Catching Wild Yeast

I was never a fan of sourdough bread, till I met my husband… he really likes it. So being the good wife I am, I gave it a second chance and you know what? I like it too! What I don’t like is buying it and why should I have to when I can make my own. The key to good sourdough bread is a good sourdough starter.

Yes you could go online and buy a starter but you don’t have to. Believe it or not, you have everything you need to make a sourdough starter right in your house. It is such an easy process too! So if you like a nice sourdough bread, then you have to make you own starter.

So how does one go about making a sourdough started? Well I am glad you asked! Go to your kitchen, get a large jar, some flour and some water….. Go on, I’ll wait…… I used distilled water because we are on city water and you know they have to put all kinds of microbe killing things in there and with sourdough you want, no you need microorganisms (aka bacteria and yeasts.) Whisk together 3 Tablespoons of water and 1/4 cup flour and put it in your jar. I covered my jar with cheesecloth so it could gather bacteria and yeast when I set it outside but not allow bugs and such in. I put mine outside because I really wanted to catch the wonderful wild yeasts that blow on the wind.

Now keep in mind, a sourdough starter is a living thing. You must care for it and feed it. Every morning and every night for 1 week, give it 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water whisked in and recover. Within 48 hours I already had bubbles! Obviously I caught some wild yeast when I set the starter outside. After a week of feeding your starter it will be ready to be stored in your refrigerator. (Feed it about once a week once it is in the fridge) When you are ready to bake, just take your starter out about 12 hours before hand, feed it 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water and it will be ready to use!

Now do not freak out if you get a brown liquid on your starter, this is called “hooch.” Do not throw your starter out if you get hooch! All it mean is you gave your stater too much water for the amount of flour you put in or you didn’t feed it often enough. It is harmless and you just pour it off. Sourdough is very resilient and will bounce back once you start feeding it properly again.

If your starter jar gets to full, you can either remove some and give it to a friend or better yet, get baking!!! There are so many wonderful recipes out there for sourdough breads. Making a sourdough starter is also a great experiment for kids. It not only teaches them about microorganisms, but it will teach them responsibility as they have to feed it just like a pet. And since it is a living thing, it is a pet so to speak. I realized this the other day when I posted on my Facebook page about making a starter and a reader responded with the tale of her family’s starter:

I have Herman living in my fridge. He’s been with me for 30 + years and was originally mailed from Fairbanks Alaska to my mother in law in Burbank Calif. by her sister. He’s a living thing so he needed a name. Herman just sounded good. He was feed very well for the trip to Calif. , put in a small glass jar that was packed in a coffee can packed in a cardboard box and mailed.

What a neat story!!!! So, what are you waiting for? Get busy and make a starter. Who know, you might make a new “friend!” Hmmmm Now what should I name mine……….

**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**

79 thoughts on “Catching Wild Yeast

  1. You make it sound like something I can do this time. I have ordered starters before and promptly killed them off. The bread was terrible and the starter died. So sad. I LOVE sourdough bread so I would love to be able to bake my own.

  2. I've always been too lazy to mess with starter, but this kind of inspires me. The fact that I could make my own again in just a bit with the method you described is a real encouragement. We travel so often that I would need a "babysitter" to take care of mine when I am gone! This way it seems like its not a huge hassle if I need to start over. Thanks for the post!

  3. This sounds so cool, I gotta try it! Never knew you could catch your own yeast!! I would love to have my own starter!! Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Just read Michael Pollan's book Cooked – he devotes a whole section to making sourdough bread – the simplest yet most fascinating thing. If you haven't read the book I would recommend it! Found you on Friday Link UP- thanks for sharing!

  5. just double checking because of a typo: when you are feeding the microfauna, do you also use 1/3 cup of water like you do before you bake? Or do you use 1 tablespoon? The way you have it written only says "1/3 water," and the original mix calls for 3 tablespoons, so not sure if you mean one third of original amt of water or if it's supposed to say "1/3 cup of H2O".

    1. *smacks forehead* It is cup. So sorry. This is what happens when you try to write with kids and critters running amuck! LOL Thank you for point that our and asking. I have corrected it ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I made sourdough bread years ago and had to quit because I gained so much weight! Warm sourdough bread and real butter is my weaknessโ€ฆbut you have inspired me to start againโ€ฆ.this weekโ€ฆโ€ฆgreat info and post!

  7. I'm definitely going to make one. Probably have to wait a couple weeks before I can set it outside, since I'm in Ohio. Thanks for the awesome instructions and inspiration! I've saving this under my "Prepper" folder. Lol

  8. OK, this is totally new to me. I had NO idea you could catch yeast! I think my kids would love this and my husband is a HUGE fan of sourdough bread. Pinning this for later! Thanks for linking up with Let's Get Real!

  9. Hi there Mindy, it's Kat from Simply Living Simply. So glad to see your post…and you were picked for the feature this week! Congratulations!! We loved learning all about wild yeast (and I may try it too!)! This is a great self-reliant tip to learn and have, just in case. Plus…what great bread and pancakes it makes! Don't forget to stop by and get your featured button! Thanks again, hope to see you this week.

  10. I have started your sourdough starter and am a little concerned I'm misreading something or totally skipping a part or I'm just plain doing something wrong. ๐Ÿ™‚ Last evening, I combined 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of water. It formed a weak ball of dough. This morning I added 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour. It again is a dough … there is no "whisking" to this at all. ha A whisk could not stir this. It is supposed to be a dough or am I doing something wrong? Thank you for help!

    1. I'm using 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons distilled water. It's about 72 degrees F (I have a thermometer in the location of the bowl). I've read others that say 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water to begin with. I think I'll try that one. There is just not enough water with 1/4 cup flour and only 3 T of water.

      Thank you for the post, though. It did pique my interest enough to want to give it a try!

      Wishing you a wonderful day.

    2. Well I am glad I pique your interest and as with any project, doing, researching and trying again if it fails is all part of the fun of trying! I wish you luck. Let me know how it goes ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I have some starter in what is now a powder (granules, Looks kinda like cornmeal) in the freezer where I was told to keep it until ready to use. But then what? How do I go about using it? This has been brought over from Germany and I don't want to ruin it.

    1. Wow, ummm….. I would try making up the base (water and flour) and then add just a little into it. If it is still alive, the yeast will "wake up" and get to work. It may take longer to see bubbles, but if it does bubble, you are good to go!

  12. I've been getting into fermentation a lot more lately, and I think it's just amazing how easy it is to do something so complicated. (Well, actually the micro-organisms do all the work!) Thanks for stopping by and sharing this on Five Friday Finds! I'm looking forward to what you share this week. ๐Ÿ™‚

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