Kombucha Crocks: The Brewer’s Guide
A kombucha crock is an earthenware container that’s designed specifically to store raw kombucha as it ferments. Kombucha crocks can be made from various materials such as stoneware, glass, ceramic, and wood. Most kombucha crocks are equipped with spigots, which make it much easier to drain the kombucha without any spillages. Fermentation crocks are also equipped with lids to cover the ongoing brew.
Why Use a Kombucha, Crock?
1. Brewing Considerable Amounts of Kombucha
Kombucha crocks are perfect for brewing raw kombucha due to their size advantage. Most crocks can hold between 1 to 2 gallons with the larger sized ones containing up to 5 gallons. This makes them perfect for brewing large amounts of kombucha, then testing many different flavors during a second ferment. For more information about second fermentation, check out our full and comprehensive guide: Secondary Fermentation: The Complete Guide.
2. They are Perfect for a Continuous Brewing Setup
Most kombucha crocks are equipped with a spigot located at the bottom end to quickly pour out the raw kombucha without any spillages. This makes them perfect for a continuous brewing setup (link to the article). Raw kombucha can be harvested from a continuous brew setup every 72 hours after which a similar amount of freshly brewed and sweetened tea is added to the setup to top up the brew. Interested in learning more about continuous brewing? Check out our article here: Continuous Brewing: The Step By Step Guide.
3. Constant Fermentation Conditions
Kombucha crocks have thick walls which serve to keep the temperature of the brew consistent. This insulates the brew from rapid changes in room temperature making it possible for the culture to carry on the fermentation process at optimal conditions.
Kombucha Crock Vs. Mason Jar
Kombucha crocks are designed to handle considerable amounts of raw kombucha, often having as much as 5-gallon volume capacity. Mason jars have lesser volume capacity ranging from 16 oz 128 oz (1 gallon). As a result, you will require multiple mason jars for the multiple batches to brew the same amount of kombucha that a single crock can hold.
Low quality imported glass mason jars often have thin walls, which make them somewhat prone to breakage unlike kombucha crocks which are thick-walled. The considerable size of the kombucha crock base also makes them more stable unlike mason jars which are more prone to being knocked over.
3. Ease of Use
Kombucha crocks are often equipped with spigots that increase their ease of use especially when transferring the fermented raw kombucha. The crocks are also equipped with handles on their sides for secure handling. Mason jars lack these features and are often slippery if the brew spills over onto the sides.
4. UV Blocking
Kombucha crocks have thick walls that block harmful UV light rays which can cause spoilage. Mason jars lack this future and can only be used to ferment kombucha in a dark/insulated space.
Considerations Before Buying a Kombucha Crock
Kombucha crocks can be made using various materials, each with their own pros and cons:
Ceramic: these crocks are made from clay which is then hardened by heat
Clay is porous which allows the crock to absorb oxygen which then dissolves into the brew benefiting the yeast culture
Kombucha that’s been brewed in a ceramic crock gains a natural aged flavor
Clay is a poor heat conductor, so it allows the brew to maintain a constant temperature even with drastic changes in the ambient room temperature
Ceramics are brittle and dropping the crock will easily break it
Porcelain: porcelain crocks are made of kaolinite, which is a clay mineral which is then hardened in fire giving it the characteristic toughness and translucence.
Porcelain is more robust than standard ceramic making it long-lasting
Porcelain crocks are aesthetically pleasing
Porcelain is translucent, and it will not filter out all of the harmful UV rays which harm the kombucha culture
Stoneware: stoneware refers to pottery made from dense clay, which is then fired at high temperatures, typically up to 2000ºC. This results in durable crocks that do not break easily.
Stoneware crocks are extremely hardened
The dense clay is non-porous meaning the raw kombucha’s flavor will not be affected by the stoneware crock unlike in ceramic crocks
The volume of kombucha you want to brew per batch will guide you in terms of which kombucha crock to get. Kombucha is best fermented in small batches so as to minimize losses in case of mold growth. Therefore, do not get a kombucha crock with more than 5-gallon volume capacity.
Brand names hold a lot of value, and the more famous a brand is the more it will do to ensure that its crocks are of high quality. Always go for recognized brands with an online presence; this makes it much easier to request for after-sale services. Such brands are also more likely to have an actual customer feedback on forums and sales sites, these will give you a clear view on the quality and longevity of the kombucha crocks to avoid buying low-quality products.
A kombucha crock should be equipped with a spigot to make the process of drawing out raw kombucha fast and clean. The spigot should be made from food-grade stainless steel which is rust-resistant and cannot be corroded by the acetic acid found in kombucha. The spigot should also be modestly designed without any tight corners or tiny bores where kombucha yeast might get stuck and end up blocking the spigot.
5. Kombucha Suitable
Ensure that the crock indicates that it is safe for kombucha brewing. For this reason, you should avoid generic crocks as they may contain materials which can react with the acidic nature of raw kombucha, potentially leaching chemicals.
