Anything I Should Know Before I Wild Ferment with a Makeshift Rig?

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Update to say my first mash is doing great! Fermenting nicely, tastes interesting too! I had some slight sulfur smells come up on about day 3, so I added 15 large red raisins chopped up on day 4 and that fixed it up quite nicely. I know there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about using raisins as a natural yeast nutrient for nitrogen and other nutrients, and a lot of people talk against it, but I have to say, it worked perfectly! I has already aerating pretty heavily to let out some of the trapped hydrogen sulfide day 3 and 4 for the scent, but it seemed only to get stronger. After the raisins it's a dream! Smells sweet and nice. Only punching down the cap 2-3 times a day now to ensure no mold growth. I also gave it a slight quick stir today to feed the yeast a tad oxygen and keep everything going. I expect that this ferment should go for some time.

In fact, my experience with wild yeasts thus far is that they can, depending on the fruit or veggies used, take an incredibly long time to get started as a starter, so I think that this primary phase will likely last several weeks. I don't expect it to finish anytime soon, based on the high foam I am seeing. It essentially looks carbonated right now. Interesting how this step is essentially the same as the pre-bottling step for homemade soda.

Hope to continue updating throughout the process.
 
Time for another update! First must is still going strong, getting closer to dry as well! Also alcohol is DEFINITELY there now quite strongly! Not sure how the flavor tastes right now. It's nice, sweet, slightly acidic, and alcoholic without tasting hot. I used a mixture of fruits that I don't usually eat together, and I can't really tell what it tastes like right now, honestly. Haha. I feel like the flavor changes every other day. I give a good stir every few days, and otherwise, I punch the fruit cap down 2 to 3 times a day. Bubbling away, and smells pleasant. The raisins I added a few weeks ago really helped feed the yeast and took away the slight sulfur smell that was briefly present. Never came back at all, so that was a success.

I started my second must on the 19th and it is bubbling lightly now. I think probably many people's issues with wild yeasts have been 1 time and 2 patience. The whole 7 day primary I see online alot is likely not going to match with wild yeasts. In fact, depending on weather, fruit, temperature, and other factors, your fruit starter could take from 1 week to 1 month to get going. I'm glad I started this wine journey with that knowledge already, as it's certainly made the going easier. I just love going to check on my musts! So fun to see the yeast at work! I think the second must should take a few more days to really get going like the first. It also took a bit to go from light bubbles to full throttle carbonation.

One thing I have observed, is if you stir less it might slow. The opposite of the starter, which can benefit by a nostir day or two when it is slow. So this is why I still give must 1 a good stir every couple of days to get some oxygen to the yeast.

I know oxidization is a problem for a lot of folks, but hmm, considering the fact that I stir my starters vigorously every day for weeks on end, I don't think it's going to be a problem for my project. If the flavors were to be affected maybe they already would have been.

Also, the slight peroxidey fluoridey flavor has mostly dissipated. I think it was just early by-products of the fermentation getting started. Definitely now that the alcohol is getting stronger and stronger, the overall flavor is changing. It definitely is tasting better. It's kind of an unplaceable fruit flavor right now. I haven't had much in the way of non-grape wines, so I don't know where to place it exactly.

I'm excited for the next stages of this journey! I will GOD-Willing keep updating you all here on my progress! Hopefully this will also help those who are interested in wild fermenting as well to see my 2 gallon journey haha.
 
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Hello, I thought some of you may be curious as to what happened with my wines: One is aging? or rather still needs to be cleared, and the other turned to vinegar.
I ended up eventually getting an airlock but still using a makeshift carboy of an old hawaiian punch container. The cranberry vinegar is still on my countertop in a gallon pitcher on the fruit. No mold. Still need to taste test for safety (turned to vinegar about summer of last year maybe? fall?) then will strain and see how I can get some use out of it. The banana apple orange gallon still in the airlocked carboy, very little lees if any now, just need to rack once more and hope to clear with some eggshells (cus natural and all that). Afterward, hopefully find some plastic wine bottles and bottle and age for another 6 months to a year. Last time I tested it was about 16% abv, so, definitely higher than what most people achieve with wild yeasts. Every time I've tasted/racked thus far it has had a different flavor profile, sometimes leaning apple, others orange rind. Last time was fairly balanced between the three with the banana present; overall still a bit of the rocketfuel kind of taste though haha. Hoping it mellows after aging. I meant to update here before a year but honestly forgot about it as winemaking is just one foray of my many adventures into fermenting. Actually planning sauerkraut and kimchi soon..

If anyone reads this looking to see whether or not you can make wine with wild/natural yeast, yes you can very easily. It just requires more time and maybe patience than buying a packet. An interesting thing that happened with the fruit blend is between the first and second racking, it stopped fermenting (visibly) for a few weeks, then suddenly started up again going quite well for a few more months. I attribute this to the lower alcohol tolerating yeasts dying out, and those that could tolerate the high abv taking a bit of time to take over the carboy. Once they did, it was fun to see.

