When should I remove my old SCOBY?

Answered by James Kissner

Determining when to remove your old SCOBY depends on a few factors. The most common reasons for removing a SCOBY are mold growth and continuous fermentation struggles.

1. Mold Growth:
If you notice any mold growing on your SCOBY, it is crucial to remove it immediately. Mold can be recognized by its fuzzy appearance and various colors, such as blue, green, or black. Mold is an indication of contamination and can be harmful if consumed. When you encounter mold, it is best to discard both the SCOBY and the liquid it was fermenting in.

2. Continuous Fermentation Struggles:
If your SCOBY is consistently struggling to ferment, it might be a sign that it needs to be replaced. There could be several reasons for this, including an imbalance in the culture or a weakened SCOBY.

A. Imbalance in the Culture:
If you notice that your kombucha is not fermenting properly or experiencing prolonged fermentation times, it could be due to an imbalance in the culture. This can occur when the ratio of bacteria to yeast is disrupted. Adding a fresh SCOBY can help restore balance and improve fermentation.

B. Weakened SCOBY:
Over time, SCOBYs can become weakened and less effective at fermenting kombucha. Signs of a weakened SCOBY include thinning, discoloration, or reduced fermentation activity. If you have tried various troubleshooting methods, such as adjusting temperature or brewing time, and your SCOBY still struggles to ferment, it might be time to replace it.

In some cases, you may be able to revive a struggling SCOBY by addressing the underlying issues. For example, if there is an imbalance in the culture, you can try adding a small piece of a healthy SCOBY or a kombucha starter liquid from a reliable source. Additionally, providing optimal brewing conditions, such as maintaining the right temperature (around 75-85°F or 24-29°C) and using quality ingredients, can contribute to a healthier SCOBY.

To summarize, you should remove your old SCOBY if it shows signs of mold growth or if it consistently struggles to ferment despite troubleshooting efforts. However, before discarding the SCOBY, consider whether there are steps you can take to address the issues and potentially revive it.