Dunder pit infections

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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby ElCubanazo » Thu Sep 28, 2017 6:44 pm

On second review it's not "bad". Just pretty sharp and acrid. Maybe it'll mellow out.

Again, feedback appreciated!
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby der wo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:05 am

ElCubanazo,
it's not enough information. Please write more exactly what you did. At the moment we are not able to exclude any of the possible mistakes. It could be related to the dunder pit, but it could also related to all the other steps on the long way from the molasses to the spirit run hearts.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby ElCubanazo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:17 am

Thanks Der Wo,

Well, the low wines were my usual low wines and nothing was off about them. I do my own version of PugiRum without the yeast bomb. The ferments and the stripping runs were exactly as before so nothing out of the ordinary on that front. Only difference is in one of my ferments I threw in some wine yeast a few days after the bread yeast. The wine yeast ferment smelled fine it was just a little bubblier and sweeter smelling. Low wines from that ferment smell only marginally different than the bread yeast ferment.

My pit is just a small 3 gallon container I got from a local supermarket bakery here. With the dunder I threw in cut potatoes, yogurt and dirt. Pellicle developed and had some sweet smells. Added water at some point and the pellicle looked good.

Yesterday for my spirit run I put in .5 gal of the infected dunder with 2 gallons low wines and fired up my new fancy still. It's an 8 gallon still I just got from Moonshine Distillers and I have a 1500w element with no controller (could this smell just be me scorching the wash?). Heads still smell really sweet but the hearts just have an acrid smell to them.

I did notice after airing out that smell wasn't as offensive but it was still a little rough.

Thanks again DerWo let me know if this is enough info or not.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby der wo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 9:55 am

If the element doesn't look scorched, it isn't scorched. Did you see something when cleaning the boiler?
Acrid smell sounds like scorching. Is it really working to fill your 8gal still with 2.5gal only? The element was within the liquid all the time? Do you have distilled such a low fill already before successfully?

Did you do the cleaning and sacrificial run with your new still?

You already have made this recipe without adding infected dunder? You already had a successful Rum spirit run?

You didn't add something for the pH in dunder or wash? What was the abv of the low wines before adding the dunder? Yield was all right? How much wash, how much low wines, how much hearts (liter and abv)?

Normally the smell should be get better with distilling. An off-smelling wash or dunder can be cured by distilling. You had a nice smelling low wines and dunder, but then an off-smelling distillate. Sounds like a distilling problem for me.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby ElCubanazo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:29 am

der wo wrote:If the element doesn't look scorched, it isn't scorched. Did you see something when cleaning the boiler?
Acrid smell sounds like scorching. Is it really working to fill your 8gal still with 2.5gal only? The element was within the liquid all the time? Do you have distilled such a low fill already before successfully?

Once the run hit 15% ABV last night I shut down the still and hit the hay. had to head to work bright and early so still haven't broken it down and looked! When I get home in a few hours I'll check everything. This was my first time running this still. In retrospect 2.5 gallons does seem like way too little for an 8 gal. Dumb mistake on my part. The element was definitely submerged in the beginning by several inches but it could be that it got exposed

Did you do the cleaning and sacrificial run with your new still?
I only cleaned it with some watered down foreshots and I only wiped down the inside of the boiler.

You already have made this recipe without adding infected dunder? You already had a successful Rum spirit run?
I have. I've done it at least 11 times before and have been distilling since March or so.

You didn't add something for the pH in dunder or wash? What was the abv of the low wines before adding the dunder? Yield was all right? How much wash, how much low wines, how much hearts (liter and abv)?
Didn't add anything other than water but I have an electrical PH meter on the way in the mail. Low Wines ABV was ~20% or so. for about 5-6 gallons in each wash I get ~1 gallon low wines. I haven't had a chance to measure the hearts yet but I can at home.

