Mombucha HQ: How Mombucha Do

Folks often ask how the Mombucha machine’s mechanisms manifest.  It’s pretty simple actually, I mean, I make it in my kitchen just as you would make it for yourself if you weren’t so freaked out by that squiddy mushroomy thing.😉

So here’s my kitchen with all the old photos on my fridge from when I dropped out of college and dove cross-country to San Francisco.  I’m quite meticulous and super clean about everything.  Part of Ruth’s instructions, the original Mombucha Guru Mama, are to make sure your area is clean… so I take that to mean my whole apartment.  All 20 batches of this week’s Mombucha are stacked using counter shelves in 4-quart Pyrex bowls as you can well observe.  Everything’s out in the open as I believe good things should be.

There’s a space heater in the upper left hand corner which, in the winter, warms the little boocha bowls because the heat in my apartment is essentially broken.  In the warm weather months, it’s used as a fan to push the vapors along the corridor up there to the kitchen fan (out of sight to the right on the ceiling) which is running pretty much constantly to suck out the smell which can be intense if not remedied.  The cultures require ventilation as the growing scoby feeds off nutrients in the air.

That other white contraption on top of the fridge is a humidifier which keeps the brew bowls hydrated.  If things get too dry, they can wither and weaken.  The culture really prefers a warm, humid environment to thrive so living in Brooklyn requires a bit of terra forming.

Here’s the bottle depository.  When you swap out your old bottle it gets sterilized with boiling water and vinegar then stored in this little area next to my fridge.  When these guys are ready to fill, I’ll clean them out with more boiling water again just to be sure, flip the top and set them to cure in the coat closet.

Ta-da!  Here the finished brew just sits quietly in an anaerobic environment (closed bottle with no air) where the yeast culture particles devour the residual sugar and pump up the ethel alcohol content slightly.  Still haven’t had my brew tested for how much alcohol is actually in there but those results are imminently forthcoming.  I suspect is somewhere in the 2-3% range.

As you can see, the supply is dwindling steadily (thanks to all of you!) but come this weekend which includes back-to-back events, the Greenpoint Food Market and Dance Dance Library Revolution, I’ll have all 20 of those batches bottled and ready to roll out.  I can’t reveal the new flavors officially yet but just know I’ve got three new blends and a variation on an old one that I’m really looking forward to.

See you this weekend!

Photos courtesy of Veronica Chan of World to Table who also happens to be a phenomenal baker of green tea cookies as well as being a formidable Settler of Catan.  Thanks again!

4 thoughts on “Mombucha HQ: How Mombucha Do

    1. Nope! The only brew that ever molded was one I tried with green tea a long time ago while I was still learning. I’d left the vessel in my oven with no ventilation and for some reason some bread mold formed on top of the culture. Ever since, I’ve kept my brews in well ventilated areas using cotton cloth as the cover and have not had a single problem with mold since. At home or in a brewery, mold can happen if you’re not careful but I’ve found it’s simple to avoid. Thanks for writing!

  1. Hi I have a quick question. How do you sterilize with vinegar and hot water? I’ve recently started making my own homemade kombucha and use the exact same size bottles!

    1. Hey there! Kombucha is an astringent so there’s really no need to sterilize unless you notice the bottles are collecting some residue or odor or mold. One way is to use a cap full of bleach in a sink full of hot water. Another is to use boiling water and vinegar. I actually swap out the bottles I use in my service and sterilize them just as a precaution in one of those two ways. Happy fermenting!

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