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Can You Eat SCOBY And Is It Safe To Consume It?

Can You Eat SCOBY And Is It Safe To Consume It?

SCOBY is probably the most suspicious but unique part of kombucha. Since kombucha is safe to drink even if SCOBY floats in it, you are probably wondering if you can eat SCOBY too. 

Well, read on to find out if it is safe to eat the SCOBY and the different ways kombucha advocates add it to their meals. Before you dig deep into the rabbit hole of eating SCOBY, you need to be aware of how it is formed and its role in the fermentation process. 

What is a SCOBY?

Though the name sounds like it’s a pet, SCOBY is a group of bacteria and yeast. It stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It is cellulose formed by yeast as it converts sugar into ethanol. If you put it under the lens, there are live colonies of good bacteria and yeast in it. So, having one feels like you own a tiny farm of live microorganisms.

Putting a SCOBY in newly brewed sweet tea can create a new batch of kombucha. At the same time, a new layer of SCOBY may form during the fermentation. It is the reason why some people have SCOBY hotels or give their SCOBYs to others as gifts.

When the number of SCOBYs gets out of hand, kombucha advocates find creative ways to use it for other purposes. Like other living things, SCOBY has a lifespan, and they also age. So, you have to make the most out of it while the colony is alive, active, and not contaminated. 

The nature and nutritional content of SCOBY

What’s the hold-up?: The nature and nutritional content of SCOBY

If it’s healthy, you’re probably wondering what’s the big deal in eating a SCOBY. First and foremost, the appearance of SCOBY looks sketchy and unappetizing. It looks like an alien-looking jellyfish with strings of draping on its sides. 

Second, SCOBY is a group of bacteria – a term that often makes people raise some eyebrows. In reality, its taste and nutritional content might surprise you. It contains:

  • 18% protein.
  • 12% crude fiber.
  • 4% phosphorus.
  • 6% calcium.

Unappetizing as it may seem, SCOBY is a healthy source of nutrients, as long as it is prepared properly. To clear things up, uncontaminated and live SCOBY is safe to eat for the following reasons:

  • Well-prepared SCOBYs contain the good types of bacteria that keep the bad bacteria and viruses at bay. With moderate consumption, it can help restore the balance of microbes in your gut which is good for your health
  • SCOBYs are prepared in a sterile environment and don’t contain strong acids. 
  • It is the concentrated form of kombucha with a gelatinous texture.
  • SCOBYs make a good snack or treat for kids and adults alike.

Q: Can you eat kombucha SCOBY raw?

Yes, it’s safe to eat SCOBY raw, but you may not like its taste and texture. It’s fibrous. It also magnifies the flavor of the kombucha you prepared. It is the reason why some advocates prefer to cook or process it to reveal its flavor potential.   

What does SCOBY taste like?

While the taste of SCOBY varies on the brew where it grows, most people say that it is sour like a lemon with a subtle sweetness. Others compare its taste with lemon. It looks gelatinous but it has the same texture as a gummy bear or raw meat.

10 Different Ways to consume SCOBY

To appreciate the unique flavor of kombucha, you can take a bite of the raw one or turn it into a more appetizing dish or ingredient. Here are the ten ways you can eat SCOBY:

Tasting kombucha in a raw form
Source: Food Insider

#1 Raw

If you’re overwhelmed with a lot of SCOBY in your SCOBY hotel, you can try to eat some of them to make space for new ones. Some people consume the SCOBY raw when they want something that blends with savory or oily dishes. It functions like kimchi but with a different texture and flavor. Despite its hideous look, the taste of raw SCOBY is not bad at all. Check out what others have to say about its flavor here.

SCOBY jerky

#2 SCOBY jerky

If you’re a snack junkie, turning your SCOBY into a delicious jerky can be the newest addition to your list of snacks. Gather up the thin SCOBYs in your SCOBY hotel and prepare them as a jerky using the recipe below:

Ingredients and materials:

  • 10 thin strips of SCOBY.
  • 1 tbsp. grated ginger.
  • 2 tbsp. diced garlic.
  • 96g soy sauce.
  • 8 tbsp. honey/maple syrup.
  • Dehydrator.
  • Marinating pan.
  • 1 tsp. chili powder(optional).

