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Fermenting EMs

Posted by Joanne Patton 
Fermenting EMs
March 01, 2016 05:12AM
I'm 6 days into activating my mother culture of EMs and finding I have to "burp" it more than once a day due to increased pressure. Is this typical? I started the activation on 2/23 and within 3 or 4 days the pH dropped below 4, the bottom of the gallon container bulges and a couple inches of air space is at the top of the container. When I began the process, there was zero air space. It still smells mostly like blackstrap molasses.

As this is the first time I'm activating the EMs, I don't know if what I'm seeing is to be expected. There's no way I could release the pressure just once a day - the container would burst! ( Not that it matters, but I used a 1 gallon container that had windshield wiper liquid in it and yup, I cleaned it really well!)

Is this what you guys see too?

Thanks much, as always!

Joanne Patton, Squire Oaks Farm
Zone 6A, Northern Virginia
Re: Fermenting EMs
March 01, 2016 01:50PM
Totally normal Joanne. The critters in EM are potent. it will always retain a mild molasses smell combined with a mild "alcohol" like overtone when it's done. The speed will be affected, as all bio brews are, by the temperature at which you do the activation. Warmer = faster. Enjoy.

Kevin Frank
Holderness, NH Zone 5a
Re: Fermenting EMs
March 01, 2016 04:29PM
Thanks Frank!

For the first few days I had it on my seedling heat mat, guess the little buggers liked that! Just looked at the contained and it fell over! Guess I better go burp it... just like a baby! smiling smiley

Enjoy the day!

Joanne Patton, Squire Oaks Farm
Zone 6A, Northern Virginia
Re: Fermenting EMs
March 01, 2016 07:25PM

Whenever you are capping a vessel that needs to outgas, while trying to reduce/eliminate contamination, use a fermentation lock-
here's a link of an image. If you brew cider or beer, you know it, but just in case :

Re: Fermenting EMs
March 01, 2016 07:28PM
Thanks Todd, I will check it out. It really surprised me just how quickly the gases build up as I have to burp this multiple times a day! Guess they are happy smiling smiley

Joanne Patton, Squire Oaks Farm
Zone 6A, Northern Virginia
Re: Fermenting EMs
March 17, 2017 10:20PM
I could be wrong in this, but I think that sealing the EM fermentation is unnecessary. Sealing a fermenting wine or cider is important to help prevent infection from spoilage organisms (yeast, bacteria, fruit flies) from contaminating the cider and causing off flavors but in this case I don't think that any of the spoilage organisms would be bad for fruit trees. I just put window screening (to keep out insects because they're a pain) and some loosely fitting insulating material over the top of a barrel. That way I don't have to worry about burping the container or air locks.
Additionally, I think some of the organisms in EM would probably benefit from more oxygen. Although some oxygen will permeate through plastic containers it wouldn't be a whole lot.

Nat Bouman
Growing cider varieties in Zone 5b
On B.118 at 18X24
Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania
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