Don’t get mad if your kombucha goes bad
There are two consistencies in particular that I have often had good experiences with implementing in my kitchen: balsamic consistency, syrupy consistency, and simple aqueous consistency. See two examples of how I use my sour kombucha below. Before the country was hit by sourdough obsession, kombucha was the hottest new topic sending crowds of home cooks to the store for more pickling jars. But, unfortunately, not all attempts were equally successful. But now, the rescue has come if your home brewing project has gone bad. Kombucha brewer and owner of Bornholm Kombucha and Nordic Fermentation, Malene Rossil, has come to save you and your sour kombucha.
Any kombucha brewer, whether on a large scale or as a homebrewer, has been left with one or really many batches of too sour kombucha, which usually loses its life to the drain. But, according to Malene Rossil, owner of Nordic Fermentation and Bornholms Kombucha, giving your sour kombucha to the drain is a complete sin, as there are so many options for using an acidic kombucha in cooking. Acidity in vinegar is a house stable for many in their everyday cooking – so why shouldn’t your kombucha be?
Start thinking of your kombucha as having a place on the tray next to the classic apple cider or sherry vinegar.
An acidic kombucha occurs when the acetic acid-forming bacteria have overruled the yeast strains in the kombucha culture. A kombucha culture consists of a (strongly) varying ratio of yeast and bacteria that live in balance with each other. Depending on how one treats the kombucha culture, the relationship will vary. Regulate whether you want to promote the taste of vinegar or promote a massive umami bomb by stimulating the yeast growth in the brew. A yeast that you can easily use for baking!
When a kombucha goes “sour,” it’s most often because a kombucha has had too much access to oxygen, turning sugars into acetic acids and other organic acids. Yeast then usually decays and falls to the bottom of the container. At this point, another beautiful cellulose layer is formed on the surface of the liquid. A layer of cellulose, which is popularly called a kombucha mushroom or a kombucha mushroom. Precisely the same structure as a starter SCOBY, just with slightly different yeast and acetic acids ratios.
Sour kombucha creates new opportunities
So what do you do with your sour kombucha instead of pouring it in the sink? Fortunately, a bad kombucha has many ways of adding an extra kick of umami to your meals.
You can get a kombucha culture to contain approx. 2.5% acetic acid. This resembles a mild vinegar that can taste absolutely wonderful. Use it for quick pickling of, for example, red onions, cucumbers, and raspberries and eat them within the next couple of days. Fortunately, it is not difficult – it tastes great. In addition, you can use sour kombucha for a really lovely oil vinegar dressing. Vary as you like for infinities. If you have a fruity, acidic kombucha, skip the oil, as the kombucha vinegar itself gives plenty of flavors. Feel free to add black pepper, chili, or similar, as spice often suits fruity kombuchas.