Nata – SCOBY Candy

Nata – SCOBY Candy

You know the giant, white, yeast strand-coated blob you use to make kombucha?  The one that elicits an “Ewwwww!” from almost anyone who doesn’t drink kombucha (and many who do)? You should eat that.

Headed for the chopping block.  This is the one time I will recommend using metal on your SCOBY.

Headed for the chopping block. This is the one time I will recommend using metal on your SCOBY.

Well, I’m not saying you should eat it.  Only that I’m offering you a way to use up excess SCOBYs and you might want to consider giving it a try.  I confess that my first nata-eating efforts were marred by thoughts of placenta eating.  I don’t know why this was the though stuck in my head, and props to you if you’re the bold mama who muscled down that organ, but for me, it made eating the SCOBY nearly impossible.  I worked through it though, with some recipe tweaks and now I can honestly say if you were the type to eat gummy bears or Dots or Hairbo as a kid, I can’t think of a reason that you wouldn’t enjoy this. It tastes a lot like a lightly tea-flavored gummy candy.

Chopping a SCOBY with kitchen scissors is a much better way to do it easily and evenly.  A knife will do in a pinch, though.

Chopping a SCOBY with kitchen scissors is a much better way to do it easily and evenly. A knife will do in a pinch, though.

Unlike many things we discuss here, this isn’t going to be a health food, unless your only dietary need is getting a bit more fiber in your diet.  The cellulose of the SCOBY gives a chew that is a DEAD ringer for kombucha-flavored gummy candy, as does the not insubstantial amount of sugar you’ll be using. Plus, the way I do this, the SCOBY is dead and therefore you’re not getting the microbial benefits you get from drinking ‘booch.  If you want to eat it alive, there is a great method detailed in The Art of Fermentation. I had good results with that method, but even though I make this candy very rarely, I prefer the easy way given that the microbe content in my diet is more than sufficent.

Mix the sugar well with the SCOBY pieces before putting it stovetop.

Mix the sugar well with the SCOBY pieces before putting it stovetop.

NATA SCOBY CANDY RECIPE

Adapted from The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz

There are a couple ways to make this detailed in The Art of Fermentation, but I developed a few tricks based on my inherent kitchen laziness and a need for more specifics. Alternative sweeteners will not work in this recipe, so go for the cane stuff.

DO NOT LICK THE SPOON! Seriously, this will burn your face off.

DO NOT LICK THE SPOON! Seriously, this will burn your face off.

Ingredients

  • 1 – 1-inch think kombucha SCOBY
  • Cane sugar equal to the weight (preferably) or volume (okay) of the SCOBY
  • 1.5 inches grated ginger (optional)
  • zest of one lemon (optional)
It's not a health food, but when else are you going to see candy on a whole food lover's blog?

It’s not a health food, but when else are you going to see candy on a whole food lover’s blog?

How-To

  1. Cut your SCOBY into small cubes. The size of the piece is up to you, but chunks should be a size that you’d like to eat like a gummy candy. I have found that the best way to cut a SCOBY is with kitchen shears. That way you get nice, even pieces and the cutting is very easy. A sharp knife is a distant second since as anyone who has ever tried to separate partially connected SCOBY layers knows, these things are seriously strong.
  2. Rinse your SCOBY pieces, removing any excess slimy bits or yeast strands. At this point, you could either weigh them or measure them.  In either case, you want to mix sugar equal to the amount of SCOBY in with the SCOBY.
  3. Add both to a saucepan on your stove.  If you want a bit of extra flavor, add the ginger and lemon as well.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and stir frequently as the sugar starts to boil.  If you have a thermometer, turn off the heat at 244F.  If you don’t have one, turn off the heat when the sugar is fully liquid, coats the SCOBY pieces and has been at a vigorous boil for about 7 minutes.
  5. Using a metal slottled spoon, remove the SCOBY pieces to a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or a silpat. Pour the syrup that remains in the top over the SCOBY pieces until pretty well coated. Using the spoon, space them out so they’re not torching.  You also don’t want the syrup near the edges of the cookie sheet. It will liquify a bit in the oven.
  6. While this mix is setting at room temperature, bring your oven up to 350.  Once the syrup is tacky, put the baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes.
  7. Candy should be lightly caramelized in appearance and sticky to touch.
  8. Enjoy immediately or keep at room temp for a day or two or up to a week in the fridge.
After cooking, the pieces are a bit caramelized and the sugar is still syrupy.

