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We have some friends that live quite aways out in the country, and he's been "capturing" his yeast from their environment and making 100% wheat artesian bread. It looked absolutely marvelous when he panned it out of his oven. It was round, he had put knife cuts across top to make four lines, and it highly resembled peasant bread (?) I'm going to ask more questions from him as well as snooping around the web. Just wondering if any of you have ever heard of this, and what your technique is? Because...inquiring minds want to know! :feedme:

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I'd love to know how people do it. I was thinking about this the other day. The jars of yeast I buy don't have a super long shelf life, and I was thinking, gee what would we do in a :smiley_shitfan: when I'd inevitably run out of yeast. Somewhere not that long ago I read mention of people capturing their own yeast, but it didn't go in detail on how it's done, just that it's done.


I wonder too if the wild/captured yeast imparts any unique flavor to the bread?

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Thanks ladies! This sounds like something I'd want to know how to do in a crisis situation. I liked Annarchy's web link that produced the following info on several methods of yeast, including capturing wild yeast. I can almost hear the yum-yums starting now as you cooks start experimenting! LOL I've got a bag of wheat berries I think I'll grind down and give it a try myself!


1 cake of fresh yeast equals 1 envelope of dry yeast

1 package of dry yeast equals 1 scant tablespoon

1 package of yeast or 1 cake of fresh yeast will leaven about 4 cups of flour

Proofing - the testing of the yeast to make sure it is still active. This is done by dissolving the yeast in a warm liquid to which sugar or flour have been added. This mixture is then set aside for 5-10 minutes and should become foamy and bubbly.

Yeast Temperatures:

  • at less than 50°F (10°C) the yeast is inactive.
  • at 60°F - 70°F (15°C - 21°C) the yeast action is slow.
  • at 90°F - 100°F (32°C - 38°C) the yeast is at its optimum temperature for fermentation.
  • at greater than 104°F (40°C) the yeast action starts to slow.
  • at 138°F (58°C) the yeast is killed.

Wild Yeast

As an alternative to purchasing yeast cultures, you can capture a wild yeast right in your own backyard. You may discover a delicious and wonderful sourdough unknown to the world! You may also discover a bland or distasteful one. Either way, give this a try because it is fun and will add a little adventure to your baking. To capture wild yeast, place one cup of bread flour and one cup of water in a glass jar. Cover the jar with a fine mesh (a "knee-hi" stocking works well) to let air in but keep bugs out. Place the jar outside where it can receive some fresh air and some breezes. Let it set for three or four days. If it is cool outside ( 35F(2C) to 60F(16C) ) you will see very little or very low activity in your starter until you bring it indoors and warm it up. If it is less than 35 deg F, wait until warmer weather before trying to capture yeast. If the starter turns pink or dark grey in color, it has become moldy and you should discard it.If after warming for a few hours you see no activity, discard the mixture and start over. If there are some bubbles but they do not appear very active, discard the mixture because the yeast you have captured will not be strong enough to rise the bread. If you see lots of bubbles in the surface of the mixture, congratulations! Feed the yeast with another cup of flour / water mixture and let it ferment indoors for another 12 hours. After that, try an experimental loaf. Even though you may not live in a place famous for sourdough, you will be surprised how tasty native yeast can be.

From an old hand written book

Liquid Yeast
Boil one ounce of best hops (We grow our own, but you might be able to get fresh hops from an herb company.) in two quarts of water for thirty minutes; strain and let the liquid cool to warm. Put into crock or bowl. Add 4 tsp. each of salt and brown sugar, now beat up 2 cups of flour with part of liquid and add to remainder, mixing well together and set aside in warm place for three days. Then add 1 cup smooth mashed potatoes. Keep near the range in a warm place (great near a wood cookstove) and stir frequently until it is well fermented. Place in a sterilized, wide mouth jug or glass jar. Seal tightly and keep in a cool place for use. It should keep well for two months and be improved with age. Use same quantity as other yeast, but always shake the jar well before pouring out.

