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Make Your Own Yeast

Active, bubbly, sweet-smelling wild yeast. Who needs instant?

Blame it on the Coronavirus!

That and the perplexing penchant of people to horde commodities they think may dry up. Toilet paper at first, then flour, bleach and sanitizer, face masks … and now yeast!

That all seems so long ago. There was never a real shortage of these items, just pressures on the supply chain! Flour seems to have made a return, along with hand sanitizers. Even face masks are in greater supply. 

But yeast … well, it’s still hard to get!

Hijacked supply of yeast

Professionals and serious home bakers are up in arms! The yeast supply has dried up, they say because legions of hobbyists are making enormous demands on the inventory. Using it to make bread to stave off boredom during these days of social isolation. They have “hijacked” the supply of yeast that professionals need to make their “daily bread.”

In the online baking forums, you’d think there was the smell of revolution in the air. Many say that instant dry yeast, which is often in plentiful supply, is going to service the whims of people just wanting to stay busy. Or to the profiteers!

One baker took out his frustrations on the yeast suppliers who, he said, should “earmark” a large part of the supply for bakeries, so “we don’t succumb to irrational behaviours; and we can have some he confidence in our sources of yeast.”

Companies who make yeast, one post said, were “contributing to the irrational behaviours by not putting forth efforts to communicate with and assure product to bakeries.”

Rediscovering sourdough

This poor fellow is understandably upset, but others are using this situation to reacquaint themselves with the time-honored practice using a sourdough culture to leaven their bread.

It’s a simple solution, one that may require a few adjustments to schedules and recipes. Still, it ultimately will produce great bread, both in terms of taste and nutrition.

Flour and water, that’s all it takes to get a good sourdough starter going.

And time.

A friend for life

You can’t make a sourdough starter overnight. Time and patience. But once it’s established, you’ve got a friend for life!

I’ve been getting a lot of requests for the sourdough starter we use at the Happy Monk Baking Company. We call her Bettina. And there is lots of her!

I’m thrilled to oblige these requests. I feed Bettina every day, and once or twice a week, use about a kilo of it to build the Happy Monk breads. 

There’s lots of discard. Almost every day, I remove two-thirds of the starter and replenish the supply with fresh flour and water. I put the discard into jars, which go into the refrigerator … until there is no more room! Some discard starter gets made into waffles or pancakes … or quick pizza dough.

And some of it gets flushed down the toilet. Sadly.

It’s nice to know that part of Bettina can go to a good home. Just as long as she’s fed and cared for!

It’s an awesome responsibility!

Try making your own starter

That’s one reason why I try to get people to make their own starters from scratch. By urging the naturally occurring yeast organisms to live in a culture of flour and water, you build a deep bond with the starter. Like it’s your own child.

You feed it every day … or most days. And when you open the container and see those happy carbon dioxide bubbles and get a whiff of the sweet smell, you know it’s content. You’re making it comfortable. 

If you neglect the starter, you won’t see as many bubbles. If you take a deep whiff of a hungry starter, the aroma will blow your nose off! It’s “hangry!”

But your starter can be really forgiving. If you stick it in the fridge and forget it for a week, you can still bring it back … and soon it will be its sweet-smelling self again. It’s a miracle! You see why I call it a friend?

Seven easy steps

I encourage you to try making your own starter. Google sourdough starter guides, and you’ll be inundated with hits. Allow me to suggest a tried and true site: The Perfect Loaf, operated by the blogger Maurizio Leo. His “7 Easy Steps To Making an Incredible Sourdough Starter From Scratch” is excellent.

Get going on it tonight, and by next weekend, you might be ready to make bread.

If you’ve got a happy, active sourdough starter and you feel ready to make bread, may I suggest you start with something simple.

Try a very basic sourdough loaf. Four ingredients, maximum: Flour, water, starter, and salt. You can add a handful of sesame seeds or oatmeal flakes to sprinkle on the crust, but that’s not essential.

Try this recipe from the New York Times. There are about 10 minutes of hands-on time and up to 24 hours of waiting. If you follow the instructions carefully, you’ll undoubtedly get a beautiful smelling loaf. It will taste great too. 

Try, try again

If it doesn’t rise as much as you like, don’t feel discouraged. Try the recipe again. Experiment, try something different.

Learning to bake any bread — sourdough or not — can be a long road.

Have you got the patience for it? If you love bread as much as I do, the trials and tribulations will pay off. Try to find success early, keep at it. Stay with the same recipe for a while until you’re ready to move on.


See you in the morning, Mildrith!
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#woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfired #sourdoughbread #baker #bakersofinstagram #bakersoven #woodfiredovenlove #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southpenderisland #penderisland #penderislandbc

See you in the morning, Mildrith!
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#woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfired #sourdoughbread #baker #bakersofinstagram #bakersoven #woodfiredovenlove #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany #southpenderisland #penderisland #penderislandbc
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Happy Monk Tidings - Bread 🍞 and Blog 💻 - Baker's Choice: Volkornbrot - German Rye; Happy Monk Blog: The Good People of Pender - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Bread 🍞 and Blog 💻 - Baker's Choice: Volkornbrot - German Rye; Happy Monk Blog: The Good People of Pender - [ See link in profile ] ...

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Making this Olive Loaf is almost as delicious as eating it. Marinated Kalamata and Haldiki with zested lemons and spices. 
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#wildyeast #michaeljamesbakes #tivolirdbakery #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #realbread #rusticbread #woodfired #woodfiredbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

Making this Olive Loaf is almost as delicious as eating it. Marinated Kalamata and Haldiki with zested lemons and spices.
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#wildyeast #michaeljamesbakes #tivolirdbakery #naturallyleavened #artisanbread #realbread #rusticbread #woodfired #woodfiredbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderisland #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Olive Loaf and Happy Monk Blog: The Joys of Firewood - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Olive Loaf and Happy Monk Blog: The Joys of Firewood - [ See link in Profile ] ...

