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A farmer asked me if ergot (on rye) was a problem for distilling purposes. I told him I didn't know but would try to find out.

Any thoughts?

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I'm definitely not an expert, but my understanding is ergot is dangerous and should be avoided.

The USDA defines "ergoty rye" as having over .3% ergot (https://www.gipsa.usda.gov/fgis/standards/810rye.pdf). I imagine most, if not all food processing plants would reject ergoty rye, and I would bet this includes large distilleries. We look for it, screen for it, and would not purchase grain with significant amounts of it. We work with farmers that clean their grain. Cleaning the grain should remove most, if not all ergot, which is why we rarely even see it.

Halfway down there is a section on distillation concentrating ergot: http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/ergot/

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We are a malt house.  We cannot accept grain with ergot.  But, there are many article on how to clean the grain to remove the ergot.  It is not even fit for animal feed without being cleaned unless the concentration is ultra-low

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 Thanks for the info, yes, it sounds like it should be avoided for feed. But any ideas if it affects a distilled spirit? 

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8 minutes ago, bierling said:

Thanks for the info, yes, it sounds like it should be avoided for feed. But any ideas if it affects a distilled spirit? 

It's poison and can kill a person or animal.  If your question is, will distilling remove ergot, I don't know.

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Coolest part, some people blame it for the Salem witch trials...makes you hallucinate.  I wouldn't distill it but I don't have a reason beyond not wanting to be even near it.

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20 minutes ago, Thatch said:

If your question is, will distilling remove ergot, I don't know.

Yes, that was what the farmer was wondering.

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Found this:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1271/bbb.110639

"In none of the distillates, obtained by distillation methods under atmospheric pressure (n = 3) and under reduced pressure (n = 3), was any of the 13 mycotoxins detected. The mycotoxins tested did not transfer from the fermented mash to the distillates in the distillation process. On the other hand, some of the mycotoxins remained in the distillation residues after the distillation process."

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Make sure that the spent grain is not used as animal feed.

The ethanol distillation process also has the potential to concentrate ergot alkaloids.  While ethanol plants do have ergot limits, ensure that dried distiller’s grains (DDGS) made from wheat are ergot free.

http://www.beefresearch.ca/blog/ergot/

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