To those in the kombucha world, a well-formed scoby is a thing of beauty. Not only is it quite a miracle that a pot full of bacteria can collectively manufacture a thick layer of cellulose, sometimes and inch or more thick, but it’s also strangely enticing to find that the cellulose itself is soft, pliable and has the texture of a deliciously fresh squid. Or maybe that’s just me…
Actually, it seems it’s not just me at all. My eight-year-old daughter is similarly fascinated by this weird and wonderful object. And as we both love to experiment, it didn’t take us very long at all to start exploring the possibilities for human consumption.
So can we really eat a scoby? There are many existing experiments online, but we just had to try for ourselves. Technically it is completely edible, but then so apparently is shoe leather. You wouldn’t really give it a go unless there was seriously nothing left in the fridge.
So our first experiment was with roasting. Here’s how we did it.
- Get one big mother of a scoby (pun intended). You need a pretty big piece as a scoby is predominantly liquid and it evaporates fast as you roast it.
- Slice your scoby into pieces about 2″ x 1″ (5×2.5cm) and pat dry with kitchen towel.
- Lay your scoby pieces on baking paper on a baking tray, leaving a small gap between each piece.
- Slow bake in the oven at just 60C for 24 hours. Yes, that’s right: you are just trying to dry out the scoby, not really cook it.
- Try the scoby after around 12-18 hours to see whether it has crisped.
- Once nicely crisped, add your favourite dusting. My daughter added a good amount of paprika and a touch of salt, but it’s just as good with turmeric and pepper.
What we discovered
Firstly, the scoby shrinks down fast. We were worried it was going to disappear. It really is so full of liquid that you get very little left at the end of the roast. So you really need to start with plenty.
We tried it regularly throughout the roasting process and it is completely inedible until it is crisp. Some people have suggested to me that you can make a good replacement for jerky or biltong (a possible future experiment for this blog?), but I tell you, scoby is tough stuff. When partially dry it is just like leather and about as easy to chew your way though.
Once it’s really crisp, however, it is not at all bad. It’s a bit like the veggie crisps that we are all now supposed to consume, albeit a bit thicker and with a bit more substance.
And flavour? Well, we probably shouldn’t have used a scoby from our really acidic Old Mothers to start with as they are really vinegary. But with a good dousing of paprika and salt it was palatable. So would we do this again? Well, next time I would definitely use a scoby from a less acidic brew and yes, we will give it a try.
Will it be a staple on the family table? Well, as my daughter said: “Do you think the chickens might like it?” I think that says it all.