A polish design student, Roza Janusz, created a brand new edible packaging grown from kombucha. At first, it looks like a dried pig bladder but it’s actually kombucha, also known as tea mushroom. The kombucha is a variety of fermented sweetened black or green tea. This is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast”, the Scoby.
Scoby, her graduation project’s name, is “a process between making and growing.” It is totally biological, edible, fully recyclable and can be produced by everyone. This new packaging can be grown by farmers to wrap their products and bring them to market with zero waste.
Actually, we’ve been using biological tissue to package products for years. Just think about how farmers use animal tissue to wrap and dry meat like chorizo, salami etc. What’s new here is that the Scoby packaging solution is totally vegetarian and this is very important as we know more and more people today are concerned about their meat consumption. Farmers can now produce this material even if they don’t have animals and can grow their own packaging. Simply with tea, sugar and some basic chemical process during the fermentation.
Roza Janusz says that the average growth time per sheet is two weeks – at which point a membrane forms on the surface of the liquid. During fermentation, these skins form in layers, one after the other, to finally obtain a strong and resistant layer, in a process similar to the way an onion grows.
“Scoby has a light taste of kombucha. But if you cook it with its content, it will absorb the latter’s taste.”– she adds.
What’s also very interesting about this new material is its long shelf life. Thanks to a very low pH, the packaging stays edible for a very long time, up to 1 year in some cases! Of course, the longevity depends on what’s wrapped. Roza also believes that some specific ingredients with an acidic pH can even extend Scoby’s shelf life (nuts for example).
For the moment herbs, seeds and even instant meals can be packed. What an easy way to cook your meal: you just have to put the packaging inside the oven or a pan and the food cooks itself in its own juices.
Roza Janusz hopes to transform her work into a real and commercial solution for farmers and even brands in the nearest future. That could also be a solution to our regular unintended consumption of plastic molecules in the food we eat.
Plastic-free, environmentally-friendly solutions like kombucha are gaining popularity these days – and hopefully, they will represent the future of food packaging!