How Brewing in a Crock Is Different from a Mason Jar
1. Large Batches
Kombucha crocks have more volume compared to mason jars; thus, they can hold large batches of raw kombucha. You will require multiple mason jars to brew the same amount of kombucha that a single crock can hold. This makes it quite hectic to monitor each individual mason jar during the fermentation process.
2. Brewing Time
The fermentation timeline in a kombucha crock is significantly longer than when using a mason jar. This is due to the larger volume of raw ingredients used while brewing in a kombucha crock. Usually, a mason jar takes 7-14 days to ferment raw kombucha; a 5-gallon kombucha crock will take anywhere from 9 to 18 days to achieve optimal fermentation.
3. Temperature Regulation
Kombucha crocks often have thick walls that help in insulating the brew from sudden changes in the room temperature unlike a mason jar which has thin walls. As a result, you don’t have to worry about constantly monitoring your brew’s temperature as long as you store it within room temperature and away from direct sunlight.
How To Make Kombucha In a Crock
2-gallon kombucha crock
Large pot or kettle
Wooden stirring spoon
Tightly woven cotton cloth
2 gallons of chlorine free water
8- 12 tea bags (black tea) or 8- 12 teaspoons loose leaf tea
2 cups of white sugar (400g)
A large kombucha SCOBY or two small ones
4 cups starter tea (raw kombucha from a previous batch)
1. Bring the water to boil in a large pot over medium heat
2. Add the tea bags and steep for 15 minutes
3. Add the sugar and stir until its fully dissolved
4. Switch off the flame and allow the freshly brewed tea to cool down to room temperature
5. Use the tea strainer to filter out the tea leaves and gently pour the tea into the kombucha crock
6. Add the starter tea and gently stir with a wooden stirring spoon
7. Gently drop in the SCOBY, don’t worry if it sinks it will eventually float on its own
8. Cover the kombucha crock’s mouth with the tightly woven cloth and use the rubber band to hold it in place
9. Transfer the kombucha crock into a dark fermentation area such as a cupboard or in the pantry. Ensure that the fermentation area is always within the room temperature or 68 °F- 78 °F range
10. Allow the brew to ferment for 7 to 14 days; it can take longer (up to 18 days) due to the larger volume
11. Regularly check the pH of the brew using pH strips, fully fermented kombucha has a pH of 2.7- 2.5 if it's above 3.5 that means that fermentation isn’t taking place and that the brew should not be drunk
Kombucha Crock Care
1. General Cleaning
Kombucha crocks should be thoroughly cleaned after every ferment. This prevents mold from growing in the crocks. Pay attention to the tight nooks and crannies where residual yeast might get stuck as they will only rot, leading to mold growth. After cleaning the crocks, they should be allowed to dry before being put in storage. For more thorough cleaning you can remove the spigot and scrub its interior with a spigot brush.
Kombucha crocks should be stored in a dry environment away from fermentation projects. Ensure that the storage area is free of mold as it might produce mold spores that would contaminate any future brews. The crocks should also be stored on a secure surface to avoid accidental falls which will result in breakage.
How to Clean your Kombucha Crock
Dish soap (avoid antibacterial soap as its residues can harm SCOBY culture in future brews)
Scrub sponge (avoid metallic scrubbers as they will scratch and chip away the crock’s finish)
Spigot cleaning brush
1. Pour in the hot water into the kombucha crock and generously apply dish soap on to the scrubbing sponge
2. Thoroughly scrub the interior of the crock paying particular attention to the bottom ring where yeast crumps might get stuck
3. Proceed to scrub the outer surface of the crock as well as the bottom end
4. Use a spigot cleaning brush to remove any gunk that might be in the spigot
5. Rinse with cold water, let the faucet run for a few cycles to thoroughly wash away any soapy water that might be trapped in it
6. Rinse the entire crock with distilled vinegar
7. Set the crock under sunlight to dry. Alternatively, you can place it upside down on a clean dish rack and allow it to dry completely
Kombucha Crock Warnings
1. Spigot Type
A crock’s spigot can be made from plastic or metal; both of these options are not recommended when working with raw kombucha due to its acidic nature. Only go for food-grade stainless steel spigots as they are resistant to the corrosion that’s caused by acetic acid reacting with metals.
2. Explosions When Brewing
When a fermentation crock is sealed, airtightly carbon dioxide will accumulate as the culture releases more of it with the break down of sugar leading to increased internal pressure. The pressure can accumulate to explosive levels. For this reason, kombucha crocks should not be used to second ferment kombucha; instead, use thick-walled glass bottles. For more information about the best types of bottles, check out are article Kombucha Bottles: Which Type Of Bottle To Pick?
