17 Most Commonly Asked SCOBY Questions
by Susan Grey on November 28, 2019
A SCOBY is seen as a mysterious magic worker; it feels like a slimeball, smells like vinegar tart and transforms pure tea into kombucha. We often get questions about SCOBYs, their properties, how they work, and many others too. This resource is here to answer them all in one place!
Is A SCOBY A Fungus? Is A SCOBY A Mushroom?
No, a SCOBY is made up of bacteria and yeast. SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It is misappropriate to name kombucha as a fungus, for it is not part of the fungus family or a mushroom. The confusion is often made because many accessible resources refer to it as being a fungus or mushroom.
Is A SCOBY Alive?
Yes, a SCOBY contains live yeast and bacteria and is therefore living. SCOBYs grow by feeding on sugar in the brew. When it ferments the tea, it will replicate rapidly to create a second SCOBY, often referred to as a “Baby SCOBY.”
When ordering or buying a SCOBY online, make sure that it’s living and not dehydrated, for best fermenting results.
Is A SCOBY Supposed To Float?
When brewing, SCOBYs often will be seen floating at the top of the brew. Although a perfectly healthy SCOBY may sink, swim in the middle of the brew, or even be sideways. The most important factors to check will be the pH and temperature to make sure they’re in the critical range for brewing.
Is A SCOBY Edible?
Yes, you can eat a SCOBY. Ideas would include, dehydrating it for ‘SCOBY Jerky’ or just chewing on it raw. When drinking raw or unpasteurized kombucha, then there may be strands of SCOBY bacteria and yeast throughout or at the bottom of the brew.
Is A SCOBY Mold?
No, a SCOBY is not mold. Mold and yeast may form at the top of the SCOBY. You can spot mold by the color, often red, blue or green, and its fuzzy texture. Mold is classified as a growing fungus, as a SCOBY is not a fungus or mushroom. It does not fit the requirements of mold.
Is A SCOBY Vegan?
Yes, a SCOBY is vegan. It is not considered a sentient being; it is only made up of yeast and bacteria - therefore, vegan. Most vegans would consider the fact that fungus and bacteria don’t have nervous systems and, therefore, unable to experience pain, the reason for SCOBYs to be vegan. Here’s a full breakdown of the question Is Kombucha Vegan?.
Is A SCOBY Yeast?
Yes, a SCOBY is made up of both bacteria and yeast. They’re bound together, which forms the shape of the SCOBY. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria And Yeast, plays an essential role in the fermentation by reaction (consuming) with sugar to fuel its growth.
Is A SCOBY Good To Eat?
Probably not. Although it’s safe and edible, the taste will be sour, and the texture will be very gooey. A lot of recipes exist that promote the health benefits of consuming a SCOBY. Such examples would be dehydrated SCOBY jerky, ground SCOBY as probiotic pills, or chewy SCOBY candy. For a full list of ingenious ways to use and consume SCOBYs, check out article 19 Ingenious Things To Do With A SCOBY Article Out.
What Is A SCOBY Made Of?
SCOBYs are comprised of many different strains of bacteria and yeast. The bacteria and yeast bind together during growth, to create a SCOBY.
What Is A SCOBY Disk?
A SCOBY disk would be a SCOBY that has grown or formed in the shape of a disk. SCOBYs often grow in the shape of a disk because the glass jars that they are grown are round, and therefore bound by these dimensions.
Can A SCOBY Die?
Yes, a SCOBY can die, become unactivated, or become dormant. A SCOBY dies when it is not kept in the right conditions for an extended period, such as a sub-optimal pH, temperature, or environment. To know if a SCOBY has died, you’ll have to try and brew a batch of kombucha and see what effect that it has.
Can A SCOBY Be Frozen?
Yes, but probably shouldn’t be. If you’re looking to preserve your SCOBY, freezing could potentially kill it. To preserve a SCOBY, it would be suggested to create a SCOBY Hotel instead.
Can A SCOBY Get Too Old?
After 6-12 brews, the SCOBY will probably not be able to ferment batches and be too old. The good news is if you’ve brewed many batches, you’ll have many baby SCOBYs to carry on brewing!
Can A SCOBY Be Refrigerated?
When at low temperature, the SCOBY will become deactivated, the bacteria and yeast are too cold to reproduce. This will increase the risk of the SCOBY, as once deactivated, there’s a chance it won’t become reactivated and therefore die. For the long term storage, review our SCOBY Hotel guide.
Can A SCOBY Be Reused?
Yes, one of the great things about SCOBYs is that not only will they reproduce a new SCOBY after every ferment, you will also be able to reuse your existing SCOBY for up to 12 ferments!
Can A SCOBY Be Cut In Half?
Sure, you could cut a SCOBY in half. Often the bigger the SCOBY, the larger the batch of tea you can ferment. If you have been brewing in a large vessel and now want to experiment with a small batch, you could cut it in half, width of length, ways to ferment your small batch.
Can A SCOBY Grow In Apple Cider Vinegar?
It depends, a SCOBY grows in certain conditions. The pH needs to be between 2.5-4, temperature between 68º-74ºF (20º-21ºC), and sugar. The sugar feeds the SCOBY allowing the bacteria and yeast to grow. If you add apple cider vinegar into your ferment, it is likely to grow. However, if you add a SCOBY to just apple cider vinegar, then it is unlikely to grow as the condition of sugar has not been met.