Nuka smells like nail polish

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Nuka smells like nail polish

Postby kie on Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:32 pm

Hi! I've browsed these forums in the past and gotten lots of useful information.
But now I've registered, because I have a question that I don't see answered anywhere.
I started a new nuka pot about 2 months ago. Things went pretty well (this is my second time). But about a week ago it suddenly started smelling like nail polish, or nail polish remover. The pickles have a faint taste of something volatile too, though I wouldn't say they taste bad, and I haven't noticed any ill effects from eating them.
Is this normal? Should I do something about it? And if so, what can I try?
Thanks!
kie
 
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Re: Nuka smells like nail polish

Postby Tim Hall on Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:41 am

It's not abnormal to encounter this odor, although to most it's not desirable to have it in easily perceptible amounts. It is likely ethyl acetate you're smelling, which is a normal by-product of fermentations. A little can enhance flavor/aroma, but too much becomes 'solventy' as you describe.

Adding more salt and/or fermenting in cooler conditions may solve the problem. You may need to go through a few more additions of vegetables before the smell begins to dissipate. Remember when you add veggies, the water is drawn out of them, diluting the brine. So be sure to add a little salt periodically.
Tim Hall
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Re: Nuka smells like nail polish

Postby kie on Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:05 pm

Great, thank you, Tim! I suspected it was a question of too much of a normal by-product, and that I should change the fermentation conditions in some direction--but I didn't know which direction.

I added some more miso and dry kelp two days ago and the solvent smell decreased noticeably, though it's still excessive. Given your advice, the improvement was probably thanks to the salt. I'll add some more plain salt tonight and see if that helps more.

I'll post an update in a couple of days for future googlers who find this thread...
kie
 
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Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:26 pm

Re: Nuka smells like nail polish

Postby Tim Hall on Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:07 pm

Good luck with it. Let us know how it goes.

To give you just a little more insight into my reasoning for more salt and/or cooler temps: Excessive ethyl acetate suggests to me your fermenting environment has a slightly higher than 'normal' amount of alcohol production going on. Alcohol reacts with acetic acid to form ethyl acetate, the odor you're smelling.

This alcohol production is mostly caused by yeasts that generally don't like salt, and work more vigorously when it's warmer.
Tim Hall
Long-Lost Keeper of the Keys
 
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Joined: Wed Jul 09, 2008 4:18 pm
Location: N32.75 W97.34

Re: Nuka smells like nail polish

Postby kie on Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:14 pm

For anyone following this on stumbling on it in the future, an update:

I added a bit more salt on the 20th, as planned (there wasn't much I could to do change the temperature short of putting it in the fridge). The paint thinner/nail polish smell continued to reduce and by the 24th or so it was completely gone.

Thank you again, Tim!
kie
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 15, 2011 8:26 pm


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