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May 20, 2020

How To Harvest and Wash Yeast

how to harvest and wash yeast for homebrewingKnowing how to harvest, wash, and save yeast is a valuable skill for any brewer to have. This is one of the best ways to save money while homebrewing and is also a process that will allow you to save and reuse wild or unique strains of yeast. During this tutorial, we’re harvesting wild yeast from the bottom of a fermenter that was used for one of our “log beers”. Good wild yeast experiments like these would make any homebrewer want to save yeast so it can be preserved and used forever. Read this article next to learn how to make a yeast starter with washed yeast. You'll need to know how to make a yeast starter with your harvested and washed yeast in order to ferment another beer with it.

Video Tutorial

Here is a full video tutorial that illustrates the steps below

Items Needed

  • Leftover yeast from a previous batch of beer
  • 5 Gallon Carboy
  • 3 Gallon Carboy
  • Distilled Water
  • Funnel
  • Mason Jars
  • Star San or a similar food-grade sanitizer

Follow These Steps

1. Start with the leftover yeast and dregs at the bottom of a fermenter - pour any leftover beer out

    yeast and dregs at the bottom of a fermenter

    We cold crashed this beer so there's a pretty thick layer of yeast at the bottom of the fermenter

    2. Pour distilled water into the bottom of your fermentation vessel in order to break up the yeast cake at the bottom

    pouring distilled water onto the yeast cake at the bottom of a fermenter

    3. Shake it up - you want to get all the yeast that was lying at the bottom of your fermenter into suspension

    shaking distilled water to dissolve the yeast cake

    Now our yeast cake has become fully incorporated with the distilled water

    4. Transfer your water/yeast solution into a clear carboy using a funnel - make sure the funnel and carboy have been sanitized

    pouring yeast/water solution into a 5 gallon carboy

    If there's leftover yeast in the fermenter after this, feel free to repeat steps 2-4

    5. Turn the carboy onto its side and let your yeast/water solution settle for 30 minutes - you can add a sanitized lid to the carboy if you're worried about contamination

    5 gallon carboy filled with yeast/water solution settling - before

    Before

    5 gallon carboy filled with yeast/water solution 30 minutes after settling

    After

    6. After 30 minutes, the water/yeast solution should have separated into a milky layer on top and a sediment layer on the bottom

    yeast/water solution after 30 minutes of settling - sediment has fallen to the bottom

    You should see a good bit of separation after 30 minutes

    7. Pour the milky layer on top into your smaller 3-gallon carboy - turn the 3-gallon carboy onto its side and let it settle for 15 minutes

    pouring the milky top layer into a smaller 3 gallon carboy

    letting harvested yeast settle a second time in a 3 gallon carboy

    You won't see as much settling this time around

    8. After 15 minutes, pour the top layer into sanitized mason jars 

    sanitized mason jars next to carboy with settling harvested yeast

    pouring harvested yeast into mason jars for storage

    putting a lid on a mason jar filled with harvested yeast

    Don't screw the lids on too tight, just make it snug

    9. Put your mason jars filled with yeast water into a fridge for one final stage of settling

    putting mason jars filled with harvested yeast into a refrigerator

    10. Settling times will vary, but we checked on our jars two days later to find a nice layer of yeast on the bottom

    yeast settled to the bottom of a mason jar

    Make sure to read this article to learn how to make a yeast starter with the yeast that you've successfully washed, harvested, and saved.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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