It’s crazy to me that making kombucha at home is a super hipster thing to do now. I love that there are small breweries opening all over the country and more and more labels are available in stores each time I go to Whole Foods and other natural markets. I’m so grateful that these products are available to purchase, but as always, it’s just cheaper to make it at home. If you are learning how to make kombucha for the first time, just give yourself all kinds of grace and don’t give up! It’s like having a wacky science fair experiment in your house and it might not be good the first few times you make it, but keep trying. The benefits and bubbly, refreshing taste will be worth it!
We are really excited to share with y’all how we have been making kombucha for the last 10-12 years, but first things first. I wanted to give y’all some helpful hints to get your kombucha home brewing system started. Let’s talk hardware. Where can you find bottles and jars for your new hobby?
Glad you asked… 😉 😉 😉
The first thing you will need is a gallon glass jar. My family in Ohio has been a part of the Weston Price foundation since the early 2000’s and back then, they all collected pickle jars for brewing. There were some people that went out and bought the giant jars of pickles and dumped them in the fields. I do not recommend you do that. Go find a gas station, restaurant, concession stand, etc. and ask them to keep their jars for you. If your church or local organizations have soup kitchens, ask them to keep their jars. You have to be bold and humble all in the same breath. Be willing to ask and you will be surprised how many people will be willing to respond.
There is power in asking!
The same holds true for the bottles you will need for your kombucha.
The first bottles I used were Torani coffee syrup bottles. I got a bunch from a friend who worked at a local coffee shop and they gave them to me for free. These are great starter bottles until you master brewing kombucha.
You’ll find that as you make more and more, you might want to move to better quality bottles. We love using liquor bottles, which you can ask any bar or restaurant to keep for you. Absolute Vodka bottles work so well for kombucha! Just make sure that whatever bottle you are using can hold up under pressure. We also recommend using plastic lids rather than metal. I once had a house full of guests when one of my bottles exploded in the cabinet. It was when I was still a ‘closet’ kombucha maker…because some people just don’t get it…and that’s OK! It’s not for everybody. Anyway, make sure you have a good lid for your bottles. If you are asking someone at a bar or restaurant to keep some for you, make sure that you stress the importance of the lid to them. If there are no lids, the bottles are no good whatsoever.
So here is another dirty little secret I have:
Once you have collected a ton of bottles, you end up having to keep up with a ton of lids…and you may end up squirreling them away in all the dark corners of your kitchen. This will work on your nerves, I will not lie to you. That’s when you can invest in some legit bottles with the swing top lids. These bottles have either ceramic or plastic stoppers with a rubber gasket that are attached to the bottle with a wire frame. These are so perfect because you don’t have to keep up with the lids! The great thing is that you don’t have to spend a ton on these. There are several brands of French soda that are sold in these types of bottles. I have found them at TJ Maxx, Ross, and sometimes at Big Lots. The cheapest place I have ever found them was at Aldi. Last summer I hit the jack pot at the Aldi in Wapakoneta, Ohio when I found an entire case of them. I bought 2 cases of bubbly lemonade and had drinks to offer guests, then the added benefit of reusing the bottles.
You can also use Grolsch beer bottles. My mom collected a whole box of these from a group of priests who get together every month to play poker and drink Grolsch beer. Perfect! =)
I used to buy swing top bottles of Virgil’s Root Beer as a sweet treat and they come in really nice bottles as well. You can also reuse GT bottles or other store bought brands of kombucha. The only issue I have had with GT bottles is that it can turn into a genuine wrestling match to get those lids off when they are under pressure. You have to have a rubber gripper or super freakishly strong hands to deal with this. Otherwise they are great. You will have a lot of these on hand when you get going in the beginning, because you will need them for starter.
Obviously another option is to buy the bottles from a brewing company. I completed my (slightly obsessive) collection of brewing bottles when I found these on Amazon.
It worked out so beautifully because they are from a company in Ohio, so I was able to support a business in my home state. They are really beautiful, and I really do love the cobalt blue, but it can be a challenge to see where the level of your liquid is when you are filling them. I don’t recall having that trouble with amber glass, and obviously it won’t be an issue if you order the clear glass bottles.
Collecting supplies for your at-home brewing purposes is another opportunity to think outside the box and practice frugality! Resources are available, you just have to embrace the thrill of the hunt!
Happy brewing and God bless! ~Shanna