Kombucha is a 2000 years old drink that has gained in popularity in recent times. Kombucha is created by fermenting sweet black or green tea with the help of a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts. During the process, which takes about a week or so, these microorganisms form a film shaped like a mushroom at the surface. It’s delicious. But more importantly, it’s healthy. It helps with digestion, strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure and detoxifies your body.
Since this is not the type of drink you can find in most stores, making a bottle stash is a good idea. But can you freeze it to prolong its shelf life?
The answer is yes. And while it’s true that freezing temperatures can kill symbiotic cultures in this drink, there’s a way you can prevent that from happening. In this article, we’ll show you how to freeze kombucha in a safe way.
But first, let’s talk about why you should freeze kombucha (see also Can You Freeze Kefir). Room temperature keeps the symbiotic cultures alive. But if the temperature rises, it will cause the drink to ferment. And as long as it’s warm, that will keep happening until, ultimately, it turns to vinegar. As you can see, kombucha doesn’t have an expiry date per se.
The reason why it can last practically forever lies in the fact that microorganisms inside the drink kill any potential contaminant they encounter. But if it sits in your pantry for too long, it might become too sour to be consumed.
To prevent fermentation, you can put the bottle in the fridge. There, it can stay fresh for about 3 months. It won’t go bad after that period, but it will lose health benefits.
Let’s be honest: kombucha tastes best when chilly. It’s a perfect drink for cooling down on a hot summer afternoon. You can also turn it into a slurry or a popsicle.
But what about freezing? Well, when the liquid reaches a freezing point, it turns to a solid state. Such a state doesn’t kill symbiotic cultures but makes them “dormant” in a way. What can kill them are those almost-freezing temperatures.
How To Freeze Kombucha The Right Way?
Luckily, you can avoid exposing symbiotic cultures to those temperatures by flash-freezing the drink. But first, you need to adequately store it. This is especially important for a homemade drink. Both plastic containers and releasable bags are good options, because these materials don’t react with the culture. Metal utensils and containers should be avoided as they can even kill them. Don’t forget to leave an inch of free space in the bag or container, as the content will expand as it freezes.
Never shake kombucha. It’s a carbonated drink and can explode when opened. To mix the ingredients that have settled at the bottom, use a plastic spoon and give the drink a few swirls instead.
To flash-freeze kombucha, you’ll need a large bowl filled with ice. Then, place the container with kombucha inside the bowl and wait for it to chill. Pour water and add a ¼ cup of salt. Adding salt to water lowers its temperature, which in turn chills the drink in a flash. Once kombucha is chilly enough, put the container into the freezer that’s cooled down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
One thing to keep in mind though. Even if you do all the steps right, there’s no guarantee your symbiotic cultures will survive flash-freezing. What’s more, if you leave kombucha in the freezer for too long, it will start expanding. This, in turn, can cause cell membranes of symbiotic cultures to rupture. For that reason, you shouldn’t keep this drink in a freezer for more than a few weeks at a time.
Kombucha tea freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But if your drink has a high alcohol content, the freezing point will be way lower. Make sure to set the temperature of your freezer to equal the temperature your kombucha drink freezes at.
How To Thaw Frozen Kombucha Properly?
Temperature shocks can potentially be fatal to kombucha microorganisms. That’s why you should never thaw it at room temperature. Instead, transfer the container to the fridge, where it will slowly defrost overnight. You should consume kombucha as soon as it defrosts. Refreezing is not recommended, as that will surely kill symbiotic cultures. You shouldn’t reheat it either, as they also won’t survive that.
Freezing kombucha has its benefits, but doing that properly isn’t easy. You need to lower the drink’s temperature in a speedy manner to freeze microorganisms before the cold kills them. But even if you do everything right, there’s no assurance it will work. Still, flash-freezing can prolong kombucha’s shelf life, so it’s worth trying.