From the Editor: Please welcome Eve, CFH Customer Support Representative and Cultured Kitchen Keeper.
If you’ve never used a flip top bottle, they can seem overly complex. But fear not! Flip top bottles are an easy and fantastic vessel for your bubbly beverages. Today I’ll be sharing a few tips for the care and usage of these helpful devices.
We love the Grolsch Flip Top Bottles, though flip top bottles come in many sizes, shapes, and colors. I frequently get bottles from local kombucha or beers that I have consumed. You can also find them at your local beer or wine homebrew shop.
Before filling your bottles, it is important to check the bottles for cracks. Holding the bottle up to sunlight is a great way to ensure that there are no cracks that can cause the bottle to burst later on.
That is what sunlight is available….
I prefer to use a funnel to fill my bottles so that the mess is a bit more contained. A good general ratio for filling bottles to make your brew fizzy is 1 part juice and 4 to 5 parts kombucha tea or water kefir. Seal your bottles and allow them to sit at room temperature for approximately 2 to 14 days for kombucha and 24-72 hours for water kefir. This process is known as a “second ferment”.
To close your bottles, ideally you will start with the stopper on the same side as the lever. Move the stopper into place and then push down on the lever until it clicks into place.
We often receive emails from people who are frantic that their bottles are broken. Typically what happens is that the stopper gets “stuck” on the other side of the bottle from the lever and the bottle can be practically impossible to open and close. Just lift up on the lever and swing the stopper to the correct side. You may need to flip the stopper upside down so that it can pass over the mouth of the bottle. Many bottles are different and some take more coaxing than others. Don’t panic! Just play around with it. Flip tops are a very simple device and eventually it should swing to the other side.
(I’m a pro and it sometimes takes me a bit to get the stopper in position.)
When opening the bottle, be certain to point the bottle away from anything important (such as people, windows, pets, and cherished heirloom antiques). With the lever pointing towards the ground, use both of your thumbs to push down on the “hinge” or swirly part of the lever. The stopper should pop open. Depending on your bottle and level of carbonation, your lid could possibly go flying across the room. To re-attach the lid, line up the metal tip of the lever with one of the indentations in the bottle. Then simply pop the other tip of the lever into the indentation on the other side of the bottle.
It is truly amazing that fermented foods can produce enough pressure to shoot a lid across the room. They can also produce enough pressure to even shatter bottles and mason jars! I have heard of people having glass imbedded in their floor or ceiling from the force of the explosion. It’s an awful mess to clean out of your refrigerator too! Bottles should be burped daily at room temperature and at least once a week or so in the refrigerator. Be safe and burp your bottles regularly. Don’t think that busted bottles can’t happen to you!
Once you have consumed your tasty treat, it is best to clean the bottle as soon as possible to ensure that residue is removed. Sometimes with kombucha and water kefir, yeast strands can get stuck to the sides of the bottles.
When warm, soapy water will not remove all of the residue, I fill my bottles with a couple tablespoons of uncooked rice and a drop of soap. Fill with hot water and shake it until the bottle comes clean. The raw rice is a great abrasive substance, though salt could possibly work for you too, depending on the level of build up in your bottle. Bottle brushes are available, but I have not purchased one yet.
After I wash the bottle, I spray the inside of the bottle with distilled white vinegar and allow it to dry upside down. Some people remove their stoppers and lids when storing the bottles, but I have never found that to be necessary.
Replacement gaskets and bottle brushes can be found online or from a homebrew supply shop. Gaskets should be replaced when they become brittle or develop mold.
Flip top bottles are a great investment. With proper care and use, your flip top bottles can last you for years to come!
How about you? Do you have any great flip top bottle stories or experiences?