I remember the first time a kombucha bottle exploded on me.
I was bingeing my favorite show at the time and heard a huge BANG in my kitchen. I was so startled I grabbed a heavy paperweight, held it above my head, and meekly yelled, “Hello?” As if that was a threatening response.
Exploding bottles happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t make it any less dangerous or unexpected.
Want to make kombucha without a fear of shards of glass flying all over? Here are some of my most helpful tips to keep your bottles intact and your kombucha delicious.
Why Kombucha Bottles Explode
The key player causing your fermenting bottles to burst into hundreds of pieces is the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, otherwise known as SCOBY.
What happens is, that the yeast in your SCOBY breaks down the sugars you add to your recipe, converting them into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2).
If you’re bottling kombucha, the CO2 has nowhere to go and gets trapped inside. It starts to slowly build more and more pressure until it causes the bottle to explode!
I’ve learned a few tips to keep you and your bottle of kombucha safe from too much carbon dioxide you can easily use the next time you’re brewing a batch.
How to Prevent Kombucha Bottles From Exploding
You don’t have to cower in fear around your bottles waiting for them to blow up when you least expect it.
Here are a few ways to keep kombucha from getting too fizzy and causing a dangerous situation.
Always Burp Your Bottles
The number one method I use to keep my kombucha from exploding is “burping” my bottles. Now, you don’t need to cover your bottle in a soft blanket, toss it on your shoulder, and gently pat its back.
Burping means you open a bottle periodically throughout the second fermentation process to allow the carbonation to escape. It’s one of the most common mistakes of drinkers when they make kombucha for the first time.
Ideally, you want to burp your bottles every day you are fermenting, but if you miss a day here or there it shouldn’t cause an explosion. The only problem is the bottle will be harder to open because of the added pressure, so take your time and be careful.
Buy (or Reuse) Better Bottles
I like to use high-quality bottles made of glass with an easily removable top like a flip-top bottle or a recycled bottle from GT or Health-Ade.
They are sturdy, easy to clean, and the top comes off easily so you can burp your bottles without a problem. The flip-top will be harder to open the top of the bottle because of the design but both work well for making kombucha.
Cheap bottles have thin glass and will be easier to break if the pressure builds too much. They also need more burping, which will affect the taste of your brew.
Don’t Over Ferment It
The reason your kombucha could explode is because of the fermentation process. Your SCOBY breaks down sugars and causes CO2 to build. Ideally, you want a pH of around 4.2 or lower for a healthy batch of kombucha.
The longer you let your kombucha sit, the more CO2 is produced inside your bottle. Limiting the fermentation time is one way to stop the CO2 buildup in your kombucha.
The process is a tricky balance; you want to ferment your kombucha to get a more balanced flavor, but the longer you let it sit the more dangerous it becomes.
Constantly taste-test your fermented drink to make sure you are getting the flavor you want without letting things get out of hand.
Limit Sugar Amounts
I’m always readjusting the sugar levels in my kombucha because every batch comes out slightly different.
The sugars are what your kombucha is devouring to cause all the CO2 buildup, so it makes sense that adding too much sugar causes unwanted kombucha explosions.
Just like with the fermentation time though, changing the amount of sugar changes the taste of your brew and also affects the overall health benefits.
I always recommend starting off with a smaller amount than you think and slowly adding more sugar throughout the process till you get the taste you want.
Fill Your Bottles to the Right Levels
Pressure builds in your bottle because there is limited space for the CO2 to expand. If you fill your bottles to the very top with liquid, you’re almost guaranteeing an explosion.
When I bottle my kombucha, I leave about 1-2 inches of space at the top. This is plenty of room to give me time to burp my bottles daily without having to fear my bottle will blow up on me.
I know you worked hard getting your ingredients together, but it’s safer to pour a little kombucha out rather than risk glass flying everywhere.
Is the SCOBY savable if a kombucha bottle explodes?
A SCOBY might contain small pieces of glass if it is involved in an explosion, making it unsafe to use. However, you can peel several layers of your SCOBY to attempt to remove all glass pieces as well as wash it with water.
Where is the best place to keep a fermenting kombucha bottle?
Store kombucha in a dark, cool place away from humans or pets. Storing the glass bottle in the fridge, closet, basement, or cellar are great places to store a bottle because it helps with the fermentation process and also will be safer it if happens to explode.
Safer, Happier Kombucha Brewing
Kombucha produces a lot of CO2 during the secondary fermentation phase, which builds pressure inside the glass until it eventually explodes. By using the tips I recommended above, you can prevent bottles from exploding and still get the satisfying fizz drink you’ve come to love. Remember, each batch of kombucha you craft is an exploration of taste and a testament to your resilience and creativity as a home brewer.