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Dunder pit experiment

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Dunder pit experiment

Postby RandyMarshCT » Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:54 pm

I was in Barbados two weeks ago and I brought back a big piece of sugar cane. I wanted to try and capture bacteria for a dunder pit. I stripped 20 gallons of rum wash when I got back and saved a bunch of backset. I filled 1 6-gallon jerry can, 4 half-gallon mason jars, and 2 quart mason jars with hot backset right out of the still.

I took 2 of the half-gallon jars and 1 quart jar of backset to try and grow bacteria in. I chopped up about 7 inches of sugar cane for each half-gallon jar and about 4 inches for the quart. I added a pinch of raw sugar to each and shook vigorously with lids on. Then I removed the lids and put coffee filters on and stuck them down in the basement.

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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby RandyMarshCT » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:03 pm

This is what the mold cap looks like after 11 days.


So, is this a waste of time?

I don't know if this will do anything at all. Any input would be greatly appreciated. I couldn't think of any other way to capture the right bacteria. I thought of trying it after reading the clostridium thread, but I'm not commercial so $400 isn't worth it to me to buy cultured bacteria.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Smaug » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:13 am

The structure looks good in the pic. Your liquid should smell clean and sweet. Not stale or earthy/moldy.

Can you describe the texture of the structure.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:24 pm

That mold cap looks about right for the very early days. If it works like mine does, ultimately something evolved to eat that cap completely, although it took a year or two. I haven't looked inside my dunder pit (bucket) to see what it looks like after about a year after the last backset addition, but a year ago there was absolutely no cap, and the rum tasted very good.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Smaug » Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:51 pm

1+ Z Bob.
The blue and green coloring are fresh blooms and will get darker as more time passes.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby RandyMarshCT » Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:38 pm

I looks light and foamy, but when I move the jar it seems pretty solid (doesn't move around like liquid). I haven't tried touching it, would that be a bad idea?

It doesn't smell bad or earthy at all, it actually smells clean and almost minty? Not really like mint, but it's hard to explain. It still has the smell of the backset, but not as much as it did. Should I be adding anything to it, like sugar or molasses, at any point? I'm used to having backset sit in containers untouched until I need it. Having a living breeding pit in my backset is all new to me. I'm excited, but I don't want to do anything to ruin it or have it fail.

My goal was to have at least one of these jars be successful and use that jar to inoculate the 6 gallons I have in the jerry can. If the one in the picture looks good, then I think all 3 of them are in good shape. My fingers are crossed!
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Smaug » Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:30 pm

Hi Randy,

More often than not,,,the dunder pit that I know of is quite easy to propagate during the summer months in a tropical climate. Within two weeks time in the tropical heat the dunder is very much as you describe when comparing to the example that you are cultivating.

The end user that I know of is ready to use the dunder at that time due to impatience and excitement combined with the fact that producing another batch is quite easy in the tropical climate.

The end user that I know of (due to laziness more than anything) has never tried to extend his cultivation period beyond just a few weeks so he really has no idea if a better window of opportunity to use an older sample is best?

Do you plan to use the dunder or do you plan to let your culture run it's course so that you can identify all of the more notable changes that occur?

The structures remind me of kumbucha (mold structures) scobies that can be handled without much issue at all. I have heard that it is best to handle the scobies with a wooden spoon or the like rather than a stainless spoon. Not sure why exactly? But I bet you could at least lift up the edge of your structure with a clean wood spoon so that you can examine your structure. The end user that I know of would likely just wash his hands and use a finger.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombucha
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby RandyMarshCT » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:17 am

Smaug wrote:
Do you plan to use the dunder or do you plan to let your culture run it's course so that you can identify all of the more notable changes that occur?



Both. I'm in no rush, but I was concerned that if I let it go too long the bacteria may die off. After reading ZB's reply, it seems this could stay active for quite a while. I will probably use one of the half-gallon jars to inoculate my jerry can of backset and split that into two separate buckets. One I will allow to fester away for a long period of time, the other I will use to make new ferments and re-charge with new backset after each cycle.

My problem is that there is nowhere in New England to get fresh sugar cane at any point of the year. It's currently around 20*F here, so I keep these cultures in my basement at 68*F or higher. I assume this means it will take a bit longer to get a good healthy colony than it does for the end user you are familiar with... maybe a month or so. The other jars I have will stay where they are at so I can compare them to the larger samples. I considered refrigerating them, but I read that freezing will kill the bacteria so that may not be a good idea.

I'd love to have a successful culture churning away to exploit at any time of the year... or to offer to other people who would like to use it. Maybe I could find a lab to send a sample to and have it tested to see if the clostridium bacteria I'm looking for even exists in my pit.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:03 pm

I can't claim to actually know, in a microbiological sense, exactly what the hell is going on in my dunder pit, a 7.5 gallon polypail fermenter. After all, the cool dark forest land of the Pacific Northwest almost certainly doesn't have the same airborne biota as the Caribbean does, and the lower temperatures mean that whatever infections happen, proceed a a way slower pace.

Having said that, something sure as hell happens in that bucket. I started the dunder pit maybe 8 years ago, and I often don't peek into the bucket until it's time to make the next batch of rum. For the first few years, it looked uglier and uglier every time I looked, and then finally, some really nasty bugs ate all that floaty stuff and cleaned it up, and the smell has changed a lot over that time (I'm terrified to actually taste it).

Typically, when I make a rum batch, I'll take a couple of gallons out of the dunder, and replace it with a couple of gallons of backset after I make the still run. The last batch of rum I made, I wasn't really sure that I wanted to put that odd smell into anything I was going to drink, but the rum tastes very nice with a year on it.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Jaybird » Thu Jan 15, 2015 1:59 am

RandyMarshCT wrote:
Smaug wrote:
Do you plan to use the dunder or do you plan to let your culture run it's course so that you can identify all of the more notable changes that occur?




Maybe I could find a lab to send a sample to and have it tested to see if the clostridium bacteria I'm looking for even exists in my pit.


Thats not a bad idea. I have a lab I use for odd things from time to time and the owner is a GREAT guy. Shoot me an email at jaybird@norcalbrewingsolutions.com as a reminder and I will call him for you. Maybe I can help get that set up for you.

Cheers
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby punkin » Thu Jan 15, 2015 7:08 pm

A wise man once told me never to ask a question to which you don't want to know the answer.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Smaug » Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:10 am

punkin wrote:A wise man once told me never to ask a question to which you don't want to know the answer.


I'll bite.
Why?
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby RandyMarshCT » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:59 am

Punkin, I'm guessing that you mean I might not want to know what's churning away in there? That's possible.
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby punkin » Fri Jan 16, 2015 1:58 pm

Smaug wrote:
punkin wrote:A wise man once told me never to ask a question to which you don't want to know the answer.


I'll bite.
Why?



It's one of my mantrims. No point even asking a question if it is encouraging someone to lie to you or tell tell you a truth where you have to take actions you wish to avoid.

In this case i'm saying it's possible that the answer will have you rethinking the use of the entire concept.

But you know my views anyway. :mg: :barf:
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Re: Dunder pit experiment

Postby Zymurgy Bob » Fri Jan 16, 2015 5:41 pm

Jaybird wrote:
Thats not a bad idea. I have a lab I use for odd things from time to time and the owner is a GREAT guy. Shoot me an email at jaybird@norcalbrewingsolutions.com as a reminder and I will call him for you. Maybe I can help get that set up for you.

Cheers
Jay


If it's not terribly expensive, I can see a lot of rum stillers might be interested in such an assay. Like me.
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