Starters and Pressure Canning Wort


When I originally started brewing, I never made a starter.  I had decent results, and whenever I made a beer with an original gravity higher than 1.060 I always tried to reuse yeast from a previous batch.  The reason I didn’t make a starter was not because I didn’t think I needed to for proper fermentation and reduced lag times, it was because I HATE TO MAKE A STARTER.  More on that in a second…


If you want to make a starter the traditional way, then Mike Uchima has an excellent page on that called Making Yeast Starters.


My problem was, I just could not stand spending 20 minutes to an hour getting yeast ready for the brew day.  What I really wanted to be doing was brewing.  Also, I hated being a slave to the smack pack.  I always found that waiting on those things to swell was an absolute pain.


Then I found the “Confesions of a Yeast Abuser” page, although recently Domenick Venezia has renamed the page Yeast Starter – With Stirring Aeration. 


I swapped a buddy some homebrew for a stir plate, and was off to the races. I modified the original procedure slightly.  I figured if the outer pouch contains the yeast and the inner nutrients necessary for yeast growth, why am I adding YNB.  So I just smack the pack and immediately put the package contents into the stirred starter.


Also the article refers to the stirring as aeration.  I believe this to be true initially, but after the fermentation of the starter begins, the starter is giving off CO2, so with an outflow of CO2 from the starter container, I cannot see how much additional air can be getting in.  I believe the stirring helps get the yeast in contact with the wort and adds air, which leads to a larger yeast population.  Of course all this is conjecture on my part, but it works like a champ.


Here is a picture of my stirrer, an Erlenmeyer flask, and a mason jar.



Now I was no longer a slave to a smack pack, but I still had to make the dreaded starter.  Very soon I tired of making the starter.  I found it to be boring and tiresome.


So I searched a little more and read a few articles on Canning Wort.  Unfermented beer wort pH is not low enough (4.6) to be considered safe for just water bath canning.  A temperature of 240 F for 15 minutes is necessary to kill Botulism spores that could eventually produce deadly toxins.  240 F happens to be a pressure of 10 psi in the canner.  In my own pressure canning of wort, I use 15 psi, 250 F, for 15 minutes. For more on canning you should check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and for more on botulism take a look at the CDC website.


This is my pressure canner. 



It is an All American, and I obtained it off Ebay for $25 (a steal). It will hold 7 quarts, or 6 quarts and 2 pints, as shown in the picture below. 



I like having some of both size canned, that way if I want to step up a starter while stirring, I can use more or less wort as needed.   Wort will darken slightly in the canner, and will also undergo the boil. e ture belowshoot for a runoff ep up a starter whilend I obtained it off Ebay for $25 (a steal). It will hold 7 quarts, or 6 quThe picture below shows wort that has been pressure canned on the right, and on the left is wort awaiting canning.



It is a little difficult to tell the color difference, but you can definitely see the hot break in the bottom of the jars. 


My procedure is to mash a grist of 100% Pils or Pale malt and after the sparge to can the unboiled wort. This gives me quite a few starters.  The day I took these photos, I canned 22 quarts and 12 pints, as shown in the photo below.



So for starters, my procedure is to first use impeccable sanitation.  The I smack the smack pack and dump the contents into a flask or mason jar and add the canned wort and the stir bar and place the starter on the magnetic stirrer.  I then cover the top loosely with plastic wrap, or an airlock.  Usually I have aerated the wort by splashing before and as I add it to the flask or jar.  I really like the method because I am not tied to a smack, and I am not tied to a starter.  Also when I pressure can starters I am brewing an entire batch of beer, which is what I wanted to do in the first place!