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Old 03-10-2007, 03:42 PM   #1
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Default 1st time using harvested yeast - how do I make a starter?

Okay, so after my last batch I harvested the yeast from the primary. It was easier than I thought.

I've currently got it in a mason jar with about 1/4" - 3/8" of yeast on the bottom (a little bit of the wort from the brew it came from on top of that).

The guy at the home-brew store said that with that much yeast I probably wouldn't need to make a starter. But, I don't want to take any chances, I kind of want to make sure that it's active before I pitch it.

So, I've got a few of questions:

1. Do I need to make a starter?

2. How much of the yeast that I have should I use? Should I use it all, or only part of it?

3. If I do make a starter, what's a good recipe?

4. Also, what should the yeast smell like (if anything)?

Update: In regards to question #4 - my yeast smells like pickles. Should I pitch it? Is this normal? Please, someone, answer ASAP, as I either need to create my starter today or run out to the LHBS for some new yeast.

Thanks.

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Old 03-10-2007, 05:32 PM   #2
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Actually, I did pour the old beer off the top before I sniffed it. Could that smell still be from the old beer? Is the yeast safe to use, or will it ruin my batch?

Thanks.

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Old 03-10-2007, 06:09 PM   #3
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do a search for yeast washing

should help clear it up a bit and maybe get rid of the "pickle smell"

good luck!

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Old 03-10-2007, 06:23 PM   #4
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It is always a good idea to have a pack of dry yeast in the fridge for emergencies. The yeast should not smell like pickles though, is the jar a former pickle jar? You could make a small wort prior to brewing and get the yeast active while brewing so that way you are sure the little guys are ready for work.

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Old 03-10-2007, 06:49 PM   #5
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Even if your yeast is only in starter for 4 hours it will end up being more active live yeast cells than if you skipped the starter -- by a LOT. If you have time, do the starter. If you're in a pinch, skip it, but I do agree with the suggestion to wash the yeast...

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Old 03-10-2007, 07:09 PM   #6
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Well, I decided not to chance it and just went and got some new yeast. I'll try the harvest again with this new batch and some new jars.

btw - Yes, it did happen to be an old pickle jar, but it was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before using. Plus, it had actually been stored under the sink for quite some time before I used it. I really don't see how it could have kept the smell of the pickles (it certainly didn't smell like pickles before I put the yeast in there!).

Anyways, thanks for all the responses, but I'm just not going to take any chances and ditch that yeast.

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Old 03-11-2007, 01:31 AM   #7
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I've got a jar of trub in the fridge from my last batch, and when I get ready to brew I am going to make a starter a day or two beforehand. The reaon; it will give me a chance to see if the yeast is still viable, yet giving me enough time to run to the HBS and get a fresh package in the event it's not (it's a hefe yeast, not something I can pick up a dry packet of and keep on hand "just in case".)

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Old 03-11-2007, 01:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MariaAZ
I've got a jar of trub in the fridge from my last batch, and when I get ready to brew I am going to make a starter a day or two beforehand. The reaon; it will give me a chance to see if the yeast is still viable, yet giving me enough time to run to the HBS and get a fresh package in the event it's not (it's a hefe yeast, not something I can pick up a dry packet of and keep on hand "just in case".)
Throw that trub slush in to a starter (1 cup DME boiled in 2 cups of water) about 48 hours ahead of time. If it's good and viable (very likely) you'll have a jar that resembles a miniature primary in 12-18 hours.

Slosh it all around before pitching and throw it all in...
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Old 03-11-2007, 08:21 PM   #9
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The washing is easy, too -- I procrastinated but once I got down to doing it, it took about 1/2 hour of actual time. Only pains were making some sanitizer (iodophor) ahead of time, and boiling some water far enough in advance that it would be room temp in time to wash the yeast. I will be doing this again, since yeast at my LHBS is about 7 bucks for White Labs tube. Actually, I split the washed yeast into two batches, and now they will be only one generation removed from the original and my avg price per batch for yeast is down to about 2.50 - low enough that I could just buy new instead of going to 2nd generation...

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Old 03-11-2007, 10:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
Throw that trub slush in to a starter (1 cup DME boiled in 2 cups of water) about 48 hours ahead of time. If it's good and viable (very likely) you'll have a jar that resembles a miniature primary in 12-18 hours.

Slosh it all around before pitching and throw it all in...
I am thinking I'd better use a really large bottle for the starter, if the original fermentation is any indication!
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