Fermentation, Kitchen

Watermelon Hibiscus Kombucha

Even though we're nearing the end of September, everything here in Houston remains lush and green, and highs still reach the mid-90s. The calendar might say it's fall, but the watermelon at the farmer's market suggests that summer is still here.

We've been making watermelon hibiscus kombucha all summer long, ever since we saw the first truckloads at our local farmers market. The flavor is light and refreshing, sweet and pleasantly tart – like a watermelon candy but in kombucha form. It's the perfect beverage to cool off with on a hot summer day. The secondary fermentation process gives the yeast in kombucha more nutrients to feed off of and will produce a bubblier, more effervescent brew. 

This recipe is for all those in the south who still find perfectly ripe watermelons available, and for those that want to hold on to summer for just a little bit longer. If you don't fit into either of those categories, just tuck this recipe away in your brain until next summer, when watermelons are in season and the weather is hot again. This will be just what you need! 

You will need:

fresh watermelon cut into chunks
dried hibiscus flowers
finished plain kombucha, acidic but still slightly sweet
large mason jar
bottles with tight-fitting lids (flip-top bottles work well here!)
mesh strainer

Fill a large mason jar about 1/3 of the way with chunks of fresh watermelon, crushing the fruit just a bit to release the juices. Add some dried hibiscus to taste, then fill the rest of the jar with finished plain kombucha. 

Give the brew some time to infuse and for the watermelon to work its magic—about 1-2 days at room temperature—then strain out the fruit and hibiscus and bottle. 

Leave the bottles out at room temperature to ferment and build up carbonation for another couple days, keeping a close eye on them in warmer temperatures.* Transfer to the fridge and wait about 24 hours before cracking open a bottle. This helps ensure that the carbonation dissolves into the kombucha and gives the best results if you like a very bubbly kombucha. 


*Warmer temperatures will speed the buildup of CO2 and could possibly cause a bottle to explode