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, is it a wise thing to do? Let’s find out!
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. Some large bread producers use the cream yeast in its current format but usually, it is further processed into different types of yeast:
Also known as baker’s 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.
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 additional enzymes so it can be added straight into the dough.
To release carbon dioxide gas the yeast has to be supplied with sugar. Fruits attract natural yeasts found in the air, so when they are mashed together with their natural sugar content, fermentation processes begin. It’s just like wine made from grapes. You can make yeast using many types of fruit. In this example I’m using raisins:
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:
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.
The fresh yeast will last up to 7 days. Just add it to a recipe in the same quantities as stated for fresh yeast.
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 at +25C(77°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 will bubble and grow in size. You should wait for at least 5 days before using it for bread, but you can continue feeding it whenever you want. It will get bigger with every feed, so it’s common to discard your starter before each feed.
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baking coach, head baker and bread-baking fanatic! My aim is to use science, techniques and 15 years of baking experience to help you become a better baker.
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