Can Kombucha Expire After Opening? See The Answer Here

Can Kombucha Expire After Opening? See The Answer Here

Key points

  • The best way to store kombucha is to refrigerate it. That way, you will preserve its quality, nutrient content, and flavour. If you store kombucha outside the fridge, its pH level, alcohol content, and carbonation may increase. Also, the shelf life of opened kombucha is longer if stored in the fridge. 
  • Usually, kombucha lasts for about 6 months. However, if you open a bottle, try to drink it as soon as possible since it behaves just like soda: over time, it'll lose its carbonation and flavour.
  • If you see mould or your kombucha looks cloudy, it indicates that it's gone bad and you should discard the drink. The same applies if kombucha has a vinegar-like or unpleasant smell, has too many bubbles, or is not fizzy enough. 

Just like with anything new you add to your diet, you may have some questions about kombucha. In a short period of time, this drink had become almost a must to include in a daily diet. While most of us already know what kombucha is and how it tastes, the question of its shelf-life is still a mystery to many. How do you store kombucha properly? How to know if it's gone bad? 

While kombucha lovers know that this drink can sit in the fridge for quite a long time, each kombucha brand has a different shelf life. Why is that? In this article, you'll find out all you need to know about kombucha's shelf life and what influences it, as well as learn how to properly store kombucha and how to know that the drink has gone bad. 

Kombucha is a fermented tea made from a unique combination of bacteria and yeast called a SCOBY. This culture of microorganisms is placed in sweet tea, which causes fermentation, and that's what gives kombucha its distinct taste that many people love so much.

While the SCOBY feeds on sugar, the carboxylic acid is produced. After about 2 weeks, the drink is bottled and refrigerated. 

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How Long Does Kombucha Last?

The amount of time kombucha will last before going bad depends on when the bottle is opened and where you store it. Because SCOBY contains living bacteria, kombucha should be kept in the fridge, just like yoghurt or kefir. That's why kombucha that's stored in the fridge will last for months, but if you leave it in a cupboard, it will go bad faster in about a week or so. That's because once the living cultures in kombucha are overheated, they die, and the drink loses all its nutrients. 

The optimal temperature for storing kombucha is about 4°C. Keep in mind that if you see "Best by" or "Use by" dates on the label, these are intended for the unopened product. This date indicated the best optimal consumption deadline. Essentially, this is the date by which you should open and drink your kombucha. Once you open the bottle, it's exposed to the air, which facilitates decomposition and nutrient loss. 

The fizziness in kombucha acts just like the carbonation in soda, and while the drink may still taste good, it won't be fizzy anymore if you leave it open for too long. If the drink comes in a can that's not resealable, try to drink kombucha as soon as possible, preferably within a week of opening it. However, if it comes in a bottle with a resealable cap, you can cap the bottle and put it back in the fridge. That way, you'll keep your drink cold and refreshing and prevent air exposure. Your kombucha will stay fizzy, tart, and nutritious for much longer. 

How Long Does Bottled Kombucha Last?

Bottled kombucha usually lasts for about 6-8 months. Because kombucha naturally contains some acid, bacteria, and yeast, no bad bacteria or mould will spread or grow if you keep it bottled. If you store kombucha in your pantry, the fermentation process will continue and the drink will become more acidic over time. While it'll still be safe to drink, it won't be nearly as delicious.

Shelf Life Of Homemade Kombucha 

Whether you're buying homemade kombucha or making the beverage yourself, you should expect it to last for up to three months if you store it in the fridge. However, you should try to consume kombucha within a month or two since the taste will fade over time. If after a week of being opened kombucha doesn't look like it did when you opened the bottle, discard it.

Can You Freeze Kombucha?

Interestingly, yes, you can freeze kombucha in a plastic container or in reusable plastic bags. Make sure to use plastic and not metal containers since metal can interact with living cultures. Cold temperatures will also prevent the drink from spoiling. If you want to freeze the kombucha, simply pour it into a container, and leave some space. Then fill a bowl with ice, add some water and about ¼ cup of salt and place the container there. This will freeze the kombucha almost instantly. After it's frozen, put it in the freezer. 

When defrosting, drink kombucha as soon as it's thawed. Consume it within a few days and don't re-freeze the remaining kombucha.

How To Know That Kombucha Has Gone Bad

When kombucha is stored for a longer time than recommended, left in a hot environment, or overexposed to air, its quality can deteriorate. Sometimes mould or bacteria can develop in the beverage. In both of these cases, you should throw away the drink. Here are some signs that kombucha has gone bad: 

  • Vinegar-like taste or taste that's too tart
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Cloudy appearance
  • Excessive bubbling
  • The drink is not fizzy

You should avoid consuming old kombucha. While it's unlikely to make you sick, it does contain acetobacter, which is a bacterium that produces acetic acid as a byproduct of fermentation. This bacteria is present in all kombucha, but if kombucha is stored for too long, acetobacter can cause stomach upset.

A Healthy Kombucha Alternative

Controlling whether you left your drink on the counter for too long or kept it in the fridge for excessive amounts of time may be overwhelming in today's fast-paced world. Plus, if you leave kombucha out on the counter, it may lose its flavour and its quality will deteriorate quickly. 

But of course, there are always alternatives you can opt for. For example, with FUL® sparkling spirulina drinks, you can enjoy a tasty sparkling drink without having to worry whether your drink will go bad if it stays in the fridge for a couple more days. FUL® beverages are delicious fizzy drinks that deliver a ton of health benefits due to the natural spirulina extract contained in them. These drinks won't go bad if you leave them on your kitchen counter, not in a day, not even in a few days. They also don't lose their nutrient content, unlike kombucha. These drinks: 

  • Come in several delicious flavours.
  • They are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins C and B2, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and chlorophyll.
  • Free of artificial flavourings, colourings, and preservatives
  • Can be delivered to your doorstep. 

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Does kombucha need to be kept in the fridge?

Yes, it's recommended to store kombucha in the fridge because it'll stop the fermentation process and preserve its taste and nutrient content. Kombucha that is left on the counter may contain higher alcohol levels and have a higher pH. It also has a shorter shelf life.

How long can I keep kombucha in the fridge?

Bottled kombucha can be stored in the fridge for 6-8 months. Once you open kombucha, treat it as a can of soda and drink it as soon as possible.

Does kombucha have to be stored in glass?

Usually, kombucha is sold in glass bottles. If you want to freeze it, you may use plastic containers. Avoid using metal containers as they may interact with living cultures in kombucha.

Why does my kombucha taste like vinegar?

If your kombucha tastes or smells like vinegar, it may be a sign that the drink has gone bad. If it's past the "consume by" date or you've been storing your kombucha for a long time, you may want to discard it and open a new bottle.

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