Yeast starter vs rehydration

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DAB

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Grapes are being picked up this Friday...I need to get my yeast starter details nailed down. So, I'm thinking that if one is making a yeast starter (using this link) then yeast rehydration isn't necessary...is that correct? In other words, I believe the need to rehydrate yeast is only if you're going to use it straight out of the pack into the must. Please help me understand this.

Many thanks,
Newbie
 

jburtner

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I'll start a yeast starter out by rehydrating the yeast in about 200mL 95-100*F water (in a wine bottle in a water bath at this temp) then adding must a little at a time or grape juice as mentioned in the link but will certainly mix in some of the particular must that I will be pitching them into...

If you do this a day or so before pitch and use some nutrients designed for rehydration then you will have a good yeast colony to pitch when you're ready. I'll prepare that starter in a clean empty wine bottle and cap it with an airlock.

You want to be careful not to shock the yeasties with drastic changes in their environment (temp, pH, sugars or gravity, etc) so you basically want to ease them into the similar environment that you will be pitching them into as well as growing the colony.

That keeps them happy and doing good things to your juice.

Cheers!
-johann
 

DAB

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Okay, thanks. My frame of reference is beer; the yeast starter can be made two or three days in advance of brew day. The starter/process is complete when the yeast is no longer in suspension as evidenced by the thick cake on the bottom. It is then put into the fridge until brew-day morning. So, wine yeast is very different. Apparently it requires a great deal more attention: specifically, a more-or-less continuous juice/must bath/feeding until such time that it is finally temperature stabilized and put/pitched into the must. Thanks for the information. I appreciate all the help!
 

BernardSmith

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Hi DAB,
I think the issue is that wine yeasts tend to be dry and beer yeasts tend to be liquid. The liquid yeasts seem to contain smaller colonies of viable yeast cells than the dry yeasts but that may be because the labs can assume that wine musts are going to be around 1.090 whereas beer wort is going to be about 1.050: the higher the SG the more yeast cells you want. I don't know of many wine /mead makers who create starters and I don't know many brewers who don't. But that said, the liquid yeasts are already "rehydrated". Some users of dry yeast rehydrate and some don't.
 
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Okay, thanks. My frame of reference is beer; the yeast starter can be made two or three days in advance of brew day. The starter/process is complete when the yeast is no longer in suspension as evidenced by the thick cake on the bottom. It is then put into the fridge until brew-day morning. So, wine yeast is very different. Apparently it requires a great deal more attention: specifically, a more-or-less continuous juice/must bath/feeding until such time that it is finally temperature stabilized and put/pitched into the must. Thanks for the information. I appreciate all the help!

In making wine, I have only ever felt the need to go through the "more-or-less continuous juice/must bath/feeding" yeast building when I have had troubles with that must, as in a stuck fermentation or a fermentation that didn't start for some reason. I find wine yeast much more forgiving than beer yeast. Most wine kits just tell you to sprinkle the yeast into the must and let it go, I don't go that far, I always rehydrate, but many folks do.
 

NorCal

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Since my batches tend to be 1,000 pounds of grapes, I follow the manufacturers instructions, figuring who knows better? Yesterday I read a study where they compared a fermentation following the dehydration, starter protocol before pitching versus just sprinkling the yeast on the top of the must. There were no differences in the fermentation time, temperature or results noted. Perhaps anecdotal evidence, but it was a pretty well documented study. I will still follow the manufacturer's instructions.
 

stickman

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It's funny to see the different methods people use. A friend of mine throws a one pound block of dry yeast into the bottom of a plastic 55gal drum and dumps the must on top, and he's never had a problem. I had one problem with a 30gal batch not starting back in 1991, it started to grow white strings on top, it finally kicked off several days later, but that horrifying picture is still clear in my mind, so ever since then I re-hydrate and make a starter, I know you don't have to, but when you have over a thousand dollars of grapes in play, you start to think about maximizing your chances of success.
 

dralarms

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I used to rehydrate my yeast, had constant failures due to getting the water to hot I guess. Since I’ve gone to the sprinkle method I have much better results.
 
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I've always believed study results leaned toward the one footing the bill. In this case I cannot see how the results would help or hurt anyone. I started using the rehydration protocol with Go Ferm last fall and swear I see activity the minute it's introduced. I wonder if there is a difference between large and small batches. My largest batch to date was 176 lbs but it was split into 4 separate fermentation buckets.
 

Scooter68

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Clearly there are a number of ways to 'prepare' the yeast ranging from - "Open packet and Sprinkle" to the - Warm/Hot water starter with portions of the must added gradually and gently adjusting the starter mix so as not to shock the yeast.

