I’ve been on Weight Watchers for a while now. Recently, I decided to switch things up and move to cleaner eating when possible. That means that all of my sugar-free, high-chemical substitutes are taking a back seat to cooking, drying and making Kombucha using a Pickle Pipe.
If you’ve read my other post on Kombucha, you know that it has zero to two Weight Watchers Smart Points per serving. When you make it yourself, it’s hard to say exactly how many Smart Points you’ll end up with per serving, but I would estimate it at the high end of two SmartPoints after the second fermentation, just in case. If you’re not doing a second fermentation, just estimate it at one Smart Point to be safe.
Why Can’t I Just Use the Recipe Builder for Kombucha?
I debated on whether or not to use the recipe builder for my Kombucha recipe because the sugar is mostly consumed by the culture rather than by you. In a perfect world, there would be zero grams of sugar after the fermentation process, but that’s probably not the case either. In all, you’ll need to “guess” at how many Smart Points are in your kombucha. But, since most of the stores carry kombucha, I just use a name brand that matches what I’ve put into mine.
- 1 – Scoby
- Sugar (any type is fine)
- Tea (I use Pssst. brand from Frys/Kroger)
- Fruit or juice
- 1 gallon jar
- Pickle Pipe for wide mouth jars (Pickle Pipes are sooooo helpful)
- Wide mouth mason jars
- Glass storage containers (do not use these until you’ve completed the 2nd fermentation)
- You can use beer bottles if you don’t want to use Pickle Pipes and mason jars. But you’ll need to burp your beer bottles once or twice a day.
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Step 1: Brew Tea
I use the cheapest black tea I can find, but I use lots. I use about 6 of these pitcher sized tea bags. At about $1.20 per box, I get 6 gallons brewed. Total cost = $.25 per gallon!
Step 2: Add Sugar
Add 1 cup of sugar to your warm tea and stir it until it’s dissolved. You can use organic sugar or coconut sugar. Some people use honey, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Step 3: Bring to Room Temperature
Make sure your tea isn’t too hot. You’ll kill your scoby if it’s too hot. I add ice to mine.
Step 4: Add the Scoby
Add your scoby and starter (the liquid in the bag) to the tea. Here’s what mine looks like. It’s healthy! No mold. My kids think these are nasty.
Step 5: Add a Cloth Cover
Add a cloth cover and leave it on your counter for seven or more days. If it’s hot where you live, your Kombucha might be done in less time. I live in Arizona and it takes seven days for mine to complete phase one. Don’t use a cheese cloth cover unless you use a lot of cheese cloth. There are too many gaps in cheese cloth. Gnats, fruit flies and other small bugs can be attracted to the vinegary smell of Kombucha. If they get into yours, you’ll have to throw everything away.
Step 6: Completed Fermentation
Once your Kombucha is finished, taste it by inserting a staw under the culture and taking a sip. If it’s tangy enough, then you’re done with the first stage. You can call it a day and bottle it up if you like it that way. I don’t.
Take two cups off the top of your tea and set it aside for your next batch. This is called the “starter”. Next, remove your scoby. You should now have two. A momma, which is your original one and a baby scoby that has formed on top.
You can store your extra scoby in a scoby hotel. Cover it with starter tea. I use a wide mouth mason jar or clean applesauce jar with a paper towel secured to the top. You’ll want to add sugar tea to your hotel every week or so to ensure your scoby has something to feed on. Scobys love sugar.
Step 7: Second Fermentation
The second fermentation is optional, but I find that it makes the best Kombucha. Otherwise, you basically have sour, fizzy tea. To complete this stage, add a few pieces of fruit or 1/3 cup of fruit juice to your mason jar. Fill the jar with the fermented tea. Leave a litttle bit of headspace at the top.
Step 8: Make Kombucha With a Pickle Pipe
Add your Pickle Pipe to the top of the mason jar. The Pickle Pipe pipe will burp your jar for you. It’s a set it and almost forget it tool. You won’t need to worry about exploding bottles or Kombucha on your ceiling if you use them. Here’s a picture of my Pickle Pipe. You can see that one is ready to release some air.
If you’re not using a Pickle Pipe, you’ll need to burp your beer bottles at least every day until you get the fizziness you like. I find that juice takes 2-3 days to complete the second phase. Fresh peaches only take one day. You’ll need to check your jars daily.
Step 9: Kombucha Bottling
Once you’ve completed the second phase you can bottle your finished Kombucha. I use cheaper glass bottles from Amazon. Just note that you can’t leave these bottles (or any bottle) outside of the refrigerator for any length of time. Otherwise, your Kombucha will continue to ferment and you’ll get a nice explosion of glass if you’re not careful. Once you place your Kombucha in the refrigerator, fermentation slows down to a crawl. You’ll be fine with these containers when placed in the refrigerator.
Once cooled, pop open a bottle and enjoy it’s wonderful flavor and great health benefits!
Wait! I Have Extra Scobys!
You may have noticed that you grew an extra scoby with your first batch and with every batch thereafter. What do you do with all of the extra scobys you have over time?
The first thing I recommend is that you set up two scoby hotels. That way if one scoby goes bad, you’ll have a back up. Then, feel free to give away all of your extra ones to your friends or compost them. If you search Pinterest, there are a ton of ideas for what to do with extra scobys. Some of them are a little gross. Yuck.
How much Does Kombucha Cost to Make?
I’ve grown to love Kombucha over the last few months. I hated Kombucha the first time I bought a bottle of it. It cost me almost $5 from Sprouts and it tasted like vinegar. Nasty. Then, my friend Nancy offered to teach me how to do it. Over a few months, I’ve made some improvements to help me with the process. This recipe is an adaption of her technique. The main difference is that I Use Pickle Pipes in my Kombucha, which saves me time and unnecessary bottle bursts.
For every batch I make, I get at least 6 – 7 good sized bottles. If I factor the cost of my fruit juice, each batch costs me $2.00, which means that each bottle costs 33 cents. That’s over 90% off store bought and I use expensive POM or organic mango juice in mine. If you’re using cheaper juice or stuff you have on hand, you can get this down to about a nickel. What a deal!
Obviously, you’ll need to factor in your startup costs, but you’ll make up all of that cost in the first batch. The Pickle Pipe is a little pricey, but they save so much hassle. You can also use a pickle pipe to make sauerkraut as well as other fermentation recipes. They are amazing!
Do you use Pickle Pipes in your kombucha? What’s your favorite thing to add during the second phase.