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How To Easily Make Your Own Yeast, From Scratch

yeast -- amuseinmykitchenDOTcomKnowing how to replace the staples in the kitchen in some other way than a trip to the store is an important survival skill. One of those things is bread.

The first step to making bread is taking the time to learn to bake, which, unfortunately, is becoming a lost art in and of itself. The second step is to learn how to obtain the components of bread, such as flour, water, and yeast.

If you are ready to go beyond the basic sourdough starter, try these yeast procurement methods for all new flavors and textures in your baking.

Feeding the Starter

Whether you are talking about a standard sourdough starter, or one of those listed below, you will see many recipes talking about “feeding” the starter. This means adding 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to the mix so that the yeast can keep growing. You will need to feed the starter daily if it is at room temperature, or weekly if it is in the fridge. If you don’t bake bread that day, you will also need to toss out one cup of the starter so that the ratios stay the same. This is an important step—and can be a great motivator to bake regularly so that none of your hard work goes to waste! Yeast starters are one thing you will not want to throw in the compost pile, as the bacteria can grow out of control and give you a very unpleasant result.

Grape Starter

Grapes, along with many other types of fruits (including apples, oranges, and grapefruit, to name some examples), contain natural yeast spores in the skin or peel of the fruit.

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For grapes, stem them (do not wash them, as this will wash off the yeast that you are trying to grow), crush by hand, and place in a container covered with cheesecloth. Leave undisturbed for three days. You should start to see the liquid bubble, indicating that the yeast is growing. Strain the liquid (which now contains the yeast), and stir in 1 cup of whole wheat flour.

Leave your grape starter at room temperature for 24 hours. Save only one cup of the mixture, then add another cup of flour and a cup of water. Do the same thing for another day or two. You should have a very bubbly starter at this point. After this, just keep feeding it so you will always have some ready for your next loaf of bread.

As you experiment with different fruits (and even tomatoes!) you will find that each kind of starter has a bit of a different flavor. Find which ones you like best. Just remember, you need to use homegrown or wild fruits, since the store-bought ones will be covered with pesticides, wax, and who knows what else—probably not much yeast left to be found there. And don’t wash it off before starting.

Potato Starter

It is amazing the things that we throw away that are more useful than we know. In this case, that water you boiled potatoes in for dinner is one of the fastest ways to make a starter for your bread. Simply take a cup and a half of the potato water, add a tablespoon of sugar, and stir in flour until stiff. Cover and leave overnight in a warm place. If it is nice and bubbly the next morning it is ready to use. If not—start over.

Alternatively, if you do not usually boil your potatoes, or just want to try something different, cheat a little. Use one packet of store bought yeast (1 tablespoon), mix with a cup of water, a half-cup of sugar, and three tablespoons of instant potato flakes. Let it stand for 24 hours, then put it in the fridge. Feed every four days, but instead of the usual flour and water combo, use the same amounts of sugar, potato flakes, and water that you used to create the starter.

Drying Your Yeast for Storage

One practical challenge with creating and using your own yeast is storing and transporting it. We see this in one very practical example, when Israel left Egypt in a hurry during the Exodus, and did not have time for their bread to rise. Jews to this day commemorate God’s deliverance by abstaining from products with leavening during Passover.

If you want to be able to bake bread the instant you arrive at your bug-out location (if you ever need to take your own personal Exodus), then you will want to dry some yeast for use later.

Take any of your starters, spread very thin on a cookie sheet or baking stone, then dehydrate as you would anything else. If you live in a hot and dry climate, you may just be able to cover it with a cheese cloth and place in the sun. Otherwise, put on the lowest temp in your oven and dry it that way. Once the yeast is dry (not cooked, if it cooks the active yeast will be killed and rendered useless), you can crumble it and store in an air tight container. Just like store-bought yeast, it will last longer in the fridge or freezer.

