Kombucha Vinegar: Complete Guide
What Is Kombucha Vinegar? Kombucha vinegar is essentially fully matured kombucha, which has been left to ferment for an extended period. Sometimes, kombucha vinegar is created accidentally by leaving your kombucha to brew for too long.
By doing so, this leads to the breakdown of alcohol into acetic acid. For this process to occur, the culture has to feed on the remaining sugar in kombucha and to break it down to ethanol. In the presence of oxygen, the bacteria culture can further breakdown ethanol into acetic acid hence the vinegary flavor.
The acetic acid gives the kombucha an acidic profile characterized by sour and vinegary taste. Due to the extended fermentation period, the final drink has much-reduced sugar content as most of it gets broken down by the yeast culture. The acidic environment also makes it possible to store kombucha vinegar for longer, unlike raw kombucha.
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Can I Use Kombucha Vinegar As A Starter?
Yes, in the absence of a previous batch of kombucha, kombucha vinegar can be used as a starter tea while setting up a brew batch. This is since kombucha vinegar still contains the same culture of yeast and bacteria cells from its raw stages, but they are dormant due to the reduced sugar content in kombucha vinegar.
The acidic nature of kombucha vinegar also comes in handy as it discourages the growth of harmful bacteria within the brew during the fermentation stage. Due to this optimal acidic environment, batches prepared using strong kombucha vinegar are more likely to finish ahead by a day or two.
What does kombucha vinegar taste like?
Kombucha vinegar has an acidic vinegary taste that’s best described as sour. This is due to the considerable amount of acetic acid in the brew. While raw kombucha often contains less than 0.5% acetic acid, kombucha vinegar, on the other hand, has a sizeable 2.5% acetic acid concentration.
Does it taste like vinegar?
Yes, kombucha vinegar has a vinegary taste, although much richer with hints of tea flavors. It is also possible to find kombucha vinegar with hints of sweetness if most of the sugar isn’t already broken down by the yeast culture.
Does kombucha vinegar have probiotics?
Yes, kombucha vinegar still contains the yeast and bacteria culture it had after the first kombucha brew. However, as the yeast culture feeds on most of the sugar, its population starts becoming dormant until sugar is introduced. The bacteria culture breaks down the alcohol produced by the yeast culture and release acetic acid, which makes the brew acidic and gives it its characteristic sourness.
Why does kombucha smell like vinegar?
The smell of vinegar is dictated by the acetic acid dissolved in it. This is also the same reason why kombucha vinegar smells like distilled vinegar. If kombucha vinegar can be distilled, it would have an identical smell to that of vinegar obtained via a different fermentation process and with entirely different ingredients.
Is kombucha vinegar healthy?
Yes, just like any other fermented drink, kombucha vinegar contains probiotics and a much lower sugar count compared to raw kombucha. However, it lacks much of the caffeine content found in raw kombucha as most of the caffeine gets broken down by the culture during the extended fermentation period together with the sugar.
What Do I Do If My Kombucha Is Too Vinegary?
Due to various factors such as temperature fluctuations, your kombucha brew may turn too acidic. However, don’t let this throw you off; it is still possible to recover the drink by improving its taste or letting it ferment for another 30 days, and you will have kombucha vinegar.
Infuse it with a flavor via a second ferment
Fermenting kombucha for a second time with added flavors and a bit of sugar will not only infuse it with an excellent taste but also make it much more effervescent. This is because the sugar found in the added flavor gets fermented anaerobically by the culture in the raw kombucha and produces carbon dioxide, which gets dissolved in the drink.
Let it ferment further to become kombucha vinegar
Allowing the kombucha to ferment for an extended period, usually more than a month after its initial brew, will bring about the breakdown of most of the sugar and release of acetic acid. This creates kombucha vinegar. Kombucha vinegar can then be very useful, including for cleaning, as a hair rinse, and in recipes.
Use it as a starter tea in a future brew
If your kombucha has become too vinegary to drink, you can then use it as a starter tea for your next brew. It is essential to note that the acidic nature of vinegary kombucha serves to shorten the brewing time. This is because in an acidic environment, the yeast and bacteria culture survives optimally, allowing the cells to replicate quickly and hence ferment the brew much faster.
Kombucha Vinegar pH
Kombucha vinegar has a pH of 2.5 to 2.7, making it slightly acidic. This is due to the about 2.55% acetic acid dissolved in the brew. Raw kombucha usually has a pH of about 2.7 to 3.5, making it slightly less acidic compared to kombucha vinegar.
Kombucha Vinegar Eels
Kombucha vinegar eels, also known as Turbatrix aceti, are not eels but a variety of roundworms. Vinegar eels feed on yeast and bacteria culture in the brew and can be quite unsettling if you have never encountered the 2 mm long worms.
