Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rehydrating Safbrew Yeast

Dry yeast is a very viable option to liquid yeast... no pun intended.

It does seem to be important how the re-hydration is done.  It's best if you stick to the manufactures directions. 

The temperature doesn't effect the viability as much as I though it would.  In a test at four different temperatures from about 70°F to 90°F the viability was about the same across the samples.  Because the bowls used to rehydrate the yeast were not sufficiently preheated the temperature dropped rather quickly back to ambient temperature.  For the warmest test case the small ramekin was moved to a larger bowl of hot water to bring the temperature back up.  The average temperature was calculated by integrating the temperature over time.

In the picture you can see there there is a fairly high density of yeast floating on the water.  This proved to be a problem.  As the yeast absorbs the water it gets a little heavier.  At some point it reaches a tipping point where it sinks beneath the surface of the water. 

Here's the interesting part.

The lowest viability was seen in the yeast that sank first, and the highest viability was in the container that sunk last. 

From these results it seems that using a container with a large surface area is important for hydrating yeast.  Sprinkling it on top of the wort in an ale pale looks like it could be a better option that using a glass.  If the 150 billion cells that are typically in a package isn't enough for your beer you'll need to propagate them first.  For propagating, hydrating the yeast in a shallow container (such as a large bowl or plastic food storage container) should work well.

Viability vs time the yeast floated
vertical axis is the viability as a percentage of live cells
horizontal is the time in minutes that the yeast floated

Four different test cases with different starting temperatures.
vertical axis is the temperature in °F
horizontal axis is the time in minutes

 Viability vs Temperature
vertical axis is viability in percent live cells
horizontal axis is the average temperature in °F


  1. Have you conducted any experiments where you periodically stirred the yeast? I wonder if that would normalize the results among those that clumped and sunk.

    1. That's something I have not tried while rehydrating yeast. Are you suggesting stirring in the dry yeast instead of allowing it to float, and periodically shaking it to keep it suspended in the water? If I do this experiment over I could add that into the mix.

    2. Not positive, but I think i remember reading directions that say something to the effect of "sprinkle the yeast into the water and let it rehydrate for x mins (maybe 30?) and then stir"

    3. Yes, That's pretty much what it says.

    4. What I meant was a way to keep the yeast from clumping together, rather keeping it spread out and ALSO not sinking. I'm not sure how to do this, but I wonder if constant stirring or whipping with a whisk periodically would produce different results.

    5. Interesting. I haven't tried that.