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After the first fermentation of kombucha is complete, it’s time to add some flavor and carbonation. When I first started brewing kombucha at home, I wasn’t aware of this step. I wondered why mine was never anywhere near as good as the store-bought stuff. One I discovered and added this step, I was thrilled with the results. I can honestly say that I prefer my home brew. I’ve experimented with different flavors to find what I like, and I recommend you do the same. I was surprised that one of my favorites is carrot, and I’m not a fan of apple. So, let’s get to it…
You’ll need bottles, flavoring, and a funnel. Most people use swing-top bottles, but I just use old beer bottles and bottle caps. That means I had to buy a bottle capper and have to buy bottle caps on a regular (though infrequent) basis. That was still cheaper for me than buying a bunch of swing-top bottles because we regularly have empty beer bottles. Plus, my local friend who helped me learn how to do this step does it this way.
For flavoring, I usually use juice because it’s easy. You can use fruit, herbs, extracts, etc. This is the fun part, because you can be creative and experiment: strawberry-mint, lavender-vanilla, lemon-lime, carrot-ginger.
Bear in mind that the carbonation comes from the yeast in the kombucha eating sugars. Fruit juice has natural sugars, so it will help create carbonation. If you’re not adding a flavoring with sugars, you can add a few raisins to each bottle to increase carbonation. Just be careful you don’t go overboard! This can end with exploding bottles or overflowing bottles when opened.
I put about 1/2-1 inch of juice into each bottle, then fill with the kombucha from the first fermentation, leaving about an inch at the top. Then I put a bottle cap on each and label with the date and flavor. I keep them in a crate in a cabinet for 1-2 weeks, until the kombucha gets bubbly at the top when I turn the bottle upside down and back. When they’re ready, I put the bottles in the fridge to stop the fermentation. Once chilled, they’re ready to enjoy.
What’s your favorite flavor of kombucha? Are there any flavors you’d like to try?