Play around with amounts you use in recipes once the yeast is ready, as the potency of homemade yeast will be a little different than the store-bought version and you will probably need more of it for the same amount of bread (typically about a cup of starter in place of 1 packet of yeast, if using wet starter. If you’re using dry yeast, try just doubling the amount to start).

What you lose in time, you may find you make up for in flavor and fun. There is nothing quite like the smell of fresh baked bread to make you feel at home.

Editor’s Note: This article is included in the newly released offering from Off the Grid News, The Big Book of Off the Grid Secrets. This is one reference book you will definitely want to keep handy! You can find this latest book at offthegridsecrets.com.

© Off the Grid News

© Copyright Off The Grid News

82 comments

  1. I make bread a lot and know what you mean about the smell of a fresh loaf baking in the oven mmmm. This is such an awesome post I’m so excited to try it!! I actually feel very dumb when I read things like this because it makes you realise how dumbed down we are to think ‘I could never make yeast’ but there it is I can!! Knowledge is power and I feel like I can really start living how I really want to. Next is flour… got any articles on that?? Thanks again =D

    • Hello all, there are many more ways to yeast up your bread, if you look up yeast (wild) you will find that you can also use the white powder from the quaking aspen, it is on the the bark/ skin. there are many more and they say that they bring differnet flavors to the bread. i look forward to trying many different sources of yeast and will try to keep ypu apprised of how things turn out.
      Kerry

    • Sally,

      An investment in a Lee Household Flour Mill would be the best purchase you could make for home baking. I have baked fresh whole wheat bread for years and we love it. There is nothing equal to fresh ground organic whole wheat flour. Once grain is cracked open the natural oils starts to turn rancid. The only way you can guarantee fresh flour is to grind it yourself.Check out the flour mills on line. You can purchase organic hard wheat for bread in health food stores. I now pay about $85 for a 50 pound bag from Arrowhead Mills at my health food store. If you have any questions, email me at [email protected].

      Anna

      • IF YOU HAD TO …. YOU COULD MAKE MILL STONES FROM REGULAR CEMENT
        1 DONUT MILL AND A RECESSED BASE WITH A FLOUR EXIT SPOUT
        ALSO A WAY TO TURN IT ….. HUMAN OR DONKEY POWER OR WATER OR ……
        ELECTRICITY !!!

        WHEAT IS FUN TO GROW SAVE SOME OF YOUR SOFT OR HARD GRAIN
        [SPRING OR FALL CROP] AND PLANT IT ABOUT 1″ DEEP OR LESS CHASE THE BIRDS OFF KEEP MOIST BUT NOT WET 3 TO FOUR MONTHS …WOW!

        CHECK YOUTUBE ON GROWING AND HARVESTING WHEAT

      • There are many good flour mills on the market, including on eBay. I buy organic grains from Azure Standard co-op, which has very reasonable prices over much of the country

    • Sally,

      Get Linda Runyon’s book, The Essential Wild Food Survival Guide from her website, http://www.ofthefield.com.
      In it she shows you how to harvest many wild plants for making flour for breads and muffins.

  2. This is an old civil war starter; 1cup flour,1cup water,2tsp. honey put in mason jar do not tighten lid! store in cool dark space take out every day secure lid shake well loosen lid ready in 7 days. you may also use a sliced potato [it will turn black] to feed the mother add 1cup of flour ect.. for every cup you use.

    • Potato is in both the original article and Mary’s “Civil War” recipe.
      How much potato?

    • Sally, you’re too ceevlr! I’ve been trying to find a way to put printable recipes on my blog, and I think you’ve nailed it! Thank you!

  3. The potatoe starter is also th e way to begin “Salt Rising Bread. The old Vandcamps backery used to sell that in Pasadena, CA.

  4. Thank you for this great post please give us more of this kind of info..

  5. In your Grape Yeast Recipe, you indicate that one is supposed to use fresh raw grape juice, and add to it one Cup of Whole Wheat flour. How much grape juice should we start with?

