Thursday, July 27, 2017

Scoby - what it is and what you can do with it

Yesterday, I was introduced for the first time to a SCOBY. Not personally, you understand, but through a radio program.
SCOBY, or more usually the lower-case scoby, is actually an acronym, and stands for "Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast". It is a sort of blobby light brown jelly thing, and is mainly used in the production of the currently-oh-so-popular drink, kombucha (kombucha, if it has somehow managed to pass you by, is a flavoured carbonated drink made from fermented sweet green tea).
A scoby is undeniably strange, not to mention gross and almost alien-looking. It sits like a raft on top of the fermenting kombucha, sealing it off and protecting it from the outside air and any undesirable bacteria. It is the living home for the bacteria and yeast that transform sweet tea into tangy and fizzy kombucha, kind of like a coral reef for microbes. It is a natural part of the kombucha brewing process, and a new layer grows on top of the old one each time a new batch is brewed. Over time, it becomes thicker, smoother, and more consistently coloured (although still not exactly appealing to look at).
What is perhaps even weirder is that there is now a whole subculture that has grown up around what to do with your excess scobys. Apparently, they can be added to a smoothie or other blended food, dried and made into a kind of jerky and used as a snack or in salads, made into a candy, used in place or raw fish in sushi, used as a face mask or bandage to help heal the skin from burns or other wounds, fed to pets or chickens, composted or spread on the garden, used in crafts in place of leather, used to make jum tea, etc, etc.
Other sources suggest it can also be used to wash your hair, as a cocktail, to make frozen popsicles, as an all-purpose cleaner around the house, as a foot soak, to ease a sore throat, as a natural pesticide in the garden, etc.
A few less convincing uses are for clothing, lampshades, and as a container for electronics projects.

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