother the size of your head or is using one the size of your fist work just as well? I was always under the impression the bigger the mother you use and more surface area of the container you use speeds up the process, but I want to hear what you guys think.

Also when you guys clean your brew containers, do you use dish soap? I always use to but I heard dish soap leaves behind a little bit like no matter how much you rinse it out and will affect your brew. Let me know if there is any truth to this or if it is a bunch of malarkey.

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Old 10-27-2012, 06:41 PM   #7
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the vinegar can be used as vinegar in recipes. I now people who add it to salads and the like. You can also store it in the fridge for quite a while, warm it to room temperature and use it as starter for future batches.

The advantage of using a larger mother (SCOBY) is that it helps to maintain the proper pH of the brew. A SCOBY that is a perfect fit for your container, seals off the tea trapping CO2 emitted by the yeast and results in a more carbonated brew. Whether the mother is as big as your head or your fist matters only in as much as it fits the container. A SCOBY that is smaller than its jar will invariable "grow" to fit.

You are right about the dish soap. It can be very hazardous to your kombucha. The best cleaner for your equipment is distilled white vinegar. This serves two purposes: it sanitizes , eliminating pathogens and helps to establish the proper pH.

Best of luck

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