They get into the kombucha via contaminated ingredients or contaminated utensils and brewing vessels. For this reason, it is recommended to rinse the fermentation jars with distilled vinegar to prevent a vinegar eels’ invasion.
Kombucha vinegar eels are edible and perfectly safe to eat, but they can harm your SCOBY. It’s recommended to dispose of infected batches and clean all equipment thoroughly before the eels spread to the rest of your brewing projects.
Kombucha eels can instead be used to feed fish in an aquarium without having to worry about food residues as the fish consume them whole.
Check out our article on Vinegar Eels here.
How To Make Kombucha Vinegar
Glass jar (1-gallon capacity)
Coffee filter or dish towel
1 gallon raw kombucha tea
1. Pour the raw kombucha into the clean glass fermentation jar.
2. Place the dish towel or paper towel to cover the top of the jar and use a rubber band to hold it in place.
3. Store the jar away from direct sunlight and within room temperature and allow it to sit for 4 to 6 weeks to fully ferment and become kombucha vinegar.
How To Store Kombucha Vinegar
Temperature: Room temperature
Due to its acidic nature, it shouldn’t be stored and handled in metallic or plasticware unless you are using food-grade stainless steel utensils. This is because acetic acid can dissolve plastic particles and react with metals.
Time Frame: Up to 3 months
Our Recommended Storage - 16oz Bottles
A hinge bottle is the absolute best option for home brewers. They're air tight, easy to secure and can put them in your bag and drink during the day.
These bottles come with stickers, no more confusion and surprises when drinking!
Uses For Kombucha Vinegar
Household Multi Purpose Cleaner
Kombucha vinegar contains antibacterial properties originating from the billions of probiotics. It also contains acetic acid, which is strong enough to oxidize the most stubborn stains around the house.
Filter the kombucha vinegar to remove any residues which might block the spray nozzle. Then fill the spray bottle and spray at full strength on all surfaces. Kombucha vinegar is well adapted to deal with bath and shower scum and can even be infused with an aroma using lavender oil or geranium to provide a pleasant scent.
Kombucha vinegar can also be used to descale kettles, coffee makers, and dishwashers. Boil a cup of kombucha vinegar in the kettle and let it loosen the scales before scrubbing it. For the coffee maker and dishwasher, run 2 cups of kombucha vinegar for a cycle or two.
Substituting Vinegar In Recipes
Kombucha vinegar is a much healthier alternative to distilled vinegar as it contains probiotics and a much richer flavor. Therefore, if you have some lying around, experiment with the recipes and use kombucha vinegar to substitute the distilled vinegar. Kombucha can replace white vinegar as well as wine vinegar in all related recipes. Kombucha vinegar is a great alternative for salad dressings.
Kombucha vinegar can be used to create delicious dishes, check out some of our favorite recipes below:
Kombucha Vinegar Recipes:
Kombucha vinegar can be used as a drain cleaner thanks to its acidic nature. To unblock a drain, you will need to pour down a cup of baking soda mixed with water down the drain. Add a couple of cups of kombucha vinegar and repeat until unblocked.
Kombucha vinegar’s acidity is excellent for product build-up on hair as it quickly dissolves the gunk. The acidity helps in smoothing down cuticles of the hair, giving it a shiny, silky look.
Remember to dilute the kombucha vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio to avoid any stinging sensation that might be caused by skin irritation on the scalp. Kombucha vinegar can also be combined with various herbs such as chamomile, elderflower, and lavender to make a tantalizing homemade shampoo.
Our favorite recipe by Humblebee and Me
Kombucha vinegar contains antibacterial properties making it beneficial in fighting off fungi, microbes, and harmful bacteria that might be growing on your feet. This makes kombucha vinegar ideal for treating foot odor, warts, and athlete’s foot.
Our favorite recipe by Eco Salon
Kombucha vinegar has a tightening and smoothing effect on human skin, making it the perfect skin toner. The natural acids that are a byproduct of the fermentation process dissolve the bonds holding dead skin cells so that they can peel away while rinsing your skin.
Kombucha vinegar still retains the antiseptic properties typically found in raw kombucha. These serve to fight off harmful bacteria and fungi that might be inhabiting the skin and also in rebalancing the skin’s ph.
Dip a cotton swab in kombucha vinegar and gently wipe over the face.
Disclaimer: Kombucha vinegar contains acetic acid, which might cause skin burn on sensitive skin and should, therefore, be checked on a small surface of the skin such as on the arm to see if there’s any reaction before using on the face.
Our favorite recipe by One Green Planet