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Old 07-13-2011, 04:27 AM   #1
SLI
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Question Wild Kombucha culture?

In an effort to get a wild (beer) ferment going, I may have inadvertently cultured a SCOBY.

It started with a small wort starter, that definitely had a wild yeast culture ferment it out. I stepped it up, and left it uncovered outside for months. I, in my naivete, thought it would be a good idea to introduce oxygen every once in a while by stirring, not to mention that it was outside. Eventually it began to form what I believed to be a pellicle. My girlfriend smelled it and mentioned in passing that it smelled like kombucha. This planted a seed in the back of my brain. I spent the next month-ish watching this "pellicle" grow, it began to look like snot. Finally, I tasted the wort: pure, awful malt vinegar.

At this point, something clicked. I began researching the makeup of the SCOBY, only to find that it contained a good deal of the same bugs/yeast as any old sour. Peddio, Brett, Sacc, Aceto, etc. And some types of Acetobacter create a cellulose membrane.

So I tried it. Made up the sugar tea, plopped my weird snot like membrane in it and covered that bad boy up. A few days later, I have a "daughter". A few more and I taste it, sweet, sour with a vinegar finish. My mom (the household Kombucha 'hipster', if you will, after making giant vats of it that I would stumble upon in the garage refrigerator, back before it was cool, I'm talking 15 years ago) confirmed it. "A little more vinegar-y if I rememeber correctly" she said.

Obviously, she's not some Kombucha scientist. But I figure I have a completely wild grown culture. If it tastes, looks, smells like it, it must be it, if not a close analog.

I don't understand why this isn't talked about. Thoughts? Concerns? I'm not saying this is a step by step, but I've heard it can't be done. Why not? It seems like at some point in history, someone accidentally left a cup of tea out for too long, came back, pulled the scum off the top and tasted the tea, and said, "this is good, I wonder if I can make more with this gross thing." And then went to town.



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Old 10-22-2011, 11:06 AM   #2
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It's a shame no-one's replied to this. Though I lack experience, I'm totally into wild brews with a bit of character from the neighbourhood they grew up in. I'm sure your culture is composed of something quite a bit different and unique compared to mothers grown from commercial bottles of kombucha, as there'll be different things floating around your neighbourhood to the things they put in bottles for people to start mothers with.

If it ferments a wort to acidity, makes a slab of snot, and does the same when transferred to something else, I would definitely say you've grown your own local kombucha mother from absolute scratch. Ventucha? Califorcha? You've got dibs on naming it.

There's always the possibility that your culture is inferior to more "designed" cultures; that the manufacturers gathered specific organisms to provide the best taste and nutritional benefit, but who cares. You did it by yourself, and I know I'm always proud of stuff I've done myself even if it's inferior to something similar.



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Old 11-12-2011, 12:17 AM   #3
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I have been trying to get some ginger + water + sugar to use the yeast on the plant and ferment. I also put a few drops from some kombucha in it to see if I could get some lacto going in it too. I came back a week later, and it looks to have a scoby. I don't understand that since there is no tea in it at all. Who knows what I have.

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Old 11-14-2011, 01:26 AM   #4
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I'm thinking you could just make a starter add yeast and allow it to drop the ph to the low 4 like normal. You would want to keep the IBUs under 10, so you dont inhibit the acid producers. When the yeast has started producing gases you could add a healthy portion of Lambic beer. Once the fermentation is over you could aerate it and allow the acetic acid bacteria convert the ethanol to acetic acid, I'm think the starter should have a very low gravity, to avoid abv over 4%. Which would inhibit the bacterias and create to much acetic acid. I would think it may take 3 months to go through stages of bacteria growth and fermentation cycles. Sounds like fun, think I'm going to give it a try.

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Old 11-14-2011, 02:28 PM   #5
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I feel like oranikbrewer has a pretty good method. The thing about fermentation and other biological processes is that they are very regular and predictable.

The product I got was a little low on acidity, but tasted great. Unfortunately, I didn't take proper care of the SCOBY, and it molded. As for "inferiority", after doing quite a few Lactic ferments, mostly Kim Chi but also some sauerkraut, I've found that after a few generations of fermenting the taste becomes much more complex. I was hoping to experiment with the Kombucha, but it didn't pan out. Without a lab, I wouldn't be able to get the exact mix of bugs that I would want, but it's amazing how many bugs are readily available to buy, which one would easily be able to augment a wild, or maybe even start one from scratch in a more sterile environment.

I'm going to attempt this again soon, I wish there was more research about this out there. It's disconcerting that a few companies have cornered a market on something that used to be made from just the bacteria in the air.

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Old 01-20-2012, 10:56 AM   #6
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Default Wild ferment...?

In my copious reading I found a website that talked about the
Wild origins of the Kombucha mushroom. It was at:
OurBlueMarble.us/Norbert/Kombucha/Origin/origin.htm

Also Gunther Frank has some excellent and scientific
information, I found him through a link. Try searching
Kombucha and his name. He is German.

The first article talked about the mushroom/fungus
growing on sweet birch trees in Russia somewhere.

I also did a search that turned up info about a sweet tree
mushroom/fungus that was growing on decaying trees of
some sort that would also be a Kombucha maker. I do
Not remember my search words.

Hope this helps.



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