By following a few simple measures one can keep the culture strong and contamination free. There are many types of unwanted air-born or surface contaminations; however, by keeping the cultures covered as much as possible we can greatly reduce the amount of wild yeasts and unwanted molds. By reducing the amount of foreign and unwanted invaders,
the kombucha strains stay strong, healthy, and viable.
Through either neglect, improper environmental conditions, or the wrong nutrients the mushroom culture can become weak and susceptible to contamination. By following the steps below, your kombucha
culture should last a lifetime and more.
Steps For Preventing Mold and Contamination on Kombucha Mushroom
and Tips For Keeping Your Culture Starter Happy & Healthy !
1. KEEP CULTURES COVERED AT ALL TIMES Keep the culture jars or brewing containers covered with a clean section of cloth or breathable material and secured tightly with rubber bands or string. .
2. NO SMOKING Do NOT smoke cigarettes and tobacco around the kombucha fermenting area or even better not to smoke in the same house. Smoke molecules may kill or weaken the cultures. The constitutes within the tobacco smoke are not to the kombucha bacteria and yeast and will be directly affected by this action.
3. USE QUALITY INGREDIENTS Though at first this may not seem to be a step in preventing mold contamination,
however, by feeding your culture (and yourself) the highest quality ingredients you provide the best range of nutrients
and less chemicals and preservatives.
4. SELECTING A PROPER BREWING SPACE Selecting a proper area for the kombucha tea to sit and brew can make all the difference in the world between a healthy culture and a weak one. The kombucha mushroom requires a nice warm place, out of direct sunlight, to ferment the tea solution. The closer to 80 deg F the better the cultures will grow. The faster the cultures can grow out within the tea/sugar solution the less chance of contamination by mold. Keep the kombucha out of the kitchen area. Although this is the most convenient place for most people to store and brew, it is also the worst! Smoke from cooking, burning fats, and other particles are again not to the liking of the mushroom culture. Out of all areas in your house, including the bathroom, the kitchen area has the most wild yeast, molds, and germs. Not only do dirty surfaces, sink drains, and leftover food particles in the kitchen provide a breeding ground for unwanted molds and bacteria. The kitchen area also provides other abundant sources of molds and wild yeast
through the washing and prepping of fruits and vegetables. Do not worry though, if kept at the p
roper pH, the acidic nature of the kombucha culture mushroom will protect its self from contamination.
5. KEEPING PROPER TEMPERATURE This may not seem to have much to do with contamination, but, by maintaining the proper temperature range of 75 to 85 degrees F the kombucha will ferment the tea solution much faster. The faster the kombucha yeast and bacteria strains can culture out the tea solution the less chance of contamination by invaders.
Finding the correct place within your home can make a big difference on the temperature of the brewing tea.
6. CORRECT pH This, by far, is the most important factor and the key to keeping your kombucha and other traditional food cultures healthy and viable! Why? Because if the pH of any solution ormixture is below 4.5 pH, on the pH scale, it is almost impossible for micro-bacteria to grow. By keeping the pH low, the likely hood of mold ever growing on the surface of your SCOBY is very unlikely. This is also the easiest tip to follow. We keep the pH of kombucha low by adding what is called ‘starter tea’ to every new batch of tea. Keep the pH of the culture below 4.5, as most molds can only grow in a higher pH solution. Do this by using a good amount (about 10%) of fermented ‘starter tea from your last batch to lower the pH of the new batch of fresh tea/sugar solution. Testing a new batch of tea, using pH test strips with a narrow range of 0-6 pH, will tell you the acid content of the tea. It is recommended to keep adding starter tea until the pH is lowered to the correct range. However, do not lower the pH factor to much or the Kombucha culture cannot complete the brewing cycle properly. Purchase pH test strips here.
7. OTHER CONSIDERATIONS AND LAST TIPS Keep the cultures away from plants, as the soil contains millions of spores and microbes in the soil, keep plants in a different room if possible. Do not neglect your culture! Allowing the top of the kombucha SCOBY to dry out is the number one cause of contamination. Lastly, use common sense and good hygiene when brewing your own tea. Clean any glassware and utensils before each use and wash hands before handling the cultures. DO NOT use anti-bacterial soaps. Remember, properly fermented tea always has a slight vinegar smell not a musty or moldy smell.
Of course, if there is mold on the kombucha culture then discard the tea cultures and never try to ‘save’ a culture once it has
been overgrown with something unknown that could be dangerous to your health or life.