How to Make Homemade Yeast

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 How to make homemade yeast | ourheritageofhealth.com

 

For a long time, I had been confused about the subject of yeast. The only yeast I knew about was the little packet of active dry yeast or rapid rise yeast that I would sprinkle into my dough. But then I started collecting 19th century cookbooks and found recipes that called for “one gill of fresh yeast” among the other ingredients.

Once I finally figured out what a gill was, though, (about a half a cup,) I was even more confused. I would have to use how many little instant yeast packets to equal a whole half a cup?!

After doing some more research on period cooking, though, I found several recipes for how to make homemade yeast that helped to solve the mystery a bit. Most involve the use of hops or potatoes added to boiling water and flour. The problem with all of those recipes, though, is that they all call for adding “a bit of good fresh yeast” to the mixture – which was exactly what I didn’t have!

And then, just a couple weeks ago, I read a book that cleared up more of the mystery for me (and solved my problem of how to make my own yeast.) The book is The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread, written by Jessie Hawkins of the Vintage Remedies School of Natural Health. This book is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the subjects of bread, grains, gluten, modern vs. traditional bread, etc.

A Brief History of Homemade Yeast

Once of the most helpful bits of information I found by reading this book was the section on the history of bread and yeast. I learned that modern baker’s yeast, as we know it today, didn’t even exist until 1868. Before then, bread and other baked goods were leavened by other types of wild yeast (or with massive quantities of eggs.)

Even once baker’s yeast became available, though, it was too expensive for some to afford and it was a gradual process for housewives and bakers to get used to this “new-fangled” way of making bread, so many cookbooks published after 1868 still include recipes that call for homemade yeast.

“Emptyings”

In addition to the recipes for making yeast with hops or potatoes, I also saw several references to using “emptins” in old recipes as a leavening agent. These “emptins” or “emptyings” were just as their name implies – the emptyings of leftover dough and batter added to a crock or jar.

Descriptions I’ve read about emptyings seem to be pretty similar to the flour-water mixture for a sourdough starter with scraps of extra dough added to feed the starter. The main difference I’ve seen is that several instructions for how to make emptyings call for using milk rather than water.

I’m not at all an expert on the history of yeast, and this is a topic I’ve only just begun to learn about, but my guess is that “emptyings” and “sourdough” may be one and the same or at least very closely related. In all of the 19th century recipes I’ve seen and in the entire database of the Historic American Cookbook Project, I have yet to find one recipe that uses the word “sourdough,” but I have seen several recipes that refer to using a sourdough-type leavening.

Making a Sourdough Starter

Once I realized that I could use a sourdough starter for the “homemade yeast” required in so many old recipes, I was immediately interested in learning how to make my own. Making my own sourdough starter had always seemed to intimidating to me, though, which, of course, is why I had been procrastinating starting one for so long.

When I read The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread, though, the process seemed a bit more simple and less intimidating. After all, people have been making sourdough starters for a long, long time without any complicated instructions for how to do it. So, I figured I might as well give it a try. Though I’ve seen many different sourdough starter recipes online, I decided to go with the simplest method of using only flour and water.

Here’s what I did:

Materials and Ingredients

  • Quart-Sized Wide-Mouth Mason Jars – I’d definitely recommend getting wide-mouthed ones. They make stirring the starter so much easier.
  • Water – For best results, the water should be filtered water or spring water. Chlorine will kill the good bacteria the starter needs to survive.
  • Flour – I used an organic unbleached all-purpose flour. (Many people say that using whole wheat flour can give an “off” flavor to the starter.)
  • Cheesecloth for covering the jar. (Fruit flies love hovering around sourdough starters, so you want something that will keep them out but still allow air into the jar.)

Method for Making Homemade Yeast with a Sourdough Starter

  • Day 1: Put 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water into the mason jar. Mix them thoroughly together. The mixture should feel like a thick pancake batter. If it’s too thick or thin, you can add more water or flour as needed. The consistency seems to be more important than the actual measurements. Once you’ve mixed the flour and water, cover the jar with cheese cloth.
  • Day 2: About 24 hours later (it doesn’t have to be exact), feed the starter by giving it another 1/2 cup of flour and as much water as it needs to reach the same thick batter consistency as the first day you mixed. The starter should have a few bubbles in it by this point. Stir and cover again.
  • Day 3: By now, if not sooner, the starter should be looking quite a bit more bubbly, and the top might look almost frothy. Feed again the same as on Day 2, stir, and cover again.
  • Day 4 and following: Keep feeding the starter about every 24 hours. It should look actively bubbly. By now, it might be ready to bake with. A lot really depends on the climate of where you live, the temperature inside your house, and the type of starter you have – each region has it’s own unique strains of bacteria so starters in different regions might act differently.

