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Old 07-27-2014, 06:05 PM   #1
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Default Avoiding foul sour mash aromas

It seems to be pretty common knowledge that the foul aromas caused during sour mashing spur from the mash reacting with oxygen from the environment. I have also found countless methods of folks "blanketing" their mash with inert heavy gas or sealing their tun to the best of their ability.

I have wondered if all off flavors and aromas could be avoided by sour mashing under vacuum by holding the mash at incubation temp via a circulating water bath.

I am going to try this experiment next weekend for 3 gallons, but figured I would appeal to those with sour mashing experience for any warnings or pointers.

My plan is to mix 5 lbs of grain (70% Belg pale/30% wheat malt) with 6.25 qts of water and 1/2 oz. of saaz) then vacuum seal it into bags (I will probably split it into 2 or 3 bags). I will control the temperature of the water bath with an immersion circulator used for sous vide cooking. After initial mash at 155°, I will drop the temp to 110° for three days. After that I will drain the bags of the water and grains and pour 5.25 qts of 185° water over the grains to reach full volume and stop lactivity.

I realize this is very unorthodox, but I am very curious as to how flavors would develop under vacuum.

My main concern: will sour mashing create an excess of gas within the bags causing them to burst and destroy my kitchen?




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Old 07-27-2014, 06:16 PM   #2
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Interesting, what type of sealer do you have? I have a hard time sealing moist foods nevermind a liquid with mine as it pulls the liquid past the sealing strip not allowing it to get hot enough.

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Old 07-27-2014, 07:24 PM   #3
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This is a fantastic idea. I wonder if putting the mash in something stainless steel or tempered glass could reduce waste? maybe a 10L wide mouthed beaker? It may also be great for creating pitchable packs into a sour mash to immediately drop ph for the lacto to be healthier. you could make 10 and then keep em in the fridge!

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Old 07-27-2014, 11:24 PM   #4
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I would definitely be worried about co2 production. Any wild yeasts in your mash will produce it, along with certain strains of lacto.

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Old 07-28-2014, 12:00 AM   #5
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I have a vacmaster vp215 chamber vac that will vacuum a 10"x15" bag full of whatever.

However, even the chamber sometimes sucks a little juice out if I am not paying attention so I considered freezing the mash in the bags before vacuuming it which would make for the tightest seal.

The lacto starters thing is a great idea, I am getting really excited about this.

Also, I feel like most co2 production would take place during fermentation, which even if any wild yeast survived through the incubation period, there would not be any oxygen available to fuel co2 production.

Who has experience with using lacto starters? If this operation proves successful, I might have to ramp up production for distribution...🍻




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Old 07-28-2014, 12:13 AM   #6
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My lacotbacillus starters produce a lot of co2 because I'm using a hetero-fermentative strain. If you're relying on the grain to provide you with your organisms, there's no telling what you'll get. One way round this might be to kill anything already in the wort by raising the temperatures up closer to boiling, then pitching a strain of lactobacillus you know to be homo-fermentative.

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Old 07-28-2014, 12:14 AM   #7
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If you guys are using the Foodsaver sealers, there's a trick to not sucking juice. Hit the vac button, and as soon as the juice starts getting sucked up, hit the seal button. The vacuuming stops and it seals immediately. Maybe you all knew this already; I had to experiment to figure it out.

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Old 07-28-2014, 06:16 AM   #8
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i was considering doing exactly this, but instead went for sour mash (well, souring wort) in a bottle in my sous-vide bath. i purged the airspace a couple times with CO2 and then left the cap a tiny bit loose. after 4 days at 52 deg the pH was 3.3, and the smell was actually very pleasant.
the strategy that i though of but didn't execute was to fill a vac bag with wort, seal it (not under vacuum), cut a corner, and then purge with co2, and close the lid of my sous vide down on the corner, keeping it closed but providing an emergency exit if gas built up. nah, went with the bottle.

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Old 07-28-2014, 07:36 AM   #9
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I just filled a 9 liter water bottle to the very very top with wort, mixed in some grain, stuck an airlock on it and I didn't get any stink, just a good, clean sourness.

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Old 07-29-2014, 07:27 PM   #10
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Does anyone know of the temp tolerance of 3 gallon better bottles?

Would holding one at incubation temp compromise the plastic?


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