Dry Cake Yeast
To a quantity of liquid yeast add enough sifted flour to made a thick batter, stir 1 tsp salt and set to rise. When risen stir in sifted and dried cornmeal, enough to form a thick mush; set in warm place and let rise again, knead well and roll out on a board to about one-half inch thick and cut into cakes one and one-half inches squareor with a two-inch round cutter; dry slowly and throughly in warm oven. Keep in cool, dry place for use. Will keep thoroughly for six months. To use, dissolve one cake in 1 cup of lukewarm water. I try to make yeast when our hops are fresh and then I have yeast for part of the winter. I have never tried dried hops and not sure if it would work, but it might be worth a try!

Yeast Cultures

Method One

We kept our yeast culture in a gallon crock jar. When making bread, we used all the contents except about a cup. This gave us the `seed' to rebuild our culture. We did this by adding cool potato water, some mashed potatoes, a 1/4 cup of sugar and a cup of flour. We then gave it a stir, and set it in a warm place near the stove. When potatoes were cooked for dinner, we added the cooled potato water to the yeast culture. If all went well with our culture, the yeast was ready for the next bake day. If for some reason the yeast died, we carefully washed and sanitized the crock pot then went to the neighbor's place for another start.
Recipe from: Maud Shurtz

Method Two

When making bread, my mother pulled a piece of dough off maybe the size of a cup and threw it in the flour bin. The day before she made bread again she went to the bin and got the bread dough which was now large and flat and quite hard. She put this in a bowl of warm potato water with some sugar and let it sit in a warm place. The next day when Mother was making bread she poured the now frothy yeast culture into the bread makings.
(Note from the author: In trying this out, it worked fairly well unless it was left in the flour bin too long. I found that if I left it more than a week the yeast culture died.)
Recipe from: Rose Adamson

Method Three

Yeast Cakes

1 pint fresh buttermilk corn meal 1 cake of yeast 1/2 cup of white flour and more corn meal Bring the buttermilk to a boil then remove it from the stove. Stir and add corn meal until quite thick then cool. Soak yeast cake in warm water. Stir into above and let stand (rise) overnight. In the morning stir in the white flour and extra corn meal to make the dough very stiff. Roll out to thickness of boughten cakes and cut into squares and let dry. Use like store bought yeast cakes.
Recipe from: Bob Scott

Notes on Yeast and Yeast Cultures: Yeast requires warmth to grow Yeast goes dormant at 63°F (14°C) It works best between 80-95°F (24-35°C) Yeast slows down above this until it dies at about 109°F (46°C) Yeast cultures are fragile and are easily contaminated and killed by bacteria Keep all wooden or plastic spoons, and everything that is added to the pot as sterile as possible Do not use metal as your yeast culture pot (this includes the stirring utensil) - use a ceramic or plastic container Place a loose fitting lid on top to allow the carbon dioxide to escape Yeast changes sugar and simple starches into carbon dioxide and Ethel alcohol It is possible for the yeast to kill itself by the alcohol it produces. For bakers yeast this happens at about 12 percent alcohol content. To prevent this from happening you must keep an eye on it. When it stops frothing it is either out of food or is nearing it's toxicity level. Add more water and carbohydrates and if your crock is already full, dump some of it out. Final Note: Don't expect your yeast culture to act like dried high potency yeast. It will act much more like a sour dough recipe and may take several hours to raise.

Care And Storage Of Yeast

Yeast is a delicate, single celled organism that makes it easy to produce raised bread. Yeasts work well when they are in a temperature range of 85 to 115°F, depending upon the variety. Rapid rise yeasts prefer the higher temperatures. There is a simple procedure called "Proofing" which is a way to test whether yeast is good.* Yeasts digest sugar and produce alcohol and carbon dioxide gas (CO2). These are both natural products of the fermentation process. The alcohol contributes to the taste of bread and the carbon dioxide produces bubbles in the dough that make it expand and rise. All recipes are designed to balance the ingredients so that the desired character of the loaf is produced. In the unopened package, SAF Yeast has a shelf life of two years at room temperature. We have yeast that works perfectly after four years when cared for as described below. Yeast is damaged by water and moisture.

