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How much yeast are you able to harvest?

I’ve never had any luck harvesting yeast…I’m probably not doing it right.

This latest batch used London Ale III, and I have a pint size mason jar in the fridge that has maybe a 1/4 inch of yeast left in the bottom after two washing cycles.

Is that all there is to gather? Seems I’d get at least a 1/2 cup worth given all the activity and cell growth.

I rinse the yeast, and split into three pint jars.

And use one decanted pint jar to make a starter when the time comes.

And how much yeast do you actually get in one of those jars?

Don’t bother with the rinsing/washing- you’re tossing out a lot of the yeast. See WoodlandBrewings website for some interesting experiments.

When I wash yeast I get about a 1/4 of yeast at the bottom of my 1/2 pint jars. I usually collect 4 jars. The 1/4 of yeast will be plenty for another batch as long as you are making a starter.

I usually fill 2 qt mason jars. Could get more but I figure i wouldn’t use it all. I don’t wash or rinse it due to the above referenced research.

If I use it in the first 2 weeks I just use 1/3-1/2 jar depending on OG I’m pitching it to. 2 wks. to a couple months old I make a starter with a few tablespoons of it. Over 5 months I throw it out and harvest new.

So you guys don’t worry about trub or dead cells when you harvest?

I’ve seen commercial breweries dump 3 gallons from one conical into a pail and transfer it to another conical.

I don’t worry about much.

So all the crud that sinks down to the bottom of my fermenter is just fine to harvest as-is and re-use for a yeast starter or pitch directly?

The argument from Woodlandbrew is that by rinsing the yeast you’re throwing away more viable yeast than you’re saving.

A couple of times I’ve racked beer from the carboy to keg and then poured a new batch right in on the old cake. It worked out fine.

I usually end up with 4 mason jars with 1/4" of pure yeast at the bottom of each one. That is still probably more yeast than comes in a single Wyeast smack pack. I always make starters with harvested yeast.


So what I did the other day was to pour some boiled and cooled water into the bottom of the fermenter…maybe a couple cups worth…to swirl and losen the yeast cake.

Then I dumped all of that through a funnel into my Erlenmeyer flask. That went into the fridge for 24 hours to settle.

From there, I poured the liquid and very top portion of the slurry into 3 mason jars, and then I dumped the rest (which was about 1200mL of slurry) down the drain.

It would seem I dumped my good yeast and kept the stuff with the most bacteria in it, according to Woodlands article?

So when you guys re-pitch yeast, you don’t have a creamy colored, smooth textured yeast? You pitch the dirty white stuff that’s all gritty/grainy looking?

Check out Chop & Brew episode 4 on

It is Chip Walton & Don O doing a pretty good instructional video on ONE way to rinse yeast. This is the method I use and it has always produced good amounts of viable yeast.

I just top cropped for the first time the other day with wyeast 1272. I didn’t take much because I wasn’t sure how much was ok to take but I ended up with 50ml of beautiful pure white yeast. I feel like this is the ideal way to harvest yeast.

When I harvest from the bottom I transfer the cake into a gallon jug with enough water to almost fill it, shake it and allow only what is clearly not yeast to settle ( I leave almost all hops in kettle), then use a small auto siphon to siphon from the top into quart mason jars. I usually fill 2-3 and dump the rest. After they settle in the fig a few days there is always ~100ml of yeast in each jar.


It would seem that I did not use enough water and also let it sit too long and settle so the good stuff settled out.

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