how to make yeast homemade

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!

Important!
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.

Yeast Water

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.

What’s next

  • 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.

About The Author

75 thoughts on “How to Make Yeast at Home”

  1. Dear Barbara
    I have been wanting the recipe for the ‘friendship yeast’. Is the potato or water yeast that you have similar or the same as the friendship yeast.
    I remember many years ago I was given a starter and it could be use as a drink or for making cakes or biscuits.
    My question is can your yeast be used for a drink as well as baking?

    Kind regards
    Rae

    1. I’m not sure but I think your friendship yeast might be sourdough? I don’t know about friendship yeast. My recipe should only be used in baking goods since you never know what else might grow in there and it should be dead after baking. Better don’t make a drink with it. If you are making beer, please use the yeast that is sold for that.
      You can make drinks with water kefir … very delicious!

  2. I have had trouble consistently creating a sourdough starter with only all-purpose flour.
    Turns out, this “yeast water” is perfect to jump start a sourdough starter. I followed the recipe above, and when the water settled down, I mixed 30 ml with 30 g all-purpose flour for the starter. The starter turned out lovely in no time at all.

  3. Barbara, this is a great idea. I do have one concern, and would like to get your opinion.

    I ferment a lot, and a major concern is to avoid growing mold or other unhealthy bacteria. Admittedly, here we are after alcoholic fermentation, and vegetables are fermented using primarily lacto-fermentation, but both are anaerobic processes. In any case, when I ferment vegetables, it is crucial to make sure that no part of the vegetable ever is above the liquid, to avoid areobic processes leading to the growth of undesireable organisms.

    I started your yeast water with raisins, due to not having dates around. I notice that they are floating on top, with their tops exposed. It is day 3, and so far everything looks good and smells absolutely wonderful. But I am concerned about the floating raisins. Do you do anything to keep your fruits submerged? A fermentation weight won’t work, obviously. When can I remove the fruit to avoid the risk of bacterial growth? In your experience, does this ever happen or am I needlessly concerned?

    1. I have never used raisins for this, I always use apricots and they only float at the end of the process. Mold is always a reasonable concern and if you see any sign of mold, you need to discard the yeast water. People in India, who contacted me, had difficulties making this recipe because of their climate and no air condition. So, yes, everybody needs to use their best judgment with the yeast water and there is always the possibility that something unwanted is growing. Nobody should try to drink this or eat the dough raw. After baking, it should be ok. If not necessary due to a yeast shortage like last year, I would always prefer store-bought yeast.

      1. My update: The yeast water turned out wonderful with raisins, and I also used it to create a starter, see related reply. I am also currently experimenting with using it as the yeast to start a Kvass (wine from red beets and bread). I decided to put the raisins into a tea infuser to keep them from floating to the top. That should totally eliminate the risk of aerobic bacteria infesting the raisins.

  4. MRS. S SCRANNAGE

    HI BARBARA,
    I’M LOOKING AT YOUR WATER YEAST RECIPE, AND WOULD LIKE TO TRY IT.
    I HAVE TRIED MANY TIMES TO MAKE SOURDOUGH STARTER AND HAVE FAILED. I THINK IT MAY BE TO DO WITH OUR WATER SUPPLY HERE IN THE U.K.
    EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE A FILTER ON THE TAP, APPARANTLY IT DOES NOT REMOVE THE FLOURIDE OR THE SMALL AMOUNT OF CHLORINE.
    DO YOU THINK USING BOTTLED SPRING WATER WOULD WORK OR IS THAT ALSO PROCESSED?
    BEST WISHES SIOUX

    1. Hi Sioux,
      I don’t know anything about the water in the UK, whether it is store bought or from the tab. But if you take your tab water and leave it in a jar overnight, the chlorine should have evaporated. I don’t know why you have been failing with sourdough in the past, I suggest to not give up. Please read my blogpost about sourdough and watch the video. Also, yeast water is not the same as sourdough. You’ll learn about that in the sourdough blog post. Good luck next time with yeastwater or/and sourdough!

  5. Hi there
    Thanks for this tutorial I’ll try it for now and I hope really it works . . but i think you forgot to write the step of adding the sugar and water to the date or fruit!
    Love it
    Hi..
    From à Muslim person

    1. The step you were missing is in step two of the “Mix the Yeast Water”. I hope this will work for you. In some regions, the climate seems to be too difficult to make this.
      Best,
      Barbara

  6. I just came across your blog. THANK YOU! I too, am one of the new sourdough bakers due to quarantine, and have been keeping away from commercial yeasts but I wanted to find something in addition to sourdough starter to add lift to bread. I will definitely be trying your two methods!

  7. Dear Barbara,
    I decided to give it a shot. On day 4, there was significant amount of bubbling. I waited for a few hours and the bubbling subsided. When I opened up, it smelled of vomit. In your opinion, is vomit smell considered bad smell that render the yeast water unsafe for usage? There was no mold growth though. Or should I wait for a few more days or add more fruits and sugar to encourage more fermentation and acid production?

    Thank you

    Regards,
    Moi

    1. Hi Moi,

      smelling like vomit doesn’t sound right. Since vomit usually smells sour, it seems that your yeast water has mostly created bacteria that produce lactic acid. It’s just a guess though. Your yeast water should smell like yeast, not like vomit. Make sure you work very clean with the water and the container. But if your fruit is contaminated with bacteria rather than having yeast on it, this might be difficult. Maybe try a packed fruit like raisins? Also, if the environment/climate benefits bacteria growth more than yeast, it might be difficult.

      Best,
      Barbara

  8. Hi Barbara,
    Thanks for sharing.
    I live in Singapore which is hot and humid. Would the natural yeasts making method still work? Or are there considerations or modifications that I should take note or make say the temperature or humidity or shorten the number of days to ferment?
    Another question is can I use dates or raisins that I have stored in the fridge for the purpose of making the yeasts?
    By the way, how do I know if bacteria is thriving instead of yeasts?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Moi,
      the climate can affect the process and a lot of people who tried it in India, had problems. It might be difficult in Singapore, too. It is hard to tell though if the climate or other factors played into it. Texas is hot and humid, too, but we have air condition everywhere. I would give it a try.
      You can use refrigerated fruits.
      If your water stinks or grows something on the surface, it is definitely not yeast. Please use your own best judgment and stay on the safe side if in doubt

      Best,
      Barbara

    2. I grow my all the time in fridge, here is too hot, Also I make yogurt in refrigerator, outside is too hot, and too humid and that helps bacteria to propagate very quickly.

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