Kombucha Jars And Vessels For Brewing: The Comprehensive Guide – Grow Your Pantry

Kombucha Jars And Vessels For Brewing: The Comprehensive Guide

by Susan Grey on September 28, 2019
kombucha_jars_and_vessels
The perfect jar or brewing vessel for kombucha can often be hard to pick. How much are you going to brew? Which material is best? How to choose a vessel for continuous brewing?
Kombucha was originally brewed in ceramic or pottery. Materials may have evolved and changed, with the advent of cheap plastics and mass production, but the 2000-year-old question of what to brew your drink in has stayed the same. 
After reading this article you’ll understand all things to consider before buying your new brewing vessel.
Not Much Time? Skip To What You'd Like To Learn...

Considerations Before Buying A Jar Or Vessel

kombucha_jar

Design Of Brewing Vessel

The design of a vessel is very important, there are many variations out there, each being slightly different, and therefore requires careful consideration. We try to unpack that for you, by briefly describing who this jar is best for and what the advantages and disadvantages of picking this type of vessel are. Allowing you to decide the design of your new vessel.
 
1 Gallon Glass Jar
  Without a doubt, the most popular of all brewing vessels, the one-gallon glass jar is available to buy in kombucha brewing kits or individually. A 1-gallon jar can brew roughly 20 8oz portions of the fizzy beverage. 
Perfect Profile: Steady Susy, drinks a small glass of kombucha daily.
 Advantages:
  • Most SCOBYs are sold to brew 1-gallon batches. When brewing a new batch, you won’t have to think about finding a larger SCOBY, extra starter juice, or whether you need to add two SCOBYs to one batch.
  • Available For Low Cost. There are a lot of USA manufacturers of glassware at reasonable prices. You’ll be able to pick up a high-quality jar for under $10.
 Disadvantages:
  • Brewing Small Amounts - the main disadvantage is that you can only brew in relatively small batches so you’ll always have to have a batch brewing if you drink a lot.
 
Small Glass Jars
  Brewing less than one gallon is not recommended for the fact that it requires the same amount of effort and time as brewing a larger batch. Given the fact that you’ll often need to buy ingredients in bulk, it makes sense to brew the larger volume. If you’re brewing a smaller batch, you could use a ½ gallon or ¼ gallon glass jar. To go smaller than that is not recommended. 
Perfect Profile: Tester Tim. Wants to try many variations and always experiment.  
  Advantages:
  • Test multiple types of flavors, ingredients, and experiments in small volumes. Often you'll feel guilty if you brew a big batch with a new flavor and it doesn’t work. You’ll end up throwing the whole gallon away, making small brewing ideal.
  • Perfect for small kitchens. If you’re bound by space and need something smaller, you could opt for the ½ gallon variation.
  Disadvantages:
  • The same amount of time for a small yield. If you drink a lot of kombucha, you’ll need to be brewing continuously to keep up with demand.
    Continuous Brewing Jar With Spigot
    An excellent system for a continuous supply of kombucha at home. The idea behind this system is that you can refill from the top of the vessel and then take from the jar only what you’d like to drink or bottle. The difference between this jar and others is the spigot or tap at the bottom. The material can be made of porcelain, glass, and high-density plastic. Continuous brewing systems come in larger varieties, most commonly 1.3, 2, 2.5, 3 and 5-gallon variations.
    Perfect Profile: Francis’ Family
     Advantages:
    • Continuous Supply Of Kombucha. No better benefit than that!
    • Less Cleaning. Instead of cleaning out all of the equipment after every brew, you can now do it once every few brews. You are saving you much time.
     Disadvantages:
    • Not for experimenting. If you’re looking to experiment with lots of flavors then, large scale brewing will be difficult and more frustrating.
    Wood Barrels
    Perfect Profile: Commercial Colin, brews for a living.
    Generally reserved for whiskey and gin this vessel for brewing can be a viable alternative for kombucha too. Typically made from oak wood and bound using metal. This will undoubtedly be a talking point when friends come over. You can get them in sizes from a small countertop to a full-size commercial brewing. Beware that just like brewing whiskey, the aging and flavors of the barrel will come through in the taste of your brew.
    Advantages: 
    • Looks amazing. Brewing in an oak barrel is a rare sight for kombucha and will give it a unique taste, not available from glass or plastic vessel production.
    • Large scale production. Producing such a vast amount of kombucha at once can lead you to sell your favorite brew to friends and family and turning your hobby into a moneymaker!
     Disadvantages:
    • Can’t see your brew develop. One of the great things about brewing in transparent glass is the ability to look through your vessel and seeing how your ‘bucha changes colors, SCOBY grows, the birth of the baby. Waking up and checking it is a real joy of home brewing.
    • You need to store your big batch somewhere. The optimal temperature for brewing kombucha is somewhere between 70 to 80 degrees. Storing this in your garage in winter isn’t ideal. Before buying, make sure you know where you will store the finished kombucha.