Hopefully I'll be back sometime once I've bottled or once I've got a taste of the finished wine. Until then.
 
“The cranberry vinegar is still on my countertop in a gallon pitcher on the fruit. No mold. Still need to taste test for safety (turned to vinegar.”
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After you siphon off your vinegar, if it tastes good, just put it into small fancy bottles and sell it at the local farmers market.

Cranberry vinegar will probably be a big seller, and I doubt anyone else will give you competition.

Might make more money than if you sold your wine.
 
Hello, in case anyone was wondering what happened to my banana orange apple country wine, I did eventually bottle it. It ended at 17.11 abv. Don't have the final specific gravity on hand but I recall it was still a bit high. Very sweet wine but drinkable. I still have 2 bottles left. Bottled it in plastic wine bottles.

Currently I've just started some mulberry wines using a sugary starter I made from plums. One gallon is a melomel, starting gravity of 1.112, other is country wine (sugar) with a starting gravity of 1.102

Hoping to get 13.5%-14% on the wine, 15%-16% on the melomel.

Both are fermenting in the carboys now.
 
mulberry and plum both have a pH above 4, they have more risk of infection/ several families of food poisoning organisms will grow above pH 4. Adding an Acetibacter mother would drop your pH.
Thanks for your comment, you reminded me to check the pH

Before that, I didn't post my recipe but so you know it doesn't have plum fruit, it's a starter sugar syrup that used plum yeast. I spoke to the starter earlier in the thread. Last time I used the fruit, however this one is just syrup no fruit. So you might say it's a liquid yeast + sugar mix.

This starter is over a year old actually so the yeast have been around for a while. I'm hoping this makes them perform well for higher abv, like my last batch did.
I also included lemon juice among other things, to this brew.

Now as for the pH, I checked today and both musts are fine, melomel at 3.0, country wine at 3.5.

Personally I've never had issues with this kind of ferment. But it's good to be on the safe side, so thanks again for the reminder to check pH. :)
 
After reading these posts all I can say is wow! My only wild ferment was so incredibly bad I would never try it again.
Haha, perhaps it's time to try again!

Even without making wine, the sugar starter makes a delicious probiotic syrup you can drink.

Basically it's cleaned fresh fruit (cut up but skin on) + sugar. The sugar extracts the juice plus enzymes from the fruit. The fruit's natural yeast brings fermentation, and you just stir several times a day for some time. Just keep covered in a jar at room temp. In the summer it only takes about a week, if in a warmer climate. Once it's very foamy when stirring it's done. Strain and store in the fridge (loosely covered, not tightened lid so you don't have any bottle breaks) and pour out some, mix with water or seltzer for a refreshing fruity drink. That syrup is what I used for my starter. It's from syrup I made over a year ago.

The syrup is a lot more simple and easy then the full blown wine and maybe less worrisome for many.

I can't take credit for the syrup recipe, I know it as kouso syrup (literally enzyme syrup), learned it from Japanese. They use it regularly there for stomach benefits and health. :)
 
I'll add, while I can't take credit for making kouso syrup, I can take credit for using it as a starter for a wild wine, as I made that experiment myself. I haven't seen that way before I embarked on this. Presumably Japanese don't use it that way since to my knowledge at home winemaking is not really legal the same way it is in the US and maybe other countries

To anyone who may see this thread and decides to try making wine with the wild yeast starter, I would recommend not using the spent fruit, but use fresh fruit and use the syrup as a liquid yeast starter only. Originally, I used the spent fruit from straining the kouso as the starter for my first wild wine, but in my opinion it was less powerful at flavoring the wine. The finished wine did have the three fruit flavors, however I believe they would've been stronger and more complex had they not already had the nutrients drained by making the syrup.

This current go, I used wild mulberries I picked (frozen from earlier in the season), thawed and put them through a food mill, then added the old plum kouso, plus black tea, fresh lemon juice, water, and honey/sugar.

I recommend getting the kouso active first if it's old like mine. For that, I just kept it covered in the cupboard for a few days, swirling it to get oxygen. At some point I added a tablespoon of sugar. Once it was nice and active and foamy (just like you'd do for bread yeast) it was ready for use.

Since the mulberries are very seedy I didn't leave the fruit in the fermenter, too much mess. So it's more like pulpy mulberry juice in first ferment.

Anyway this is all very experimental so you are always at your own risk. As I mentioned in this thread several years ago I have been fermenting things for a while and enjoy it and feel comfortable with experimenting with it within certain bounds, so do what's best for you.
 
