I began on April 12 a new batch of sauce fermenting thai chilies, prik chee fa, 80 dry ghosts, onion, shallot and garlic.
To prep for this I:
1. Briefly rinse the ghosts (which are dry) then put them in a bowl and add boiling water to soften them. I then go do my other steps listed below.
2. All other ingredients are smoked. I leave out a bit of each ingredient from smoking as the heat can kill the good bacteria.
3. I wash all bottles and before adding mash, I rinse each bottle in dilute bleach and hot water and rinse afterwards. I added 6 cups of water to which had been added 4% (of the weight of the fruits) Thai sea salt.
Then I add the salted mash and cap them with airlocks lid.
I had full-on fermentation the next morning. Excellent.
Now, it's hot season here and effen 100°+ everyday. We only AC the rooms we are in and running AC just for the ferments would be nuts and super expensive. There is no cool dry place here unless YOU make it.
A few days after fermentation kicked off, #$%$#@ mold appeared on the surface of mashes.
Pissed as all get out given the lengths I've gone to prevent this, I did this:
1. Scooped out 1/2 inch of each bottle. The spoon I used was dipped in dilute bleach, rinsed, scooped out moldy chili, dump moldy chili, rinse, dip in dilute bleach, rinse, repeat.
2. Once all the moldy chili was removed, I went a step further. Since the spoon was dragged with the moldy chili up the sides of each bottle, I'm pretty dang sure this spooged each bottle side with mold. So I took a paper towel, dipped that in the dilute bleach and squeezed it dry, then wiped the inside of each dagnabbed bottle. I give each bottle some air time before closing the lids to let the dilute bleach outgas and turn to water.
3. I put the lids back on each and kept the bottles in AC rooms which meant walking up a flight of stairs with 10 bottles with 600MLS in each one. Not fun.
Next day, mold again!!!!!!
Now I need to add here that I had made, on the following day as the ghost mash, a batch of my original Thai chili sauce prepared in exactly the same way except no ghost chilies and no airlocks as I had used all those bottles. I had to use the typical clasp style bottles. Otherwise everything in my methods were identical.
Those 2 bottles of original recipe HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO MOLD. Same brutal temps. They are only a day younger than the ghost mashes that are fermenting and getting moldy.
So the only difference between moldy and not moldy is the ghost chilies, and I can only conclude that my handling of the dry ghost chilies is incorrect. I'm not doing something right before adding them to the mash.
Does anyone have any suggestions? When I add the ghosts to the mash, I add the water they were soaking in as well, FYI.
My only guess is that I need to first add boiling water to them to kill molds & bacteria, let them soak a bit, then dump that water and add boiling water again as there must be mold or something in these ghosts despite being from a commercial grower in the US who sells online. I can see no mold on them and you can see them in a pic above.
I've managed to save the ghost mashes I made so far by following my above procedure AGAIN, then putting all the mashes into 2 giant clasp bottles and then putting them into the fridge. There is very little headspace in these since the highly active fermenting is done. I figured worst case, it will be easier to scoop off from only 2 bottles instead of 10!
TIA for an help!