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Marco Ernest Dimbo

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Jan 31, 2020
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Knowing that mead lacks the solids of beer/wine production, will mead's yeast cake and "devil's share" act the same way composted as these others?

If not; what else might I use this yeast slurry for?

Also, hi! Used to experimenting on my own, but SUPER eager to chat with more experienced brewers. Also, aspiring beekeeper in VERY urban Baltimore, MD. So any advice on that would also be appreciated.
Note: My husband is an eager gardener and we have some success in growing some of our own food. We have fairly big ambitions for combining our hobbies into something sustainable, especially in the city. And so, this question, and those coming, are personally important to me.
The yeast cake can be "washed" in essence you add a bit of water stir it to suspend all the solids and allow them to settle for a period of time. In an hour or two (sometimes less) you should get three pretty distinct layers.

The bottom layer is sediment containing things like left over protein, non fermentable solids and dead yeast or yeast that have clumped together. This layer is usually darker than the other layers and can be composted.

The middle layer is usually considerably lighter than the bottom layer and is viable yeast that can be re-used for your next batch of mead.

The top layer will be somewhat opaque and can be used to water your plants in the garden.

All you need to do is either use a separatory funnel or slowly pour off (decant) the top and middle layers into separate containers.

With that said it is a pretty small volume of material, but certainly a process that is well recognized to reclaim or re-use yeast.

I suspect there are other uses for the yeast cake. "Vegemite" spread is an example of one such use.
Depending on what mead or wine you made before you can very often simply pour the next batch onto the lees remaining from this previous batch. In fact this is one preferred method for making a lemon wine known as Skeeter Pee. Those lees will be quite fresh and you have not likely cooked hops and the like but you may need to watch if your previous wine was say hibiscus (deep red) and the current wine is elderflower (white).
I offer these ideas after poring some sugar water onto the lees I collected from some elderflower wine and had stored in my fridge for a couple of months to see if the yeast was still active - and they were. Very.
So, what I'm getting is that no, mead lees aren't super great for gardening, but would be better used for the next batch of mead?

Followup question: how does one store the yeast cake if not by immediately using them?
I often add my lees to the compost. Wine yeast are typically inexpensive in the US so it does not always make a great deal of sense to harvest the yeast but I have done so and the easiest way to do this is after you rack the mead from the primary to the secondary you simply add your next batch of honey and water to the lees - assuming, that is that you did not stress the yeast and you have not added flavors and the like that you really do not want in the next batch (hops, for example, or the previous batch was for a sour mead). Another option is simply to wash the lees in boiled spring water and store them in the fridge. I have stored washed yeast (from the lees) for three or four months and have had no problem simply pitching this as my yeast. Store the yeast under water in your fridge in sterilized mason jars. See CKuhns (above) method for separating the yeast from the other sediment.

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