No. 10 – Revenge of the Scoby !

My wife’s track-record with keeping ‘living food’…um…’alive’, hasn’t been that great.  (Read about the demise of the original Yeast Baby). Yes not directly her fault, but she picked out the sitter, so guilt by association.

Last week I introduced the newest addition to our family, the ‘Scoby’, a symbiotic life form that lives in our pantry that spends its days drinking tea and spewing out kombucha, a ultra-healthy fermented drink that turns you into Batman, or at the very least, some level of ninja.  If you haven’t read last week’s post ‘Attack of the Scoby’ please go back and do that now, it’s required reading for today.

All set?  Horrified?


Anyway, like the sourdough yeast culture, our little Scoby was, eventually, sadly, neglected. You know how it is:

At first you honestly forget to feed it, check on it, love it. Then part of your mind remembers and starts to nag at you, but the other part of your mind tells the first part of your mind to shut-up, and you get by like this for a while, in sort of an unconscious denial of reality.

But those mind games only work for so long, and eventually your conscious mind realizes its really been a while and that you should probably go check on it, but now it’s been SO long that you’re sort of afraid to go look, and so a new level of conscious denial kicks in.

Time passes…

Finally one day your husband notices that fruit flies are swarming over the top of the little jug in the pantry that the Scoby lives in. He brings this to your attention. Shoulders slumped, you finally ask him to take it down off the shelf (it’s heavy) and you open it up.

New Horrors.

Keep in mind that right from the start, a Scoby is a disgusting, disturbing, and disquieting form of symbiotic life (reference photo above). Particularly when your wife gleefully feeds its off-ings to your offspring (go ahead, look at the photo again). It starts out as a thin film on the top of some tasty tea solution, but eventually transforms into a soul-scarring image of alien life (do it).

*And that’s what it looks like when things are going along well and you’ve been taking regular care of it, so you can only imagine how all the more several months of patent neglect have only increased the unlovability of said Scoby.

Turns out that the little cheesecloth cover over the top of the jug was not as secure as we had hoped or imagined. And more than simply attracted to the vingery scent, the fruit flies had managed to get inside the jug and done unspeakable reproductive acts upon the surface of the Scoby, impregnating it with their evil.


WIFE: “Hm.”

ME: “Are those WORMS?”

WIFE: “We can fix this.”

ME: “What?  No way, we need to toss this thing out.”

WIFE: “No, no, I can peel this layer off.  It has LAYERS.”

Me: “I don’t know…”

WIFE: (peeling)  See?  All better?

This was a critical moment in our lives.  I’ve put up with a lot in the last couple of years, but the last thing I wanted to see was these microscopic fruit fly larva inching their way through the pupils of my children’s eyes as I kiss them goodnight like I’m living in the final season of the The X-Files.

No one wants that for their kids.

I quickly put an end to the discussion of ‘rescuing’ our Scoby through layer-peeling with a Google search on ‘What to do when fruit flies defile your Scoby.’  Turns out you absolutely HAVE to throw it away, completely.

And scour the jug for evil.

It wasn’t a hard sell, my wife wasn’t really considering keeping the thing, it was just hard for her to throw it away after all those tea-feedings and snuggles.

Denial is one of the five stages of grief.

After the Internet encouraged, nay, demanded, that we throw our beloved Scoby into the trash, it also helpfully said that we could start a new culture with our ‘backup Scoby.’

My wife and I look at each other, “Backup Scoby?…”

At least there are some people out there who are more crunchy than us, people with ‘backup Scobys’, people who’s kitchens look like a set from the movie The Island of Dr. Moreau.

Thankfully, in our Scoby’s younger years, we had already sent out several little scoby children with friends (worm-free children), and were able to recover a seed (grandchild?) of our original culture and start fresh.

Redundancy matters.



“…months later, after humanity has regained a foothold, scientists will manage to trace back the origins of the zombie apocalypse to my thighs…”