Can You Eat SCOBY?

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You may or may not be familiar with SCOBY, but what you have likely come across is the amazing range of uses this strange ingredient has, such as kombucha!

However, can you eat SCOBY by itself? Luckily, SCOBY is completely safe to eat. This means that you can get the same benefits from it as the products it makes! SCOBY is an excellent immune booster and provides a ton of other health benefits.

Today, we will look at exactly what this mysterious ingredient is, what it looks like, and how it is traditionally used. Then, we will also discuss how it can be used raw or cooked.

We have even provided some additional safety tips to ensure you use it safely and responsibly! So, let’s get to it!

What Is SCOBY?


SCOBY is an acronym that stands for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”.

This is an ingredient that is created during the production of sour foods like kimchi and kombucha.

However, while it is created during the process, it is also an essential part of it.

When a product like kimchi or kombucha is made, three elements will start fermenting. This includes yeast, acetic acid bacteria, and lactic acid bacteria. Once they are fully fermented, SCOBY forms.

Now, we will admit it, SCOBY kind of looks disgusting! It looks like some gooey gel that comes from a horror movie! It usually forms on top of the liquid. It has a gelatinous consistency and looks like a cellulose thick film. 

Imagine a layer of fat floating on top of the water, but just more jelly-like and slimy. That’s the most common form of SCOBY.

Now, while this may not sound all too good, or even edible, this SCOBY is actually an extremely useful and versatile ingredient.


SCOBY can function just like a sourdough starter. By this we mean it acts like a pellicle, a product intended to be used to continue future fermentation processes.

So, if you keep it alive and growing, you can use pieces of it to start a new batch of kimchi or kombucha.

Jun (or Xun) is another fermented beverage that is similar to kombucha. The difference is that the base of its ingredients is green tea and honey. To make kombucha, the base ingredients are black tea and cane sugar.

You can also use SCOBY to make sourdough bread. Sure, it isn’t a traditional technique and starter to use, but it will work and create a very unique tangy flavor profile.

Then, SCOBY can also be used to make delicious homemade ginger beer—the traditional way!

Other fantastic ingredients that are often made with SCOBY include kefir (fermented milk drink), vinegar (especially rice vinegar), soybean paste, and soy sauce.

Crazy to think that there are so many wonderful and even well-known dishes and beverages made from an ingredient like SCOBY.

But now, the more recent question we have been receiving more and more is whether or not you can east SCOBY?

Can You Eat SCOBY? Is It Safe?

Okay, so all of the examples we have mentioned above prove that SCOBY is safe to eat. But, all of the examples are made using SCOBY. They aren’t pure SCOBY. So, is it safe to eat as-is?

The short answer is yes. But, you may want to make some adjustments to the texture and flavor—we highly recommend it!

As-is, SCOBY has a consistency that almost resembles gummy candy, but it is much softer and more jelly-like. Others compare it to soft chewy leather.

The reason that the consistency may vary so much is that you are working with different strands of bacteria. Ultimately, you will never get the precise same product from two different batches

Another major difference between batches is the flavor. SCOBY is mainly produced as a by-product of fermented tea. So, it is safe to say that the tea you used to make SCOBY will directly and mainly affect the flavor.

Kombucha is a sweet tea, so the SCOBY that comes from it will also have noticeable sweet flavors.

How To Cook SCOBY

So, how do you use SCOBY (and not as a pellicle)? Well, you can use it raw or cooked.

Many people swear by making SCOBY ice cream and smoothies. The key is to cover up the chewy texture and savory flavor with other overpowering essences and ingredients.

You can easily use mint extract, coffee flavoring, or fruit essences to hide the SCOBY flavor and still get its benefits.

For smoothies, you can simply use Greek yogurt (double thick yogurt) to hide any unwanted flavors.

But, let’s also have a look at how you can ultimately preserve SCOBY by cooking it.

1. SCOBY Leather

This technique is very similar to making fruit leather. But the progress is arguably even easier! 

Simply blend up the SCOBY before making the recipe. You can either incorporate it with some fruit puree or use it as-is. Then, spread a thin layer on non-stick paper and place it in a dehydrator.

You can use an oven, but the temperature tends to be too high for slow dehydration. Keep drying it until it is no longer sticky and can be easily removed from the paper.

Here’s a great video on how to make this delicious snack from the folks over at Bon Appétit!

2. SCOBY Jerky

Making jerky is an extremely popular use for excess SCOBY. You can simply cut the layer of SCOBY into strips and allow them to dehydrate completely

We prefer leaving ours for 24 hours to ensure they are extra dry. Then, remove them and eat them as an on-the-go snack, or incorporate them into your salads and stews.

3. SCOBY Candy

This popular method has a few variations itself. It mainly differs in the ingredients used. But ultimately, the idea is that you sweetened SCOBY pieces and make candy from them.

One of the easiest and quickest methods to use involves simply coating SCOBY pieces in sugar and boiling them in a pot. The sugar will melt and coat each piece.

Once you have a more syrup-like coating, you can place the pieces on non-stick paper and allow them to cool.

A technique you can use to make hard SCOBY candies involved coating the pieces with honey or syrup and dehydrating them for 2 days at a low temperature. When soaking the SCOBY pieces in the sweet syrup for a long time, it absorbs the flavor.

What To Look Out For Before Eating SCOBY

Now, there are a couple of things you have to look out for when eating SCOBY raw or cooked. It mainly has to do with the quality of the product you will get.

First, always try and use fresh SCOBY. It will have a better flavor and give better benefits to the product and your body. Then, it is also important to make sure it doesn’t smell bad or rotten. Again, always use from a fresh batch.

Your SCOBY should also look healthy and not contain any mold on it. If it also grows abnormally, you should rather avoid ingesting it directly.

And finally, make sure that your SCOBY isn’t too old. Unlike a sourdough starter that can be replenished, a SCOBY can only be re-brewed about 6-12 times.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s a lot! But after this number of times, it starts losing its effects. 

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over some of the best ways to eat SCOBY, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

Can SCOBY come from wine or beer production?

While wine and beer do undergo a fermentation process, it is only yeast that is used.

The addition of lactic and acetic bacteria to these beverages is seen as “spoiling” the wine or beer flavor. So, SCOBY only really comes from kombucha, kimchi, and similar items.

Is SCOBY healthy?

SCOBY is said to have a lot of health benefits, just like kombucha and kimchi do. It is a great ingredient that promotes good gut health thanks to the acids it contains.

Furthermore, it contains a lot of antioxidants, an essential element that helps protect your cells from cancer-forming free radicals.

And finally, it also helps boost your immune system due to the yeast and beneficial bacteria it contains.

Are there any dangers to eating SCOBY?

The biggest danger when it comes to SCOBY is if it comes from a bad brew. What this means is that the pH of the kombucha it was made from is too high.

This can allow harmful bacteria to form and cause serious health risks. Ideally, the pH should be between 2.2 and 4.5.

Also, make sure to limit the amount of SCOBY you ingest as it could upset your stomach. After all, it is made from yeast and bacteria, which can cause an imbalance just as easily as it can help create a balance.

Can a dog eat SCOBY?

Many people love making dog treats using SCOBY; however, you can also feed it to them as is.

Personally, the jerky method is better as it keeps them busy for a while!

Up Next: Kombucha Vs Apple Cider Vinegar – What’s The Difference?

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