  6. What damage will discarding the excess into the compost do?

  7. Thank you for this info on yeast……I do make bread…..now, I will try making the yeast. Are you speaking of red or green grapes?……The potato starch sounds good too.

  8. I too welcome this information and will start today! I’m new to many of the ideas found in these articles, but am learning so much. Please, let me echo, more articles such as this one. We all need to accept the reality that our beloved America is truly in crisis. If we plan ahead and follow such advise as above, however, we will be able to survive.

    Thanks again, Valentine.

  9. If you have a sluggish sourdough starter, you can use a potato ( fresh or leftover baked potato– whole or a piece) dropped in it to rev it up.

  10. Geez, what great information….I am a baker (not commerical) and remember my grandmother who taught me to bake made her yeast. She had a great disdain for commerical yeast and mostly anything you could not make, shoot or kill and grow to place in our bodies. She never taught me to make yeast but i always remember how she would place a mason jar on the counter, get out a huge basin (usually for washing dishes, but she taught me how to sanitize it and use it to make a whole summary of baked goodies) and she would take the whey/buttermilk out of the jar where she had made butter (that was my job) and poured it into the basin added her yeast a lot of it and then started adding her flour and soon you could smell and dream of what was to come. Thanks for this information it is great!

  11. There was also a similar posting about yeast and fermentation posted a couple weeks ago. I was inspired and started my own sourdough starter the next day. It really works and makes great bread (albeit it takes over a week to get the starter going and over twenty four hours for the dough to rise properly). Baking bread with a homemade starter takes time, planning and fore-thought, but it’s worthwhile. Thank you OTGN for recovering a lost art for us!

  12. We have a sour dough starter that is over 30 yrs old! Just keep feeding it and it is as good as when we got the starter from a friend who had it for about 20 yrs.
    Good article, have to try some of those fruit yeasts.
    Anybody have the know how to bake this stuff in a bread machine. Got one for a gift and only have recipes for regular yeast.

    • Go to http://www.sourdoughbreads.com and click on the “Recipes” link. There are two recipes for bread machines.

    • I make sourdough bread in my 1 1/2 lb. loaf bread maker. After you have completed the mixing of the ingredients just put the dough in the bread maker. It will go through all the cycles of kneading and rising. Even though it gets kneaded an extra time it does not seem to affect the texture of the bread. Try it out! It’s just as good as going through the manual mixing and kneading yourself!

    • Yeast starter can be kept going indefinitely. There are balsamic vinegar yeast batches in Italy which are cultured like sourdough yeast batches that have been going in unbroken lines since the Roman Empire. I’ll have to try this.

  13. These are excellent points about when you run out of your own yeast and how to continue with what nature gave us. Now that we have that, how do we intend to bake the bread with no electricity? Are there emergency type ovens that don’t cost a fortune?

    • Try http://www.sunoven.com or do a web-search on “solar oven”

    • dontfencemein1979

      You can bake bread in a dutch oven just the same- only you get round loaves.

    • here is a good one but it is expensive. I think even if you only have some basic skills or know-how you could make your own version of one of these. the sun ovens listed above are great, but what about if there is no power (EMP, or whatever other reason) and there is no sunlight- cooking might be needed in different seasons, so try also to think of another alternative.

      check it out. it uses wood, charcoal or even propane if you want to hook it up to one.
      http://www.crisiscooker.com/

    • Use a Dutch Oven ~ the type with legs and a lid that you put coals on (it sits down into the lower pan). Go online to any Dutch Oven Cookery site and they will tell you how many coals = inside temperature. You will have to put the bread in a round dish instead of a rectangular pan ~ unless your Dutch Oven is one of the HUGE ones. Make sure you set the dish the bread is in on top of some old canning rings – it will keep the bread bottom from burning and allow air to circulate around bread for even baking. Have done this when camping and the smell draws people from all around! LOL

      If you have a woodstove, you can buy an oven that sits on top of it. I have even seen some that go on the stovepipe; the pipe is cut and the oven inserted. The hot air from the stove goes around the oven (between the walls of the oven) and then up the pipe. Somehow, with that, I envision a real mess trying to clear out any creosote buildup! And I think it would be hard to control the temperature. Any one out there have experience with this type??

