I might as well apologize now because this is going to be lengthy!
Switching over to much less processed foods was something we decided to do last year. It has helped us in so many ways health wise and I don't see us ever going back.
Once you learn some of the things about processed foods, you can't unlearn them…..
The hubs and I have both always enjoyed baking our own bread but used to just do it for fun. After researching and reading for the best kinds of breads we can make for our family, I came to natural yeast. This book, The Art of Baking With Natural Yeast, has been a great resource for recipes and the "whys" of using natural yeast in your home. As well as this book called Nourishing Traditions. If you don't own these, add them to your list!
Here are just three benefits to using natural yeast as opposed to store bought, quick rise. (which is FINE, if that's just easier for you. But hopefully after reading this you'll see how easy-time consuming, but easy- it is to make your own yeast full of health for you and your family!)
1. Natural yeast breaks down harmful enzymes in grains.
2. Natural yeast takes the nutrition in grains-the ones your body craves-and makes them easily available for digestion.
3. Natural yeast converts dough into a digestible food source that will not spike your body's defenses. It predigests SUGARS for diabetics, breaks down GLUTEN for the intolerant, and turns calcium-leaching phytic acid into a cancer-fighting antioxidant.
*these are taken from the book Art of Baking With Natural Yeast
And these are just the first three that are mentioned! There are so many more. I could just quote the book word for word on all the goodness. Many, many delicious recipes included!
Natural yeast - a super hero in the world of baking with whole wheat, I tell ya!!
So how to find and make natural yeast! Get that goodness in you! Wild yeast is all around us. They can be captured by adding organic grapes, apples, rye, wheat or even juniper berries with water and flour and allowing the mixture to ferment and grow. Yep, it's alive!
It is its own little ecosystem in a jar. The lactobacilli and wild yeasts feed on the sugars that are in the flour and break down things our body can't, including gluten. While eating, it releases carbon dioxide, making little bubbles. This is what causes your bread to rise. As you make starter, you will see that sometimes a brown liquid forms on the top. The is made of ethanol and acetic acid. This DOES NOT mean your starter is ruined. Your starter is fine. Pour it off and stir. Or some people just stir it right back in.
Ok, that was quite a mouthful of information. But great to know!
The easiest way to make your own natural yeast is to use some flour!
You will need:
We use organic whole wheat. (This process does take quite a bit of flour)
It doesn't matter the amount you start with. I used one cup but you could do a half or even a quarter cup. I wouldn't go above a cup because that will use a ridiculous amount of flour at feeding time and a very large container! Your jar will need to be big enough for your mixture to double in size.
Put an even amount of flour and water in the jar. Stir well to combine. Should be a thick pancake batter consistency. Stir it three times per day until bubbles form. (It is very helpful to do this at meal times because it's easier to remember. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Keep it on the counter right where you prep meals so you see it!) Keep it on the counter top covered with cheesecloth or loosely with a lid. We never had luck with a lid because it didn't get enough air. Cheesecloth works great! Bubbles forming depends on how fresh your flour is. The more fresh the flour, the faster your bubbles will appear. It will probably take about 12 -24 hours.
Once the bubbles appear, you need to start feeding it. It eats flour and water. Feed it once per day. Remove half and replace it with the same amount of flour AND water. Continue to stir three times a day (feeding it counts as stirring) Wait for it to start expanding. You need to feed it this way daily until it can double its size in 12 hours or less.
Now you will feed it once per day at a ratio of 1:2:2. Stir it down and measure out your starter. I measure out a cup. Dump out the rest, it's not quite ready to cook with. Put the cup back into the container (does't need to be cleaned) and feed it double the amount of starter. One cup starter will be fed 2 cups flour and 2 cups water. Stir well to combine. Feed it this way once per day until it can double in 12 hours or less again. (This only took ours one feeding) (No need to stir three times a day anymore, let it do it's thing.)
Now comes the part where it takes a lot of flour. You are going to feed it twice per day for a week, the same way you feed it above. The goal is to get it to double in 8 hours or less. This means you have a healthy and active starter that is ready for baking. It can happen in less than a week, but don't be discouraged if it doesn't. Give it the full 7 days if it needs it.
Now you can bake with it or stick it in your fridge! It slows down growing in the fridge and only needs to be fed once a week. We usually bake with it, (feed it after using it) and stick in the fridge for the rest of the week. It will last you as long you continue to feed it. I forgot to feed it one week and panicked that I killed it. Took it out and fed it. And it was FINE. They are pretty resilient so don't stress about it. You will know that it's dead if it's starts growing mold. The tangy sour smell (like sourdough bread) is normal and what you want.
Enjoy your starter and delicious, HEALTHY bread! Your starter can be split and shared with friends too! All you need is a quarter cup to keep it going. So split it and share the love! :)
And make yumminess like these whole wheat cinnamon rolls…….