View Full Version : DME Yeast Starter

01-05-2006, 09:30 AM
Has anyone tried starting a yeast with Dry Malt Extract? I've been using just a simple mix of orange juice, water, and a little super ferment to start my yeast in before pitching. Recently a friend suggested trying a DME. I picked up some and made the starter per directions I found, which were basically 2 pints of water, 1/4 cup of DME, bring it to a boil for five minutes, let cool to room temp and add yeast. Let the yeast bloom over 24 hrs, shaking the snot out of it periodically to aerate. Well, I did all that and nothing happened. Anyone have any info/suggestions?

01-05-2006, 10:30 AM
Hey Alden,

Generally for mead starters are not necessary. I routinely make 15 gallon and larger batches of must that is between 26 and 30 brix without using a starter. I rehydrate with Go-Ferm and pitch as per Lallemand specification. I haven't had a stuck fermentation in a very long time.



01-05-2006, 12:14 PM

What kind of yeast are you using? Did you use the entire volume for this one starter? Did you take the temperature of the wort before you pitched? To hot and the yeast would be damaged, to cold and the fermentation would be sluggish. There are two easy ways to see if anything is happening with the starter; if you swish the starter around a little it should foam up if it is active, there should also be some off white (light tan) sediment at the bottom. If neither of these is happening then the starter fermentation hasn't really started.

Typically in homebrewing we "step up" our starters. Start with a small volume of wort such as a cup, when fermentation is active we pitch that into a pint, when fermentation is active it then gets pitched into a quart, etc. You work it up to the amount of yeast you think you will need. For meads I have just been rehydrating with GoFerm and occasionally throwing in a second packet of yeast.


01-05-2006, 12:44 PM
The yeast I used was Lalvin EC-1118.
I used the full packet to the 2 pints of DME/water
The temp before I added the yeast was 85F
There was tan sediment in the bottom.
When I shook it up there was a thin layer of foam on top, but it would vanish within a minute.

Usually, I make a starter from 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of orange juice. I add the yeast and shake it up and within a couple hours I have a pretty substantial head of foam on it. Then I shake it back up and pitch it into my 3-gallons of must.

01-05-2006, 01:24 PM

The EC-1118 yeast is considered a "low foamer" yeast so you wouldn't necessarily see a layer of foam while it is fermenting. It is very possible that the starter has already been through its fermentation and is ready to pitch. Are there any visible rings on the container at or just above the surface of the liquid?


01-05-2006, 02:02 PM
I don't normally use starters and have never used DME in starters. Provided you rehydrated the yeast first, added a pinch of nutrient, and are sure the yeast packet is not old, I'm not sure why it would not be active after 24 hours. Despite the low-foaming tendencies of EC1118, after vigorous shaking this yeast should make its activity obvious.
Did you properly rehydrate the yeast first in plain water before pithcing in starter? Besides the slight amount of foam, is there a substanital burst of activity after shaking??

01-06-2006, 09:15 AM

Like Oskaar... I never use starters either, I use GoFerm, and rehydrate exactly per directions. All of my musts have been high SG (over 1.15) and I've never had a stuck fermentation. The Pure Pineapple Juice & honey did take 12 hours to get going, but then it revved up nicely.