How To Store Kombucha: All Considerations Explained
After the fermentation process kombucha should be stored in a low temperature environment to preserve its flavor and maintain the right balance of acidity. During the storage phase, other factors play a part in determining how well the drink will retain its optimal taste and aroma.
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Considerations When Storing Kombucha
Raw kombucha should be stored in cold temperatures such as in the refrigerator. While in the fridge, the low temperatures effectively stop further fermentation hence the brew can last longer.
The reduced temperature deactivates the enzymes responsible for controlling the metabolism of the yeast and bacteria culture. The yeast cells slow down the breakdown of sugar which means less alcohol is produced which in turn means the bacteria cells have less alcohol to feed on which results in a reduced rate of acetic acid production.
While this process is gradual, it allows the raw kombucha to retain some sugar hence a slightly sweet taste, and there’s less accumulation of acetic acid which means that the brew will not develop a strong vinegary flavor.
2. Fluctuations In Temperature
Changes in the temperature of the stored kombucha can result in changes in the activity of the culture hence a difference in the flavor. When the temperature increases the yeast culture gets activated and resumes feeding on the dissolved sugars in the brew giving the drink a beer-like smell.
The bacteria culture feeds on the ethanol and produces acetic acid giving kombucha a vinegary taste. During the process, carbon dioxide is also produced and its accumulation in an airtight sealed bottle can lead to explosions during storage. For this reason, kombucha should only be stored under constant low temperatures.
3. Exploding Bottles
Kombucha should be stored in airtight glass bottles to prevent the loss of carbonation/ fizziness.
Whilst burping the bottles does help in reducing the risk of exploding bottles during storage, it does contribute to the loss of fizziness. The carbon dioxide trapped in the bottle escapes to reduce the “excess pressure”.
This can be avoided by simply using thick-walled bottles to store kombucha and keeping it in the fridge until ready to drink.
If you're looking to get that perfect fizz but no explosion check out our guide to getting that carbonated 'bucha. Is Kombucha Carbonated?
4. Sunlight Exposure
Raw kombucha should never be stored in conditions where it's exposed to direct sunlight. Sunlight contains ultraviolet rays which are harmful to the yeast and bacteria culture. When exposed to UV rays, the culture simply gets decimated resulting in a brew without the probiotic benefits that kombucha is so loved for. Always store your kombucha in dark conditions away from any sources of UV rays such as incandescent lamps.
Recommended Location For Storing Kombucha
Raw kombucha can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months once bottled. Once opened the bottled kombucha can still be stored in the fridge for another two weeks. This change is due to the loss of carbonation once the bottles are unsealed.
How to Store Raw Kombucha in The Fridge
1. Bottle The Kombucha
The raw kombucha can either be bottled after the first or second ferment. After the first ferment which takes for 7 to 14 days, the raw kombucha should be poured into the bottles leaving a head space of about 2 inches left in each bottle.
This space will accommodate the excess carbon dioxide that might be produced during storage. The bottles are then sealed with lids or corks to maintain an airtight seal which prevents carbon dioxide from escaping while also keeping out contaminants.
Flavored kombucha is obtained by adding a secondary flavoring ingredient such as fruits or juice to the raw kombucha along with a tablespoon of white sugar. The mixture is then stored left to ferment, infusing the flavors and becoming fizzy.
If you're looking for kombucha bottle recommendations check out our complete and comprehensive guide to find the perfect 'bucha bottle for you: Kombucha Bottles: Which Type Of Bottle To Pick?
2. Preparing The Storage Area in The Fridge
Kombucha should be kept in the lower compartment of the refrigerator where the temperatures are more consistent and not too cold (37- 42 °F). Clear the fresh food compartment to avoid contamination in case of spillage. Place the bottled kombucha in a flat container or place them on a bowl to catch any spillage that might occur during storage.
Kombucha can be stored in an ice-filled cooler box for as long as there’s ice, once it melts, you can either refill it or transfer the bottles back into the fridge. Using a cooler box is more convenient especially while travelling and you need to bring a couple of kombucha bottles for the road trip.
How to Store Kombucha in a Cooler
1. Pre-Chill The Bottles
The kombucha bottles should be chilled overnight before getting transferred into the cooler. This ensures that the glass bottles don’t get exposed to freezing temperatures immediately which might compromise their integrity due to thermal shock.
2. Pour Ice into The Cooler
Pour ice cubes into the cooler about halfway and gently place the kombucha bottles into the ice and add more ice to cover the bottles. Replace the cooler lid, and you are ready to go.
Raw kombucha can be stored in room temperature for up to a month in sealed bottles. When the bottles are opened, you can still store for another three days before the kombucha becomes too vinegary.
You can store raw kombucha in room temperature in the pantry, cupboards or any other compartment where it cannot be directly exposed to sunlight.
Cellars have a temperature range of about 45-65 °F which is cool enough to store kombucha for about a month while bottled. In this temperature range, kombucha fermentation will still continue, albeit at a slower rate. Kombucha that’s stored in a cellar will eventually become too vinegary or even risk bottle explosions just like when stored in room temperature.
Popular Vessels To Store Kombucha In
1. Mason Jars
Mason jars are perfect for storing kombucha as they are glass made and they can be fitted with airtight lids for long-term storage. Mason jars also come in various sizes, making it much easier to store your kombucha in batches depending on how much you are brewing. Mason jars can either be bought or recycled from packaging jars as long as they are made of glass. Their wide mouth simplifies the task of adding ingredients during a second ferment or when you want to pour out the raw kombucha.
Looking for more information on second ferments? Check out our complete guide: Second Fermention Kombucha.
Raw kombucha should only be stored in thick-walled glass bottles equipped with airtight seals. These bottles fall under either of these categories:
Swing top bottles: these are strong glass bottles fitted with a swing top bottle lid. They can be bought online and are often high quality typically lasting for years. Swing top bottles are not prone to bottle explosions due to their thick walls.
Recycled champagne and wine bottles: if you have empty champagne and wine bottles lying around you can recycle them, and they will store raw kombucha just as perfectly as newly bought bottles. Ensure that you have airtight corks to fit each bottle.
Screw-on glass bottles: these glass bottles are threaded and equipped with screw-on caps made of durable BPA free plastics. They can be bought in local stores or online. Avoid using aluminum caps on screw-on bottles as the metal will easily deform under the immense pressure and pop off.
3. Oak Barrels
Oak barrels can be used to store large batches of kombucha while also aging the brew. The oak wood infuses the drink with a distinctive aroma and taste that’s reminiscent of charred oak wood. Oak barrels are expensive and mostly used by commercial kombucha brewers.
Where to Store Kombucha When Fermenting
During fermentation, kombucha needs to be stored within room temperature (68-78ºF) within which the culture can optimally ferment the drink. Fermenting kombucha should also be stored away from direct sunlight in a dark place preferably the pantry or a cupboard.
When not being used to ferment, a SCOBY should be stored in a SCOBY Hotel. This is a specialized glass container that’s used to house extra SCOBYs. It is filled with raw kombucha which is occasionally replenished with freshly brewed and sweetened tea to provide more nutrients for the culture to feed on.