Ahhh, the SCOBY…the humble workhorse and fascinatingly hideous (or beautiful, we are split here) magical secret ingredient of kombucha. Without a SCOBY involved in the process there could be no kombucha, but what exactly is it? “SCOBY” is an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast” and, without getting too technical on you, is the active culture that ferments the tea and makes kombucha everything that it is!
Every time a batch of kombucha is brewed and fermented, the SCOBY (which grows to create a film across the top of whatever container, jar, or tank in which you are brewing) doubles in size, leaving you with two times more than you would need to brew another batch. So here at the Sòlas kombuchery, where we brew in tanks ranging from 500-1000L in size, what do we do with all those extra SCOBYs? Well, some of them go with our co-owner Gabrielle to the “How to Make Kombucha” classes she teaches through the local community college to give to students so they can start brewing their own booch at home. Others we turn into probiotic-packed treats for our dogs at home (SCOBY Snacks, if you will), while still others get parked in a SCOBY Hotel where they “vacation” while they’re not actively being used for fermenting.
But with each SCOBY doubling every time we make a batch, that’s a whole lot of extra! What to do with them all, other than just throwing them in the compost bin, is a question a lot of kombucha brewers have been asking themselves as the popularity of the drink has increased in recent years. A lot of creative answers to that question have popped up and we’d love to share our favourites with you here.
Some folks are turning SCOBYs into clothing, from jackets to vests to shoes, and more! To see an example of such handiwork, check out the German company ScobyTec.
Jewelry-making is another popular option for recycling excess SCOBYs, because of its leathery consistency when dried and treated. Just poke around Etsy to see what some artisans are creating using this unique crafting material!
Incidentally, Clare and Gabrielle decided one day in the middle of an office work day that a spa facial was sorely needed. We attempted to ground up (the Vita-Mix finally meets its match!) some of our extra SCOBYs and added some orange blossom water and crushed and filtered cardamom for aroma. We’re not THAT crazy, because the cooling coagulated mask truly did make our skin feed firm and hydrated, and of course we sliced cucumbers to cool our sore eyes for the full enjoyment. IMPORTANT TO NOTE: It is really easy to get little SCOBY pieces in your hair, but it is really not easy to pull them all out. You can do it!
Should any of our dear readers take up booch making (YASSS!) and suddenly find an abundance of SCOBYs on their hands, either get creative like the folks above or simply pass them on to friends and get them excited about brewing too! And if your schedule is a bit too full to take on home brewing at the moment, we will happily and faithfully keep brewing up delicious local kombucha for you here at Sòlas!