I probably tried baking with mine a bit earlier than most instructions for making sourdough would tell you to do. I was too impatient and too excited to wait, though, so I just went ahead and baked with it. And it worked! My bread rose well enough – maybe not as well as it would have risen if I had waited a little longer, but it was still a perfectly edible loaf of bread.

So, when in doubt, I’d say just try to bake with it and see what happens. The end result might not be perfect the first time, but it will probably still be pretty good 🙂

How to make homemade yeast

Bubbles starting to form after the first couple of days.

Once your starter is established, you can probably get away with feeding it a little bit less. I haven’t been feeding mine every single day, and it’s still surviving fine. I’ve been using it quite a bit in different baking experiments, so I’ve kept my starter out on the counter, but if you aren’t planning to bake more than once a week, it’s best to keep it in the fridge so you don’t have to feed it as often and so it doesn’t grow to massive proportions and overflow the jar. If you keep it in the fridge, though, you just have to plan ahead and take it out the day before you want to bake and feed it to make sure it’s active enough.

I’m loving being able to try so many “new” old recipes now that call for cups of homemade yeast. I’ve even branched out now and tried making a cake with my sourdough starter (and it was absolutely delicious! 🙂 )

I was fully expecting my first experiment with sourdough to be a failure, and I was prepared to try it over again several times before I had any success, so I was incredibly surprised and happy when my starter seemed to work right the first time around!

Update 10/22/13: My sourdough starter is still working well, and I’ve been using it regularly to make bread and pancakes.

Update 10/17/16: My starter is still active and working well over three years later!

For more information about maintaining your starter and for sourdough troubleshooting tips, check out my other sourdough posts.

You can also try my favorite sourdough bread recipe:

And, since the flavor of homemade yeast can vary depending on where you live and the particular strains of wild yeast in that area, if you decide that you don’t care for the flavor of your homemade yeast, you can also find traditional sourdough starters online to use for your homemade baking.

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90 Responses to How to Make Homemade Yeast

    • Mike D. says:

      Mine worked ! How much yeast do I add to 4 cups of flour when I make bread ?

      • ourheritageofhealth says:

        Awesome! So glad it worked for you! I usually add 1/2 a cup for 3 cups of flour, so for 4 cups of flour, I’d probably use about 3/4 cup of yeast. You might need slightly more or less depending on how active your yeast is, the time of year, temperature in your house, etc.

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi, first of all thank you for sharing this, I started two days ago and the volume of the mixture easily doubled, it’s coming through the cheesecloth as I type. Does it mean I should feed less ? Or that I can already use it ? I started with about half a cup of water and flour, then added another half cup of each. Thank you

      • ourheritageofhealth says:

        Hi Gabriel,

        It sound like your yeast is very active! I’ve found that my yeast is always more active during the summer months when it’s warmer in my kitchen. If it’s warm where you live, that’s probably why your yeast rose so quickly. I can’t say for sure without actually seeing it, but it sounds like your yeast should definitely be ready to use. You also might want to feed it a bit less or a bit less often if you find that it’s always growing so quickly like that. Once the weather cools down some, you may find that the growth slows down too. Good luck with your yeast!

    • DIANE says:

      HI LORI, I JUST HAPPEN TO COME ACROSS YOUR HERITAGE HEALTH PAGE. I LOVE MAKING THE STARTER. IM ONE OF THOSE CONQUERING BREAD STARTERS FANS. I VE TRIED A FEW, HOWEVER YOUR RECIPE BUBBLED FASTER FOR ME. THERES ONE THING THAT PUZZELS ME. I NEVER SEEM TO GET IT WHERE ITS DOUBLED IN SIZE OR OVER FLOWING. IF I LEAVE IT ON THE COUNTER DO I FEED IT FOREVER THE REST OF MY LIFE? I GET THE PART OF STORING IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR. TAKE IT OUT 24 HOURS BEFOR USING IT AND FEED IT. S O S THANK YOU AND GODS BLESSINGS, diane

      • ourheritageofhealth says:

        Hi Diane, Mine doesn’t always double in size either. That usually only happens in the summertime for me when the weather is really warm. As long as you see bubbles, it should still be fine even if it doesn’t double in size. You do need to keep feeding it in order for it to stay alive if you want to leave it out on the counter. If you go for more than a few days without feeding it, it will eventually die. I usually feed mine about every other day (sometimes every three days during the winter time when it’s really cold out) Good luck with your starter! 🙂

  1. […] working with a specific sourdough culture, like one from the San Fransisco area rather than capturing wild yeast from inside your own home, it would be best to follow the instructions that come with the sourdough […]

  2. NiYan says:

    just curious. am i supposed to use all the yeast, or i can use half and continue feeding it for future use?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      I usually just use some of the yeast and then continue feeding it for future use. Most recipes I’ve come across tend to use about 1/2 cup of yeast, so I usually just take out half a cup and then feed the rest to use for the next time I bake something.

