The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ergot? danger danger danger

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Sparkie's picture
Sparkie

ergot? danger danger danger

It occured to me that we use rye a lot and if we make a mother /seed culture with it, do we risk getting dosed with ergot, the stuff that make our brains go gaga and see pink elephants? Silly question I am sure, but heck this is the place to ask it.

 sparkie

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When the grain is cleaned, all the junk incluing ergot is sorted out.  If your grain is fresh from the field, look it up and learn about it so you can pick it out. 

Mini O

Luber's picture
Luber

If I'm understanding the OP correctly, it sounds like they're worried about cultivating the fungus in their sourdough starter. From what I've read sourdough has never harbored any pathogens, and besides ergot is a parasite of the living plant that alters the grain kernels and hijacks them for sporulation - its life cycle is obligate on the living host Although it's probably possible to cultivate the non-fruiting asexual phase on sterile agar on a petri dish in the lab, even if some spores got into your sourdough, I don't think you'd need to worry about it fruiting in there and making toxins.

Sparkie's picture
Sparkie

Thanks Mini O

I never thought about till I was musing over the nice aroma off the seed starter I am brewing up.

If you do the reinhard 3-4 phase method , do you really need 5 days, or, if things are perking along can one just let it go say 3-4 days? Mine will be done in theory on Friday evening or maybe thursday. then you make the starter(mother?).  The half you chuck I am giving to a fellow foodie friend and she goes away every weekend. I would love to give it to her on the way out the door, but if 5 days is a must , well so it is written, she gets it on Moonday. I have a set of corning bowls the smallest of which sits nicely in the smallest farberware pot , so I put 1/2 inch  boiled water in it then the bowl, (after it really got ripping). The odor of pineapple is almost gone and the smell of beer is quite strong now, nicely frothed.

ciao

sparkie

suave's picture
suave

If you are seriously concerned about ergot, the simplest solution is to stay away from rye. 

Mike

Wild-Yeast's picture
Wild-Yeast

The following makes for a great read-up on ergot of rye:

http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/wong/BOT135/LECT12.HTM

Serious stuff...,

Wild-Yeast

rubato456's picture
rubato456

about that.....thanks for the reasurrance mino that most rye grains are free of it unless straight from the field....else i might seriously quesiton my love of rye.....and i do love it. 

deborah

goetter's picture
goetter

I bake with a lot of rye, and I've never known it, even indirectly.

For what it's worth, ergot is a damp-climate problem.  My rye is grown in a cool but very dry (montane NW "Inland Empire" USA) climate.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Finally got through to a store manager. We happened to be in the grain/flour section and he understood English. I told him about the local organic uncleaned barley I found containing ergot, he laughed and said it is used in a traditional drink brew. I explained that I understood but also wrote "ergot" down on paper for him to look up. The next day it was removed from the shelf. This was a product that obviously wasn't cleaned. I think he had never heard of it before.

Ergot can also be found in other grains other than rye. Fortunately Ergot stands out and can be sorted out. It is dark, appears either too large or hair thin and doesn't look like the rest of the grain. Important that the grain is properly cleaned.

I love Rye and Barley and other grains too. I've just also learned that smut is a delicacy. See? Never too old to learn something!

Mini O