The following procedures are designed to keep yeast dry.
1. Select two air tight jars, one about four ounces and the other, one quart.
2. Be sure the jars are absolutely dry!
3. In a dry location, open the package of yeast and fill the small jar for storage in the refrigerator for frequent use.
4. Pour the remainder of the yeast into the large jar for storage in the freezer.
5. To use yeast from the refrigerator jar: open the jar, pour out the required amount of yeast, cover the jar and return it to the refrigerator as quickly as possible. Avoid dipping measuring spoons into the yeast; they may carry moisture.
6. To refill the refrigerator jar: remove the freezer jar and allow it to come to room temperature before opening. Notice that moisture will condense on the outside of the container. (If the jar were opened when it was frozen, moisture would condense into the yeast.) Dry the jar thoroughly. Open it when at room temperature and pour some yeast into the refrigerator jar. Tightly close both containers and return them to their storage locations.

How to Use SAF Instant French Yeast SAF Instant Yeast is a quality, high performance yeast, developed by the world's largest and oldest yeast manufacturer, S. I. Lesaffre, in France.
To bake bread in Automatic Bread Machines on the regular cycle or in ovens: Use 1/2 teaspoon SAF Instant Yeast per cup of flour.
To bake bread in Automatic Bread Machines on the quick cycle: Use 3/4 teaspoon SAF Instant Yeast per cup of flour. Adjust amount used to your taste.

* To proof yeast: Stir 1 tsp sugar into 1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°F.). Sprinkle 1 tsp yeast on the surface stir. In five minutes, mixture should foam. In 10 minutes there should be a fairly thick layer of foam.

Recipe By : SAF Yeast; Irwin Frankel


Boil a small handful of hops in a quart of water for half an hour. Pour it boiling upon a close sieve or colander upon three-quarters of a pound of white flour. Give it a stir and let it stand till new-milk-warm, then add a breakfast-cupful of wheat from the baker's; stir again and let it stand near the fire for twenty-four hours. A pint of this yeast makes twenty-one pounds of flour into bread.
By keeping a small quantity of this yeast in a bottle, to add to the new, one may be quite independent of baker's or brewer's yeast. This yeast will keep a * fortnight if either bottled or covered in a jar.
* fortnight: the space of fourteen nights and days; two weeks. Recipe From: Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, 1898

Baker's Yeast

Put 2 ounces of hops into a saucepan and pour over them one gallon of cold water. Bring the liquor to the boil and keep it boiling, stirring well for one hour. Strain it and mix with it two pounds of malt. Cover and leave it till it is the heat of new milk. Stir into it briskly half a pint of solid brewer's yeast, let it work for ten hours, strain through a seive and it will be ready to use.
Recipe From: Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery, 1898

Edited by Philbe
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You can put your bowl of dough outdoors and it will collect yeast. Some people put a small amount of yeast- say 1/4t in the dough to start with and some do not. I left mine out about 30 hours.I then had a mix that I shared. The longer you leave it out the sharper it will get. This will be the beginning of sourdough bread.

My yeast will not taste like yours most likely. But each area, maybe even property depending on what is growing near your dough will flavor it.

One thing for sure , the yeast is out there and buying from the store is not necessary.

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I'm being amazed that each "batch" could present a different tasting bread! To me that would indicate that it "might" depend on where you set your "catchers mitt" (LOL)? EX: Set it around certain types of trees, get one taste. Set it around a honey bee hive, get one taste. Set it inside, get still another. Very interesting!

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I don't think it was all that warm when I started mine. I just waited until it was bubbling good. Mine was very mild and my DD really liked it- she does not like sourdough- can't say I do either.

But no - on one of the penny pinching sites it said to put 1/4 t of yeast in your sponge. Set it in the laundry room or a warm room out of the way until doubled in bulk.

I have not done that- but I think , it may taste a little more yeasty. But my home grown yeast was not sour....


Be interesting to have a yeast exchange....................

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Actually I love sourdough but I grew up on it as its big in the California. Originally the pioneers used it, the gold miners loved it. Why? Because it was hard to buy yeast commercially as it had to be refrigerated for long term. making your own of course , this knowledge is passed down from those who did it themselves. I like the brick dry technique too. It would provide enough for quick times and winter time I bet, for me. It was easy enough for a guy who didnt really know how to cook other than over a campfire to make themselves when they wanted leavened bread and pancakes, flapjacks. It was easy for the woman travelling like that and settiing up a home with little than what they could carry. But its not really a whole wheat sort of bread is it? Ah well.... its enough to use as yeast starter and that is what counts. I don't mind a little tang in my bread if it comes down to it. Nice that it would rise.