  3. Alicia Winkler says:

    So I didn’t “feed” my starter properly. I made bread today (day 6) and I had flat bread. 🙁 Perhaps I will remember to feed it properly this time.

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      It can be really hard to remember too feed starters. I forget about mine all the time! I’m trying to work on setting a schedule for myself so that I remember to feed it. One thing you can try if you’re not sure if your starter has been fed enough is to add a little bit more than what the recipe calls for when you’re making bread. The other day, I wanted to make a loaf of bread, but I hadn’t fed my starter in a few days, so I was afraid it might not be active enough. The recipe I usually use calls for 1/2 cup of starter, so I put in 3/4 of a cup instead to give it a little extra rising “boost” and it worked!

      • David says:

        My experience with making bread is that too much yeast is fine, but too little doesn’t work. I once tried doubling and then tripling the amount of yeast to see what happened. It rose a little more/had more air pockets inside, but didn’t make a lot of difference. So, if you are unsure about your yeast, always use more (and note that Lori used 50% more when she was unsure of the quality).

  4. Kay says:

    Thank you for this important information!
    I have seen on a TV show about how the women of Kentucky had been using a bowl of mixed flours, sugar or honey, and water to make home made yeast for the baking and brewing. The woman who talked the most about it said that all it needed was the yeast from our bodies floating in the air and a warm place to slowly grow. It didn’t quite make sense to me at the time. Now I get it thank you.

    So many of us would like to learn more than just go buy whatever version is on sale. To be able to make our own QUALITY goods is a treasure.

  5. Shantel says:

    This is exciting, I can hardly wait to get started! Thanks for taking the time to post it! Is it possible to share the bread recipe you use?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Awesome, Shantel! I hope it works out well for you!

      This is the bread recipe I usually use (it’s adapted from one I found in an old cookbook):
      3 cups flour (I usually use half einkorn flour and half spelt flour, but regular flour will work fine too)
      1/2 cup sourdough starter
      1 cup warm water
      1 tsp salt
      1 spoonful of molasses or brown sugar

      All I do is mix the ingredients together until they are well incorporated, then I knead the dough for a couple of minutes and place the dough in a greased bread pan to rise. I cover it and let it sit overnight to rise. In the summer time, it usually rises for me in about 12 hours, but in the winter time it usually takes more like 18 hours. Once the bread has risen and is light and fluffy, I bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

      This is my favorite recipe to use because it’s so simple and you only have to knead it once when you’re putting together the dough 🙂

      • Midget50 says:

        Can recipe be used in a breadmaker?

        • ourheritageofhealth says:

          No, I don’t think that would work because homemade yeast needs a long time to rise and most bread machines only have a rise time for a couple of hours. If you have a bread machine that has a long rise setting, or if you have a setting for sourdough bread, then that might work, but otherwise it probably wouldn’t. Most recipes using homemade yeast need at least 8 hours to rise, but usually it’s more like 12-18 hours, depending on the recipe.

  6. […] much as I love using my homemade sourdough yeast to make bread, sometimes I forget to feed my starter, and sometimes I just don’t want to wait […]

  7. Just says:

    So, you can continue to feed and grow the remainder yeast for a long time? A year…forever?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Yes, you can! As long as your starter remains active, you can continue using it and feeding it for as long as you want. If you go too long without feeding it, it might “die” and then you might have to just throw it out and start over, but otherwise you can keep using it indefinitely.

  8. […] bread used homemade yeast as the rising agent. This yeast was usually either a sourdough starter, or a yeast made from […]

  9. Shelby says:

    I am gluten intolerant (or at least modern wheat intolerance — it is challenging to test) and I would love to make my own bread the old fashion way. Have you experimented with a gluten free traditional starter? Is there a type of substitute flour you recommend? I am willing to experiment and will also try using organic spelt and einkorn (if I feel sick my friends will enjoy the treat).

  10. MacIII says:

    Watch one of the many videos on UTube regarding baking a “No Knead” bread. It’s a method of making a bread dough by just adding about 1/8 a tsp of yeast to a dough, mixing in salt and water and just letting the dough sit and ferment for about 19 hours. As a result you get one of the best tasting breads a home baker can yield. I have actually made this bread without any addition of yeast but allowed the dough to sit for 24 hours.
    Bread Alone is a Bread Baking Book written by an author from upstate NY. He goes into much detail regarding sour doughs and also Polishes. In his books he talks about how there is natural yeast in the air alone.

