Can you add too much yeast to the must?

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browndd1

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I am making watermelon wine and I added one pack of Lalvin ec-1118 yeast to the 5 gallons of must. Would 2 packets of the yeast speed up the fermentation or be too much?
 

Jusatele

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it would be better to make a yeast starter than add the extra yeast.
you can do a search and find how to make a starter

when you pitch yeast, first it has to hydrate, then it goes into a phase where it populates out, then fermentation starts. The pack of yeast is not going to quicken up the process that fast. the starter gets the yeast populated out and starting to ferment. that helps a lot

Once you decide to start making starters you will see the process start a lot faster, but it is not a problem to pitch just a pack at a time
using yeast nutrients and yeast energizers also help a lot. This site has a ton of information, if you want to know about starters just ask.
 

browndd1

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I started the fermentation on 9-15 with a sg of 1.090 and today 9-20 the sg was right at .990 or just below. I did add two yeast packs to the 5 gallon batch. I originally added Lalvin ec-1118 and then another pack or what I thought was ec-1118 because I couldnt remember if I added the first pack because I have three different wines going. The second pack was Lalvin but it might not have been ec-1118. Should it have completely fermented in just 5 days?
 
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Should it have completely fermented in just 5 days?
I agree with @ChuckD, 5 days is quick but perfectly normal. You had a large colony of overachievers!

From what I've read, yeast reproduces faster in larger colonies. Adding a second packet of yeast bumped up the colony size, so your results are reasonable.

In the future, make an overnight starter -- in a sanitized wine bottle, add 1 cup water at 90-95 F, 1 packet yeast, 1/2 tsp nutrient (doesn't matter which one), and 1 tsp sugar. Swirl to mix, loosely cover (I use foil), and leave in a warm place (e.g., kitchen counter) for 2 to 6 hours. The yeast should bubble up within 30 minutes. Then place the bottle next to your fermenter.

The following morning, swirl to mix, then gently pour the starter down the inside of the fermenter so it doesn't spread much. Do not stir for 24 hours.

The water is initially a lot hotter than is good for wine, but it is a more ideal environment for the yeast to grow. By the following morning the starter has cooled to the same temperature as the must, so there is no temperature shock to the yeast.

I've been doing this for over a year, and I could smell fermentation within 6 hours, even if I didn't see activity.
 

Raptor99

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I found a helpful article about the process of yeast growth and the danger of under pitching. This is about beer, but most of it applies to wine as well: The Life Cycle of a Yeast Cell, and Yeast Management

He doesn't mention making a starter, but I would guess that making a starter should pretty much eliminate the danger of under pitching the yeast.

Another helpful article: https://www.gencowinemakers.com/docs/YeastandFermentation.pdf
Quote from the above:
Enough yeast should be added to the must so the large population of yeast cells needed to
complete fermentation can be reached after four or five generations. This rapid population growth is desirable so the inoculated yeast can quickly overwhelm any indigenous micro-flora present. One or two grams of dry yeast per gallon of must are normal inoculation amounts. However, increases in the starting yeast volume are often made when high Brix musts are being fermented.

Making a starter is a good way to avoid the problem of taking too long for the yeast to reach a healthy population size. Since I store my yeast in the refrigerator, I allow it to warm to room temperature before using, and then make a starter.
 

BernardSmith

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Here's the thing: a home wine maker who buys yeast packed for hobbyists cannot over -pitch. You can under-pitch very easily because unless your re-hydration protocols are excellent you will have destroyed a huge portion of the potential colony that the pack could form. If you don't rehydrate, if you do, but you add the wrong nutrients at rehydration, if you rehydrate well but the difference in temperature between the proofed yeast and the bucket is greater than about 10 degrees, if the SG means that the density is too high for the yeast etc etc... BUT unless you are pouring a kilo of dried yeast into 5 gallons of must you are not over-pitching when you pitch a pack for every gallon ...
 

VinesnBines

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Winemaker_81 is correct that you should make a yeast starter for optimum results.

To illustrate, on Monday evening I was inoculating three buckets of crushed grapes with three different yeasts. I had mixed up a starter of each yeast with Go Ferm and the starters had grown for several hours. I pitched two but the third had two dead fruit flies in the starter. I poured out the fruit fly starter and just sprinkled the yeast on top of the crushed grapes with no Go Ferm. I figured this was a test of the yeast viability. Tuesday morning, all three were fermenting away. Today, though the dry batch was at a higher SG than the other two so my colony was not as big as the two with the starter.
 

