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Thread: Mold problem

  1. #1
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    Default Mold problem

    Ref discussions:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...870#post726870

    This is a first attempt for making hard cider as a practice run for making mead.

    It looks like I have a problem. There looks to be fuzzy mold blotches on the very top of the fermentation. I can see a definite clarity of the liquid below and about a 1/4-inch layer of lees on the bottom. Can this batch be saved and did we do something wrong that created the mold?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    The appearance of mold isnt the greatest thing to happen, but it's not the end of the world. When you rack to a secondary vessel, carefully punch the end of the siphon tube through the mold layer floating on top. Then rack from the middle of the carboy (between the mold on top and the dredges on the bottom). You will need a steady hand towards the end when you are down to an inch or two of cider in the bottom of the carboy. Stop siphoning just before you start sucking in mold or yeast cake. If you wait until the fermenation has died down and the cider is relative clear in the primary before transferring, there wont be alot of nutrients left in the cider and you shouldnt get mold in the secondary. If you end up with a few floaties in the secondary, do the same process when you rack to the bottling bucket (or tertiary vessel).
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Is it the same for mead, floating mold not being the end of the world? My wife is in a hurry to start the mead process and I want to make sure we didn't mess something up before I waste 5 quarts of honey. I thought we did a decent job of sanitizing but after seeing the mold I am not sure.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    How did you sanitize?
    Regards, Barry

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    You dont want mold, but sometimes it's hard to avoid if you use unpasturaized cidar and raw honey. If you did a good job sanitizing equipment (which I am sure you probably did), the mold spores probably came in with the cider and honey. You cant do much about that except boiling the must before pitching the yeast, which I dont think anyone would recommend if you want the real stuff (full flavor, natural, yada, yada).

    Anyway, never throw out a batch because you *think* it may be bad. Wait it out and see. It is really hard when first starting out to not think something has gone wrong when you see alot of nasty trub, blow-off, and even mold in the fermenter.

    Once it is clear, smell and taste a small sample and you will probably find out that it is just fine.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Never though I would get good advice from you. Thanks a bunch. Goes to show you can't judge a book from its cover.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    I brewed my first batch of home brew in 1986.

    Be careful handing those glass carboys. They are dangerous if they shatter.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    I am not worried about it but my wife thinks she can be a man and she is a little short on patience. I will tell you this though, she is the woman I have looked for all my life. Couldn't be happier.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    If I REALLY wanted to try to save a batch with visible mold, this might be one time where I would consider racking and a modest sulfiting. Don't buy all the hype; may commercial wines are so bizzarely over-sulfited that sulfites get a bad rap. Done correctly there will be no more in the finished cider than naturally occurs. Otherwise, yes careful removal of the offending bits as described can be a last-ditch. But definitely re-examine sanitization procedures for the next batch.If the entry point isn't immediately clear, replacing plastic components is a good idea anually or so anyways (buckets, tubing, spoon, racking canes, and other contact surfaces).
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize... Oh, and did I mention sanitize... The key to home brewing, cider making and wine making is a bacteria free environment for the yeast to do its job. Once you sanitize your fermentation vessel, you must have a brewers air-lock. Mold is a spore that can enter through many ways, mainly the air. Now here is my advice, sanitize EVERYTHING that comes in contact with the cider i.e. carboy, spoons, airlock, funnels anything, with Star-san it is a sanitizer that is rinse free, (don't be tempted to use clorox. It will work but you must rinse with water and unless you use sterile water to do so, you will be putting Bactria back on the items you just sanitized. There are many none rinse sanitizers at home brew shops. @ $11 for a bottle that will make about 40 gallons of sanitizer. Also use bubble type airlock. @$2-3 at Home brew store. As for what you have now, what has been said above is what I would do as well, Take the cider between the mold and the lees (gook on the bottom). This site is one of the most comprehensive out there. http://www.howtomakehardcider.com/index.html

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Ah, thanks for the link. I think I did a dummy. We used the sanitizer be we rinsed the hose out with filtered water not sterilized water.
    If the same thing happens with the mead for some reason can the same racking procedure be used to save it?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    I start out the brewing process by mixing up 4 gallons of Easy Clean. Everything gets a bath in this solution. When an item is used (hose, stir spoon, thermometer), it goes back in the solution. All 12 oz. bottles and bottle caps go in as well. I put a lid on it and keep it around from brew day to bottling.
    Regards, Barry

