Choosing the right brewing location

Since kombucha is a living thing, picking a good location for

your brewing vessels is really important. The yeast and

bacteria can feed off their environment, so location does

matter.

 

This is especially true for your 1st fermentation vessels,

since they should only covered by a breathable cotton cloth.

Location matters less for 2nd fermentation (once your

kombucha is bottled and sealed), but I’ll still give some tips

below on best practices for both stages of fermentation.

 

And if you haven’t already, check out my post on

temperature. You should choose your brewing location

based on the most ideal environment you can make for your vessels.

 

Location tips for first fermentation (F1)

 

  • Good air flow. Avoid closed-off or musty, dusty areas. Your SCOBY could pick up musty odors caused by bacteria living in enclosed spaces. Avoid cupboards, especially if there’s the possibility of moisture/dampness accumulating in the space. Moisture + closed spaces = prime real estate for mold. It can often be difficult to spot mold growing in a dark kitchen cabinet. But if you have a moldy cabinet you’re not aware of, and you decide to keep your brew vessel there, that’s a really good way to get a moldy brew.

    • Some people like to brew in closets or pantries. If they’re large enough and you open/close the doors frequently enough to promote airflow, that could work. But if you want to keep it in your coat closet, just remember that kombucha can sometimes smell a little pungent/acidic, so you’d have to be OK with your clothes potentially picking that up.

 

  • Away from direct sunlight. This is more of a fail-safe tip than a hard-and-fast rule. It’s OK if your SCOBY/kombucha vessels see a little bit sunlight every now and then. The sun won’t immediately kill the bacteria. But I recommend avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight because the sun can have anti-microbial/anti-bacterial properties — which is counterproductive to the bacteria-rich environment you want to promote in your brew vessel.

 

  • Away from harsh chemicals. Don’t spray air fresheners or cleaning products near your brew vessels. Your scoby could absorb those chemicals, even in small amounts. Which could ultimately lead to your SCOBY dying or the symbiosis of your scoby getting thrown off because you’ve introduced chemicals to it.

 

  • Away from garbage. For obvious reasons. You don’t want your SCOBY absorbing and bacteria or odors from your trash. Mold is also pretty common in trash cans or trash bags.

 

  • Away from other fermenting foods. If you ferment other foods in your home (like beer, kefir, yogurt or sourdough) you probably want to put some distance between them to prevent yeasts and bacteria from infecting each other. I know “infection” sounds like such a deadly dramatic term. In this case, they’re all probably good yeasts and bacteria, but you don’t want them cross populating or affecting each other because it can throw off your fermentation. Keep your fermenting foods in separate rooms if possible. If it’s not possible, try to keep around 5 feet of distance between them.

    • For example, I ferment beer and kombucha in my living room, and they’re separated by around 8 feet of space. We haven’t yet had any issues of our ferments affecting each other.

 

  • Away from houseplants. Certain types of bacteria or insects can live on your houseplant. It’s safest to keep your kombucha vessel away from plants, especially if they attract flies. Houseplants can also harbor mold (since water can easily get trapped in the soil, in the planter), and we definitely don’t want kombucha to be near something moldy.

 

  • Away from mold. This should go without saying. I do have a whole article dedicated to mold (and why our kombucha mold fears are generally blown out of proportion). But we encounter mold in our lives quite frequently. We probably just don’t think about it very often — it’s commonly in cheese, on old bread, veggies in our fridge. We don’t have to freak out about it, but we should avoid it. So it may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people wonder why their kombucha got moldy...and never point their finger at the bowl of mealy apples going bad in a fruit bowl next to their brew vessel.

 

Location tips for second fermentation (F2)

 

At this point, your kombucha will have already been bottled and sealed, so a lot of the rules above don’t need to apply. It is in a sealed container, after all. So it’s much less vulnerable to its environment.

 

  • Closed cupboard/cooler (without ice!). This is a precaution to avoid messes (or worse, explosions). I really want to stress the importance of using good-quality bottles and caps for second fermentation. Learn about that here. You’re brewing a carbonated beverage and it’s a living thing, so it can be difficult to achieve perfect consistency every single time. If you use thin glass or glass that’s not pressure-rated, you could have a mess on your hands if the carbonation builds and the glass can’t handle it. Keeping your F2 bottles in a closed cabinet or cooler will prevent glass from shattering everywhere and contain the liquid mess if something happens to go wrong.

    • I’ve also had some caps loosen slightly on me over the course of F2 — so even though the glass didn’t break, the pressure was enough to unscrew the caps and some liquid leaked out of my bottles. Having everything in a closed cabinet really helped with the cleanup.

  • Away from direct sunlight. Again, this is more of a precautionary tip. If your kombucha has already acidified to the point that you’re bottling it, you likely don’t have to worry much about sunlight killing your bacteria. But if you really want to be safe, just keep it in a dark area as your bottles F2 for however many days it takes to build carbonation. Then move it straight into the fridge afterwards.

​© 2019 by You Brew Kombucha

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