    • Another non-oven bread option is the English muffin technique: the bread is cooked in small batches by cooking on a griddle slowly. This is one bread that I have not made yet, but plan on trying.

      • English muffins are the easiest bread I’ve ever made; you should definitely try it. I love that you don’t need an oven and an hour of baking to make them, just a frying pan and a little heat. You’d think they’d be complicated somehow, but they’re really fast.

    • Bread can also be baked in a covered dutch oven both in a fire, covered with coals and ashes, and on the stovetop… I’ve baked blueberry cobbler and cornbread in a dutch oven on a propane campstove when we were without power due to a hurricane. We were living in Hawaii at the time and it was Thanksgiving so the neighbors all gathered their turkeys and other meats and cooked them in an imu… underground pit. Think luau, kalua pig. Sooo yummy.

    • Look up “mud oven”, for how to easily duplicate how it was once done

  14. I’m baking a loaf of quick bread in my solar oven right now. 🙂 http://www.solarcookers.org has lots of great info.

  15. love to learn new, have been baking bread now over a year, i m a old guy , just got some great tips on king authur web site go into professal baking and watch videos on bread making , i learned to make the dough a little shaggy makes for a better tasting and texture in bread , have tested it with last batch i usually make 4 loaves at a time , now i ll y making my own yeast ,love otg news

  16. Can I do this with gluten free flours, such as coconut flour?

  17. Wow, this is really a great article! Thank you. Yes, we need more articles like this to get back to basics like our ancestors.

  18. For some fun history and a world wide collection of sourdough starters try http://www.sourdo.com/. There are instructions for creating a sourdough from the wild yeasts and lactobacillus in your neighborhood.

  19. One of my old teachers once told me, if you have old yeast, or yeast that isn’t working well, add some ground ginger to it and it will start it working. If memory serves me, it was 1/2 teaspoon.

  20. Thank you so much for this vital information. I pray you keep info like this coming. As a few readers asked above, how much potato, grape juice, red grapes, green grapes, concord?

    The info you provide is extremely useful. God bless!

  21. Juniper berries are a good source of natural yeast. The light blue powdery stuff you can scrape off the juniper berry is yeast. Place the juniper berries in with your other starter ingredients in a jar. Be sure to strain out berries when you use your starter in a recipe; they are not that pleasant to bite into.

  22. Most any fruit or berry that has a “frosty” look can provide yeast starter.
    It is not the fruit or berry, it is the powdery coating on the skin that is yeast.
    It can be scraped or washed off without crushing the fruit or berry…
    We used Juniper berries for a few years, it made excellent bread.
    Wild Grapes have a good yeast on their skin.

    • Just be careful that the grapes have not been sprayed with pesticides/ chemicals. Growing your own or buying organic would help to safegaurd against that.

    • I think there is out there some stuff that pepole don’t know about Difference pepole doing difference things Lethally I knows that in the neighborhood some Organize-Crime doing experiments on pepole without them knowing it and the reason I’m saying it it’s because I never never in my life felt those symptoms They killing us slowly-slowly with Direct Energy Weapon(DEW) and with DIrect Radiations.

  23. I have often wondered about this very thing – so this article was a very welcome read!!! Little by little I am getting more independent. We are working on a very solid year’s food supply – going to attempt a garden this year…I have canned before and can do it again in a pinch. I make my own laundry soap, spay cleaners, etc. etc. and this is one more thing to add to my list. I am trying the bread starter today and have grated some apple into it. Looking very forward to seeing how it turns out. Can we have more articles like this? THANKS!!!

