SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria And Yeast and is commonly used to make kombucha tea. It’s an essential ingredient in making kombucha, as it ferments sugar and tea, creating a carbonated beverage filled with beneficial probiotics essential for good digestive health.
Just make sure you don’t call it SCOOBY like I may or may not have done when I first heard about it …..
What Does SCOBY Look Like?
The SCOBY itself looks like a thick rubbery pancake and is gelatinous when touched. It can range in color from light yellow to milky white or light brownish. In general, it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie, but don’t let its strange appearance fool you—it’s an important ingredient that helps create delicious, bubbly kombucha.
What Does SCOBY Do?
SCOBY is essential for converting sugar and tea into a nutrient-rich beverage. During the fermentation process, bacteria and yeast that naturally exist in the SCOBY consume the sugar and tea, creating a drink full of beneficial probiotics.
It also helps to create carbonation as it ferments, giving kombucha its fizzy quality. Not only does it add flavor complexity, but it also helps to keep kombucha shelf-stable and gives it its signature tart taste.
How Can You Get a SCOBY?
Getting a SCOBY is fairly easy as it is widely available online and in some health food stores. You can also make your own SCOBY by combining tea, sugar, and a starter like (raw kombucha).
Buy You SCOBY Online
When I initially got started, I purchased a SCOBY on Amazon from a reputable seller. Here’s the exact one I used:
Get a SCOBY From a Friend
If you have a friend that makes their own kombucha, chances are they have one that they can give you.
Make Your Own SCOBY
It’s easy to make your own SCOBY, though this is the most time consuming as it can take several weeks. All you need is some store-bought (or homemade) kombucha, sugar, and black tea. The process is actually very similar to making your own kombucha at home, but on a smaller scale.
Regardless of how you get your SCOBY, make sure it is from a reputable source so it’s happy and healthy.
Is Your SCOBY Too Big? Can You Split and Cut Your SCOBY?
There’s really no such thing as a SCOBY that is “too big.” If your SCOBY gets really big, you can easily cut it down to size with a sharp knife. The SCOBY will grow back into the shape of your brewing vessel like magic.
Should You Throw Away Your SCOBY?
Unless your SCOBY is infested with mold, you don’t have to throw away your SCOBY (though there is nothing wrong with it if you have excess).
Instead of tossing it, maybe try some of the ideas below….
What should You Do With Your Extra SCOBY?
Once you have your SCOBY, what do you do with the extras? Don’t worry—there are several things you can do.
Give it to a Friend
If you don’t want to keep all of your SCOBYs, consider giving one away to a friend or family member who is interested in trying kombucha for themselves.
You can also use extra SCOBYs to make candy out of SCOBYs! It’s a fun way to use up those extra SCOBYs and is surprisingly delicious.
If you don’t have any use for your extra SCOBYs, you can always compost them. Or, put them in your garden to help fertilize the soil!
Keep Them in a SCOBY Hotel
If you plan on making kombucha regularly, consider keeping a SCOBY hotel. This is nothing more than a jar filled with tea and sugar in that you can store your extra SCOBYs in. Simply add the SCOBYs to the jar and cover them with fresh tea every so often. That way, they’ll stay fresh and ready to use when needed.
How Many Times Can You Reuse a SCOBY?
Reusing the SCOBY from one batch to another is recommended assuming it remains happy and healthy. Not only will it fortify your brew’s anaerobic environment, allowing bacteria and yeast to thrive, but it also contains enough of both for fermentation to begin very quickly.