    What's The Perfect Size For Me?

    glass_bottles

    Most jars and brewing vessels sit between ½ - 5 Gallons but you can buy up to commercial production size vessels too. To know the perfect size for you, check the chart below before purchasing.
    Each jar is a different size meaning that you produce a variable amount of liquid. If you’re looking to consume a 16oz bottle a day, you’re going to need a larger vessel than someone that consumes 8oz twice per week.
    Remember, kombucha doesn’t ever go off. However, the taste will change, so if you brew a lot, be ready to drink it all within six months.
     
    1/4 Gallon
    1/2 Gallon
    1 Gallon
    2 Gallon
    2.5 Gallon
    5 Gallon
    8oz 
    5
    10
    20
    40
    50
    100
    16oz
    2
    5
    10
    20
    25
    50
    32oz
    1
    3
    5
    10
    13
    25
    Number of servings per batch

    Material Of Brewing Vessel

    pottery_spinning

    Kombucha can only be brewed and stored within certain materials. Many materials will not only ruin your batch but potentially damage your health too. As the kombucha’s quality can be easily compromised the number one tip is, order from someone reputable that recommends their product for kombucha brewing.

    Glass

    What To Use: New glass produced by a reputable manufacturer that is lead-free.
    Why is glass the most common brewing vessel?
    Glass is the most common material used when brewing. It’s versatile, doesn’t leach contaminants, alter the taste of the brew, it’s cheap to buy and you can watch your brew develop too. Just some of the many reasons glass is popular. When brewing kombucha for the first time or inexperienced brewer, we would recommend using glass.
    When deciding on the type of glass you’re using, there are a few things to consider before buying.
    Type Of Glass
    There are a few varieties of glass. For kombucha, the most important thing to ensure is that it’s 100% lead-free, and rated to contain food and liquids. A few recent studies have proven that some glass from less reputable supplies has been found to contain lead and other heavy metals. As kombucha is acidic and stored in the vessel so long it has the chance to “eat-away” at the glass and contaminate your brew.
    Stained & Crystal Glass
    Traditionally to get the bright colors for stained glass and also crystal shaped glass, manufacturers have used lead and other heavy metals. As a rule, we avoid all colored, stained, or crystal glass. Avoid when buying second hand or if you’re not sure if it contains lead. 

    Plastic 

    What To Use: High-density plastics that have been specifically designed by brewers for kombucha.
    Plastic has received a bad name for a long time. When it contained BPA and other dangerous chemicals that could be leaked into the kombucha brew, kombucha being very acidic, over time will wear away at the material.
    Some commercial brewers are now using high-density plastics that are guaranteed not to leach any materials or breakdown when brewing. Therefore are using plastic vessels for large scale production of kombucha.
    Normal Plastic
    Although BPA free and guaranteed to store food and drink, I still would not use. Many are produced in China and other countries that have lower regulations for the quality of plastic. For quality assurance, I would go to a quality brewing company that produces its products at a reputable factory with high standards. This will undoubtedly cost you more money for the upfront investment, but your health is uncompromisable.
    Should I Use Plastic Or Not?
     The answer is yes, and no. Use high-density plastics that come from a reputable source that has been designed specifically for kombucha brewing. That can withstand the prolonged exposure to low pH and do not compromise on their quality.
     

    Metal

    What To Use: Minimum grade of 304 Stainless Steel. Do not use aluminum, brass, copper, silver, gold, or any other low-quality steel.
    Some metals are dangerous to brew kombucha in and can't come into contact with kombucha at anytime. Others will kill the taste of your brew quickly. The only metal that has been rated 304 Stainless Steel or above can be used. Below this standard, you may get a compromised batch that you can not drink.
    Vessels
    You can brew in a 304 stainless steel pot with no concern. Cleaning may be easier, and temperature control can also be easier too. Again, buy from a reputable brewing supplier that produces vessels and products specifically for kombucha brewing.
    Spigot
    A spigot is the little “tap” feature at the bottom of a vessel. They are often fitted in metal with a silicon seal or plastic fitting. When picking a continuous brewing vessel, you will need to see what type of spigot they attach. For the material of the spigot comes into contact with the brew picking the right material is essential. 
    Commonly you can get 304 stainless steel spigot with a silicon seal. The nut on the rear side will tightly secure your spigot in place, ensuring no leaks.
    Before buying be sure to check the seal has been rated to work well and the materials are high quality.
    Can Kombucha Touch Metal?
    Yes and no, be sure it’s the right type of metal before you let them come into contact.

