Does Kombucha Expire?
Kombucha is all the rage right now. Whether you make it yourself or buy it at the store, you might be wondering, “Does kombucha expire?”
I will answer the questions, “Does store-bought Kombucha Expire?” “Does homebrewed Kombucha Expire?” and “Does an opened bottle of Kombucha Expire?” and more.
Does store-bought kombucha expire?
I have heard many times over that kombucha doesn’t go bad; it just turns into vinegar. So, if you like to drink vinegar, then you are OK. But there is more to it than just that.
If it is a store-bought kombucha, then most brands recommend to consume it within 3-5 days after opening and always keep it refrigerated. After you open it, the kombucha will start to lose its carbonation and flavor. This is recommended by the manufacturer to ensure you get the taste and fizz that they say it has. So, they are just protecting themselves here.
A bottle of opened kombucha will continue to ferment very slowly while refrigerated and can last for a very long time, upwards of 6 months.
If left at room temperature, it can last for weeks, although it would continue to ferment and become more acidic over time. If you leave it at room temperature for weeks, a SCOBY will start to form in the bottle, and you could then use to make your own kombucha.
With that being said, use common sense when drinking anything that is past its expiration date. If it smells bad and tastes bad, then it is probably bad. Throw it out!
Unopened Bottle of Store-Bought Kombucha
Say you left an unopened bottle of store-bought kombucha in the fridge for a month or two and now you are wondering if it has gone bad?
NO, it has not gone bad, the flavor notes might have changed a bit, becoming more acidic or vinegary, but it’s still fine to drink. If you like the flavor.
My first suggestion is to open it slowly because bottled kombucha can explode from the buildup of carbonatation. Cover the bottle with a towel and slowly open it over the kitchen sink.
Next, just taste it. If you don’t like the taste, then throw it out, but I doubt it will hurt you. If anything, it will be a little tart and vinegary due to the continuing fermentation process. Even though cold temperatures slow the fermentation process down almost to a standstill, is still does continue at a slow rate.
Furthermore, all food manufacturers are required to put a “sell by date,” “use by date” or “best before date” on the packaging, but you can still drink it.
Such a date just means that this is when you will get the best flavor and quality.
After that date has passed the taste, smell, texture, and look of the drink may be different, but that does not mean that it has spoiled.
You may have forgotten about your kombucha in the back of the fridge, and when you taste it, it’s a bit sour or vinegary. This is because kombucha contains high levels of acidity like pickle juice and vinegar. Kombucha is, in fact, a type of vinegar. As long as it has been unaffected by harmful bacteria, it should last some time, just like pickles and vinegar do.
However, if you have health issues that are triggered by acid or bacteria, it is advisable to toss it out to avoid allergic reactions, infections, or a really nasty upset stomach.
How can you tell if kombucha has gone bad?
Also, if the mixture smells off to you, it tastes too bitter, or you see mold growing, then do not drink it, the bacteria may actually be bad. This is rare.
Does homemade kombucha expire?
I am referring to kombucha that has gone through the second fermentation and is bottled up and stored in the refrigerator.
If the bottles are adequately sealed and unopened, then it will last in the refrigerator for a long time, possibly more than a year.
If you open the bottle, drink out of it and put it back in the refrigerator, I’d say it will probably lose its flavor within a week or two, but it is not bad.
I tend to drink it within two weeks. After that, I noticed the flavor gets too vinegary for me.
Unopened Bottle of Homebrewed Kombucha
Now, unopened homebrewed bottled of kombucha can last indefinitely.
Homebrewed kombucha can keep in the refrigerator for quite a long time if you KEEP it in the fridge and have brewed it properly. However, because kombucha is a natural food, it will not last forever.
As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.”, right.
Because it is stored in the refrigerator, the cold temps slow the fermentation process, but it does not stop it completely.
I know I’ve said this before.
During the time it’s sitting there, the yeast continues to eat the sugars that are in the fruit, causing it to become more carbonated and acidic.
If you like drinking sourer drinks such as dry cider or sour beer, then just leave it in the refrigerator for six to eight months. You’ll be happy with the results.
Tip: Burp the bottles every month or so to release the pressure.
If you want to learn how to make your own kombucha, check out my recipe on how to make one-gallon of kombucha.
Are you following a keto diet, you can find out if kombucha is keto friendly or not?