If you brew kombucha often like I do, you may be growing more SCOBYs than you know what to do with. Before you go throwing all these extra SCOBYs away, you need to know about another option.
Kombucha SCOBYs can be eaten and are full of protein, fiber, and all the probiotic and antioxidant benefits in kombucha. SCOBYs can be eaten raw, or made into gummies, jerky, smoothies, dog treats and more. They taste vinegary like kombucha and have a chewy, gummy bear like texture.
In this article I'll give you some reasons why you should consider eating SCOBYs, and then show you the best and most tasty ways to eat them. Let's get started!
What is a SCOBY?
The SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is a living culture of bacteria and yeast that is used to make kombucha. These bacteria and yeast eat the sugar and nutrients in sweet tea that kombucha starts as and ferment them into alcohol, acids, and carbon dioxide to create kombucha.
When most people speak of the SCOBY, they’re talking about the ¼ inch to 2 inch thick jelly-like disk of bacteria that sits on top of brewing kombucha. This disk on the surface of the booch is actually known as the pellicle.
The pellicle is a mat of cellulose, which is basically a bunch of sugar strung together by the bacteria. If you look at a pellicle through a microscope, you can actually watch the bacteria creating these strings of sugar. It’s pretty cool.
Technically, the pellicle is part of the SCOBY, but it’s not all of it. SCOBY refers to all the bacteria and yeast present throughout the kombucha, including that in the pellicle, but also that floating throughout the kombucha.
Can You Eat a SCOBY?
Because pieces of the SCOBY are spread throughout the entire kombucha bottle, anytime you drink kombucha you are technically eating a part of the SCOBY.
Despite this, when most people talk about eating the SCOBY they are usually kombucha home brewers talking about eating the growing disk or pellicle of bacteria and yeast that sits on the surface of booch. And the answer is yes, you can eat the SCOBY pellicle, and there are actually a lot of benefits to doing so.
Why Eat a SCOBY?
As you brew kombucha, your main SCOBY will grow, and at some point be so big that it prevents oxygen from being able to reach the liquid beneath it.
In order to prevent this, you can pull apart the old SCOBY layers with your washed hands, or trim them with a pair of scissors or knife that have been sanitized with kombucha or distilled vinegar.
These old layers can be stored in a SCOBY hotel (check out my article on that here), thrown away, or eaten. So why bother eating the weird looking SCOBY when you can just throw it away? Well SCOBYs are actually full of nutrients and health benefits. Let's talk about a few.
SCOBYs are high in protein and fiber
One reason to eat the SCOBY is that its high in protein and fiber. Protein is important for building muscle mass, muscle strength, and strong bones. And fiber decreases your risk of constipation, colorectal cancer, and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
SCOBYs are full of probiotics and antioxidants
Another reason to eat a SCOBY is that its a concentrated form of the same probiotic benefits you get from drinking kombucha. Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, yogurt, and sauerkraut that can:
SCOBYs have similar benefits as tea
And lastly, by eating a SCOBY you get the health benefits of the tea that it grew in.
Most kombucha is made with a combination of green and black tea, and according to Healthline.com those 2 kinds of tea may:
Have antioxidant properties
What Does a SCOBY Taste Like?
SCOBYs pretty much just taste like kombucha, which is a sour and bitter tea. They have a soft and chewy texture, that sort of makes eating a raw one feel like your eating a vinegary gummy bear.
I know that sounds kind of gross, but the good news is that you don’t have to eat SCOBYs raw. There are tons of recipes and treats that they can be made into.
But before we get into those recipes, let's talk about a few things you need to do before eating a SCOBY.
What You Need to Do Before Eating a SCOBY
Before you eat or cook with a SCOBY, it’s important to look over a few things to keep yourself from getting sick or your recipe turning out ruined.
The most important thing to do before eating a SCOBY is to look for mold. A moldy SCOBY is very rare, but if it happens and you or anyone else eat it they could get seriously sick.
