Yeast is sold out at many places since it seems that everyone decided to bake their own bread during the corona quarantine. But don’t worry, I will show and explain to you, how to make yeast at home with a few simple ingredients … and it’s not sourdough!
Yeast and Sourdough are not the same!
Weirdly, some people started to call sourdough “wild yeast”, nowadays but that is mostly incorrect. I think it is a mistake to mix these two things up. Although sourdough always also contains some wild yeast, it is mainly a fermented mix from flour and water where lactic acid bacteria are finding a home. You can read all about that in this post about Sourdough and learn about the benefits and uses of sourdough.
Harvest the Yeast Around You!
You’ve heard it: Yeast is everywhere in the air. Now you just need to capture it in a medium and cultivate it. That is actually pretty easy if you can manage to keep the growth of bacteria out. This means, working very clean is key.
I will explain two different ways of making yeast, though I have so far only tried one way myself and the other version is the result of some research. What you will not have – and I just mention that so you will not be disappointed – is a nice cube of fresh yeast as some are fortunate to buy at bakeries or even groceries. However, your homemade yeast will be working just as fine!
You can’t control the growth of your wild yeast and there is a chance that with the yeast, some harmful bacteria are growing, too.
If you are pregnant or your immune system is compromised in any way, you should not use homemade yeast.
This is the method that I have tried and it worked perfectly.
- 500 ml of filtered water
- 1 – 2 Dates without sulfur or instead some raisins, fresh apple pieces, or other pieces of fresh fruits or veggies (not banana though!) that are organic and unwashed
- 1 Tsp. Sugar or Honey
- Clean glass Container, Jar or bottle
- Lose lid
Mix the Yeast Water
- Clean the jar with hot soda water (1 tsp. soda on 1 l / 4 Cups hot water) and rinse it with hot water.
- Put the date (or alternative) into the bottle / jar, add the sugar and the water. If necessary, cut the product into smaller pieces to fit into the bottle or jar.
- Close the lid but don’t fasten it all the way, let it a little loose so gas can escape.
- Put the jar at a warm place but away from sunlight.
- Leave the jar there for 3 to 8 days while once a day you open the lid for a minutes to exchange air and release pressure from it and then close the lid, shake the bottle well to get the oxygen into the water. Then untighten the lid again.
- After 2 to 3 days there will be bubbles.
- In the next phase, the water will become cloudy and the number of bubbles increases.
- When the bubbles decrease, the yeast water is ready to be used. The water should smell slightly fermented but not like young wine or any kind of unpleasant. If you shake the water, more bubbles should appear.
How to use it
- Take the Yeast water out of the fridge sometime before baking bread and let it reach room temperature.
- You will need slightly more than ½ cup or 100 ml to 135 ml for 500g flour. This will equal 1 package of dried yeast.
- Before using the yeast, shake the jar since the yeast will usually be at the bottom.
- For your bread recipe, reduce the amount of liquid by the liquid you are adding with the yeast water. Example: Your recipe asks for 200 ml of water. You are using 135 ml of yeast water so you only add the remaining 65 ml of water to the dough.
- Be prepared to give your dough more time to proof than usual. The additional time depends on the strength of your yeast water.
How to store Yeast Water
Your yeast water will be good for up to 2 months in the fridge. When you are using the yeast water, try to keep 200 ml and refresh it with a new date, a tsp. of sugar and additional 300 ml of water. Let stand in a shady, warm place for two to three days and either use it or store in the fridge if the previously described characteristics can be observed.
Make Yeast from Potatoes (Grandma’s Yeast Recipe)
- 1 potato (medium size)
- 1 l water (= 4 cups)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
How to make it
- Boil the potato in the water until it is soft.
- Remove the potato from the water but keep the potato water for later.
- Mash the potato and add the sugar and the salt to it. Mix well.
- Now add some of the cooled potato water to create a paste and mix well.
- Cover with some fabric and set aside to shady area of your kitchen.
- After some days it should be bubbling. If it stinks badly, discard it, this means it has gone bad.
How to use it
Use 1 tbsp. of this yeast instead of 1 tbsp. (= 1 package) of dry yeast.
Store and Refresh it
Store your potato yeast in the fridge.
If you want to multiply your potato yeast, add some flour and a little sugar and water to feed it. Mix well and let stand at room temperature for 2 – 3 days again, then use or refrigerate.
Other Methods to make Yeast
I stumbled across other methods of homemade yeast but they involve ingredients like hop buds and are rather complicated. Why complicated, when easy will do? I like to keep it simple and efficient, that’s why I stick to these two methods. None of the methods I found, will provide you with something similar to store-bought fresh yeast.
Three More Tips
If you still have some dried yeast (doesn’t matter what kind), and are just about to run out of it, then you can use some of that yeast in your yeast water to speed things a little up.
If you are new to making yeast water, start with making two to three batches. If one or even two go bad, you might still have a third batch that worked out. Remember: Working with clean tools is important.
If your homemade yeast is moldy or stinks badly, discard it.