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Mash too thick?


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    • #3444

      First time making a mash. I put 7.5-2.5-2.5# each of flaked corn, rye and barley into 5 gals boiling water. Consistency is like thick oatmeal and no liquid is visible. Do I split it and add water or what should I do. Mash is on the stove right now.

    • #3445

      Did you boil everything?
      for a mash the normal process is to—- “mash” the grains in about 150 degree for an hour or so. The mash process converts the starches into fermentable sugars. If you boiled everything I am going to guess that no conversion took place-which means there will be little to no sugar conversion. It is possible that some conversion took place if the grains did mash around 150 for a while before you boiled…

      Can you explain your process from start to finish?

      This is the process that I follow:

      • #3446

        I got the water to a light boil and then added all of the grains and lowered the heat. I was planning on a low heat time of about 2 hours but the stuff got so thick I added a half gallon of hot water twice. Stirred about every 15 minutes. Something looked not right so I am turning to the forum for advice. Salvageable or start over?

    • #3447

      How hot did you get the grains?

      Here is what you might want to try- add some water and let the grains rest around 150- remember the grains are going to absorb water. You always start with more water than the final yield. 7-8 gallons for a 5 gallon batch.
      If you have a hydrometer take a gravity reading at the end of the mash process- if you don’t have one I recommend buying one (they are cheap) If you did not have much or any starch to sugar conversion you can add sugar to get the starting gravity to a good place- the grains will be adding flavor but not sugar if that is the case. It is worth trying to save it in my opinion.

      There is no need to boil a mash- you want to mash the grains 148-150 if possible for future reference.

      • #3448

        I added the grains at the light boiling stage. Hotter then the 150 I’m sure. Should I add more water at this point to get it more viscous and split it into two pots. It’s really thick at this point.

    • #3449

      Add water- enough that when you strain the grains you will end up with 5.5 gallons of liquid into your fermenter.- I doubt you will get any conversion from the grains- but you can save it with sugar. – you should get decent flavor from the grains in theory.

      • #3450

        Thanks all for your info. I will see if I can save the patient. Best

    • #3455
      Zymurgy Bob

      You’ve got a couple of issues to address for your problem. The first is the concept of mashing. Mashing, the conversion of starches to fermentable sugars, is performed by heating the starch-bearing grain, in water, to a temperature of about 150F in the presence of an amylase enzyme. If there is no enzyme present, or if it has been denatured by heating above maybe 160F, there will be no mashing, no starches will be converted, and the cooked-starch thickness will make the mess impossible to work, as you’ve already discovered.

      Brewers and allgrain distillers typically use amylase enzymes from one of two sources, malted grains (often barley malt) or bottled enzymes from your homebrew supply or other sources. is a great source for high-quality enzymes.

      The second issue deals with the physical properties of corn starch, properties not shared by barley starch. Corn starch exists in a crystalline form, in which form it is unavailable to the amylase enzymes for starch-to-sugar conversion. Crystalline corn starch has to be heated closer to boiling (185F, I think) to gelatinize the starch. at which point it can be converted. The problem is that, if you look at the numbers, by the time the corn starch is hot enough to gelatinize, the amylase enzymes are hot enough to be destroyed.

      To get around that, mashing corn involves heating till it turns to goop, and then cooling until the enzymes, either barley malt of bottled, can be added. (Allgrain beer brewers don’t have to do all that silliness, because barley starch is already available for conversion).

      Even that’s a simplification, depending on your corn. If your flaked corn came from a homebrew shop, it is almost certainly “torrefied”, heated to gelatinization temperature during the flaking process, so it needs no additional cooking. If it came from a feedstore, it almost certainly will require cooking/gelatinization.

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