Normally the smell should be get better with distilling. An off-smelling wash or dunder can be cured by distilling. You had a nice smelling low wines and dunder, but then an off-smelling distillate. Sounds like a distilling problem for me.
Yep, in retroscpect seems like it might be the rookie mistake of underfilling the still. I'll check the element and see how it looks when I get home. If this smell is my dumb mistake can it be fixed by distilling again with a larger volume or should I just dump this stuff?
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby der wo » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:49 am

You know the rules for cleaning a new still? Vinegar run and sacrificial run? Burned solder paste -> burned smell? And I have read here, that you get the shits, if you drink it. But I didn't try out. :lol:
But lets see how the element looks like.

I think, the pH was ok. Only if you had added something, I would be curious.

1gal from 5-6gal wash, but only 20% abv? What do you think was the abv of the wash? It sounds lower than 4%. But if it matches to the amounts of molasses, sugar and water, it's ok, but demands a third run or reflux IMO.

I think, regardless if the element is scorched or not. This was a sacrificial cleaning run. The distillate is only good for the next sacrificial run.

Let's try to keep the posts short. It looks like we are off-topic.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Sat Sep 30, 2017 2:36 am

Ha Ha, a little perhaps but that's ok with me, just don't want mods to flip shit on us!

Not all of the finished rum is pleasant or what I'd say for a neat drink but they are still early in aging so that may well play a part.

Try to do separate pits with different infections to see what you like better.

I like the potatoes infection best as it has the hint of pineapple, the lacto (barley malt) is a bit sweet with a hint of sour and mixes well with coke but I'm sure it will mellow with more time.

Swiss cheese culture has almost the same as the barley but slightly different but the same sour taste.

I think I'll keep with the potatoes just because of the flavor profile it has.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby ElCubanazo » Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:37 am

Yeah I've been talking with DerWo privately and it's 100% a noob mistake on my part haha.

Anywho, I def plan on breaking some of these out into 2 to 3 different cultures. Potatoes apparently the best way to go for the current one.

Shine, when you say the lacto culture is sour is it like a yogurt tang or something else? Is the potato culture a better neat drink than the lacto cheese/malt culture?

I'd love to know the profiles after air and/or oak aging. This is infinitely fascinating to me!
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Sun Oct 01, 2017 4:02 am

IMHO the potatoes/dirt is a better rum as is and the yogurt / barley is better mixed in a drink like coke.

as a blend of all 4 is great neat, on the rocks or mixed.

Now age will play a part a assume over the next few months and we'll see how it turns out after that.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby ElCubanazo » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:22 pm

My pellicle started sinking a couple days ago so I added water and it's been a couple days and the pellicle is sunken and the smell coming off the pit is starting to smell like cheese.

Is this a bad sign? Not sure what's going on.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Wed Oct 04, 2017 12:48 am

Cheese is fine :thumbup:

I wouldn't be adding any water to the pit though as it dilutes the flavor you're going to get out, I put it in, add whatever to it and leave it to either infect or age.

Ph seems to be the most critical part of the whole thing.

If I keep the pH at 5-6 my pit thrives and is alive but as soon as it drops below 4.5 the pellicle dropped and then it becomes dormant which is fine after a good pellicle has been there for a couple weeks.

I'm going to keep mine dormant for the rest of the year to age out for next spring rum season although I plan to strip a lot of rum over the winter. I won't do my spirit runs till next year. I may keep a few gallons to sip on during this winter though. lol
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby der wo » Wed Oct 04, 2017 2:43 am

Depends. An all molasses wash dunder needs to get diluted with water or the specific gravity is too high for the bacterias. Without dilution the infection doesn't start. Or at least I know it needs much time and I don't know what exactly will grow in such a high osmotic pressure environment. A dunder from a sugarhead Rum doesn't need dilution.
But your infection started well. So I don't think the gravity is the problem.
Either the temp has dropped much or the pH has dropped. A too high pH wouldn't cause the pellicle falling down in my experience. Either rise the temp and/or pH or perhaps simply consume the dunder for the next Rum.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:51 am

I usually do dark brown sugar and moll washes because molasses is expensive here at 10$ per gal of feed grade.

