Do you want to spice up your baking bread skills by taking a break from store-bought yeast? How about growing your own yeast for bread? Within a week, you could be using your home-fermented yeast culture to make your bread! So what do you think?
How is yeast made commercially?
Baker’s yeast is commercially made by the fermentation of sugar-rich sources. Previously grain was used, but molasses is the most common solution today. A yeast cell is a microscopic fungus, a single-celled mass of protoplasm. They are grown and multiplied inside large tanks by budding- in a similar manner to bacteria. Once the yeast fills the tanks, it’s harvested through centrifugation. This produces an off-white liquid known as cream yeast.
Large scale bread producers use the cream yeast in its current format but usually, it is further processed into several different types of yeast:
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Also known as bakers yeast as it is primarily used in small to medium-sized bakeries. It’s a soft, beige, and solid block that contains 82% water. This yeast has limited storage properties.
Active dry yeast
The most common form of yeast at home as it has a long shelf life. You need to proof in warm water for it to become an active yeast again. As you mix it with water, it will dissolve and activate faster.
Similar to active dry yeast, but contains different enzymes meaning it can be added straight into the dough.
How to make Raisin / Fruit Yeast
Fruits attract natural yeasts found in the air, so when it’s mashed together with its sugar content, it starts a fermentation process. It’s just like wine made from grapes. You can make yeast using many types of fruit. In this example I’m using raisins:
- Put 3-4 tablespoons of raisins (not washed or waxed) in your jar.
- Fill a 24oz (or larger) jar with water 3/4 full. Cover it with the lid lightly so a small amount of air can escape.
- Let it sit at constant temperature. A cold place might slow down the yeast, so it’s best to keep warm.
- Stir it at least once a day, for 3-4 days.
- When the top portion fills with bubbles and smells like wine, your fermentation is good. You should also find the raisins float.
How to make yeast from potatoes
Potatoes are rich in starch which can be broken down like flour in order to feed the yeast. This means it’s possible to cultivate yeast in potato water. Follow these steps to make yeast from potatoes:
- Lightly scrub your potato. Remove most of the dirt, but don’t put too much pressure on it.
- Cut it into smaller pieces, then boil it until it’s cooked through.
- Once it’s ready, drain it, but don’t throw away the water.
- Mash the cooked potato and add some sugar and salt.
- Let your mixture cool down and wait for it to be at room temperature.
- Once it’s reached room temperature, add the saved and now warm water. Do it until the mixture is an equivalent of 1 quart.
- Cover it lightly and place it at room temperature.
- Let it ferment for 4-5 days. Once you see a large colony of bubbles, you have yeast.
How to make fresh yeast from dry yeast
To make fresh yeast out of your dry yeast, you’re going to need a little patience and strong arms! This process doesn’t make 100% real fresh yeast, but it works just as well.
- In a mixing bowl, put 5 grams of dry yeast.
- Follow with 30 grams of room temperature water.
- Add in 60 grams of low protein flour (Italian 00 flour works well here)
- Mix the ingredients well, expect it to be a very dry dough.
- The next step is where you need some muscle time. Get the dough-like mixture and knead it for around 10 minutes.
- You should stop kneading once you can break it apart cleanly.
- After kneading, put it in a small container, just big enough for it to fit.
- Cover it securely with plastic wrap. Make sure there’s no way air can pass through.
- Put it inside the fridge, and after 24 hrs you will have fresh yeast.
The fresh yeast will last up to 7 days. Just add it to a recipe in the same quantities as stated for fresh yeast.
How to grow your own sourdough yeast for bread
Growing your own yeast to make sourdough bread isn’t really that complex. All you just need is flour and water. Well, of course, a container that you’re going to put them into. It should be a nonreactive material like a glass bowl or mason jar that you can cover afterwards.
In your container, combine 1 cup of flour (this can be whole grain, all-purpose, or a mix of both) with 1/2 cup of cool water. Cover it with a plastic wrap or lid and leave it in a warm place (70°F to 75°F) for 24 hours.
After that, feed it with 1 cup of flour and a half cup of water every day. As it’s alive, it’s going to bubble and grow in size. You should wait for at least 5 days before using it for bread, but you can continue feeding it until whenever you want. It will get bigger with every feed, so it’s common to discard your starter before feeding.