Yeast is one essential product for food preparation, you need it to make bread rise and to make alcohol.
Even if you do not drink, you need alcohol to make vinegar)
Yeast is generally store-bought, but if you run out you will need to be able to capture your own wild yeast.
Besides the resiliency aspects of being able to start collecting yeast, there are some culinary reasons for capturing your own.
Different yeasts flavor your food differently, and if you capture your own you can control these flavorings to some extent.
To collect yeast you will need some plastic wrap and a clean non-reactive bowl (glass works best, but plastic is okay)
Procedure: (this is a multi-day process)
- Mix flour with water.
- Mix with a wooden spoon and add enough water until the mix is a thick batter.
- Keep it covered with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 3 days.
- Three days later check your flour and water mixture for any activity.
- If there is a pool of water on the top of the flour mixture, dump or some out and mix the flour and water together. You should see small bubbles and smell a sour smell. If you don’t observe these things, let your mix sit for a day or two more.
- Within 5 days bubbles should be formed and the mix should be smelling sweeter, (like very ripe fruit). At this point, the starter is active.
If you have observed these things your fermented mixture contains yeasts and is ready to begin being “fed” regularly (daily)
To feed it:
- Discard a little more than half of the mix (or separate it to give away or use) and mix in equal proportion of water and flour.
- The starter should begin to bubble after feeding (it may take a couple hours), this means the yeast is active and feeding.
- Repeat this process everyday or every other day (don’t neglect this for a long period or your yeast will die – you can cheat a little and put it in the fridge which will slow the yeast down and make it last longer between feedings)
You can use this in baking just as you would use other types of store-bought yeast