Directions:

  1. Initially dehydrate the thinly sliced SCOBY for four hours at 105 F to get rid of the excess moisture.
  2. Prepare the marinade by mixing all the condiments in a pan. 
  3. Then, marinate all the SCOBY strips for a day. Make sure that both sides absorb the marinade.
  4. Place the marinated strips in the dehydrator. Make sure to grease the dehydrator pans to prevent the SCOBYs from sticking to them. Dehydrate the SCOBY strips for eight hours at 105 F.
  5. Let the SCOBY jerky cool down and store it at room temperature in an airtight jar. Usually, the SCOBY jerky can last for a month in storage.
SCOBY candies

#3 SCOBY candy

Turning your SCOBY into candies is one of the popular ways advocates consume SCOBY. There are two ways that you can use to make a SCOBY candy: dehydration or boiling. Dehydrating kombucha will help retain its probiotic goodness while boiling it will kill the good bacteria but will taste as good. To help you decide, we included two recipes for both methods below.

Making SCOBY candies by boiling

Ingredients and materials:

  • 1 thick SCOBY.
  • 128g or 256g of sugar.
  • 1 tsp. of lemon juice.
  • Scissors.

Directions:

  1. Cut the thick SCOBY into bite sizes using a pair of scissors. It can be hard to cut the SCOBY using a knife because of its gummy texture. 
  2. Place the sugar in the pan on low heat and let it caramelize.
  3. Add the bite-size SCOBY bits and let it boil for 10 minutes. 
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and fish out the SCOBY bits. Place them on a baking pan with parchment paper. 
  5. Let the syrup thicken a bit and pour it over the SCOBY. 
  6. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake the SCOBY candies for another 10 minutes at 350 F.

Making SCOBY candies using dehydration

Ingredients and materials:

  • 7 tbsp. of honey or maple syrup.
  • 1 tsp. of minced ginger.
  • 1 thick SCOBY.
  • Scissors.
  • 32g of powdered sugar.
  • Dehydrator.

Directions:

  1. Cut the thick SCOBY into bite-size pieces.
  2. Prepare the marinade by mixing minced ginger and honey in a bowl. With that marinade, the SCOBY candies will taste like apple pie-flavored gummies.
  3. Place the SCOBY in the syrup and let it soak for a day.
  4. Once done, set the dehydrator to 105 F and dehydrate the SCOBY for another 24 hours. 
  5. Once done, place the powdered sugar on a parchment paper and roll the SCOBY candies in it before storing them in a jar. 
SCOBY pico de gallo

#4 SCOBY salsa or pico de gallo

Take advantage of the tartness of SCOBY and let it add some flavor to your favorite salsa or pico de gallo. Its texture and unique taste can help level up your usual salsa and make your burrito nights better than ever. Here’s a recipe that you can try:

Ingredients and materials:

  • 128g diced tomatoes.
  • 64g thinly sliced onion.
  • 1 Jalapeno cut thinly.
  • 32g of cilantro.
  • A pinch of salt.
  • A pinch of pepper.
  • 4 tbsp. of Lemon juice.
  • SCOBY.
  • Scissors.
  • Food processor or blender.

Directions:

  1. Cut the SCOBY into small pieces.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend it for 5 to 10 seconds until all the ingredients are cut into smaller pieces.
  3. Taste the flavor and add seasonings as desired.
SCOBY smoothie

#5 SCOBY Smoothie

Adding SCOBY to your usual fruit smoothie can introduce a unique flavor to your palette. The sour taste of kombucha blends well with the sweetness of fruits, making it a very refreshing drink on a hot day. Here’s how you can make a SCOBY smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 128g of frozen sliced fruit or berries.
  • 128g chopped SCOBY.
  • 64g of unflavored kombucha.
  • 1 to 2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup.

Directions:

  1. Blend all the ingredients. 
  2. Transfer the smoothie to a glass and add some toppings as desired. 
SCOBY Fruit Popsicles

#6 SCOBY Fruit Popsicles

Another delicious treat where you can add your excess SCOBYs is in your homemade fruit popsicles. They can add a tangy taste to your usual popsicle flavors. Here’s a quick guide to making a SCOBY popsicle:

Ingredients:

  • ½ to a whole SCOBY.
  • 128g chopped fruits or berries.
  • 3 tbsp. of flavored or unflavored kombucha (optional).
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. Honey or maple syrup.
  • 64g of almond milk.

Directions:

  1. Puree the SCOBY using a food processor before mixing it with other ingredients.
  2. Blend all the ingredients and add more honey or sugar as desired.
  3. Place the creamy mixture into popsicle molds and add popsicle sticks. 
  4. Freeze for 4 to 6 hours. 
Stir-fried kombucha

#7 SCOBY Stir Fry 

Since SCOBY has the same texture as squid, it can also serve as a delicious addition to your stir-fried eggs and other dishes. It’s a perfect vegetarian alternative to pork or steak by marinating it in bulgogi, teriyaki, or barbecue sauce for 24 hours. Cook for no longer than three minutes to preserve its probiotic goodness. 