The only all moll wash I did the pellicle started well and then fell off quickly but everytime I kept the pH at 5.5 it stayed as long as I maintained that specific ph, no higher or no lower than 5.

It was more viscous than the sugar/moll washes too.

I dint see any significant difference in the all moll and sugar one in flavors in the final product although they were different in the profiles they produced but strength of flavor was similar.

From the experiment I've done for the last 5 months, ph seems to be the major key in the puzzle of keeping the pit alive or dormant, The length of activities seems to be where I need to look at close to see if it needs longer with the pellicle to gain more or less flavors or if there is any significant difference.

Does the pit gain from longer pellicle periods or does it matter? That's the newest question I'm going to work on finding out.

As the weather is getting much cooler at night and the days are becoming cooler as well I won't have the access to the 85-95°f Constant temperature since all my stillin equipment and "lab" is in an uncontrolled environment and I'm too cheap to keep the temp up with electricity and gas is out of the question due to it being used for running the still.

We don't have natural gas here and propane and wood is the primary heating source around these parts.

I can keep the ferment warm enough with an insulated box and blankets for the 3 days of fermentation but after stillin it's there for the mercy of the weather to do what it does. lol

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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:25 pm

Last night I decided to raise the pH again on 2 of the 4 pits, I took 1/8th cup pickling lime and mixed into a quart of hot water, used a mixer and got it as well as possible.

Added half of it to each of the pits which are at 4 gallons and this am was a pellicle on top.

The smells are the same as they were without the pellicle and I have absolutely no mold growing on any of them.

I never had mold to begin with and really don't want it either, just a nice light dirt looking coating on top and some smells that were described earlier in the thread but after letting the pits sit dormant for a while the puke smell, meat smell, soy sauce smell are non existing.

I think the pits are just ment to age now.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby kiwi Bruce » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:35 pm

I think the correct term is "Maturing" like a good wine, or a good woman...or a bad woman, but that depends on how much "maturing" you can stand!
Last edited by kiwi Bruce on Tue Oct 10, 2017 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'll just sit quietly in the corner over here, with a tall glass of something special.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Mon Oct 09, 2017 4:46 pm

I don't much care for them to young, I likes them mature!!!!!!
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby The Baker » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:28 am

Shine0n wrote:I don't much care for them to young, I likes them mature!!!!!!


Me, too.

But at my age anything else would be unseemly....

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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:17 pm

Wait a dog on minute, we talking bout dunder or women???

It don't matter because they both improve with some age, lol
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby ElCubanazo » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Shine, when you say age do you mean age on oak or simply letting them sit there in the same container?

Is there a reason to do this or you just wanna see what happens?
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:44 pm

Each one is in its own bucket, aging is maturing not adding oak but who knows.... another experiment????

Just kidding on the oak.

I think I'm going to strain out the bugs and shit and cap off the buckets, let age till next year sometime and start another 10 gallons of the soil/potatoes pit and keep the pH steady for a month and use for the large 45 gallon ferment about to happen.

I'll also let the rum wash sit for that duration to mix and mingle together and see what flavors come of it as well.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby OtisT » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:01 pm

OtisT wrote:I feel like a proud papa. I finally let some backset sit long enough to get infected. I've have some sit a month with no joy before I used it up. After a bit more than a week, this Bourbon backset has this little beauty on top. ( that small white fuzzy blob on top). :-)

IMG_4982.JPG


Of course, as I discovered this little gem I have decided not to pursue infected backsets any longer. Just too many side projects, and not enough car boys. That, and I'm getting crap from my boy about all the smells in the house.

