Washing wine yeast from first racking?

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Henco

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Hi Guys, I am very new to cider making and have recently started washing my yeast, my father in law has recently started making his own wine. I told my father in law about it and now we are both wondering if he should consider washing his wine yeast. I have read that apparently the higher alcohol content of wine might be detrimental to this idea, my question is thus: what about washing the yeast from your first racking? Assuming the alcohol content would not be so high yet as fermentation is still ongoing?
Have any of you done this?
Note: courier costs to get proper yeast is a big motivation here. Yeast may be cheap, getting it to us, a different matter.
 

Seamonkey84

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You could do that... but the modern techniques/protocols for wine/mead making says to not remove the yeast colony until the ferment is done. If you have solid fruits or if you started the batch in a bucket, the first racking is just to remove the fruit and get it into a carboy just before it’s done. But you should actually stir it a bit before you rack, so the yeast goes in and gets to finish the job. Then once it’s done fermenting and starts to clear, that when I rack off the bulk lees.
As long as you’re not making an extremely high abv batch, you should be fine just pitching into the lees. Wash it only if what you want to make is a much lighter flavor.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Henco - and welcome. Just thinking aloud here. Brewers tend to wash their yeast because ...why? perhaps because the yeast is covered with hops and with adjuncts from one batch that they don't want in the next batch? OK but if you are making wine and the this batch is a red wine and the next batch is a red wine do you really need to wash the yeast? All you need to do is add your must atop the lees from the previous batch - and note: that's how lemon-ade wine was designed (AKA Skeeter Pee) . Indeed, there is a variant of that method used indigenously, when making the Ethiopian mead known as t'ej. Traditionally wine makers would simply hold back a cup or so of the mead from the current batch and add that to the next batch and the yeast in that cup or so would be enough to ferment the second batch.

And then there is thinking outside the box: wine makers tend not to create starters - We argue that there is really no need for a starter given the larger number of yeast cells packed for wine making... and our ability to tolerate a longer lag time than brewers can (the risk of undesired souring is a strong possibility when fermenting grains with a lengthy lag time) But what prevents you or your F-i-L from creating a starter and pitching half or a third of that starter in the current batch and saving the remainder for a second batch from which you again use to create a starter.

Of course, none of this is to argue that washing the yeast is a waste of time or energy. It's certainly one way to harvest yeast but it's not the only way.
 
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Henco

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Hi Henco - and welcome. Just thinking aloud here. Brewers tend to wash their yeast because ...why? perhaps because the yeast is covered with hops and with adjuncts from one batch that they don't want in the next batch? OK but if you are making wine and the this batch is a red wine and the next batch is a red wine do you really need to wash the yeast? All you need to do is add your must atop the lees from the previous batch - and note: that's how lemon-ade wine was designed (AKA Skeeter Pee) . Indeed, there is a variant of that method used indigenously, when making the Ethiopian mead known as t'ej. Traditionally wine makers would simply hold back a cup or so of the mead from the current batch and add that to the next batch and the yeast in that cup or so would be enough to ferment the second batch.

And then there is thinking outside the box: wine makers tend not to create starters - We argue that there is really no need for a starter given the larger number of yeast cells packed for wine making... and our ability to tolerate a longer lag time than brewers can (the risk of undesired souring is a strong possibility when fermenting grains with a lengthy lag time) But what prevents you or your F-i-L from creating a starter and pitching half or a third of that starter in the current batch and saving the remainder for a second batch from which you again use to create a starter.

Of course, none of this is to argue that washing the yeast is a waste of time or energy. It's certainly one way to harvest yeast but it's not the only way.
Thank you very much for this detailed reply. Making a starter and saving it seems like a good bet. How would you save and store the yeast from your starter? Would storing it in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge work as I have been doing with my washed yeast?
 

Seamonkey84

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Would storing it in a sterilized glass jar in the fridge work as I have been doing with my washed yeast?
Once the culture ferments dry, yes, just seal it and put it in the fridge. A little bit could be used to make another starter, or just keep saving a few ounces from each starter you make.
 
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Henco

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Once the culture ferments dry, yes, just seal it and put it in the fridge. A little bit could be used to make another starter, or just keep saving a few ounces from each starter you make.
Sounds easy enough. Thanks so much.
 

bernardsmith

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You want to either be certain that it has fermented dry or else you want to enable the CO2 it is still producing some means of escaping (an airlock or burping the jar, for example). A fridge will not stop fermentation. It merely slows it to close to a crawl.
 
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Henco

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You want to either be certain that it has fermented dry or else you want to enable the CO2 it is still producing some means of escaping (an airlock or burping the jar, for example). A fridge will not stop fermentation. It merely slows it to close to a crawl.
Thanks for that. When discussing it with my father in law I suggested he uses a small container that he can use an airlock on to be sure fermentation has stopped before sealing and storing in fridge.
 
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