I started a batch of blueberry wine. When I added my yeast it did not get foamy but you could hear it working and see it bubbling. I'm wondering what could cause this or if you think there might be a problem with it.
Rick, Holly Springs, MS
The lack of foam could be an indication that your fermentation has an issue. It never hurts to look over our article, "Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure", and see if any of the top 10 reasons apply to your situation. These 10 reasons cover well over 95% of this issues we come across.
But it is much, much more likely that you do not have anything to worry about. The amount of foam does vary from one fermentation to the next, regardless of the amount of activity that is actually going on through the air-lock. So in all likelihood you are simply being fooled by the foam.
There are several factors that can cause this variation in foaming. I'll quickly go over the two big ones:
The Fruit You Are Using: Protein and other gelatinous materials that are in the fruit are the main components that cause a fermentation to foam. You have strawberries and peaches at the high end of the protein spectrum and apples and cranberries at the low end. More specific to your question, blackberries have twice the protein as your blueberries. Your blueberries are on the low side.
- The Wine Yeast You Are Using: Some wine yeast can create a bit of foam. Red Star's 'Montrachet' is one of them. Then there are wine yeast that don't foam much at all. Red Star's 'Cote des Blancs' would be and example of this. These wine yeast have been bred to produce very little foam.
To really know how things are going with your fermentation you really should not depend on the amount of foam you see. You need to rely on a gravity hydrometer like our Triple Scale Hydrometer. By taking hydrometer readings during the fermentation, you can track just how fast or how slow your wine is fermenting.
If you take a couple of hydrometer readings a couple of days apart and there is no change, then you know your wine is not fermenting. If the hydrometer readings are different, then you know you have progress and you don't need to worry about getting your wine brewing.
By taking gravity hydrometer readings you will no longer need to depend on the foaming to get a handle on how your wine is fermenting. You won't even have to pay attention to it, and you'll know for certain where your fermentation stands. So don't be, 'fooled-by-the-foam'.
Happy Wine Making,