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It has been a long time since have made "plain" bread. I want my bread to be nutritious

so it will have may oat flour, amaranth, , brown rice, sunflower seeds, or some other "goodness"

and it was made with the wild yeast, or rather the wild yeast was incorporated into my "good" sponge.

So now we have our yeast the you tube shows how to bake it in your own homemade oven!!

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Oh wow....that was so cool to watch. I was taking notes to put in my Receipt Book. [a "grab if you don't grab any other cookbook" small spiral notebook for Back to Basics feeding yourself]


Along with a key hole firepit and the volcano-type stove building [no tell-tale smoke in times of hiding], this is valuable olde skills.


Thanks Twilight! And thanks to Philbe for the info on yeast. Understanding the things you work with always helps.


I grabbed a FREE eBook recently [Pam's blog] on harvesting yeast. Haven't read it but have known about it thru pioneer studies. Haven't gotten around to DOing it yet tho. [ oops! ]


So are you saying you can harvest indoors too? In case of winter.... Well, I need to look at the ebook and find out, huh?


MtRider :pc_coffee:

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My DD says her BF mother uses sourdough in everything- cakes , cookies, pies?? I really like the first sourdough biscuits I made . I think it may be used for flavor but you can use it anyway you want. You can use the starter as the sole way of bread rising which may take hours or you can mix it an a prepackaged yeast mix.


I do like that little oven- not sure about the mud availability everywhere though.

Might have to cut bricks of sod or something - whatever is available where you are.

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Ummm... Have a care here. Yeasts can be dangerous. In fact, the process has several 'alerts' about toxicity. Use only tried and true. In fact, experimentation and/or 'wild harvesting' with such is now forbidden in many of our enclaves/communites.


If you are near an Amish/Mennonite/Hutterite/etc enclave/community, gently approach and ask some goodwives. There used to be swap meets where they would exchange 'fingers' of various sourdough cultures. I say 'used to be', as most such meets have been discontinued due to some rather over-hyped poisonings. But many goodwives keep the 'family culture', and will be happy to help you get a 'safe' one.


I keep three. One for cornbread. One for wheat/etc. And a christmas seasonal that I inherited.


(Ah memories! As a little girl I would go with my mother, and I would always get stuffed with baked fingers... YUM!)



of the Librum

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I have no idea...but to me it would seem logical that if a person left their "catchers mitt" sitting outside to long it could begin to grow other stuff? Even with regular commercial yeasts (or friendship yeasts) you can't just set them somewhere and forget them??? I don't mess with yeast too much, other than using the foil packets I buy.

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How do you know if you've captured unsafe beasties? In breads or in vinegars....


MtRider :scratchhead: -well, the vinegar sure didn't smell or look correct :(


You don't, until too late.


I have no idea...but to me it would seem logical that if a person left their "catchers mitt" sitting outside to long it could begin to grow other stuff? Even with regular commercial yeasts (or friendship yeasts) you can't just set them somewhere and forget them??? I don't mess with yeast too much, other than using the foil packets I buy.


The commercial packets are sold as dryed powders for a reason.


And thank you, I could not remember the English term 'friendship yeast'. These were distributed in dough fingers, wax paper wrapped (before the days of zip log bags)(foil often retarded the culture).


I still can not remember the so-called generic scientific name for a safe yeast. I hope it comes to me.


A good established yeast (good or bad) will fight off any new yeasts forming in/from the 'mother'. That is how the yeast manufacturers you buy the packets from control their raw product. Same with 'mother of vinegar', 'vingar' to me...


My advice, if you do not have access to established mothers, then buy.



of the Librum

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had established vinegar mothers and still caught wild yeastie beasties.... stinko!


If you have a mother of vinegar, do you have to let the bottle breathe or can you cork it up? :scratchhead:


Same with sourdough bread starters....


MtRider --- need more data on this self-replicating issue

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