Top 5 Kombucha Crocks
1. Humble House SAUERKROCK Kombucha Crock (Check The Latest Price On Amazon)
Brand: Humble House
Volume: 2.6 gallon
Materials: ceramic and stainless-steel spigot
The humble house kombucha crock doubles down as a continuous brewing setup thanks to its stainless-steel spigot and large volume. The firm relies on high-quality ceramics to mold these crocks before hardening them in extreme temperatures. The crock features a minimalistic, lead and cadmium free natural white finishing. It also has a ring-shaped mouth to hold the cloth cover or paper towel in place during the fermentation. The spigot is made from food-grade stainless steel that’s corrosion-resistant.
What We Liked
The crock can be used for other fermentation projects other than kombucha, such as Jun tea, kefir, etc.
The product is made in the USA and is subject to strict quality control measures
What We Disliked
The glaze finishing has been reported to peel off by some customers which leads to leaks
2. Porcelain Kombucha Dispenser Crock (Check The Latest Price On Amazon)
Brand: For Your Water
Materials: Porcelain with chrome coated BPA free plastic spigot
Volume: 2.5 gallons
If you are looking for a multipurpose crock that can be used to brew kombucha or to simply hold other liquids such as water, then look no further. This porcelain kombucha dispenser crock has an internal volume of 2.5 gallons. The crock has a lovely white finishing and an easy to clean design without any tight nooks and crannies. The crock ring feature allows the crock to accommodate various lids and covers to protect the brew during the fermentation stage. The crock comes with a chrome-plated faucet although it is made from BPA free plastic which isn’t as durable as stainless steel.
What We Liked
The crock has a broad base for increased stability on the counter as well as a wide mouth for easier cleaning
What We Disliked
The crock ships with a BPA plastic-based spigot which is chrome plated, this will eventually wear out especially if scratched and it's not as reliable as food-grade stainless steel
3. USA Handmade Stoneware Kombucha Crock (Check The Latest Price)
Brand: Kombucha Kamp
Materials: stoneware with wooden or stainless-steel spigot
Volume: 2.5 gallons
Kombucha Kamp is currently offering their 2.5-gallon stoneware kombucha crock that features an all-wooden spigot which can be upgraded to a food-grade stainless steel alternative. Every detail is taken into consideration in the manufacturing process from thickness to aesthetics such as gently sloping sides which make it much easier for spent yeast to collect at the bottom. The site is also offering customization options in terms of crock colors, engraving and type of spigot whereby you can either get the hardened wood variety or the food-grade stainless steel alternative.
What We Liked
The ability to customize your crock to fit your needs before ordering is a much welcome addition
What We Disliked
The crock is only available in a single volume configuration
4. Brian Lacy Pottery Kombucha Crock (Check The Latest Price)
Brand: Brian Lacy Pottery
Materials: glazed ceramic with stainless steel spigot
Volume: 2 gallons
Meet the handmade Brian Lacy kombucha crock, which is made entirely on the wheel with unique craftsmanship. This kombucha crock features an internal capacity of 2 gallons for the ultimate brewing experience. The crock has a smooth glaze making it much easier to clean while also protecting the brew from contamination. This is achieved by applying three layers of glaze followed before a second firing to harden the finish. It features a metallic spigot made from food-grade stainless steel.
What We Liked
The crock is handmade in the USA with much attention to details and unique craftsmanship
What We Disliked
The product is rather pricey compared to other similarly sized products
5. Happy Kombucha Crock (Check The Latest Price Here)
Brand: Happy Kombucha
Materials: porcelain with food-grade stainless steel spigot
Happy Kombucha porcelain crock offers a fantastic and beautiful way to brew your kombucha in style. The crock has an internal capacity of 2 gallons. The walls are glazed with lead-free glaze and are sanded after firing and coated once more for the smoothest surface. The firm maintains a limited stock of the crocks; therefore, orders might take up to 4 weeks before they are fulfilled as they have to be commissioned, followed by the potter’s kiln cycle. The crock is equipped with a food-grade stainless steel spigot which makes it much easier to drain the raw kombucha.
What We Liked
The crock can be bought together with a fermentation kit which includes muslin cloth, and a large-sized SCOBY with starter tea to get your first brew set up immediately
What We Disliked
Due to the limited stock, it might take up to 4 weeks before your order is fulfilled
Can You Use A Metal Crock?
The only metal that can be used in kombucha brewing activities is food-grade stainless steel.
What Do You Cover Kombucha With?
Kombucha should be covered with a breathable, tightly woven cloth or coffee filter. These materials can allow gases to pass through freely while also filtering out all contaminants.
Does Kombucha Need Air?
Yes, during the first fermentation cycle, kombucha requires air for constant oxygen supply to the yeast and bacteria culture.
Why Is Metal Bad For Kombucha?
Kombucha contains acetic acid, which reacts with metals and corrodes them. This contaminates the brew with dissolved metallic particles which can be harmful when consumed.