fermenting Slow Fermenting Mash

Kramer

Extreme Member
Greetings pepper friends.

I've been experimenting a lot more with mashes this year since it's more convenient than chopping a gazillion pods. Despite trying to be as consistent as possible, the consistency of results has been a bit over the place. Some mashes stay mostly solid, some separate into brine and solid. Others have lots of cavernous c02 pockets, some don't really seem to be doing much of anything.

Which I guess brings me here. I've tried to do research on why some just don't seem to be so vigorous, but keep coming up empty handed. Or should I just accept that some ferments don't really take off like others? Here is probably my worst ferment of the season so far. It's a couple weeks old and there doesn't seem to be much going on in there. It's a plain mash of carboneros with a couple cloves of garlic, 2.5% salt added by weight and blended. Got a nice Kahm looking layer going on; I think I could scrape this off tomorrow, and maybe stir in some inoculant from an active brine ferment to try to jump start it. What would you guys do?

Carb.jpg
Kahm.jpg
 
Solution
Thought I'd give an update on this since it has been a couple weeks since I opened the jar. I can't say how the flavor has continued to develop with the additional sugar and time, however it looks like the surgery was a success. There are virtually no signs of kahm yeast or anything that has taken hold of the top of that mash. I think I will let this one go long and process sometime next year.

20210902_151821.jpg

So, moral of the story if you're new to mashes, just because it's not bubbling like crazy doesn't mean it's not making acid and doing it's job. Also, I'd feel more comfortable now just leaving a kahm layer like that alone, until scraping it off and processing at the end.

MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
I’m hesitant to tell you to open it, Kramer, because that’s literally the “Number 1 rule” with ferments: DON’T OPEN IT! 😉 I will say though, that I’ve had a few ferments in the past that’d done absolutely nothing (not a CO2 bubble in sight) for 3-4 WEEKS before they “took off”. One so bad that it overflowed through the airlock after being “dormant” for the whole first month. There’s always a chance that that’s what’s going on with yours right now; it might just need a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle more time...

Now, if I can play Devil’s Advocate here... 😈 If it were ME, I’d crack it open, scrape out the kahm yeast*, dump 4 or 5 grams of powdered probiotics and a couple teaspoons of sugar in there, stir it all up, then lock her down again. (the added sugar “SHOULD” give the LAB something to munch on immediately and (again!) “SHOULD” get that good bacteria in there multiplying ASAP, in turn creating CO2 and pumping the newly introduced oxygen out)

I’d hate to be the one to tell you to open it and you end up losing the whole batch to mold or something though! Just giving you my humble opinion on what I’d do. Good luck with whatever you decide!
:cheers:

*there’s nothing “wrong” with kahm yeast in your fermenting vessel (from a food safety standpoint) but, just the thought of it in my ferments skeeves me out, personally, lol. It’s got some sort of gag reflex type thing related to it 😉
 

Kramer

Extreme Member
Thanks for your input, Mike. Yeah, I don't really want to open it either, but I don't mind losing a ferment here or there if I can learn a thing or two. It still puzzles me why some ferments just fire right up and others don't, using the same process, same pods from same plants, the whole thing identical as possible.

So here's what I did. I opened it up. Smell checked out - pleasant, nothing off-putting. Scraped off kahm yeast layer and immediately took a sample. I then mixed in a teaspoon of sugar and some active brine from a vigorous ferment. Stirred and smoothed the top over. I then tried another trick to inhibit growth - add a dusting of salt directly to the top of the mash. Wiped the sides of the jar clean with vinegar soaked paper towel and reassembled as clean as possible.

Now, here's where it gets a little more interesting. I tasted it, and it tasted great. Definitely something sour about it. Hmm.. So, I got out the pH meter, calibrated it, and took some measurements.

Tap water 8.2 pH
The Carbonero mash 3.8 pH
Rice wine vinegar 2.7 pH

I'm skeptical my tap water is that basic, but it could be true. If anything though, I think there's a relative indicator that acid was produced. So, it seems there was a fermentation taking place, but with very little CO2 production.

Well. I guess I still don't know. But hey, kahm yeast can be your friend, if the ferment fails to push the jar anaerobic, it can at least colonize the top and prevent anything bad from taking hold? I will keep this thread updated with the results. I am fingers crossed for this one now. I was going to give up on that cultivar since the pods are kind of flat eaten raw, but that mash was really quite good.
 
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MikeUSMC

Extreme Member
Thanks for your input, Mike. Yeah, I don't really want to open it either, but I don't mind losing a ferment here or there if I can learn a thing or two. It still puzzles me why some ferments just fire right up and others don't, using the same process, same pods from same plants, the whole thing identical as possible.
👆🏻 Been there, done that! I feel your pain! Just be glad to it’s only kahm, not mold (hopefully, lol) 😁

if the ferment fails to push the jar anaerobic, it can at least colonize the top and prevent anything bad from taking hold?
Sure... Maybe... Hopefully! 😉

I will keep this thread updated with the results.
Please do! I’m really hoping everything turns out ok! 👍🏻
:cheers:
 

Kramer

Extreme Member
Thought I'd give an update on this since it has been a couple weeks since I opened the jar. I can't say how the flavor has continued to develop with the additional sugar and time, however it looks like the surgery was a success. There are virtually no signs of kahm yeast or anything that has taken hold of the top of that mash. I think I will let this one go long and process sometime next year.

20210902_151821.jpg

So, moral of the story if you're new to mashes, just because it's not bubbling like crazy doesn't mean it's not making acid and doing it's job. Also, I'd feel more comfortable now just leaving a kahm layer like that alone, until scraping it off and processing at the end.
 
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