Preferred Yeast Starter Methods

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Preferred Yeast Starter Methods

Postby jayhawk » Thu Aug 15, 2002 4:38 pm

After all the confusion surrounding my failed first attempt at starting a liquid culture, I am curious to know what methods people use when starting liquid yeast cultures. I was following the instructions on the Wyeast pack, but I obviously got screwed up somewhere along the line. Is it best to slowly build up the volume of the starter by adding portions of wort over time, thus keeping the yeast in a reproductive phase? When is the best time to pitch? Can you still have a good fermentation if you pitch once the starter has "finished" and the yeast have flocculated?
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My Simple Method

Postby andytv » Fri Aug 16, 2002 3:24 am

This simple method has always provided good results for me. For a ten gallon batch;

1) Boil 1 qt of water & 1 cup light DME & 1 tsp yeast nutrient for 15 min.

2) Add to a santized jar (or growler) and allow to cool to about 85F. Note that if you are using pyrex, you can immerse the hot container directly in cool water, don't try this with a growler...it will crack, you have to start w/ warmer water and slowly add cool water.
3) Pitch your yeast and aerate. I have a O2 stone, but often I just swirl for 30 sec or so. Apply an airlock or blowoff tube with the end ina cup of santized water.

4) I usually finish making the starter about9-10PM at night, and use it around noon the next day. (The airlock will be bubbling like mad.

Prosit

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Add to Andy

Postby Freon12 » Fri Aug 16, 2002 5:23 am

I cool the starter to 70f before adding yeast. I found that a magnetic stirrer really makes a world of difference. I use a 2000ml KIMAX flask with a glass air lock and stopper that can be added right after you turn off the heat without melting. I then cool the flask in ice water to 70f. add the yeast and stir it overnight. I have killed many yeasts by adding it at 80f and above and I always seem to kill the Danish lager. I sometimes add a small amount of hops, that way you can tell by the ring it leaves that the yeast is o.k. and you missed all the fun.
Hope this helps.

S.
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Stirrer

Postby andytv » Fri Aug 16, 2002 10:58 am

I'm gonna have to get me one of dem magnetic stirrers. I've heard they are the s$&*t for yeast starters. I checked Ebay, and it looks like you can pick up used ones for less than $20. Is there anything in particular thatr I should look for??
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Enhancing Freon's Technique & Pre-prepared Sterile Starters

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Fri Aug 16, 2002 12:25 pm

The method of preparing starters that Freon mentioned is close to lab methods and will work well. The following suggestions offer further refinements of this technique:

A small change in proceedures with the exact same equipment will guarantee sterility (not sanitization).

Take the same flask, stopper and glass airlock, put the small parts in a metal bowl and the flask in the cooker and pressure cook them for 15 minutes at 15 PSI (1 bar). If you use a sintered stainless steel oxygen stone with a metal supply tube or/and a coated magnetic stir bar, these can be sterilized at the same time as well.

This is the home version of laboratory autoclaving. All of the listed components can withstand 250 degrees with no damage.

If you have a pressure cooker, consider "canning" your starters. You can make a large quantity of them quickly by placing DME, yeast nutrient and a small amount of hop pellets with warm water in a canning jar. You then only have to put the lid on, screw on the band and shake ! The malt will be stirred into solution when cooked, so don't worry about lumps. Pressure cook the filled jars for 15 minutes as above and let them cool naturally.

The end result is pre-prepared, completely sterile, starter wort that can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. To use them, simply wipe the lid down with alcohol, open and pour into your sterilized or sanitized starter flask with the yeast... no cooling required !

PS: ALWAYS put a couple of hop pellets in your starters regardless of which heating method you use. It is cheap anti-microbial insurance !

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Eric this is absolutely brilliant ! ! !

Postby Azorean Brewer » Sat Aug 17, 2002 2:09 am

Eric,

This suggestion is one of the best you have ever posted. I love the idea of "canning" my starter and only having to "mess" up the kitchen once and have vertually a dozen pre made starters. I know that old rule of thumb is 1/2 cup of D.M.E. to every two cups of water, so if I were making 12 - pints of starter (my wife has plenty of pint sized jelly jars), should I use the same ratio ? Thanks, Paul the "Azorean" brewer.
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a couple points on canning

Postby stumpwater » Sun Aug 18, 2002 6:21 am

I did up 24 jars of starters using the same method with the exception of the pressure cooker. I used my 16 litre black enamel canning pot instead, but make sure you let the jars sit at boiling point for at least 1/2 hour. If you are unfamiliar with canning, make sure you speak to someone who knows, as accidents can happen when dealing with glass jars and boiling liquids. Since it is canning season, you should be able to pick up canning kits of tools pretty easy and pretty cheap. Things such as rubberized jar tongs are invaluable for adding and removing boiling hot jars.
These little jars of canned malt are supposed to be good for feeding to yeast cultures that you are keeping. I don't know for sure though, as the only liquid culture I ever bought gave me such headaches ( clumped and floated instead of flocculating and dropping), that I never wanted to keep it alive.
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Ratios for canned starters...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Sun Aug 18, 2002 2:14 pm

Yes... you can use the same ratio, but it may be wasteful. Remember... the goal of starters is to increase cell count and terminate dormancy, not to ferment. If you are going to brew with the culture soon, it is not necessary that the wort be prepared above 2~5 degrees plato. If you measured the gravity of "smack pack" starter nutrient solutions, you would find it is within this range.

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You can use water rather than steam to can starters, but...

Postby Mesa Maltworks » Wed Aug 21, 2002 7:42 am

If you read the instructions that come with enameled canners, they say to leave the jars in the water for an hour if sterility of the contents is desired. (This instruction is usually indicated under the "baby food or formula" heading. This is because the temperature inside the jars takes alot longer to reach the boiling point than the water in which they are contained. And even at that, you are talking 208~218 deg. (elevation dependant) vs. 250 + degrees under pressure.

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