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Is it Time to Split your Scoby?

Splitting your scoby

Everything you need to know about dividing your scoby

Has your scoby grown thick enough to show layers? Does the top of your scoby look fresher, paler in color while your original is darkening beneath? It may be time to split.

As you brew successive batches of kombucha at home, you will notice your scoby continues to grow thicker. When you first start with a starter scoby set your pellicle grows to cover the surface of the vessel, and also grows thicker while developing yeast strands and good bacteria.

Many people call the first starter scoby the Mother. When your Mother scoby is happy and healthy, it will form layers of little scoby Children. As you brew successive batches, it will be important to peel off older Mothers to ensure your kombucha’s highest quality. This type of growth and scoby duplication is a sign you are doing things right!

Which One Is The Mother?

Mother scoby and child
  • The Mother is on the bottom
  • New scoby growth will be thin and typically very light in color.
  • This color difference is more dramatic if using black tea in your brew. 

If your scoby gets more than one inch thick in a typical one-gallon brew, it’s time to consider separation. How do you know when the time is right?

Signs your scoby’s prime brewing days are over

  • Lack of carbonation
  • Flat-tangy taste
  • Visible layers as shown in the above photo

How to Split your Scoby

A scoby may look delicate floating in your sweet tea, however, it has a surprisingly tough and rubbery texture which can take a good amount of abuse. Don’t worry if you rip a Child during this process.

What you need: 

  • 2 stainless steel food-grade tongs
  • A clean plate

Step-by-step

  1. Wash your hands and clean area surfaces to avoid contamination issues.
  2. Use one tong to grab your scoby out of the brewing vessel.
  3. Place on a clean plate.
  4. With tongs in both hands, find scoby seam between the Mother and Child.
  5. Grab ahold of the Mother with one tong and the Child layer with the other tong.
  6. Gently pull to peel the Mother (bottom) from the Child (top)
  7. Retain top Child scoby.

A Common Question …

My scoby looks shredded after the split. Will it survive?

Remember your scoby is a tough cookie and will continue to grow. Make sure you have more than enough reserved liquid from your last batch when you introduce sweet tea in the next cycle.

Your scoby should develop another child layer after a rough separation, but it may take a couple of weeks. Brew fizziness may temporarily be affected, so be patient!

Watch me split a scoby in under 3 minutes! 

I typically throw my old Mother scoby on our garden. If you are new to brewing, I recommend keeping an old mother in a separate jar as an emergency back-up should things turn moldy.

Many people also utilize old Mother scobys in other ways like facial masks, dog food, and jerky. Have you done something interesting with your scoby? Tell me all about it!

More from The Booch Witch:

Use what you have at home for kombucha

How to Flavor Kombucha

Selecting the best fruits, fruit mixtures, and flattering herbs and spices is a creative part of the home kombucha brewing process.

Herb garden

Using herbs to flavor kombucha

Nothing amps up the complexity of a kombucha fruit flavor like a fresh herb. Look to delicious and popular retail brewers with flavors like Blood Orange Mint and Lavender Chamomile for inspiration.

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