Scoby Chocolate Energy Balls

#8 SCOBY Chocolate Energy Balls

The pureed form of SCOBY is flexible enough to be added to protein chocolate balls. You can freely mix it with rolled oats, walnuts, dried fruits, and almond butter for a protein-packed snack. For the no-bake approach, scoop, form the balls, and place them in the fridge to retain their ball form.

SCOBY sushi

#9 SCOBY Sushi and Sashimi

Sushi and sashimi are probably the most unrelated food options where you can use SCOBY. However, vegans and vegetarians found a way to get that fishy texture from the SCOBY and use it in these popular Japanese dishes. 

To add the fishy flavor to the SCOBY, boil thin strips in a vinegar and seaweed mixture for two minutes. Cook it for no more than three minutes. Then, add it as a topping to your sashimi or use it in the sushi as a replacement for squid.

fruit roll-ups

#10 SCOBY Fruit Roll-Ups

Lastly, enjoy a healthy treat by blending a SCOBY puree, fruits, and some sweets. Fruit leather or roll-ups are a good alternative for sour straps that you often find in a candy store. Here’s how to make yours:

Ingredients and materials:

  • 256g of frozen berries or fruits.
  • 256g of SCOBY cubes.
  • 4 tbsp. of kombucha.
  • 32g of sugar.
  • A pinch of salt.
  • A pinch of sumac.
  • Silicone sheets.
  • Blender.

Directions:

  1. Puree the SCOBY to create an even texture. Add more kombucha to the puree to make a slushy mix. 
  2. Once done, cook the fruits and berries and mix them with sugar and salt. Let it cool at room temperature.
  3. Add the fruit mixture to the puree in the blender. Let them mix together and adjust the taste as needed. 
  4. Spread the SCOBY mix on top of the silicone dehydrator sheets. Make sure to keep the mixture 2 inches thick. Spreading it too thinly can lead to hard-to-chew fruit leather strips. 
  5. Set the dehydrator at its lowest setting and dehydrate the sheet for 12 to 18 hours. 
  6. Once done, the mixture becomes a leathery sheet that you can cut into thin strips. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens if you eat SCOBY?

Your body will enjoy its probiotics and other nutritional content. Consume it in moderation because eating too much SCOBY may affect the balance of gut bacteria in your GI tract, leading to an upset stomach. 

What are the benefits of eating SCOBY?

SCOBY is a good source of protein, fiber, and calcium. It also has the texture of a squid when cooked, which makes it a perfect protein source for vegetarians, aside from nuts. 

How much SCOBY can you eat?

One SCOBY is more than enough for daily consumption. You should not overeat SCOBY to keep the side effects at bay, like having an upset stomach. 

Can I make SCOBY without kombucha?

It is possible to make SCOBY without kombucha. However, you need to use a culture of bacteria from kefir. Learn more on how to make SCOBY without kombucha here.

Is SCOBY vegan?

Yes. It does not contain any animal products. It is also a vegetarian-friendly food.  

How long can you keep a SCOBY without feeding it?

You can keep a SCOBY for 6 to 7 months in the fridge. The yeast and bacteria will hibernate at a cool temperature, which preserves the whole SCOBY pellicle. They can last for years in storage. Some brewers are also successful in reviving their one-year-old SCOBYs stored in the fridge. When stored properly, they are one of the most resilient microorganisms in the world. 

How long does a SCOBY last?

A SCOBY can last for years, but its ability to actively ferment a kombucha brew is within 6 to 7 months. Old SCOBYs may not perform well since they also age. 

Are SCOBYs alive?

Yes, SCOBY is alive. Since they are microscopic organisms, we can’t see how they’re moving.  One of the telltale signs that a SCOBY is alive is by how it changes the flavor of a sweet tea. If the tea remains sweet, then the SCOBY is already dead or too old to ferment the tea. 

Can dogs eat SCOBY?

Yes, dogs can eat it raw or as a jerky. Some kombucha advocates use their excess SCOBYs as treats for their furry friends. The nutritional impact of SCOBY on dogs is the same as its effects on humans. 

Can you feed SCOBY to chickens?

Yes, chickens love tugging their beaks in a SCOBY.  It’s a good part of their diet that helps poultry owners save a lot of money on chicken feed. 

What are SCOBY snacks?

The popular SCOBY snacks that kombucha advocates love are SCOBY candies, jerky, chocolate balls, and fruit roll-ups. 

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