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Breadcrumbs
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#innomine #sourdough #sourdoughbread #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #bread #breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs
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#innomine #sourdough #sourdoughbread #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #bread #breadcrumbs
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Bread love 🍞 ❤️ 🍞 

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#countrybread #countryloaf #salishsourdough #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #bread #breadlove #breadlabcollective #bbga #breadstagram #breadsofinstagram #artisanbread #baker #bakery #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #southpenderisland #southpender #penderisland #southerngulfislands

Bread love 🍞 ❤️ 🍞

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#countrybread #countryloaf #salishsourdough #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #bread #breadlove #breadlabcollective #bbga #breadstagram #breadsofinstagram #artisanbread #baker #bakery #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #southpenderisland #southpender #penderisland #southerngulfislands
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56 4
Intense little Seed loaf!
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#seedbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #bread #breadlove #breadlabcollective #breadstagram #breadsofinstagram #artisanbread #baker #bakery #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #southpenderisland #southpender #penderisland #southerngulfislands

Intense little Seed loaf!
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#seedbread #sourdough #sourdoughbread #sourdoughbaking #bread #breadlove #breadlabcollective #breadstagram #breadsofinstagram #artisanbread #baker #bakery #happymonkbaker #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #southpenderisland #southpender #penderisland #southerngulfislands
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Happy Monk Tidings 🍞 - This Week's Baker's Choice: Sprouted Kamut Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: To Autumn - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings 🍞 - This Week's Baker's Choice: Sprouted Kamut Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: To Autumn - [ See link in Profile ] ...

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A hint of brotgewürz, bread spice. A mix of caraway, anise, fennel and coriander lifts this seedy Mountain Rye into a different realm.
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#brotgewürz #mountainrye #wholerye #ryebread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderislands #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany

A hint of brotgewürz, bread spice. A mix of caraway, anise, fennel and coriander lifts this seedy Mountain Rye into a different realm.
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#brotgewürz #mountainrye #wholerye #ryebread #woodfired #woodfiredoven #woodfiredovenbread #bread #realbread #naturallyleavened #baker #bakery #bbga #artisanbread #breadhead #sourdough #sourdoughbread #penderisland #southpenderislands #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakery #happymonkbakingcompany
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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye; Happy Monk Blog: Entangled Lives and the Election - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Mountain Rye; Happy Monk Blog: Entangled Lives and the Election - [ See link in profile ] ...

34 3
Tidings from the Happy Monk 🍞 - Baker's Choice: A Warming Cinnamon Raisin Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Isle of Apples ... [ See Link in Profile ]

Tidings from the Happy Monk 🍞 - Baker's Choice: A Warming Cinnamon Raisin Loaf; Happy Monk Blog: The Isle of Apples ... [ See Link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Monk Tidings, October 14 🍞 - Baker's Choice: Russian Rye; This week's Blog: A New Look at the Noble Miche [ See link in profile ]

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REMINDER: The Happy Monk is on a Bread Break! 😎 See you all in two weeks! Also: read back issues of the Happy Monk Blog [ See link in Profile ]

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Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Apple Bread; Happy Monk Blog: A Water World; And Please Note: We're taking a Bread Break for Two Weeks! - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Pender Island Apple Bread; Happy Monk Blog: A Water World; And Please Note: We're taking a Bread Break for Two Weeks! - [ See link in Profile ] ...

36 2
Rugbrød going out Sunday morning, for smørrebrød at lunch! For all to enjoy, but especially for my two Danish friends who have been clamouring for this Danish style rye for weeks! And @ellasharpmorton just back from Denmark, triumphant from her artistic conquests and rugbrød in her tummy!
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#rye #ryebread #rugbrød #danishrye #danishryebread #smørrebrød #openfacedsandwich #openfacesandwich #openfacedsandwiches #woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfiredryebread #breadhead #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #bbga #southpenderisland #southpender #penderislandbc #penderisland

Rugbrød going out Sunday morning, for smørrebrød at lunch! For all to enjoy, but especially for my two Danish friends who have been clamouring for this Danish style rye for weeks! And @ellasharpmorton just back from Denmark, triumphant from her artistic conquests and rugbrød in her tummy!
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#rye #ryebread #rugbrød #danishrye #danishryebread #smørrebrød #openfacedsandwich #openfacesandwich #openfacedsandwiches #woodfiredovens #woodfiredbread #woodfiredryebread #breadhead #happymonkbakery #happymonkbaking #happymonkbakingcompany #bbga #southpenderisland #southpender #penderislandbc #penderisland
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48 2
Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ]

Happy Monk Tidings - Baker's Choice: Danish Rye (Rugbrød); My daughter, Ella Morton's art exhibits; Blog Post: Coronavirus in the Sky; PLUS: Wood-fired Oven Update - [ See link in Profile ] ...

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Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ]

Happy Tidings from the Happy Monk Baking Company - Baker's Choice: Rye-Currant Pan Loaf; Blog Re-Post: The Island Within; And Mildrith Gratitude - [ See link in profile ] ...

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5 thoughts on “Make Your Own Yeast

  1. There is also the unique terroir of one’s own yeast. In your case, the flavour of the Southlands.

    1. Mais certainement, c’est le terroir du Southlands!

  2. David, I would love some of your Betinna!!..I would love to experiment and make some bread.
    Thx. Laurel

    1. Go for it, Laurel!

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