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 SCOBY is typically stored in a glass container. A stainless steel, oak or even a high-quality plastic container will also work.
The first round of kombucha may take longer to brew after the SCOBY has been in cold storage. It can take a couple of batches to speed up the metabolism of the yeast and bacteria back to a normal rate.
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.
Use a tight-weaved cloth as a lid to the container and secure it with a rubber band.
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.
Give the SCOBY some air by opening the lid every now and again. If it smells too acidic, make the next batch of sugar tea you add to the container extra sweet.
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.
Freezing the SCOBY is not recommended because if the SCOBY is frozen too slowly, crystals may form and damage the culture's cells.
Sefira Fialkoff has worked as a writer and editor since 2004, specializing in travel, culinary and financial development articles. She has been published in the "Hartford Courant", "Santa Cruz Sentinel", "Santa Cruz Good Times" and "Grupo Idea" in Mexico. Fialkoff graduated with honors from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts in global economics.