Making Vegan Leather - Batch 1.1

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

From where we left off, I baked one of the trays with the 3-layer (twice folded) SCOBY pellicle and it turned out a little burnt at the edges. It also uses quite a bit of electricity, which I'll be saving from now on, because I doubt I'll be baking it again. Perhaps a proper dehydrator would solve the problem with the burnt edges?

It's Day 4 since I started drying out the rest of batch 1's SCOBY. The one on the tray is significantly thinner than the one on the tarp, but thankfully both of them are significantly suppler than the one that was put in the oven. I would count these as successful experiments of SCOBY leather.

As thin as the baked SCOBY leather, but suppler when sun/air dried. No burnt edges

Unfortunately, I didn't document the process of peeling off the thicker (once folded) piece of SCOBY leather from the tarp, but it was definitely a lot suppler as well as tougher to peel off the plastic tarp. It turned out to be 0.09mm thick. It also took the texture of the tarp, which was kind of cool. I would say that starting off with a thicker piece of SCOBY pellicle is more beneficial to achieving a better, stronger outcome. Too thin, and the SCOBY leather feels brittle after dehydration.

I noted there're some air bubbles trapped between the layers of folded SCOBY. Where the pellicle touches, they successfully laminate, at least strong enough to hold themselves together when being peeled out. Either way, I'll be trying to craft something out of this first batch of vegan leather!

Final notes of making vegan leather:

  • Thicker, unbroken SCOBY pellicle dries to thicker, suppler vegan leather

  • Always wash excess yeast bits off before drying off

  • Squeeze as many air bubbles out as possible when laminating pellicle

  • Over baking increases dehydration time with the risk of burning SCOBY, making it brittle and stiff

  • Sun/air drying SCOBY achieves better results, feels suppler and stronger tensile strength

  • SCOBY pellicle takes texture of surface it dries on

  • Vegan leather may need some sort of waterproofing/resistance for added durability

  • Vegan leather is also translucent, perhaps because of how thin they are

  • Moisture content of SCOBY pellicle is expected to be >90%. I would probably have to start with at least 10mm to achieve somewhere close to 1mm leather

In the next post I'll talk about my experience crafting with SCOBY leather, and the additional processes involved in making it a little bit more durable and water resistant.

Till next time, gentlefolk!

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