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Fermentation Problems: The yeast won't stay gone.


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#1 Pharthan

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 08:59 AM

So, I've started my second batch of ferments for a hot-sauce.

Ingredients by weight below:

Habaneros - 388.4g

Garlic  - 171.5g

Thai Chili - 375.3g

Red Chilis - 690.1g

(Total Non-salt-weight: 1625.3g)
I went by the Hunter Angler Garden Cook Recipe and added just over 2% salt by weight: (I also have blood pressure issues, so minimal salt is preferred).

 

40g salt

2 Cups Water

 

All of the above blended (took a bit of doing with my blender).

 

Put into jars (all parts boiled for >5 minutes).
All jars are at room temperature, which varies from 69-75 degrees. (Charleston in summer, I'm pretty sure maintaining a temp of just 69 all day would be more expensive than, say, buying a mini-fridge for the ferment).

 

They started needing burping by day 2 (wild fermentation), and were just about done burping after the first week, then added some Jack Daniel's Smoking Chips to try to get some of that smokey, oakey-flavor.

 

That's when the problems started. I noticed a bit of white fuzzy yeast early on, before the chips. At least one of the jars had a light film layer as well, and the others were showing signs before I added the chips.

 

Now, every few days I have to spoon off the top layer to get rid of the mold. As far as I know it's not harmful, but it will affect the flavor. To mitigate losing any of the mash, I did cover each jar with 1/2 inch of a salt-brine, making it easier to get rid of the yeast.

 

I have this split into 5 jars with the intent to do 3 month ferment, 6 month, 9 month, 1 year, 2 year.

My request is this: How the heck do I stop the yeast? I believe I saw somewhere on this site that adding some ascorbic acid might work? My first batches did not have this issue.
 


Edited by Pharthan, 07 August 2018 - 11:50 AM.


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#2 MikeUSMC

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 11:20 AM

Now, every few days I have to spoon off the top layer to get rid of the mold. As far as I know it's not harmful, but it will affect the flavor

Not exactly..... your first step would be to determine if it's actually mold, or if it might be kahm yeast. Pics would help IMMENSELY in a situation like yours. Kahm yeast is perfectly safe to scrape off and discard. Mold is going to get you sick, and the whole batch should be tossed


My request is this: How the heck do I stop the mold? I believe I saw somewhere on this site that adding some ascorbic acid might work?

I'm not so sure that adding ascorbic acid upfront would necessarily do you any favors. I thing the "good" bacteria (LAB) might have a hard time multiplying in an overly acidic environment. Although I've never done a wild (collecting bacteria from the air) or a "salt only" ferment, it absolutely can be done. Not sure if a 2% brine solution is enough to keep the "bad" bacteria at bay though. I think most people around here try to aim for at least a 4% brine solution. SmokenFire's a rock star in that department ;) Hopefully he'll chime in

I'm a firm believer in using a "starter" for my ferments, and there are a plethora of different sources for them. "Live/Active" kraut or kimchi juice, whey from sour cream or yogurt, etc. (I know there are more, but they're escaping me at the moment). Just make sure that the ingredients list contains "Live" or "Active" lactobacillus cultures.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of the powdered probiotics (by Culturelle). You can find them in virtually any pharmacy or grocery store. Super easy to use too. Just dump some powder into to mixing bowl with your chopped up ingredients, give it a good stir, then dump it into your jars and top with brine.

Cheers, and best of luck! Post some pics, if you can
:cheers:

P.S.- in your current situation, after you determine if it's yeast or mold, you might just be able to empty the jars into a bowl, add a starter and mix it up, then transfer back to (clean) jars again
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#3 MikeUSMC

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 11:28 AM

Try this thread, Pharthan:

http://thehotpepper....t-it/?p=1003009
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#4 Pharthan

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 11:41 AM

image.jpg

 

My one year batch took the biggest hit before I started using a salt-brine to cover the mash, though, it makes it the easiest to take a picture of.

I feel silly calling it "mold" when I knew it was yeast (long day at work addled my brain, I suppose).

Thanks for the link, I've got some reading to do.

The peppers look fine, bright as always, and the jars do burp now and again when I go to remove the yeast, and I've never really been worried about the yeast doing anything harmful to anything other than the flavor.
It just takes a lot of work and I'm slowly loosing my mashes. My other four jars aren't as low as this one.


Edited by Pharthan, 07 August 2018 - 11:47 AM.


