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Can I refrigerate the Kombucha culture when not in use?

Written by Hannah Crum on March 06, 2012 with 1 Comment

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Recently Sarina Smith  asked, “Can I refrigerate the kombucha culture when not in use? like in between brew.”

Sandor Katz calls the fridge a "fermentation slowing device"

This is an excellent question as many people have been told to store their cultures in the fridge between uses. While fridges are useful for storing other items, Kombucha cultures are simply not one of them. Their ubiquitous presence has trained us to think that everything needs to go into the fridge in order to prevent spoilage. However, the refrigerator was invented in the mid 1800’s but didn’t gain popular use until the late 1920’s. So how did we keep food fresh for the thousands of years we’ve been on this planet? Fermentation!

Kombucha is a fermented food (fermented tea in fact) and therefore need not be placed in the fridge. It’s pH is low enough to prevent other microorganisms from invading the culture or Kombucha. Kombucha will never technically “go bad” but the flavor may continue to change the longer it is stored. I personally like some of my oldest bottles of Kombucha best.

The Kombucha culture is a living organism – called a SCOBY – Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. As such, it is temperature sensitive. The ideal temperature range for brewing Kombucha is 72-85F. The culture will go dormant around 50F but if it goes much lower than that for an extended period of time, it will not be able to protect itself. Since most fridges are set to 40F or lower, it does not make for a good storage location.

That’s not to say that it is impossible to revive a refrigerated SCOBY but why risk losing it? Instead, make a SCOBY Hotel! What’s a SCOBY Hotel? Check out this video to discover how to make one.

SCOBY Hotel Maintenance

From time to time, add sweet tea to the Hotel to feed the cultures. You can also use the liquid as starter for other batches. Since it will be more concentrated, you can use less (1/2-3/4 cup instead of 1 cup).

What to do with your extra SCOBYs from  your SCOBY Hotel. 

Got questions about brewing Kombucha, fermented foods or traditional diets? Drop me a line at kombuchakamp@gmail.com

1 Comment

There are currently 1 Comment on Can I refrigerate the Kombucha culture when not in use?. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. Greetings from
    Eugene, Oregon!

    what about the refrigerated Scoby kits I can pick up at my local natural grocer?
    The Scoby was vacuum sealed, I had it in my fridge for a couple of months and it looked normal when I tore it out to use it.

    It is my first batch however, and I am going to drain it into bottles after 2 and a half weeks fermentation.

    On that note, I was told I can harvest one of the cultures in from a regular old Bottle of kombucha, and it helps to put a dab of vinegar to help
    Ferment, have you found this to be true?

    Thanks,
    Jono

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