  24. years ago I had an italian friend who had a vinigar keg that she had been given as a wedding gift. It had a “mother” starter that she feed leftover wine. It was a wonderful vingar. Anyone know how to make a “mother starter?

    • dontfencemein1979

      A good book for any kind of how to is Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living. You can find them at your local library, also online at Amazon.com or half.com (my fav!) She discusses how to make your own vinegar- really simple to do!

    • We make homemade Apple Cider Vinegar. Fill a quart jar with apple scraps (cores and peels), add 1/2 cup of sugar and fill with filtered water (we use tap water, it works fine). Cover the jar (we use cheesecloth or washcloths and secure with rubber bands) and let it sit for 6 weeks to 6 months. It will form a “scum” on the top that is the Mother. Leave it alone. You can save the Mother and add it to your next jar in order to speed up the process. When the vinegar tastes and smells done, it is. Simple strain the jar and use like you would any other Apple Cider Vinegar. If you keep it in the quart jar do not use metal canning lids – they tend to corrode.

  25. Canning your own home grown food is so much better and you dont have all the preservatives and chemicals to worry about. Also, you can season it to suit your taste. we have grown just about everything at sometime and canned lots of it . Grew spinach last year ,froze some and canned some. Takes lots to make a pint but we did about 12. Really good flavor &easy to do .Wash,Blanch to wilt & put in jars & process in canner. So good for you. ENJOY THE SITE

  26. I know this isn’t making your own yeast but it is a way to make the yeast you have on hand last a long time. This recipe only uses 1/4 teaspoon of yeast — (not the 1/4 oz in a package of dry yeast. which equals 2-1/4 tsp) So you could make 9 loaves of bread with one pkg of dry yeast and it is so easy.

    At bedtime,in a large bowl, mix 3 cups flour, 1/4 tsp yeast, and 1-1/4 tsp salt. Add 1-1/3 cups room temperature water and mix till everything is moistened. Cover and let set overnight, at least 12 hours. The longer it takes to rise, the better it tastes. Place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours as it is easier to shape when cold and it doesn’t require any kneading. Scrape from bowl onto floured board and turn 1/4 of loaf onto itself, rotating to turn all four directions. Place into a cast iron casserole dish with oven proof handle to rise. I usually put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom and lightly grease the sides. Let rise about two hours. One-half hour before it is to go into the oven, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put pan with lid on into oven and set timer for 25 min. After 25 min, remove the lid and bake until crust is golden brown. This bread is moist on the inside and has a crisp crust. This is so easy and not time consuming, about 5 min to mix at bedtime, 5 min to shape and you can have a fresh loaf every day. You could use most any ovenproof dish that has a lid to bake this in or you can bake without a lid by placing a pan beneath the shelf in the oven that the bread is on and when you put the bread in the oven, place 1 cup of hot water in the pan. This will fill the oven with steam which will keep the bread moist as it evaporates in the hot oven. Just watch the loaf after the 25 min to see when the crust is sufficiently golden brown.

  27. Great article! We as a society are far too dependent on store bought additive and bland tasting ready made foods from the stores, and most are about totally dependent on all electric operated things. What about in the old days when they made ovens for baking out of bricks?

  28. Can the yeast from the grape skins be used to home brew beer? All the homebrewing literature I’ve seen says that bread yeast makes awful beer.

  29. You can place a bread/loaf pan into a dutch oven fyi

  30. Could someone tell me how much of the potato starter to use for a loaf of bread? Thanks. (I’m new to this)

  31. I just put some potato water in a jar, added Sucanat (I don’t have white sugar) and whole wheat flour until stiff, and set it in a warm place, but I just realized the directions for feeding it are pretty sketchy as to how often, how much, etc. Some of the other starter ideas have more specific directions. Do I just skip to the feeding of the “cheating” potato starter, or is it once a week in the frig like the one above? Has anyone done this and can you please tell me what worked for you?