After cooking, the pieces are a bit caramelized and the sugar is still syrupy.

Note: You can boil these and bake them for longer if you want a more candied, caramelized flavor. These are bright and kombucha-tasting, and that’s how I like them.

For step 5, you can actually just pour the whole pan onto a silpat and move the pieces around to coat them once the syrup has cooled a bit.  You will get better coverage doing it the way written into the recipe, though.

These pieces were cut with a knife and caramelized a bit more in the oven than the recipe calls for.  I prefer them the way detailed in the recipe, but I do think they look pretty when they're a bit caramelic.

These pieces were cut with a knife and caramelized a bit more in the oven than the recipe calls for. I prefer them the way detailed in the recipe, but I do think they look pretty when they’re a bit caramelic.

Ferment Gluten-Free Recipes using Ferments Sandor Katz Vegan Vegetarian

12 comments

    • Amanda says:

      It’s a pretty fun and easy project. Worth trying, at least (IMO), and definitely tasty. I’m looking forward to sharing some with my niece when I see her next week. I suspect they’ll be a hit!

  1. narf7 says:

    Still getting over that you commented on my Pinterest board (“SQUEE!”) but am thinking of ways to use these wonderful glace SCOBY lumps. I reckon you could toss them into a fruitcake as part of the glace fruit quotient and no-one would be any the wiser. Might actually be an interesting experiment. Pity you have to use sugar and can’t sub anything else. I cut up my SCOBY’s and feed them to my chooks. They ate the last one (at least I think they did, I didn’t hand about to watch them for long) and I compost them. This recipe adds another possibility into the mix. Cheers for the sweet share ma’am :)

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Narf! Didn’t realize you were you! Thanks for commenting all these times (and for your great Pinterest board). You may well be able to use another sweetener if you use the alternate method in The Art of Fermentation. It was a bit too labor intensive for me and required the dehydrator, so I went back to this method for my later batches. I could envision using maple or honey instead of sugar syrup over the SCOBY pieces before putting them in the dehydrator.

      I wish I had SCOBY-eating chicks! My dog is not a fan and she’s about the only animal I can manage in this little city lot. :-)
      Have a great weekend!

    • Amanda says:

      Lol, Eileen. I hear ya! My first experiments with this recipe made me not want to try a whole lot more. Sandor’s recipe (sorry, Sandor) was not my fave. It kind of tasted sweet and bland, which made me think about the SCOBY too much. With a shorter cook time, it really has a tasty ‘booch taste, so the texture makes a bit more sense. Now I like them! If they were closer to being a health food, I would make them much more frequently.

  2. Constance says:

    Heeeeey, I am Loving your blog! Found it a week ago, and I now have preserved lemons, a quince/pear vinegar, a continuous brew ‘Buch, and a ginger bug going! Ferment City!

    An alternate name popped into my head this morning for your li’l Kombucha candies: SCOBY Snacks?

    Thanks for all the inspiration :)

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Constance,

      We definitely call them “scoby snacks” around here, but I’d read it a few other places on the internets and didn’t want to inadvertently steal anyone’s creative thunder on that one :-)

      Thanks so much for reading and for the kind words! I’m so glad you’re having so much fun dancing down the fermentation path. Sounds like you have some awesome stuff going!!

  3. Molly A. says:

    Fantastic! I can’t wait to try these! I keep having to compost my SCOBYs because I don’t have chickens or a dehydrator. I am beyond thrilled to find this candy recipe that doesn’t require a dehydrator!

    Can’t wait to try it! Which I imagine will be soon. My continuous brew produces SCOBYs like crazy.

    • Amanda says:

      It is a pretty fun one! I totally punked my sugar-crazed, fermentation fearing friend. He dug them a lot and and then I revealed the blob :-). Not my normal MO, but it was kinda fun!

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