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    I'm a hardcore StarSan fan. We did some tests at the shop with their marketer when I challenged her on the no-rinse bit; I just couldn't bring myself to do it! We doctored up to, if I recall, four ounces of SS (working solution) in a 12-ounce beer without noticeable flavor impact which absolutely staggered me. That is MANY orders of magnitude more than you'd ever get from just not rinsing, but still no problem. Granted, beer has some more buffering capacity than mead/cider/wine, but combined with its proven record in thousands of breweries nationwide and demonstrated lab results it sold me. I make up 5 gallons and store in a tightly-lidded bucket for several batches of everything I make as well as a spray bottle for extra touch-ups like the nozzles on quick-connects when I'm brewing on the big system outside. I even use the spray bottle for kitchen sink faucet handles, countertops, canning, easy sanitizing of dog bowls, you name it. It's not that the stuff is that expensive, but I'm thrifty so re-using the solution makes sense for me . All products work well when used on a clean surface with sufficient contact time according to directions: hypochlorite/bleach is crazy cheap and wicked effective (though rinse rinse rinse with hot water to prevent off flavors, and remember mixing it too strong REDUCES its effectiveness), One-Step, Star-San and related products (SaniClean), etc.

    That said, rinse water from a municipal source is a pretty unlikely source of contamination. It's much more likely to be mouth germs, cigarette smoking, an errant fruit fly, or soiling on the vessel that prevents the sanitizer from being effective. Remember the rule: you can't sanitize dirt. Sanitization has TWO elements: you need a clean surface, and then sufficient contact time for a given sanitizer to do its thing. Grit, dirt, mineral deposits, scratches in plastic etc. will protect germs from the sanitizer, rendering it less effective. And of course ineffective sanitization of the must, when combined with underpitching or undernourished yeast, can cause problems right out of the gate.

    The occasional contamination is just nature's way of reminding us to keep sanitization practices going, and not a reason to freak out either. Charlie's immortal RDWHAHB is well-placed here... I've had people come in having autoclaved their equipment, reducing all the plastic components to useless sculpture, when a quick soak in $.008 of bleach will suffice .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    I feel stupid. I may have a false alarm here. Getting ready to re-rack the batch I lifted the carboy on to a chair and now I can get my nose closer to the surface and it appears more like patches of bubbles than mold. I am going to re-rack it in a couple of days anyway into a couple of glass gallon jugs so I will have a comparison between the first portion syphoned off and the last portion syphoned off. Anyway I am glad I started with cider to work out some of the kinks.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15

    Default Re: Mold problem

    The more you enter a carboy the more you can introduce to it.

    My thought was that the problem was likely from the apples. I do not recall mention as to how they were handled at the start of things. Fruit can introduce while innoculants.

    I use oxyclean and bleach with chloramine tap water rinse. I have 5-star or star san (dairy industry cleaner) but rarely use them. But I thoroughly clean my environment before beginning. I have not had a contaminated product for a while.

    Ace, you need to drink more, relaxation will follow.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    ace-- no problem drink it.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    We just did! SG read 1.000 and it wasn't bad at all. Yoohoo. It is sitting in two glass one gallon jugs for the remainder of its life. We will see how long we can keep our hands off of it.

    I will say I had some trouble with the syphon hose being a little short and not having the carboy high enough. So glad we did a trial run with the cider before attempting the mead. I didn't want to loose 5 quarts of honey on a beginner dummy.

    Started the batch of mead too while we had everything sanitized.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    I start out the brewing process by mixing up 4 gallons of Easy Clean. Everything gets a bath in this solution.
    This is fine, but Easy Clean is a cleaner... so you want to take it one step further by using a sanitizer as well. Also with this product you must rinse..

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    I feel stupid. I may have a false alarm here. Getting ready to re-rack the batch I lifted the carboy on to a chair and now I can get my nose closer to the surface and it appears more like patches of bubbles than mold.
    You will always get foamy little bubbles patches on the top, white ones are good... green or off color ones...not so much.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Mold problem

    Another reason not to dump it out unless you are sure that it is infected. A 2-inch raft of balck mold or a pellicle is a lot different than unidentifiable specs or patches floating on top. In the end, your nose and tastebuds will tell you if it is a bad batch.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

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