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#1 MtnBrewer

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 08:51 PM

StartersWhat is a starter?A starter is a small fermentation whose sole purpose is to increase the number of yeast that you'll have available for pitching into your must. If you're using yeast that ships in a liquid form such as pitchable tubes or smack-packs, it's a very good idea to use a starter. Do I need a starter if I'm using re-hydrated dry yeast packets?In a nutshell, No. However, if you're using dry yeast, you may want to consider rehydrating the yeast with Go-Ferm in the water. Go-Ferm is used by a lot of professional wineries and it contains key nutrients that will help the yeast with cell division later on. Due to the large cell count in dried yeast packets, a starter isn't necessary for dried yeast. From the Lallemand web site:

The GO-FERM approach is to provide bioavailable micronutrients in the rehydration water instead of the traditional method of adding micronutrients to the must. By adding the micronutrients directly to the targeted yeast in a balanced concentration, they are more easily used by the yeast. This direct contact protects against the chelation of key minerals by inorganic anions, organic acids, polyphenols and polysaccharides present in the must. It also prevents essential vitamins from being rapidly taken up by wild microflora or inactivated by SO2 before the inoculated yeast can take advantage of these essential elements.The use of Go-Ferm results in significantly better overall health of yeast cells throughout the fermentation, affecting fermentation kinetics and resulting in a cleaner aromatic profile. This is especially evident when Go-Ferm is used in high maturity grape musts to avoid sluggish fermentation finishes.

How do I make a starter?There are lots of ways you could approach the starter but the bottom line is, you'll want it to have an OG around 1050 and it doesn't matter a whole lot what ingredients you use as long as its got good nutrients in it. You'll want to make the starter at least a day in advance of pitching the yeast into your mead.Here's how to make a starter using light dried malt extract (DME)
    [*]Boil 2 pints of water and a half-cup of DME for 5 minutes.[*]Remove from heat and allow it to cool. While it's cooling read the manufacturer's information on the label or on their web site to see if there is a preferred pitching temperature for the yeast strain you're using. If you can't find this information, just pitch the yeast at around 75-80° Fahrenheit.[*]When the starter has cooled enough, add the yeast and a quarter tablespoon of yeast nutrient.[*]Swirl the vessel gently and attach an airlock.[*]After the fermentation has subsided and there is a layer of yeast in the bottom of the vessel, place the vessel in your refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. The cold temperature of the must will cause the yeast to drop out of suspension and create a slightly thicker layer of yeast at the bottom. Prior to pitching the yeast, take the following 2 steps: A ) Decant most the wort/liquid from the vessel, being careful not to pour out the yeast cake. B ) Re-attach the airlock and allow the yeast to come back up to room temperature.[/list]Some people prefer to simply use preservative-free apple juice as the base for their starter. Store-bought apple juice has an OG around 1050 and you don't have to heat it up to pasteurize it, so that makes it easy. To further simplify things, some people will buy one of the type of apple juice that is made for babies. The baby apple juice is usually preservative-free and you can just pitch your yeast into the bottle and slap an airlock on the top. Again, you'll want the size of this starter to be around 2 pints (1 quart). It would be a good idea to add a quarter teaspoon of yeast nutrient to this type of starter.


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