    • Until the starter becomes active you leave it on the counter in a warm place and feed it every day
      until it starts to bubble (feed it 1 cup flour to 1 cup water (or your potato water or whatever) but you
      must first remove 1 cup starter & dispose of it. Once it becomes active meaning bubbles and looks active which takes about one to three weeks then you can put it in the frig and only feed it once a week. You can
      go longer but once a week is good. If you go much longer it will get very sour & strong bread when you
      use it. Now you have a starter – makes great bread.

  32. i substituted sweet potatoes for white potatoes, and made a working starter – i need to tweak the amount of flour (whole wheat) in it for it to be more like the “sponge” texture, but it’s working!

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  42. Hi! I’m so obsessed with this new venture of making my own yeast, but I have so many questions! I chose the potato water, sugar, and flour. I put a cloth over the bowl and let it ferment on my counter. It took longer than over night. Maybe two full days, my mixture was nice and bubbly. I transferred it to a cookie sheet and now waiting for it to dry out. My questions are….did I let it ferment too long in my bowl…should it have instantly bubbly overnight? Second, although it looks right with all the bubbles and the few pics I have scene, it has a strong not pleasant smell. I know that may be the fermenting?

  43. Also, I have a favorite homemade bread recipe that calls for 4 tablespoons of yeast which I have always bought. Would I use the same amount of homemade yeast? I know it’s not an exact science……

  44. I’ve only used packet dried yeast. How much would the homemade yeast would I use in a recipe?

  45. Hi, I was wondering, can I do the quick method, using a store bought yeast as a starter, with flour instead of potato flakes? I don’t buy instant food, my son has several food intolerances, so I make everything from baked goods to pasta to sausage at home. I just don’t want to have to keep buying a jar of yeast every couple of weeks and I like the sense of self-worth i get in doing it myself.

    I was wondering if could use a flour and water mix instead of potato flakes to feed the yeasts?

  46. My yeast sticks to my pan and it doesn’t seem like its drying at all and I’ve put my oven on the lowest temp what can I do to dry it?

  47. I just made my own starter, finally ready after 12 days. Actually , I now have 2 different startes, one with white flour and the other with rye. Made sourdough baguettes, pancakes, and flour tortillas. So proud!

  48. I’m attempting the potato starter and I am just wondering what is meant by “add flour until stiff?” I added a reasonable amount of flour to the potato water and sugar, until it became about like a dough, and covered, but I’m not sure how stiff the mixture must be to be appropriate.

  49. I’m wondering if this would work using a gluten free flour like coconut, brown rice, or some such.

  50. I have a quick question… I have the oven set to 170 (the lowest it can go) and I searched somewhere on the internet (couldn’t find anything for yeast but I did find something for herbs..) that said leave the oven door slightly cracked open so it just dries and doesn’t bake whatever is inside the oven. How long does it usually take for the yeast mixture to be dry? 30 minutes? 60 minutes? 75 minutes? Fortunately I have to work on some homework so I’m okay with staying up late until this mix is ready. Obviously this is my first time making yeast (I chose the potato variety since I already have a big ol’ bag of them). I’ve become addicted to making my own pizzas. I have yet to make my own bread though.

  51. I think if I need to remove some starter when feeding but don’t have time to bake with the removed, would be the perfect time to dry the starter for later use. Thanks! Great article!

  52. I was so excited to find this post after a friend mentioned about yeast being able to be cultivated from untreated raisins. I have an allergy to corn and all commercial bread yeast uses corn syrup to feed the yeast, and I even react to that. I have also developed a very severe reaction to baking soda (my airways swell up even with just 1/8 teaspoon or less), virtually eliminating any raised baked goods from my already heavily restrictive diet (I’m allergic to dairy, wheat/gluten, and can’t digest meat without severe pain).

    We have had concord grapes growing in our yard for more than 20 years so I’m very excited to try out a sourdough starter that does not require commercial yeast. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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