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Making Yeast Starter In Bulk?

Hi all,

I’ve gotten in the habit of cooking up some light DME-based yeast starter for most of my beer batches.

To save a step batch-to-batch, I’m wondering if I can just cook up a big batch of starter (obviously without actually adding yeast to it), and store the starter in individual batch portions in steralized jars. That way whenever I’d want to get a starter going, I’d just have to grab a batch of the pre-cooked starter, add the yeast, aerate and be done (as opposed to cooking up a batch of starter for each and every brew).

I know that starter would ideally be cooked to different malt densities for various intended beers, but I’m thinking that using an average density for all beers would be sufficient for the time-saving benefit.

Would this work? If so, where would you store the sterilized bottles of yeast-free starter? Should I be concerned about the sterility/effectiveness of the pre-cooked starter over time?

Thanks for reading!

Regardless of the target beer’s OG, starter wort should always be in the ~1.030 range. If you want to have ready-to-use starter wort, you should pressure-cook it for at least 15 minutes.

Regular boiling temperature doesn’t sterilize, it only sanitizes. Some nasties can survive the process, and they might be able to propagate in the wort and then go on to infect your beer.

To be totally safe about it you should ideally use a pressure canner to make sure the jars of wort really have been sterilized. Storing them in the fridge might work, too, but don’t quote me on that.

I have been gathering final runnings from each batch and simply saving that in sanitized jars for few days in the fridge. I then just boil for 15 minutes and add a little DME if needed.

Cool and pitch yeast for starter. Has worked well for over a year. I have kept for a couple weeks but always boil good before pitching.

Like any food product, wort will be ok stored in the fridge for a few days. For long term storage it need to be pressure canned.

Freezing is a mid step. Botchalism spores can survive freezing. So there is that concern.

Do your own research and do what feels right to you. You County Extension office is a good resource.

If boiling is used universally to make water safe to drink, would this not apply to wort? Especially for use exclusively in starters?

[quote=“560sdl”]If boiling is used universally to make water safe to drink, would this not apply to wort? Especially for use exclusively in starters?[/quote]Unlike water, wort contains food for anything that survives the boil. I think the risk is small, but I would rather not contaminate an entire batch.

It’ll make it safe for immediate use, but not for extended storage. To take the botulism example, botox is quickly destroyed by heating to boiling temperatures. But the spores can survive and get back to producing more toxin if you just put whatever you boiled back on the shelf.

Compared to wort, water also has the advantage of not being delicious microbe food.

I bet freezing is fine. It wouldn’t kill the spores, but it should keep them from growing and producing toxin. I’d assume that’s why things like ice cream and fruit juice concentrate are safe.

Once you’ve used pressure canned starter wort, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start canning sooner. I bought the canner for making starters and have been having fun canning other food,too.

Yeah, and I’d say if you’re thinking of getting into home canning, go straight for the pressure canner even if you aren’t thinking of using it for starter wort. A standard water bath canner is a lot cheaper, but it also isn’t good for making much other than pickles and condiments. A pressure cooker lets you preserve actual food.

Another vote here for the pressure canner.

It does have a bit of a learning curve to it but to date its been on of the best investments I’ve ever made. Water bath canners are great for acidic foods such as heirloom tomatoes, pickles, or really anything with copious amounts of vinegar involved. A pressure canner however can double as both a water bath canner and the obvious intent. I would say that pressure canning some wort for a few minutes would be enough to kill anything and keep your stuff ready to go at a few moments notice.
(I may even do this myself now that the idea is here) Again as others have pointed out its great to use for preserving actual food as well. Ball’s Blue book of canning is a great starting point for food recipes. While there are some foods that are still probably cheaper to buy in the store canned there are far more you an do on your own on the cheap, even more so if you get access to a farmers market or grow your own.

I even use it to hot water bath and can water which is now sitting on a shelf for the next yeast washing. That is what I use it for the most of, a hot water bath of water so it is ready to go to preserve some of a upcoming yeast cake.

[quote=“propsout”]Hi all,

I’ve gotten in the habit of cooking up some light DME-based yeast starter for most of my beer batches.

To save a step batch-to-batch, I’m wondering if I can just cook up a big batch of starter (obviously without actually adding yeast to it), and store the starter in individual batch portions in steralized jars. That way whenever I’d want to get a starter going, I’d just have to grab a batch of the pre-cooked starter, add the yeast, aerate and be done (as opposed to cooking up a batch of starter for each and every brew).

I know that starter would ideally be cooked to different malt densities for various intended beers, but I’m thinking that using an average density for all beers would be sufficient for the time-saving benefit.

Would this work? If so, where would you store the sterilized bottles of yeast-free starter? Should I be concerned about the sterility/effectiveness of the pre-cooked starter over time?

Thanks for reading![/quote]

Propsout,
I hope you are reading this thread. Botchalism will kill you and it is not a pleasant way to expire. I use a pressure canner as well. I make a 5 gal batch at 1.040 and then can the whole batch. Hold your pressure between 15-18 for 15-18 minutes. 5 gallons is about enough wort for 10 2L starters. I look back at the days of making a starter on the stove and the ice bath and I just shutter. Canning wort was one of the best moves I ever made, besides freezing yeast for future starters.

I do 15 pounds for 15 minutes, in quart jars. Write the date on the lid. Needs to be aerated, I use a stir plate when I need to make a starter.

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