I'm still a big advocate of using backset and will continue following the threads on Infection. Otis


I am a horrible quitter and after quitting infections last month I have decided to quit quitting. Said more simply, "I'm Back!" :-)

Last month I put my freshly infected bourbon backset (above) outside with the intention of cleaning it later.... One month later (today) I have a much bigger infected mess to clean up. I just had to smell it first before I dumped it and wow, I'm back on board with infection work. The infected batch is definitely sweeter and has a lot fruitier smelling than before, so I siphoned off over 3 gallons of this black gold. One gallon backset was mixed with a gallon of my feints, and the rest will go into my next bourbon ferment. FYI, The PH of this was 4.8 and it's black because I used 10% British Black Crystal malt.

I also have a month old carboy of rum dunder, but no infection. I know it's the PH below 4.5 that is preventing the funk, so I plan to up the PH to around 5.5, split into two containers, then add potatoes to one and see what happens. Potato infections seem to be where it's at currently on this thread. :-).

Interesting observation. Working with my backset and dunder today I noticed that the fruit flies were attracted to my work and I had an idea related to the fruity smelling notes I detected. After cleaning up I left two open jars out, one from the infected backset and one from the uninfected dunder. I've checked several times, and the flies are only attracted to the backset that was infected. I am assuming it is the fruity notes I mentioned earlier that attracts the flies.

I freaking love playing with this ester stuff, but would never do it w/o all y'all sharing your experiences. Thanks. Otis.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:32 pm

it's been my pleasure working with dunder pits and sharing my experience with others :thumbup:

In all honesty I probably wouldn't have known half as much as I do if it weren't for der wo, he's the man!!!

tomorrow will be clean the still barn day and get my shit in order for the next round of fun, I'm headed out in the am to buy some 2" foam insulation to make a fermenter box for the winter so I can continue to make rums this cold season and I want to fill a 55 gal drum with infected dunder.

It's a shame I get rid of so much more than I keep and I'm thinking also of an infected dunder ferment, what I mean is to ferment a 20 gallon barrel of dunder with dark brown sugar and do a single run with a thumper and see if there's a positive in it or not but if I don't try I won't ever know so here I go further down the rabbit hole :crazy:
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:35 pm

Otis, welcome back to the dark side.

please post results of the infection runs so we can compare and keep learning.

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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby OtisT » Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:49 pm

Shine0n wrote:In all honesty I probably wouldn't have known half as much as I do if it weren't for der wo, he's the man!!!

+100 on der wo

ShineOn wrote: I'm headed out in the am to buy some 2" foam insulation to make a fermenter box for the winter so I can continue to make rums this cold season and I want to fill a 55 gal drum with infected dunder.


I'm sure you know this already: IMHO get the kind of insulation board with shinney foil on one side, as it's more efficient and worth the few extra $. Shinney side faces in. Also, not all foam board is mold resistant, so be sure to get the mold resistant type to prevent any unwanted infections.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:42 am

Thanks for the tip, I hope they have it in 2" because the winters here are unpredictable and sometimes can be low as 5°f which is cold as a bitch and sometime mid 30s, you just never know about eastern VA
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby zapata » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:20 pm

If ya didnt get it yet, consider getting a junk freezer. Easy to clean, easy to mod, and a lot more durable than foam. Should be free or at least as cheap as the foam.
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Re: Dunder pit infections

Postby Shine0n » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:31 am

I have an old freezer in the back somewhere but I have 2 30 gal, 2-55 gal and a couple 17 and 20 gal fermenters.

usually have 2 going at the time so I need more than just the freezer to do what I do.

depending on what I'm running I'll have enough for 2-stripping runs then a spirit run, that's on 2-15.5 pot and thumper set up.

1 55 is going to long term storage for a dunder pit but I need more like 8'lg×4'dp×4'h

I'll also use some cheap 3/8" plywood and 2x2 framing. I have an old wall we tore out the house that's 3/4" tung and groove so that will be used for the floor.

I may build one for the pit and heat to 95f with a vent that runs outdoors to keep smells down. lol

First things first, I need to find some cheap dB sugar to go with my 8 gals of moll for a 45 gal ferment.

I think our small grocery has some for 1.19 a bag (2lb) if so I'll buy all they have.
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