Does this batch of kombucha look, umm.... normal?
August 25, 2013 10:58 AM   Subscribe

My first quart-sized batch of kombucha didn't look like this at all. It looked pretty normal. I'm not sure if I just need to wait, or if this is mold and I need to throw out the juice and start over, or what. Judging by these pictures, can you tell if this batch is a variation of normal, or a flop?
posted by luciddream928 to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pics listed as private.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:09 AM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can't see the pictures, but how old is the batch? Can you describe the smell?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:13 AM on August 25, 2013

Whoops, I'll change the settings! Thanks for letting me know. I think this link will work.

Well... the smell is nice and vinegar-y, it smells good. No foul odor. What I'm worried about is the bluish color off to the right.

The batch at the time of the pictures was 5 days old. I posted a few more recent ones just now. Those are from today, and I edited the titles so it's easier to tell the kombucha's progress.
posted by luciddream928 at 11:44 AM on August 25, 2013

Still not working.
posted by Unified Theory at 11:59 AM on August 25, 2013

I don't know the answer, but the photos work for me.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2013

Here's a link to my profile, rather than the album - maybe that will work better?
posted by luciddream928 at 12:01 PM on August 25, 2013

Looks fine to me. What measures have you taken to prevent foreign debris from entering the jar? When I make kombucha, I cover my jar with a paper towel and secure it using a rubber band. Are you doing something like that?
posted by oceanjesse at 12:28 PM on August 25, 2013

The pictures work for me too. It looks fine. It doesn't look like mold from what I can tell. It looks like the barest beginnings of a scoby starting to form, which is good! Mold will look more like fuzzy greenish, blackish, or whitish spots. Usually circular spots. If you can spot mold on bread or fruit or what-have-you, then you know what to look for. Keep the brew covered with a paper towel secured by a rubber band, and use clean hands/utensils to handle the brew, and you can be fairly sure that it won't get contaminated.
posted by fancyoats at 1:12 PM on August 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hi Oceanjesse & fancyoats,

Yes - I did exactly that, covered it with a paper towel and rubber band. Oh, wow, I'm surprised - it looks so strange! The bluish color really threw me off. I was on the fence about it because it didn't look like mold. It does look better today. Maybe a gallon-sized batch takes longer to ferment. The last batch I made was a quart-sized jar; I checked that batch after 7 days, and didn't check it beforehand. This batch is much bigger and I checked it sooner, maybe this is just part of the normal process of the scoby forming.

It definitely doesn't look fuzzy, green, or black, and it smells good, so I guess I'll just wait it out.

Thanks everyone!
posted by luciddream928 at 1:50 PM on August 25, 2013

I went back to look at your pics to see what you meant by bluish color. What I think you are talking about is really just how a normal culture looks when it is in the process of developing. Like, it gets sorta cloudy looking when it is on its way, before it is thick enough to be opaque. And yes, a bigger batch will take a little longer to ferment, but it should still work, no matter the size of the starter culture. Good luck!
posted by fancyoats at 3:44 PM on August 25, 2013

IAMA Microbiologist, IAMNY Microbiologist, and this does not constitute microbiological advice, but that looks like a normal SCOBY forming to me. However, we can't really tell at this early of a stage, much less with such fuzzy pictures. If you post newer pictures we can take another look for you.

Molds forming are really the big hazard with homemade kombucha and if you don't know if you would be able to identify it, then it is very much worth proceeding cautiously.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:58 AM on August 26, 2013

Totally normal SCOBY. The range of what a normally developing SCOBY can look like is pretty diverse. Sometimes you get that bluish film, sometimes you get a bunch of little white dots (that REALLY look like mold) that then combine into one big SCOBY.

You can start taste-testing a little every day, either with a turkey baster or with a straw (use your finger to create suction, like bartenders testing a cocktail).
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2013

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