#5 MikeUSMC

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 11:44 AM

First things first: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much headspace in that jar ;)
Try to keep it down to about 2" (smaller jar, if you have to)
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#6 Pharthan

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 11:49 AM

First things first: WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much headspace in that jar ;)
Try to keep it down to about 2" (smaller jar, if you have to)

 

Was worried about that initially (my other jars are considerably better, I swear!). This one was, too, but my early skims for the yeast were a bit too liberal. (To be fair, the angle is bad to show the depth, it's more to show the yeast), and when transposing the image to the forum it definitely stretched it oddly.)

Should I scrap this jar and combine it with the others, perhaps? Bring it all out and collect it in a tub, then redistribute better after boiling the jars?

 


Edited by Pharthan, 07 August 2018 - 11:52 AM.


#7 MikeUSMC

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 12:07 PM

Personally, I'd just scrap that jar. The (total) recipe you posted above should probably just be fermented in ONE jar. In my opinion, so long as everything goes "well," it's not going to ferment much (if at all) past 30-45 days. After that, it's probably just "aging."

I'd scrap that jar (pic you posted) completely. Combine everything else into one jar (less headspace ;) ) with a starter, if needed. Take out what you want at different points in time along the way: 3, 6, 9, 12, 24 months, like you said

After your initial 3 month run, take out what you want, then put the rest in the fridge. Fermentation (if it's even still going, at that point) will slow down considerably in a cold environment like that. Plus, the pH should be very low by then, and those cold temps will likely prohibit any "nasties" from growing

$0.02
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#8 SmokenFire

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 04:21 PM

Mikey gave you solid info Parthan.  Not enough salt (4-6% is usually what I run on salt only ferments) and definitely too much head space.

 

There are a variety of starters than you can use to help get your ferments off the ground - Mike uses one (named above), there's a product called Caldwells that's commonly available that also works.  

 

Search out threads started by Rocketman - he was running mostly low salt ferments due to sodium restrictions and used harvested whey almost exclusively with excellent results.  He (and chili monsta) taught me quite a bit about the basics of fermentation back in the day. 

 

I advise you scrap any/every jar with any hint of fuzzy growth along with the big jar that had too much head space.  The problem combining is that you'll never be able to pour off all the yeast completely and then end up inoculating the commingled jars.  This is only your second ferment and we've all lost batches before. 

 

Likely there were a couple vectors in play that caused the mold; either there were some spores on the ingredients or something got in during burping and/or spooning.  With salt percentage that low the lab couldn't get going fast enough to keep everything else at bay.  


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#9 Pharthan

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 06:55 PM

Mikey gave you solid info Parthan.  Not enough salt (4-6% is usually what I run on salt only ferments) and definitely too much head space.

 

There are a variety of starters than you can use to help get your ferments off the ground - Mike uses one (named above), there's a product called Caldwells that's commonly available that also works.  

 

Search out threads started by Rocketman - he was running mostly low salt ferments due to sodium restrictions and used harvested whey almost exclusively with excellent results.  He (and chili monsta) taught me quite a bit about the basics of fermentation back in the day. 

 

I advise you scrap any/every jar with any hint of fuzzy growth along with the big jar that had too much head space.  The problem combining is that you'll never be able to pour off all the yeast completely and then end up inoculating the commingled jars.  This is only your second ferment and we've all lost batches before. 

 

Likely there were a couple vectors in play that caused the mold; either there were some spores on the ingredients or something got in during burping and/or spooning.  With salt percentage that low the lab couldn't get going fast enough to keep everything else at bay.  

 

So, I misspoke (I'm new to this)  earlier when I said "fuzzy." It's filmy, like the above, which I suspect to be kahm-yeast, and never was fuzzy.
This being said, would you still advise I scrap? All of them get filmy, but no fuzz. The scent is just yeasty.


I'll try to condense down the jars as advised.

Thanks for all the great advice! Lots of good info for me to research before I start batch 3, which I had planned on doing in just a couple days.


Edited by Pharthan, 07 August 2018 - 06:59 PM.


#10 Thegreenchilemonster

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 08:04 PM

Everyone has contributed a lot of good advice to help you out here. One thing I would also recommend, is to soak your chips in a strong alcohol, like Vodka/Jack Daniels, for 5 minutes. That way when you add the chips in, they have been disenfected.

I know you were seeing signs of infection before the chips, but disenfecting them first can definitely help prevent any issues going forward.

#11 Pharthan

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 09:01 PM

Everyone has contributed a lot of good advice to help you out here. One thing I would also recommend, is to soak your chips in a strong alcohol, like Vodka/Jack Daniels, for 5 minutes. That way when you add the chips in, they have been disenfected.

I know you were seeing signs of infection before the chips, but disenfecting them first can definitely help prevent any issues going forward.

