You’ve likely already made several trips to the market recently and found that many items you’d like to purchase, things normally on your list, are just not available.
You’ve most definitely been encountered with the ‘check-out police’ who won’t allow you to buy more than 2 loaves of bread per week.
That’s all well and good unless you are a family with kids who eat sandwiches and rely on that bread for lunches, breakfasts, and even for snacks like cinnamon toast.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you just knew how to make your own yeast?
What Can I Use Instead of Yeast?
Obviously, two loaves of bread aren’t going to last a family for even a week. You are bright though; you thought that you’d just get some flour and some yeast and make your own bread.
That was until you realized that the yeast was nearly impossible to find because there are apparently a lot of other smart people out there! Flour can be hit and miss but you can find it if you look in smaller stores and skip the big box stores where everyone is congregating.
Most moms already had some flour in the house, so while you’re looking to fill your back-stock supply, we wanted to give you some tips and tricks to make your own wild yeast to help get you going.
In fact, you’ll likely enjoy it so much that you begin doing these tricks from now on. If you can follow basic baking instructions, you can definitely learn to make your own yeast culture and when you realize just how easy it is, you’ll be mad at yourself for ever paying for it to begin with.
How Do You Make Natural Yeast for Bread?
For simplicity, we’ll cover two main ways of making our own natural yeast.
There is one type of yeast starter that will produce a starter for sourdough that is out of this world. It’s easy and it tastes so delicious that store-purchased bread will just never be fully satisfying again. It’s a simple method that will yield more and more yeast as long as you care for your culture, which we’ll get into later.
The other method will produce yeast that can be used for many baking products. It can also be cared for and kept as a live yeast culture for as long as you wish. Your great grandmother likely baked all her own bread at home and she probably had a jar or bowl sitting in her kitchen that had a live yeast culture in it. Now you can too.
Sourdough Yeast Starter –
This is a very simple way to get the yeast started at home. All you need is fresh water that has no chlorine in it and a potato. You place the potato, uncut is fine, into a small saucepan and cover it just over the potato.
Bring it to a boil and cook the potato until it is very soft. Once the potato is perfect, remove it with a kitchen spoon and leave the water alone. Mash the potato until it is very creamy.
Now, add the potato back into the water you cooked it in. Mix it very well and pour the solution, which will be thickened now, into a jar or bowl.
Cover it with a simple piece of cloth or screen so that air can get to the starter but flies cannot. The starchy mix will begin growing yeast within a few hours. At the end of the first 24 hours, you should see bubbles beginning to form on the top of the mixture. This is yeast growing! It isn’t ready yet though.
It takes two full days of sitting for your culture to yield enough yeast for your bread baking. You’ll be able to use it as if you’d use store-bought yeast that you’d mixed with warm water to rehydrate.
When you finish using your culture, add more water to it and allow it to continue growing again for at least two days. You will always have yeast ready for sourdough bread as long as you add water back to it and you keep it covered from bugs.
Variations: Some people add a small spoonful of sugar to their mixture to ensure a sweeter bread. Sugar is also food for the yeast to enjoy as it grows.
These are all ways of how to make your own wild yeast.
Regular Flour Yeast Starter –
This is even more simple than the method above. That’s hard to imagine, but it really is that easy. All it takes is a cup of flour to a cup of water. Again, make sure you use water without chlorine in it.
Why? Because it will kill the yeast. Chlorine is an antibacterial and yeast is a good bacteria but will be killed by it.
In a bowl, combine your flour with water. Start with two cups of each so that you have plenty. Mix it together very thoroughly.
Once combined well, cover your flour yeast starter with a cloth, but not a lid. The starters must be exposed to the air in the room, the cloth is only for keeping flies away.
You’ll notice bubbles beginning to form after just a few hours. At the end of the first day, mix with a spoon and wait one more day.
Your yeast colony will be optimal for use at the end of the second day and you can begin using it for baking.
Remember to add back the same amount of water that you’ve poured off of it for your recipe and you can maintain this culture indefinitely as well. Keep the bugs out of it and you’ll always be ready to bake a fresh loaf of bread.
Things Your Great-Grandparents Knew
Grandparents knew that with flour and eggs alone, they could keep their family fed. This is why flour used to be purchased in fifty-pound sacks and everyone raised their own chickens.
Here are some things that your grandmother knew how to whip up for a meal as an example:
- Every type of pasta
- Roux to thicken gravies, stews, and soups.
- Drop biscuits
- Pie crust
- Pizza dough
- Dinner rolls
- Loaf bread
- Flour tortillas
- Cinnamon rolls
This is a condensed list of things to get your mind flowing. As you can see, if you’ve got flour, access to eggs, water, and some seasonings in your cupboards, your family will never go hungry. Some of these things can be made well ahead of time and stored in the freezer.
My grandmother was of Scandinavian descent and she used to make a roux, which is done by combining butter and flour in a skillet and slowly heating it as you stir it vigorously.
It will form a paste that you can leave on top of the stove or make small portions into a ball, wrap them in wax paper or cellophane, and place them in the freezer. The next time you make a stew or a gravy, just drop one of your pre-frozen roux balls into your broth and it will gradually thicken as your broth comes to a boil.
In times such as these, we are all faced with making changes to our routines. For all of us, this has impacted the way we cook because of what is available. This is a perfect time to go back to the basics and make dinner a success — or breakfast, or lunch.
How Do I Convert Fresh Yeast From Dry Yeast Recipes?
Dry yeast recipes will not tell you the right amount of fresh yeast to use in your recipes but you can make the conversions yourself.
Making your own dry yeast is very difficult and isn’t worth the equipment and time you’d need in order to do it properly. Using wild yeast cultures is a matter of some simple math. Here are the conversions for you.
To convert from fresh yeast to active dry yeast, multiply the fresh quantity by 0.4. Active dry yeast must be hydrated in warm water before being incorporated into a dough.
To convert from fresh yeast to instant dry yeast, multiply the fresh quantity by 0.33.
Putting It All Together For Successful Living
It’s very possible that this pandemic we are all living through is going to bring back some of the old ways. Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived through times of war that caused lifestyle changes. My own father was born at the end of the Great Depression.
Learning to make things and rely less on grocery stores and the food chain that we’ve all grown so accustomed to using is possibly a good thing? Learning to be more independent will help to ensure that your family is always able to eat.
This is a time when more and more are becoming gardeners again, learning to grow their own foods and some are even successfully growing their own animal feeds and grinding their own flour.
It is possible! In fact, it’s far more possible for use, with modern kitchen appliances than it ever was for our grandparents.
You’ve now learned how to make one gigantic staple in the home. If you can make bread, by learning to grow your own yeast culture, you can create meals that are more filling.
Growing up with my parents, who were both children during World War II, we always had bread on the table during supper.
This was something that they’d grown up with. It was meant to fill stomachs with less food. Bread was cheap and easy to make. Also, in those days, butter was easy to come by because many people had their own milk cow.
Just imagine that if you had some chickens, a milk cow, learned how to make your own bread, butter, grow all your own vegetables, and how to can all of your garden pickings, just how much money you could save each month!
Instead of two parents working and slaving to pay all the bills and groceries too, one could far more easily stay home and take care of all the food needs. People could raise their children again too.
Maybe something good can come of all this for everyone if we learn to think outside of the boxes we’ve grown accustomed to? Perhaps now is the time for us all to learn more about living off-grid or being more self-reliant so that we’re never caught off-guard like this again?
If you’re looking for more information on cultivating your own food, we suggest starting off with our beginner’s guide to starting your own garden, click on the link to see more.