If there is mold on your SCOBY, it will always be on the surface and have a dry and fuzzy texture. Mold also usually develops in a circular shape and can be white, green black or blue.
Another thing that is important when eating or cooking with a SCOBY is its freshness. An older SCOBY thats been through over 6 or more brews will likely be tougher and harder to eat than one that is newer and has only been through a few cycles.
Lastly, for almost all these recipes below I recommend using a SCOBY that’s no greater than ¼ thick. Any thicker than this and it will be really difficult to chew through.
SCOBY Snacks and Treats Recipes
Ok so it’s finally time to get into it. You now know that you can eat a SCOBY, the health benefits to doing so, and what to do before eating one, but how do you eat it, and what kinds of snacks and treats can you make with them?
Eat it Raw
The easiest, but least appetizing way to eat a SCOBY, is to simply chop it up and eat it raw. Although this way is simple and will get you all the SCOBYs health benefits, it won’t be tasty and will be quite difficult to chew.
A better way to consume your SCOBY is to puree it. To do this put the SCOBY into the blender, add about a ¼ of kombucha per cup of cut up SCOBY, and blend it.
You can add SCOBY puree to anything you want to have a more tangy, bitter taste and extra health benefits.
Make it into Gummies/Candy
One of the most popular ways to eat SCOBYs is to make them into sweet gummies or candy. You can do this by cutting up the SCOBY into small pieces, and then covering them in some kind of sweet glaze such as maple syrup or fruit.
The glazed SCOBY pieces are then dehydrated by being placed onto parchment paper in a warm place (80-90 degrees F, 27-32 C) until they are dry and leathery.
Blend it into Smoothies
A great way to get the fiber, protein, and probiotics out of a SCOBY and into your body without having to deal with the weird texture is by blending it into a smoothie.
You likely won’t even notice the SCOBY is there, but if it does add some tartness you can balance the flavor out with some extra fruit or honey.
Make SCOBY Jerky
SCOBY jerky can be made by slicing the SCOBY into thin strips, and then seasoning and marinating the strips before dehydrating them with a dehydrator or the parchment paper and sunlight method I talked about above.
Make SCOBY Dog Treats/Chew Toys
You're not the only one who can benefit from the probiotics in kombucha. You can feed SCOBYs to your pets by mixing them raw or pureed into their food, or by making them into a chew toy!
All you have to do to create a chew toy out of an old SCOBY is flavor it with dog friendly seasonings, and then dehydrate it with a dehydrator or by placing it in the sun until all the slimy parts dry out.
If the SCOBY is too big for your pet, you can chop it up. But remember to always monitor your pet while introducing new foods into their diet.
Feed it to Farm Animals
Last but not least, if you have chickens, cows, horses, goats or any other farm animal, you can feed them an old SCOBY and they’ll get the same benefits from it as you or your dog would.
If you’re going to feed your SCOBY to farm animals, I recommend either cutting it up raw into small pieces, or pureeing it and mixing it into their regular food.
Other Uses for Old SCOBYs
If you’re still not convinced on eating SCOBYs, no worries, I’ve got 2 more options for you to consider before throwing one away.
1. Compost it
Some people compost their kombucha SCOBYs because their acidic nature can help balance the pH of the soil and create a really good environment for plant growth.
2. Give it to a friend
My favorite thing to do with old SCOBYs, provided that they’re still alive, is give them to a friend that wants to begin brewing kombucha! Your gift of 1 SCOBY will allow them to brew kombucha for years. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Final Thoughts Hopefully this article could give you some reasons to think twice before throwing away an extra SCOBY. Whether it’s making it into candy, jerky, mixing it into a smoothie, or feeding it to your dog or farm animals, there are so many different ways to eat SCOBYs and enjoy their health benefits.
If you have any questions please leave them below! and if you want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and even how to brew it yourself, be sure to check out the rest of my website!