 

Oh hell that's a great idea.



#12 Pharthan

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 12:54 PM

image.jpg?width=351&height=468

 

Attempting to rescue what I have of my mash.
Scrapped a decent helping of the brine and top layer of the other jars (scrapped the one as recommended), combined them, up'd the salt content, and rejar'd them (after washing and boiling the jars). Each has about an inch of headspace, though looking at it now it seems like it's probably too waterlogged. (EDIT: Just looked again. The picture makes it look more liquidy than it actually is)
I'm keeping an open mind about throwing out all of it, but conveniently, I now have two of my larger jars (same size as pictured) free for my third batch that I hope to start in these coming days, so I don't need to worry about buying more jars (yet).
I have time to watch this batch and figure out if scrapping it is necessary.

All of what I saw on the tops seemed to be kahm yeast, and the scent was yeasty, not bad, so I think the batch is safe based on what others have said.


Edited by Pharthan, 08 August 2018 - 01:00 PM.


#13 shortsonfire79

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 03:37 PM

If when the time comes you find them too watery, I would strain it. Then blend/mill and then add the strained brine back in to desirable results.

 

In my inexperienced opinion, if you don't get anything worse than kham growth down the road I'd just let it ride. I've brewed a beer that got infected that I let go for a few months and it turned out to be drinkable once things died down inside. Especially since you have an available jar, you don't really have reason to dump these just yet.

 

Smell and taste them in a couple months. If it seems normal, I'd let it run.



#14 Pharthan

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 10:24 AM

So, ran into a problem a few days ago:

Using the rubber airlocks, they started to cave inwards instead of outwards, opening up at one edge on both of my two jars.
None of the mash was exposed, as I've got glass weights on them and enough of a brine, but I found the kahm yeast was... clumping?

image0.jpg

 

Still looks like kahm yeast, mostly. Not fuzzy, just... clumpy. I thought at first maybe I'd let the batch of kahm yeast run it's course and this was the "dead" yeast.
Removed it and put it back in with more brine....
... and I still have the same kahm yeast problem as before, back to it being a thin film.

Same thing in both jars.

*sigh* I don't want to trash the batch. I feel like it's still workable.

I suppose I could trash one jar and go for a redo, knowing a bit more now, and see what happens with the jar I keep?

At least my jalapeno-serrano batch is faring better.


Edited by Pharthan, 07 September 2018 - 10:27 AM.


#15 MikeUSMC

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 10:39 AM

Wish I could help you, Phartan. I've never had an issue with kahm yeast though
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#16 shortsonfire79

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Posted 07 September 2018 - 02:30 PM

Scoop it as normal. I had an issue similar to this when I changed vessels to one with 4 gallons worth of headspace. I couldn't see into the vessel so I thought it was mold.

Once I transferred it back to a low-headspace vessel and scooped what I could, the kham went back to its normal self. Yeast tend to colonize in clumps anyways when plated on agar, so that might be what we're seeing here. No big deal.



#17 Pharthan

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 03:49 PM

So, it's come time to finally make the first batch of sauce from the problem-child-ferment.

It's been doing this periodically the entire time. I've been scooping and refilling the brine-layer every couple weeks with progressively more salt until I pretty much just supersaturated the water, but the kahm yeast won't stay gone. T_T

Is this still okay to use? My concern is that if the kahm yeast is this prevalent, what about the other stuff I can't see? If I test the pH would that give me a more definitive answer?
image0.jpg
 



#18 nattymari

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Posted 10 October 2018 - 01:35 AM

Skim the yeast and taste it. Does it taste good? Kahm yeast isn't ideal, but isn't bad for you.

#19 Pharthan

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Posted 19 October 2018 - 09:18 PM

Welp. Bottled the hot sauce the other day.
Tasted *okay* but way too much like kahm yeast. Lesson learned: Needs more salt.



#20 ShowMeDaSauce

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 12:05 PM

Your problem isnt the salt. Its the oxygen available to the mash and yeast. A mash can be pasteurized before going into the fermenter. You just need to add a live lacto culture to it after its cooled. Anything over about 140F will kill pretty much any live yeast so you dont need a lot of heat.

 

I use a fermenter with a inner lid so very little oxygen touches the mash. Some brine does get above the lid but a small spray of vinegar puts a end to any yeast that manages to grow. A lactic acid solution also works. You can buy food grade 80%+ lactic acid at brew shops. Mix it to the desired acidity with some bottled water. Spray the top with a little of the solution or vinegar.


Edited by ShowMeDaSauce, 27 October 2018 - 12:09 PM.





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