Wild and Lazy Fermentation

The Beginner’s Fermentation Glossary of Acronyms

Milk Kefir Grains

MKG or Milk Kefir Grains, getting strained.

Most of my career has been either corporate or corporate adjacent, a fact that has given me an extreme distaste for jargon.  Every company or organization thinks they’re weird for using so many abbreviations and code words, but in my experience they are all wrong.  EVERYONE uses them. Usually everyone uses them way too much, in my humble opinion.

If you frequent fermentation forums, it’s likely you see some acronyms there, too, from time to time.  Maybe you ask, maybe you just feel like a total noob (you’re not) and let it slide, hoping you’ll pick it up from context clues eventually.  Here’s a very brief guide to help you feel a little more like an insider:

ACV – Apple Cider Vinegar.  A typically raw (when homemade) vinegar fermented from apple cider.  Many claim that apple cider vinegar is an excellent health tonic that can cure all manner of ills.  I’ve had some anecdotal healing experiences with apple cider vinegar myself!

CB – Continuous Brew.  Generally refers to a traditional method of brewing kombucha, in which the SCOBY is left undisturbed in a container and finished kombucha is drained off regularly (frequently daily) and fresh, sweet tea is added in the same amount.  This is my preferred method for brewing kombucha.

GBP – Ginger Beer Plant (sorry, British readers, for what I can only imagine is a confusing acronym).  Ginger Beer Plant is another culture (another SCOBY, in fact) that is most likely the original way to make ginger beer.

Ginger Beer

GBP or Ginger Beer Plant

KT – Kombucha Tea, aka Kombucha.  A fermented, sweetened tea beverage that is noted (subjectively) for helping the drinker to feel like a million bucks.  It is made with a culture (covered further down) and has a vinegary taste.

MK – Milk Kefir.  Milk that is fermented using a culture (milk kefir grains).  It thickens and becomes a type of drinking yogurt that is extremely rich in probiotic bacteria.

MKG – Milk kefir grains. The culture (again, a SCOBY, not an actual grain) that turns milk into kefir.

SCOBY – (pronounced SCOBEE (the o is like the “o” in oboe) Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast.  This is a legit abbreviation, so you don’t have to walk around saying “Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast, Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast” when you’re talking kombucha.  SCOBY is generally only used to describe the kombucha culture, but it could be correctly used to talk about milk and water kefir grains, vinegar mothers and other cultures that fit the definition.  Be aware, though, that if you say “my milk kefir SCOBYs” some people will think it’s odd.

Kombucha SCOBYs in a jug

Symbiotic Community of Bacteria and Yeast or SCOBYs for a single batch (not CB) of kombucha.

SK – Same thing as water kefir (see below).

SKG – Sugar kefir grains.  The same thing as Water kefir grains (see below).

WKG – Water kefir grains, aka tibicos, sugar kefir grains and lots of other things –  Grains are the culture used to ferment the sweet solution into a wonderful, probiotic beverage.  They convert the sugars present into CO2 and


WKG or Water Kefir Grains in a sugar solution, making WK. aka SKG and SK.

WK – Water kefir. Water kefir is a cultured beverage made from sweet or sweetened liquid.  Some people make it with juice as the base, some people make a sugar water solution and culture it.  Others use coconut water.


What’d I forget?  Any abbreviations or acronyms you have seen around and wondered about?  Tell me in the comments and I’ll add it here!




  1. Posted December 6, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Is it okay to call the Scoby a mother? Because that’s what it gets referred to as in this house – otherwise, it might end up being called Scoobie as in, the cartoon.

  2. Amanda
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I personally think it’s fine. They serve the same purpose and they both have babies, so I also use the terms interchangeably. I have seen some people get irritated about what to call the SCOBY that forms on different ferments, but I just call them crankypants and move on. :-)

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