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Can I make My own Yeast Nutrient Substitute?

can i make my own yeast nutrient

There is no beer without yeast, and so it’s important that when homebrewing you keep your yeast happy and healthy. Stressed yeast, after all, can lead to many unwanted side-effects – they can take longer to metabolise sugar into alcohol, reproduce slowly, and even die, leading to unpleasant build-ups of dead yeast that can ruin your batch completely. 

One very effective way of ensuring that your yeast is happy and healthy is by adding a yeast nutrient to the mix. Which leads us to the question… 

can i make my own yeast nutrient substitute

What is a Yeast nutrient?

A yeast nutrient is like a multi-vitamin for your yeast – it’s not going to turn them into Captain America, but it will keep them hale and hearty and ensure rapid growth and sugar metabolisation. A good nutrient gives your yeast everything they need to survive, ferment your brew and multiply. 

Yeast nutrients contain a veritable cornucopia of ingredients designed to nurture yeast as best as possible: diammonium phosphate, amino acids, zinc, a plethora of vitamins and minerals and even ‘yeast ghosts’ (the empty ‘skeletons’ of dead yeast cells) may all be included in a yeast nutrient supplement, and all contribute to getting the best from your yeast. 

You can buy yeast nutrient online or from a specialised shop, but let’s face it – where’s the fun in that? You’re likely not into homebrewing because you like having things handed to you on a platter – you’re in because you like a good DIY challenge. That said, you’re probably wondering…

Are there any Natural Substitutes for Yeast nutrients? 

There certainly are! There are a number of recipes out there for homemade yeast nutrients, and some are more comprehensive than others. Let’s take a look at some of the options on the table. 

Can I use Lemon juice as a yeast nutrient?

Can I use Lemon juice as a yeast nutrient?

Frequently used pre-WW2 as a yeast nutrient, lemon juice has fallen out of favour in modern times as people opt for more complex multi-nutrient mixes. Nevertheless, the citric acid present in lemons (and other citrus fruits) may be of some help to yeast fermentation – but you’ll likely have better luck with something a bit more complex. 

Can you use Raisins as Yeast nutrient? 

Short answer: no. Raisins are not suitable as a yeast nutrient, despite a persistent myth in mead-brewing circles suggesting otherwise. The reason for this is that raisins are low in something called ‘YAN’ – yeast-assimilable nitrogen – and so can be safely discounted when considering suitable homemade substitutes for yeast nutrients. 

Can I use Dead Yeast as a yeast nutrient? 

You certainly can – and dead yeast is, in fact, one of the best simple yeast nutrients you can use. Yeast is highly cannibalistic and will cheerfully eat its own, so feel free to save old, dead yeast to dump into future brews! 

What other Simple alternatives can I use to add nutrients to my yeast?

There are several quick and dirty options for adding nutrients: tomato paste (one small can per 20 litres) can do the trick, as can Marmite (which, as you probably know, is a yeast extract) or vitamin B supplements. You can even add lawn fertiliser(!) to give your yeast a quick boost of nitrates and phosphates. 

Can I make my own Yeast with other substitutes

Can I make my own Yeast nutrient substitute? 

Absolutely, and it’s not particularly difficult. It’s important to make sure that your yeast gets everything it needs in order to keep growing, so the more comprehensive your yeast nutrient mix, the better! 

In order to make your own, you should prepare: 

  • 40g of di-ammonium phosphate (commonly abbreviated to ‘DAP’); 
  • 1g of potassium tartrate; 
  • 2g of thiamine (vitamin B1); 
  • 745g of ammonium sulphate; 
  • 10g of bentonite. 

[Source: Distillique

This will result in about 800g of nutrient supplement; you only need to add about 5g per 20L of brew, so be careful not to overdo it! 

You may also wish to prepare a so-called ‘yeast bomb’, which will promote rapid growth and quicken your fermentation process: 

  • 1 gallon water; 
  • A quarter cup of baker’s yeast;
  • 5 teaspoons of agricultural fertiliser; 
  • A quarter teaspoon of Epsom’s salt;
  • 2 crushed vitamin-B capsules. 

Boil everything together for about 15 minutes and add the mixture to your wort. This contains a lot of dead yeast, which – as previously mentioned – is a fantastic nutrient for yeast. 

Do I always need to use yeast nutrient? 

It depends on the beer you’re brewing. In an all-malt wort, it’s not necessary to add a nutrient because your yeast is already getting everything it needs from its high-malt environment. If, on the other hand, you’re brewing a rice- or corn-based beer (or any other sugar source that isn’t malt, basically) then yes, you probably need to use yeast nutrient in order to make sure your yeast gets what it needs. 

nce between Yeast nutrients and Yeast energiser

Is there any difference between Yeast nutrients and Yeast energiser? 

You may come across these two different terms whilst doing your own research, and they can be a bit confusing, often used interchangeably as they are. So, is there any difference between the two? 

Basically, a yeast energiser is something used to get a stalled brew going again, for instance if your yeast has become stressed and sluggish and is reluctant to reproduce. In this case, an energiser (like the ‘yeast bomb’ detailed above) may be just the thing you need to get your brew back on track. The key difference? An energiser uses plenty of dead yeast, whereas a yeast nutrient doesn’t necessarily do so. 

Will yeast nutrients change the flavour of my beer? 

Basically, yes. However, it may be such a subtle change, that you might not even notice it. The zinc in some yeast nutrients stimulate the development of something called ‘esters’, which are fruit- or flower-based aromas. Again, these can be extremely subtle, so you might not even notice them. 

Conclusion 

Whether you opt to use a yeast nutrient or not (and as we’ve said, it’s a good idea if you’re brewing anything other than a pure malt beer), it’s a good idea to look into your options, and we hope this article has provided plenty of those. Good luck and may your yeast long feast upon the corpses of its fallen! 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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