So you have been successfully brewing your kombucha for quite some time and now have lots of baby scobys, you do not want to have to throw them away and you might need them in the future so what do you do......
You are going to want to create a SCOBY Hotel, this is a spot for your SCOBYs for them to chill out until an emergency arises and you need to use them.
WHY HAVE A SCOBY HOTEL?
*Your culture gets infested with fruit flies, mold etc.
*Your friend wants to make Kombucha too
*You are experimenting with different teas, flavours etc
*You are going on holiday and can’t brew on your regular cycle
*You vary the amount you brew so need spares to be able to increase capacity when needed.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU START A SCOBY HOTEL
*Are you really going to use the scobies?
*will you have the time and discipline to maintain your hotel?
if the answer is no to either of the above then a hotel may not be for you. Whilst they are handy things they are not always necessary and if you are never going to use the scobies in your hotel you may as well just pop your spares in the compost.
SO HOW DO YOU START A SCOBY HOTEL?
- You will need a clean jar to store the scobies in, we would recommend 2L or bigger.
- Pop your spare scobies in the jar and cover with Kombucha from your previous batch
- Cover the brew, we recommend using a cloth to cover.
and that's it, pop the hotel somewhere safe and maintain it to keep the scobies happy and healthy.
SO HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A SCOBY HOTEL?
Unlike other more delicate cultures such as milk kefir or water kefir which will disintegrate and disappear if not fed regularly or become damaged, the Kombucha culture is a very hardy little organism and can remain in a dormant stasis for extended periods of time.
well this is in part due to their very protective pH (2.5-3.5). This is also what makes Kombucha one of the safest ferments to brew at home. However, the SCOBY hotel does need to be maintained from time to time, you can't just put it in a cupboard and forget about it as otherwise you will eventually get mold.
Perform maintenance on your hotel every 2-3 months or when you observe a build up in yeast as the exact time will vary depending on te,temperatures etc. You will likley find that you need to perform maintenance more often in the summer than in the winter to keep your cultures healthy, happy and ready to brew at a moment’s notice.
IMPORTANT: never store your Kombucha SCOBYs in the fridge as the bacteria may go deeply dormant or perish, leading to flat, weak flavor and usually mold.in winter do keep an eye on the temperature of your scoby hotel. If it is stored somewhere cool/cold then you may want to move it somewhere warmer as otherwise it will be similar to storing in the fridge.
So what do you need to do?
- remove the contents of your hotel and store appropriately (scobies in a large bowl or similar and liquid in a jug or similar) while you do this ensure that everything is covered to protect from fruit flies and is stored.
- Ensure that everything that you use to do this is clean and well rinsed (including your hands) and remember to remove all jewellery.
- Wash your jar with hot water. Make sure the water is not too hot as you do not want to crack the jar. Detergents are not required to clean the jar but if you wish to use them make sure that the jar is VERY well rinsed afterwards. Rinse out all the yeast sediment and scrub off all the old bits of scoby that can get stuck to the jar.
- Once the jar is clean let it cool down and replace the scobies, trimming if needed (see below).
- Filter the kombucha liquid, either using a filter funnel, sieve or coffee filter paper (coffee filters do work but they are VERY slow).
- pour the liquid back into the jar so that it fills half the jar (discard the rest or use as kombucha vinegar)
- Top up the jar with fresh cool sweet tea. This can be made eiether the same as when you make tea for your brew (80-100g of sugar per 1L of tea with 3-4 teabags) or you can add more sugar. Personally i add a little more sugar as this helps keep the scobies well fed.
Please note: we do not recommend rinsing the scobies to remove all the yeast chains etc. Whilst you want to remove the general build up of yeasts you do not want to remove ALL the yeasts as a small amount is beneficial.
HOW TO TRIM SCOBIES and why you should do this.
Kombucha loves to GROW and grow and grow, Even in the hotel or in a bottle a new layer will form across the top. The longer it sits, the thicker the layer. If the SCOBY gets too thick, fresh oxygen cannot reach the liquid below and this can cause issues and the kombucha process needs oxygen. Trimming scobies down to a smaller size will keep the oxygen flowing and prevent stagnation in your hotel (or brew!)
Remove the thick top layer from the vessel.
It may be possible just to pull away layers of scobies with your hands, if it has formed in thin layers then this might be possible, if it has formed in one thick layer then you may have to cut the scoby with a knife (stainlessstell kitchen knife is fine). You may find the scobies rip or tear when you are oulling the layers apart. This will not hurt or harm the scobies.
If needed it is fine to slice the culture in half with the serrated knife. Hold the SCOBY flat on the cutting board with hand over the top. Work the knife horizontally through the thick SCOBY like a bread roll BUT BE CAREFUL IT WILL BE SLIPPY.
Discard any soft, gelatinous edges or unwelcome bits as needed.
Please remember that whilst it is fine to keep many scobies in the same hotel it is a good idea to rotate their position in the jar when you put them back in to make sure they are all getting access to the nutrients and oxygen that they need. So when you have trimmed and are putting them back in its not a bad idea to move them around so they are not in the same position.