I was recently asked a fantastic question about the health benefits of eating a scoby. Bruce, a regular reader of the blog, had come across a recipe for making scoby jerky out of spare scobys and was wondering what he would be eating if he was to eat scoby jerky.
There are a number of great recipes around the web for what to do with scoby spares. You can make dried scoby jerky, kombucha scoby candy, scoby+fruit leather snacks, scoby gummies, even dried scoby dog treats!
And maybe you are wondering about eating kombucha scoby treats. Or maybe your second ferments have grown little scobys in them and you’re wondering can you drink the scoby in kombucha brews?
Or you’ve got a whole pile of extra scobys and you’re researching different scoby uses, or how to dispose of a scoby.
Well, wonder no more. You can eat your kombucha scoby, and it even has some nutritional benefits.
In this article:
- Nutritional breakdown of a scoby
- Other uses for kombucha scoby. Use it as a chicken feed supplement, a smoothie additive, or for easy vegan jerky.
- Handy equipment to prepare your scoby for eating
- Links to some awesome recipes
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Scoby Nutrition Research
This published research paper gives us some good information about the nutrition breakdown of a scoby.
The paper is a 2014 round-up of various kombucha research projects, written by some of the major kombucha researchers in the world.
Scroll a loooong way down the paper until you get to the heading “Tea fungus (fungal biomass) and its applications”.
The key sentence is:
“Murugesan and others (2005) studied the proximate composition of tea fungal biomass [The SCOBY] and reported that it contains 179.38 g crude protein, 120 g crude fiber, 4.82 g phosphorus, 6.56 g calcium, and 8.92 MJ metabolizable energy per kilogram of biomass … [it is] rich in crude fiber, crude protein, and the amino acid lysine, and an increase in fermentation time increased the biochemical components of tea fungus.”
Which means that the scoby will be different under different growing conditions, but in the main, 100g of SCOBY is:
- 18% protein (which will mostly be from the yeast and bacteria)
- 12% fiber (mostly cellulose)
- 0.5% phosphorous
- 0.7% calcium
The rest of the weight will be mostly water.
So when you eat a scoby, you’re getting mostly protein and fibre.
Uses for your spare kombucha scobys
So now that we know that there’s actually some food value to the scoby, let’s look at what we can do with them!
If you don’t have a scoby yet, then read this post on how to grow your own.
1. Scoby Pet Food
The researchers mentioned in that research paper were looking at using scoby as a feed supplement for chicks. They found that chicks that were fed a diet supplemented with scobys grew better than those on straight commercial chick food.
There are also examples of people using leftover scobys to make scoby dog treats. (Use a method similar to the vegan scoby jerky, but don’t add any seasonings) . Or you could simply cut the scoby up and see if your dog enjoys it.
2. Homemade protein supplement
A protein content of 18% is relatively high for a vegetarian food source. If you have a look at this wikipedia page of protein content of different foods, you’ll see that a whole cooked egg is 14% protein, and that peanuts and cheddar cheese are both approximately 25% protein.
Given that a scoby grows so easily, and is practically a waste product of growing kombucha, it makes a perfect low-cost protein source.
For anyone with even vague leanings towards the prepper mindset, a protein source that needs no sunlight and grows from the easy-to-store supplies of tea and sugar is a must-have for your ongoing “shtf” supplies.
3. Easy Vegan Substitutes
Even if you’re not concerned about self-sufficiency, a low-cost animal-free protein source might be just what you are looking for.
Adding pureed scoby to smoothies or to fruit leather (or to almost anything!) is a great way of adding another protein source to your diet.
The texture of a scoby is a bit like that of squid, so you might even like to experiment with sliced scoby as an ingredient in sushi. The slightly vinegary flavor would work well with other traditional sushi fillings.
To make most of these scoby treats you’ll need access to a normal well-stocked kitchen. Some recipes – like cutting up the scoby to make a vegan squid replacement – will need only a sharp knife and a great cutting board (Check out this fabulous knife. And I recommend a good quality wooden chopping board like this one).
The other recipes are a bit more involved, and take more specialized equipment.
A smoothie will need a great blender (Check this link to see the top-reviewed blenders at Amazon)
Making dried scoby treats is not something that I’ve tried yet. Maybe I’ll schedule it in as a family activity during the next school holidays! But here’s a couple of recipes from around the web to get you started.
So, Can you eat a scoby? Yes! Yes you can.