By Sefira Fialkoff

A SCOBY is a live culture consisting of active yeasts and bacteria used to make kombucha, and it will do best if allowed to continuously culture batches of cultured tea. However, if you need to store a kombucha SCOBY, there are guidelines on how to do so safely, depending on how long you intend to store it.

A kombucha “mother,” or SCOBY -- symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast - on a plate. The mother (also known as a mushroom, though it isn't one) forms a layer on top of the tea while it is brewing. When a brew is complete and bottled, the mother that remains is then floated onto the next batch of tea to help the ferment.
credit: katyenka/iStock/Getty Images
A SCOBY should be stored safely when not being used to brew kombucha so that it does not grow unhealthy bacteria or mold, rendering it unusable.

Short-Term SCOBY Storage

To store a SCOBY for less than 6 weeks, you can leave it brewing in sugary tea. Kombucha normally brews for seven to 30 days, so brewing it for 6 weeks will result in a strong vinegar taste. The resulting kombucha can be used in salad dressing or in a marinade in place of vinegar, or simply thrown away.

Long-Term SCOBY Storage

There are two ways to store a SCOBY for longer than 6 weeks. The first way involves you paying occasional attention, while the second requires less, but this latter method is not guaranteed to work perfectly.

Create a Holding Jar

Start the kombucha process by adding sugar-sweetened tea to the SCOBY and storing in a covered container. Every 4 to 6 weeks, drain half the liquid out of the container and refill with fresh sweet tea. The fresh sugar tea provides nutrients for the SCOBY to survive and thrive in storage. This method allows the SCOBY to be stored indefinitely.

Dehydrate the SCOBY

Store the SCOBY by dehydrating it. Place it on a sheet of unbleached parchment paper and allow it to dry in a warm spot (around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit), protected from fruit flies and other pests, until it is the consistency of jerky. Once the SCOBY is dehydrated, place it in a sealable plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. The SCOBY can be stored in the refrigerator for at least 3 months. The SCOBY will need to be rehydrated using distilled white vinegar before it can be used again.