So if your starter smelled bad you would toss it and only keep good smelling starters, kind of like a sour dough starter for bread? I could deal with that. Is this some what like some third world beer?
Yes exactly. Because of the fruit you do have to stay on it a few times per day to prevent mold from growing. I think the first is usually film yeast then mold. However if you stir frequently enough you keep it from ever growing.

Generally it just smells like fruit plus a little yeast while it's going. You will know if it smells bad, but yeah just like sourdough it will look bad before it smells bad. Look, smell, taste test pretty much.

And not really beer, for this syrup, people don't let it ferment until alcohol. Just till the yeast is active. So the alcohol levels are slim to none.
 
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This might make it easier to visualize. Here's a video of someone making the syrup.



It's not really alcoholic since you don't let it ferment long enough to convert into alcohol (at least noticably)
Some folks drink it for diet and wellness, gut health, etc, which is how I found it in the first place.

You don't have to understand Japanese you can just scroll this video and can see more or less what he does. Basically what I described a few posts up
 
Haha, perhaps it's time to try again!
There are thousands of strains of yeast and other microorganisms in existence. They exist to eat and reproduce, not produce something humans like. I cannot see value in risking a batch in the hopes something I want will take hold. I put to much effort into winemaking to take what to me is an unnecessary risk, especially given the low cost of a packet of yeast that will do what I want.
 
There are thousands of strains of yeast and other microorganisms in existence. They exist to eat and reproduce, not produce something humans like. I cannot see value in risking a batch in the hopes something I want will take hold. I put to much effort into winemaking to take what to me is an unnecessary risk, especially given the low cost of a packet of yeast that will do what I want.
To each there own! Natural fermentation of wine is not a new practice.
 
,,, can just scroll this video and can see more or less what he does. Basically what I described a few posts up
with this I say dono aregato

From a food point of view; this is a high solids / high osmotic pressure liquid. Bacteria should not be an issue. Depending on actual sugar concentration yeast may not grow and at still lower Aw molds won’t grow.

A guess from the microbiology lab is that your refrigerated liquid may not have Saccharomyces yeast. ,,, Is this mother 1.150 ?

I have enough history in me that I look at old recipes and have done wild hard cider. ,,, and a few called “infection”. What grandpa did worked often enough that wine was a thing 3000 years ago.
 
with this I say dono aregato
From a food point of view; this is a high solids / high osmotic pressure liquid. Bacteria should not be an issue. Depending on actual sugar concentration yeast may not grow and at still lower Aw molds won’t grow.

A guess from the microbiology lab is that your refrigerated liquid may not have Saccharomyces yeast. ,,, Is this mother 1.150 ?

I have enough history in me that I look at old recipes and have done wild hard cider. What grandpa did worked often enough that wine was a thing 3000 years ago.
Interesting. I'm sure it has yeast, especially when you ferment it long enough. Smells of yeast and tastes of yeast. But if you take it to the point of that vid then it's still in the tasty realm. Not sure the specific gravity of the starter. I'd assume it's fairly high. I used up my last batch for my current musts. Maybe I'll test next time I whip some up.
 
Fresh fruit may also have lacto bacteria, so you might be getting some lacto fermentation. When I bring fresh cucumbers in from the garden to make fermented pickles, the lacto bacteria are already present. I imagine that they are pretty much everywhere in the garden.

Lacto fermentation can make a refreshing, probiotic drink with little alcohol. I have not tried natural fermentation of fruit (yet), but I imagine that there would be a variety of microorganisms present on the fruit.

Lacto fermentation usually is done in a salt brine, which inhibits other micro-organisms. https://www.tyrantfarms.com/how-to-make-lacto-fermented-fruit-with-recipes/
 
Mos
Fresh fruit may also have lacto bacteria, so you might be getting some lacto fermentation. When I bring fresh cucumbers in from the garden to make fermented pickles, the lacto bacteria are already present. I imagine that they are pretty much everywhere in the garden.

Lacto fermentation can make a refreshing, probiotic drink with little alcohol. I have not tried natural fermentation of fruit (yet), but I imagine that there would be a variety of microorganisms present on the fruit.

Lacto fermentation usually is done in a salt brine, which inhibits other micro-organisms. https://www.tyrantfarms.com/how-to-make-lacto-fermented-fruit-with-recipes/
Most definitely, I'm sure it has a lot of different things.

The thing that's great about ferments is that certain conditions promote certain organisms to beat out the others.

In the case you mentioned, the anaerobic brine solution supports over growth of lactobacilli

And in my case, the high sugar and oxygenated environment promotes the overgrowth of yeast.

But yes all ferments start and with a little bit of everything present fighting for resources in the container. Producing the right conditions makes the desired result repeatable. Like making yogurt or kimchi etc. I'm a bit experimental but the general process of cultivating an active yeast starter is pretty tried and true over the millennia
 
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