If you just started your kombucha journey, but have heard some horror stories about its potential to explode, understandably you might be a bit nervous about it! Is there a way to prevent a kombucha explosion in your kitchen? What makes kombucha explode in the first place?
Kombucha is not likely to explode in the fridge as cool temperatures slow down or even completely stop the fermenting process. The only way kombucha will explode in the fridge is if the brewer does not take a few factors into account, like the quality of the bottles used.
Kombucha goes through an extensive fermentation process in order for it to get to a place where it’s ready to consume and enjoy. Are there dangers to be concerned about when making homemade kombucha?
Can Kombucha Explode?
You might be surprised to hear that kombucha can actually explode. Sugar and yeast fermentation builds up so much more pressure than standard fermented vegetables, which can be dangerous.
NOTE: To learn more about fermenting vegetables, read my article on how to ferment ANY vegetable with success!
The bacteria and yeast in the kombucha culture convert the sugars in the sweet tea into a mixture of:
- lactic acid
- a tiny amount of alcohol
- a large amount of carbon dioxide (CO2)
Sometimes the amount of carbon dioxide is a bit too much, and this can cause a kombucha explosion.
Once the fermentation has begun, it does not stop on its own without outside help from you. Unless you slow down the fermentation process, it will simply continue. This means that the kombucha fermentation will keep producing carbon dioxide nonstop until the sugar is exhausted.
Carbon dioxide can cause a considerable amount of pressure on the kombucha container. If you do not take a few proper precautions, the pressure can cause an explosion as the gas has nowhere to go.
Can Kombucha Explode In The Fridge?
Kombucha will most likely not explode in the fridge as it is quite sensitive to colder temperatures. The fermentation process usually slows down or completely stops as the temperature drops.
However, still keep an eye on the kombucha when it is in the fridge, especially if you haven’t released the carbon dioxide from the bottles before placing them in the refrigerator.
As the fermentation process slows down, it does still produce some carbon dioxide in a lesser amount until the process stops completely.
The new carbon dioxide will join the rest of the bottle and can even cause a significant amount of pressure on the bottle, which could still cause the bottle to explode in the fridge.
Although kombucha exploding in the fridge is usually caused by factors that the maker did not take into account, it must be treated on a case-by-case basis.
How To Prevent Kombucha From Exploding
There are some ways to prevent kombucha from exploding during the fermentation process. These few tips are useful in ensuring that you get the full harvest of kombucha tea and keep all your bottles intact at the same time.
Tip #1: Burping The Bottles
One good way to help prevent an explosion is to do something that is called burping the bottles. This allows some gas to escape from the bottle, which in turn releases a noticeable amount of pressure from the bottles too. This can prevent an explosion from occurring.
To burp kombucha bottles, loosen the caps of the bottles just enough to let air come out. This will release the pressure in the bottles while allowing for the fermentation process to continue at the same time.
HOT TIP: Most seasoned kombucha makers will advise that you burp your bottles every day or every other day while your kombucha is fermenting.
Tip #2: Refregerate the Kombucha
Refrigerating kombucha can also prevent the bottles from exploding. As mentioned above, kombucha will stop the fermentation process when it is kept at a cold temperature. This stops the fermentation process from making too much carbon dioxide.
If you like a specific amount of flavor to your kombucha, refrigeration will also prevent the flavor from changing so it will turn out just the way you like it.
Tip #3: Use Quality Fermenting Equipment
Use quality glass fermenting bottles (I like these ones on Amazon) or containers to ferment kombucha. If the bottles are strong enough and you leave enough space at the top of the bottle, then this will help prevent the bottles from exploding.
Tip #4: Keep Kombucha in Ideal Temperature
Just as cold temperatures can slow down or even stop the fermentation process, on the other side of the scale, warm-to-hot temperatures can speed up the fermentation process. This causes excess pressure on the bottles and could cause an explosion.
The ideal temperature to ferment kombucha is between 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that the fermentation process does not go too fast or too slow, keeping it at a manageable pace so the brewer can keep up.
Tip #5: Don’t Add Too Much Sugar
Do not add too much sugar to the kombucha, especially during the second ferment. Adding too much sugar will make the yeast work double time. This will produce more carbon dioxide, and put pressure on the bottles, even if you put the bottles in the fridge.
Tip #6: Leave Headspace in The Bottles
When bottling kombucha, make sure to leave one to two inches at the top of the bottle. This will leave some space for carbon dioxide to be stored without putting pressure on the bottle.
NOTE: If you follow these tips, they will help prevent exploding kombucha bottles and the sticky mess that comes with them!
Is Your Kombucha Carbonated Enough?
To carbonate kombucha, you will need to do what is called a second ferment. This involves placing the kombucha into airtight bottles and adding sugar to them, in the form of:
- fresh fruit pieces
- fresh fruit puree
- regular plain sugar
Then seal the bottles and let the fermentation begin.
NOTE: Some carbonation can occur in the first fermentation. However, most of the carbonation happens in the second fermentation.
If you do not want to go through the whole fermentation process again to carbonate the kombucha, then the good news is you don’t have to! Flat kombucha has the same health benefits as fizzy kombucha so you won’t miss anything if it’s not carbonated.
Is there such a thing as getting too much fizz, though? The answer is not really as long as you use the right amount of sugar during the second ferment, then you do not need to worry about over-carbonating your kombucha. The fermentation process will stop naturally once the food source (the sugar) is finished.
If you are having trouble with your kombucha not being carbonated enough, then there are a few things that can help get it bubbling.
Stir the kombucha before you bottle it to loosen the yeast from the bottom of the container. This will help evenly distribute the yeast in the bottles to ferment them properly.
Also, ensure that you dry the bottles properly once you have cleaned them, as this will ensure that there is a good seal on your bottles.
Do not burp your bottles too often, as this will release the carbonation from the bottle and could cause the kombucha to be more on the flat side.
These few tips should help you get the kombucha carbonated just how you like it.
Kombucha can explode due to many causes, and it is necessary to watch out for this phenomenon when making kombucha since an exploding bottle can be messy and dangerous.
In some cases, refrigeration may help the kombucha to not explode and can be beneficial in keeping the flavor to your liking.
If you are careful and use the right equipment, and follow a recipe from an expert to the tee, then you should be able to avoid an explosion in your kitchen or fridge.
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