By: Orion Chandler
A yeast starter is a great tool to have in the homebrewers arsenal. Before I started using them my fermentations would stall or worse, sometimes they would stop completely. A yeast starter is what it sounds like, it is a sanitary environment for your yeast to begin reproducing, digesting nutrients and creating enzymes specifically for the malt you will be brewing with. Yeast starters greatly reduce the chance of infection as the size of the colony can keep other infections from taking over. They also help reduce "off" flavors associated with slow yeast reproduction rates, commonly from under-pitching yeast. Basically, yeast starters are in my opinion one of the best ways to ensure that quality going in will lead to quality going out. Here is how you make a yeast starter the easy way:
- Yeast starter container, preferably glass
- Dried malt extract
- Measuring cup
- Rubber stopper
- Sterilizing chemical (I love Starsan No Rinse)
- Tablespoon (optional)
- Measure out 1 ounce(4.5 TBSP) of dried malt extract.
- Place 2 cups of water in a large sauce pan.
- Boil for 10 minutes while watching for boil-overs!
- Add yeast nutrient such as Fermaid-K at the end of the boil.
- Place lid on pan and let cool.
- Sterilize the yeast starter container, airlock, measuring cup, funnel and rubber stopper.
- Pour the malt water into the measuring cup and add water if needed to bring the level to exactly 1 cup.
- Pour the malt water into the yeast starter container.
- Shake vigorously.
- Add yeast.
Alternatively, you may measure the specific gravity of your malt extract immediately after step 7 by sterilizing a hydrometer and hydrometer tube. Then place the malt water into the tube and measure the sugar level of the solution, this will help you calculate later how much malt to use in your recipe by telling you the sugar content of the malt extract.
Your yeast starter will do it's best work 2-5 days after creation assuming it looks healthy and shows gusto!
Have you found yeast starters to aid in fermentation?