    Ceramic & Porcelain

    What To Use: New ceramic & porcelain produced with a kombucha grade internal glaze, and manufactured by a reputable supplier.
     Both of these materials can be considered the same for this analysis. The only difference between ceramic and porcelain materials is how porous they’re. When brewing kombucha they need to be coated or glazed, so we’re treating them the same for our considerations.
    What To Look Out For
    Like everything kombucha, the right type of ceramic and porcelain can be used, and the wrong type should be avoided.
    • Has the interior of the vessel been glazed? The interior of your vessel needs a protective coat inside that will prevent the material leaching into your brew.
    • Is there a spigot attached? If there is, check the steps above for making sure the most suitable material for kombucha spigots have been selected.
    • Is it a decorative piece or kombucha brewing device? Depending on what your piece of pottery has been designed for significantly impacts the safety. You should not be using, vases, fruit bowls, or other decorative pieces. Instead select a vessel that has been designed specifically for this use.

    Mouth Size And Brewing

    mason_jar_lids

    We recommend the smaller the volume of brewing vessel the smaller the size of the mouth and surface area of a vessel should be. As the size of the vessel increase, so should the size of the mouth.
    The size of the vessel mouth probably isn’t the most crucial consideration to look at before buying. However, you should be aware that there are a couple of variations and how they influence production.
    The Size Of The Mouth And Influence On Brew
    The larger the mouth size, the faster the brew. When buying a vessel, think about how much you’re trying to brew in relation to the size of the mouth. For example, using a wide mouth jar for ¼ of a gallon brew will be very fast, but probably more sour than a wide mouth 1-gallon jar.
    The perfect size is finding the balance between the width of the mouth and the amount being brewed. 
    Common Sizes Of Mouths
    • Standard size mouth. This is the most common of all jars and brewing vessels. For large batch quantities, you may have to fold your SCOBY up before placing it inside. 
    • Wide mouth jar. Not so common is the larger mouth variation of brewing jar. This can be easier if you’re putting your hand inside to get pH samples, taste samples, and removing SCOBYs. Especially useful if you’re brewing a smaller amount in a larger jar. 
    For example, brewing a ½ gallon quantity in a 1-gallon jar the extra room may come in handy for fitting your hand in.

    Brand Considerations

    There are not so many dominant brands when it comes to supplies. Most pick from where they can get it delivered the fastest for the best price. Here a few points to think about before buying your next vessel.
    Source of a vessel - China vs. the USA
    Although not a complete guarantee, in general, the manufacturing standards and requirements in the USA, UK, and Europe ensure that product quality is higher than China. China does produce many high-quality products, but the price and profit margins tend to be the most critical factor. Where we can we choose a USA produced product. 
    Guarantees
    A company that stands by its products and offers satisfaction, time, or quality guarantee is more likely to be recommended. Because if you’re not happy you can get a refund - we would suggest purchasing from this type of company.
    Pressure Rated And Tested
    Having a jar that has been pressure tested and rated isn’t necessary for kombucha. However, by buying one, it means that you repurpose it for canning, or fermenting afterward. Ensuring nothing is wasted.
     

    Covering Your Jar

    kombucha_cover

    For a successful brew, it’s necessary to cover your jar. It’s essential for two main reasons: air exchange (letting Co2 out, and fresh air coming in) also keeping fruit flies away from your sweet kombucha.
    Fruit flies can ruin your batch very quickly, especially in summer months. Attracted to the scent of the sugar, it’s essential to have a tight-knit covering for your batch.
    Recommended coverings
    Homemade Options
    • Folding a tight-knit cheesecloth over 3-4 times then securing with a rubber band
    • Folding a tea towel over a couple of times then securing with a rubber band
    Store-Bought Options
    • Kombucha Covers - a specially designed cover for kombucha a bit more expensive but designed for the job

    Common Questions

    Can I use a mason jar?
    Yes! You can use a mason jar. In most cases a mason jar that has been produced for alkaline food and drinks to be contained for long term storage. For popular products such as sauerkraut, kimchi or pickled vegetables.
    BACK TO TOP