BigDaveK

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Frugal. The word is frugal. The word cheap has too much negativity attached.
Frugal, yes, you're absolutely right.
Since a pack of yeast is good for a 5 gallon batch I should mathematically be able to do five 1 gallon batches. No? I think we'd be in "skinflint" or "Scrooge" territory at that point. 🤣
 

ratflinger

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I agree with @ChuckD, 5 days is quick but perfectly normal. You had a large colony of overachievers!

From what I've read, yeast reproduces faster in larger colonies. Adding a second packet of yeast bumped up the colony size, so your results are reasonable.

In the future, make an overnight starter -- in a sanitized wine bottle, add 1 cup water at 90-95 F, 1 packet yeast, 1/2 tsp nutrient (doesn't matter which one), and 1 tsp sugar. Swirl to mix, loosely cover (I use foil), and leave in a warm place (e.g., kitchen counter) for 2 to 6 hours. The yeast should bubble up within 30 minutes. Then place the bottle next to your fermenter.

The following morning, swirl to mix, then gently pour the starter down the inside of the fermenter so it doesn't spread much. Do not stir for 24 hours.

The water is initially a lot hotter than is good for wine, but it is a more ideal environment for the yeast to grow. By the following morning the starter has cooled to the same temperature as the must, so there is no temperature shock to the yeast.

I've been doing this for over a year, and I could smell fermentation within 6 hours, even if I didn't see activity.
@winemaker81 - Is there a justification for this or just personal preference? I can't easily pour down the side of my Speidels anyway, except with a funnel & hose I guess. I have just dumped the starter in for the last 10 years or so & it seems to work okay. *Might* take an extra 1/2 day to really start hard but since I'm leaving everything in the fermenter for a month anyway it doesn't seem to matter. Your thoughts?
 
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@winemaker81 - Is there a justification for this or just personal preference? I can't easily pour down the side of my Speidels anyway, except with a funnel & hose I guess. I have just dumped the starter in for the last 10 years or so & it seems to work okay. *Might* take an extra 1/2 day to really start hard but since I'm leaving everything in the fermenter for a month anyway it doesn't seem to matter. Your thoughts?
Yeast supposedly reproduces faster in larger groups, so pouring carefully maintains a larger group.

For decades I simply dumped the yeast in, and it works. Making a starter as described works better. The ferment starts faster, which stomps out competition faster.

Do your best - gently pour into the middle of the fermenter if that is what you can do. I'll be very surprised if you don't get a faster, more active fermentation.
 

Siwash

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I agree with @ChuckD, 5 days is quick but perfectly normal. You had a large colony of overachievers!

From what I've read, yeast reproduces faster in larger colonies. Adding a second packet of yeast bumped up the colony size, so your results are reasonable.

In the future, make an overnight starter -- in a sanitized wine bottle, add 1 cup water at 90-95 F, 1 packet yeast, 1/2 tsp nutrient (doesn't matter which one), and 1 tsp sugar. Swirl to mix, loosely cover (I use foil), and leave in a warm place (e.g., kitchen counter) for 2 to 6 hours. The yeast should bubble up within 30 minutes. Then place the bottle next to your fermenter.

The following morning, swirl to mix, then gently pour the starter down the inside of the fermenter so it doesn't spread much. Do not stir for 24 hours.

The water is initially a lot hotter than is good for wine, but it is a more ideal environment for the yeast to grow. By the following morning the starter has cooled to the same temperature as the must, so there is no temperature shock to the yeast.

I've been doing this for over a year, and I could smell fermentation within 6 hours, even if I didn't see activity.


@ Winemaker 81: Can you use a wider-mouthed glass container? Mason jar, for eg? Reason I state this is because wine bottles have such tiny, narrow openings. As you pour those items you list (yeast, sugar, etc), they may tend to get stuck on the sides of the bottle neck.

Sound like an easy recipe for a starter, btw! Thanks for the tip - I will try for next wine..
 
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@ Winemaker 81: Can you use a wider-mouthed glass container? Mason jar, for eg? Reason I state this is because wine bottles have such tiny, narrow openings. As you pour those items you list (yeast, sugar, etc), they may tend to get stuck on the sides of the bottle neck.
You can use any container you want. Just cover it with a towel or something similar. FWK recommends a wine bottle, and it makes sense as most of us have a bunch lying around. I have numerous funnels that fit wine bottles (including a large one!) and put the dry ingredients in first, then the water.

Last spring I wrote a post that describes making a starter in greater detail. I updated it this morning with advice for conical fermenters.

 

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