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Yeast Washing/Saving

Newbie here with a yeast washing/saving question…Lots of talk on this topic lately…

My first yeast rescue mission commenced last night…Here’s what I did based on a few things I’d read on this board, and a few youtube videos:

  1. boiled and cooled some water
  2. poured the water into carboy with yeast cake and shook to loosen sediment
  3. poured this mixture out into a sanitized glass container
  4. waited an hour or so for it to begin to stratify
  5. decanted the liquid off the top
  6. poured the yeast layer into a sanitized mason jar
  7. put the jar in the fridge

By this morning, plenty of additional stratification had occurred. I’m looking for some help identifying exactly which of the 4 layers I want to keep when I wash this stuff again. I attached a photo to help in the ID process. Is my identification right? I want mostly just the pure yeast layer eventually, right?

Secondary question…once I get the yeast mostly isolated, I likely dont need to use it all for the next batch of a similar beer, right? This was NB’s Rye Stout extract kit.

Tertiary question…apart from eating sugars during fermentation, are yeast cells actually reproducing? Thus, the yeast cake has way more yeast that what is originally pitched, correct?

Long post…thanks for any help all. Love this board and this new endeavor that is taking over my waking, non real-job hours and my basement.

Looking at your picture… you want to dump the top dark layer, and collect the next two layers. The one that’s suspended yeast is good and the layer of compacted yeast is also good.

Chances are you’ll get enough yeast for 2-3 more batches of beer, roughly. I’ve gotten enough for 1 batch and I’ve gotten enough for 4 batches in the past. Mason jars are nice because they have the amount of ml on the side of the jar. That will help you know how much you have to work with.

Tertiary question, yes. You are correct.

One thing I do that you didn’t do is when you pour your sterilized water into the bucket/carboy, let that sit for about an hour or so. Carboys are easier to pour off because you can see the different layers building up. Anyway, pour off as much of the liquid on top as you can into a gallon (or larger) glass jug. Leaving as much of the trub (the bottom darker layer behind). Then pop that jug in the fridge for an hour or 2. Then pour the jug off into a few smaller mason jars. I use about 6-7jars. I usually end up combining those 6-7smaller mason jars into 2-3 good jars of yeast.

Having said all that, your picture looks like you did just fine. Just know that the layers between the top black layer and the bottom brown layer are all good. You got suspended yeast in the bigger middle layer, which is good. And compacted yeast just below it which is also very good.

Terrific. Thanks for the quick reply. Much appreciated.

Thanks for this posting. I was going to make pretty much the same one but I couldn’t find the camera while I was collecting the yeast. Looks like we did pretty much the same thing and came out with roughly the same results.

I should have poured everything from the carboy into a larger jar first and let that settle for longer.

After a full 24 hours, waaay more settling happened and the beer layer (useless) is far larger and apparent amount of yeast is far less as the part the is “suspended” is now tiny.

I will have to make a starter to use this stuff probably…but that is another post! Onward!

I don’t both with washing (yet), just pour the slurry from the carboy into 3 or 4 jars, decant the beer and pitch into a new batch. The last two batches I’ve added RO water to the jar after decanting the beer, shook it up and pitched that. Turned out great.

My steps differ in that I only let the water/yeast/trub mixture from the carboy settle for about 10 minutes. All the happy, healthy yeast will stay in suspension the longest and the dead yeast will settle out with the trub. Then I pour the slurry into a gallon jug and let that sit for about 30 minutes. By this time, I still do not have a noticeable beer layer. I separate it one more time into the final containers. This way, I know I’m getting the healthy, less flocculant guys from the last batch. Also, a nice little trick I’ve learned is to set the carboy on its side to for settling. You don’t stir up the liquid as much when pouring into containers. I plan to post a step-by-step from my next adventure.


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