Most all seem to work most of the time for people. The key is to work out YOUR process and keep with it until it fails, IF it ever does. I had a tennis coach provide words of wisdom that have served me well "Never change a winning game, Always change a losing game" In other words once something works for you why change the process unless it stops working for you or you KNOW the circumstances warrant a change.

My process has been to use a 2 oz of very warm water solution with a pinch of Fermaid K and 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient. I have sometimes added 1 oz of juice to the warmed water. Mix that and then add my yeast. I normally give the starter mix about 30-45 minutes and always see some degree of bubbling to the starter (Mix is lightly covered in a 4 oz jar)

So far in about 18-20 batches I've only had to "re-pitch: the yeast twice and both those times it was in the winter in a room with temps in the mid-to-low 60s With the exception of 3 batches, all my wine making is with fruit other than grapes.
 

wildhair

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Well, I've never even seen 1000 # of grapes or made a 30 gal. batch - my experience is with much, MUCH smaller batches of wine. And most of it non-grape fruit & flower wines. That said - I read the packet. Some say to re-hydrate, some say to pitch it dry. I've only had to re-pitch once and I've never made a starter. I've always followed advice similar to Scooter68's tennis coach, but far less eloquent. I was always told - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".
This little nugget has also proved helpful - "When in doubt - read the instructions".
 

pgentile

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I have re-hydrated yeast in just water and pitched(packet directions), created a starter and pitched as well as sprinkled in dry, all have fermented out fine. Pitching dry has a bit longer lag time, but no issues.

With my all grape batches I usually re-hydrate.
 

jburtner

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I've sprinkled dry...
I've rehydrated in water...
Slowly integrated must...
...and probably permutations on all these
- and -
"it's worked fine"
every time...

BUT

When it works fine isn't the issue.

It's when things go wrong and the slope get's slippery that we need to have already established the best footing..... When the stakes are higher and the potential loss more profound.

I would suggest to "not just follow directions" but rather to take the opportunities to fail and learn - when the stakes are lower - when the risks are less profound...

The yeasties are a robust bunch of organisms much like us. They endeavor to persevere and fulfil their mission in life - for us... Let them not be the rebels and the outliers - leave that to us...

Tonight when I am home I'll be tipping a carboy - to the millions billions of yeasties that have done us all very well - let's all take a moment this weekend to salute the yeasties and say thankee for their service. Tip a carboy, tip a glass, tip a bottle.. Tip my hat and tip the waitress too.

Read this book and never forget what the yeasties do for us:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/147816526X/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

Cheers!
-johann
 
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DAB

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Okay, quick update! 12 lugs have been crushed and are fermenting. That's a sticky process. Gravity measured at 23 Brix. At first sign fermentation--hopefully tomorrow--I'm planning on adding Fermaid K at the rate of 1 gram per gallon. Then, it's the addition of malolactic bacteria...still trying to figure out exactly when. Thanks to all for the advice. Mush appreciated!
 

Johnd

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Wine yeast is pretty prolific, and any of the above protocols work just fine in a must with parameters in line. As far as the time it takes them to get going, sprinkli
Then, it's the addition of malolactic bacteria...still trying to figure out exactly when.

Drop the bugs in when you get your first cap to punch down so you know your yeast are established. You’ll be adding them in a low to no alcohol environment and temps will be on the rise, good conditions for your bacteria. Keep up with your yeast feeding, and feed the mlb after you add them. Normally, the next (and last) mlb nutrient dose is given after pressing and racking off of the gross lees. Happy fermenting!!!
 

dralarms

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I have re-hydrated yeast in just water and pitched(packet directions), created a starter and pitched as well as sprinkled in dry, all have fermented out fine. Pitching dry has a bit longer lag time, but no issues.

With my all grape batches I usually re-hydrate.
I sprinkle mine dry and then hit with a spray bottle of filtered water
 

DAB

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Okay, getting worried. Need guidance. It's been 24 hours and fermentation seems at best anemic. Though I don't exactly know what it's supposed to look like insofar as wine is concerned, during fermentation with beer, at the 24 hour mark the bubbles are a flowing baby. However, in this case (first batch of wine) there are some non-moving bubbles around the edges and a few clumps of them here and there (indicating at least some fermentation), but otherwise there doesn't seem to be much going on. The must is now 70 degrees, although the yeast was pitched yesterday at 57 +/- degrees. As of this morning is was only 67 degrees. The dry "MT" yeast was pitched per mfg instructions along with Go-Ferm. I've stirred it several times. Any suggestions? Should I panic yet?
 
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