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Brew your own kombucha
We think that brewing kombucha at home is an easy, fun activity that results in a delicious, healthy beverage. Brewing your own kombucha is also much less expensive than buying it in a store. Plus, you have the advantage of tailoring the finished beverage to your own taste buds and creating interesting flavors.
Kombucha brewing jar requirements
The kombucha brewing container needs to be:
- large enough to produce a reasonable size batch of kombucha
- made of a material that is safe for brewing
- of a size that fits into your kombucha brewing space
- easy to keep clean
- able to be moved easily
Kombucha brewing jar size recommendations
One gallon jars are often called pickle jars, because for a long time pickles came in this size jar for use in stores and restaurants.
One gallon size glass jars are still used at restaurants who buy mayonnaise, salad dressings and other food products in that quantity, including of course, pickles. You may also find food products in one gallon jars at the big box stores.
Sometimes a bigger kombucha brewing vessel is better
Ultimately, we found that a two and one half gallon brewing vessel was just about right for us. But each brewer has their own needs, so of course, it is up to you.
Why wider kombucha brewing jars work better
Wider brewing jars brew faster. Here’s why. The wider the jar, the larger the SCOBY grows, since the new SCOBY always grows to cover the top of the fermenting brew. Also, wider jars allows the SCOBY to get more of the oxygen it craves.
Best kombucha brewing jar materials
Glass kombucha brewing jars
So far, we have been only been recommending jars made of glass. We like glass jars because they are inexpensive and easy to keep clean. Since the mouth should be wide enough to get your hand into, it is easy to scrub away residue. It is also handy to be able to see into the jar and check on how your SCOBY is doing.
Porcelain or ceramic kombucha brewing containers
Porcelain is a kind of ceramic—the names are used interchangeably. They can work fine for brewing kombucha and many brewers like them.
One very important fact to know is that some ceramics are made with lead, which is poisonous to both the SCOBY and you. Lead is a heavy metal that is very dangerous to ingest and causes serious medical problems for those that get it into their bodies by mistake.
Ceramic jars are easy to keep clean if they have wide mouths. Most are sturdy and thicker than glass, which makes them heavier to move around. Ceramic can also scratch or chip, so just like glass kombucha brewers, it is important to keep a good grip when moving it around.
Stainless steel kombucha brewing fermenters
Much high end brewing equipment is constructed of stainless steel. These containers can be used to brew kombucha at home. Stainless steel containers come in many sizes, including very large ones, so if you want to brew large quantities of kombucha, they may be your only choice.
Steel is easy to clean, strong, and won’t break if you bump or drop it. It can also be easily fitted with a valve near the bottom which makes putting the brewed kombucha into bottles easy.
Plastic kombucha brewing containers
Yes, you can brew kombucha in a plastic bucket. For larger than two gallon batches of kombucha, a food grade plastic bucket is an inexpensive choice.
These are readily available at your local brewing supply store and online because many home beer brewers use them. You’ll want to be sure to only use plastic that is designed for food. Other types of plastic can leach chemicals into your batch of kombucha.
A note on kombucha brewing container spigots
If you are brewing in a smaller (one gallon or so) container, you can simply pour your finished brew (after removing the SCOBY) into a pitcher and then use a funnel to bottle it. But larger kombucha brewing vessels are unwieldy to pick up and pour from, so you need an easier way to get the finished brew into bottles.
The solution that we find works best for us is an autosiphon. You can learn about one here.
More choices in quality stainless steel spigots
The proper covering for a kombucha brewing jar
So you must tightly cover your fermentation container with a cloth covering. You want one that has a tight enough weave to keep out insects and dust, but can still let air in. We have always found that a cloth napkin or handkerchief works perfectly and that is what we recommend.
You also don’t want to use is cheesecloth, because the weave is too open to keep your brew safe. And you don’t want to use any type of lid that keeps the air out.
Kombucha brewing jars that are unsuitable for brewing
Plastic or rubber containers that are not food safe.
All plastic containers are manufactured from materials derived from oil, natural gas, or coal. They often contain many other kinds of chemicals that are not safe for human consumption. The SCOBY is a very active organism and can dissolve out chemicals from the plastic and create a brew full of chemical compounds that you do not want to drink.
Metals other than stainless steel
Most metals are not good for the SCOBY and not good for you to ingest. Only high quality stainless steel will prevent the SCOBY from leaching metal compounds into your kombucha. Stay away from containers made of copper, aluminum, or low grade steel.
Lead crystal glass
All crystal glass contains lead. As mentioned, this is a heavy metal that is very dangerous and causes serious medical problems when ingested.
Colored glass containers
Most colored glass also contain lead, a very dangerous metal to have in your kombucha. These jars are quite pretty, but don’t be tempted to use them to brew kombucha.