  11. Midori says:

    Sounds cool! Going to try it out. I was wondering how you can determine if there is mold growing on it?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      From everything I’ve read, it’s actually really unlikely that you’ll see mold growing on a traditional sourdough starter since the good bacterial produced by the fermentation process of the starter inhibits the growth of bad bacterial and mold. That’s also why real sourdough bread tends to just get dry and stale rather than growing mold. I’ve found that when I leave my starter for a while without using it or remembering to feed it, rather than growing mold, the top of it hardens and dries out. I simple spooned out the hardened part at the top and the rest of the starter underneath was perfectly fine.

  12. Elleryharris says:

    love it lori buetiful your website made me get breakfast done 4 my mom!!!!lol

    bye

  13. Randal says:

    Looking through old Mother Earth News, letters section. Woman shared memory of childhood, 1812. Mashed potatoes – shaped into roll (log) about the size of silver dollar. Sliced and DRIED. (Minimal refrigeration needed for long time). One cake is yeast starter for next batch.
    I thought this might be of interest to you, when I read that you just scrape off the dry part.
    The woman did not know how the original yeast was introduced and that lack of information is what lead my search to your site.
    Your are an impressive person. Thank you for sharing your interests.

  14. Melinda says:

    When you let the bread rise 12-18 hours, you also leave this out on the counter? And do you cover it?

  15. Regan says:

    Is there any other bread recipes you use? I’d like to make white sandwich bread with my fresh yeast but I’m having trouble finding recipes that use fresh yeast! Can I use my same recipes that call for active dry and substitute? I’m just not sure how the ratio would be. Thanks! 🙂

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      I might be a good idea to try a recipe that’s designed for using fresh, homemade yeast for your first time using it. Since this homemade yeast is essentially sourdough yeast, any recipe for sourdough bread should work. If you want to substitute homemade yeast for active dry, you could try using about 1/2 cup of the homemade yeast in place of the active dry. You might need to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe a bit because of the extra liquid in the yeast. Your rising times would also be different since homemade yeast has a much slower rising time than active dry yeast would. Most bread recipes made with homemade yeast (sourdough starter) call for at least about a 12 hour rising time, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the individual recipe.

      The recipe I usually use is: 3 cups flour, 1 cup warm water, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbs brown sugar, 1/2 cup homemade yeast. I mix all ingredients together and knead them well (the dough is wetter and stickier than regular bread dough, so this step can be a bit messy.) Then I put the dough into a greased bread pan, cover it, and let it rise until it has nearly doubled in size and is fluffy. In the warm weather, this usually only takes about 12 hours, but in the winter time it usually takes longer. Then once the bread has fully risen, I bake it for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

      This is my favorite recipe because it is pretty simple, and it only requires one time of kneading and rising. I usually prepare my dough in the late afternoon or evening (afternoon in the summer and evening in the winter), and then I let the bread rise overnight and bake it the next morning.

  16. kari says:

    Could this yeast be used in pizza dough recipes I love making fresh pizzas but yeast is getting so expensive here

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Yes, I think it could. You would probably need to find a pizza dough recipe that is specifically designed for homemade sourdough yeast. If you tried to substitute homemade yeast for regular store bought baker’s yeast in a recipe, it wouldn’t work, but any recipe made for sourdough yeast should work well.

  17. sudha says:

    Hi
    Thanx a lot for the details of homemade yeast. But I have one doubt. Usually at home we think that all purpose flour is maida. If we mix this with water and do not use it before 24 hours it gets spoiled and is disposed without using. So I am confused with homemade recipe. Here it is kept for 4 days. Will it not get spoiled. Please explain. I am eagerly waiting to try bread at home

    Thanx
    Sudha

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Sudha,

      I know, it seems kind of strange to leave flour and water out for days like that, but traditional homemade yeast is made by mixing flour and water and capturing natural yeast from the air. This natural yeast ferments the flour and water (kind of like the natural fermentation process of making sauerkraut), and the good bacteria it produces actually protects the flour and water mixture from spoiling. This natural yeast is also called sourdough. There’s a lot of great information about sourdough on the internet, so I’d recommend googling “sourdough yeast” if you’re interested in learning more. Another good source of information is the book I mentioned called “The Vintage Remedies Guide to Bread.”

      I hope that helps!
      Lori

  18. Joseph Chance Watkins says:

    I Love your website, thanks for sharing the info; Jesus Christ Bless you! 🙂

  19. Thomas Newman says:

    I read your advise with great interest;I can probably obtain fresh yeast from my local asda store and ask you how I would
    Continue to feed it to make it available for several weeks more, and what would I have to use in the way of ingredients?
    many thanks. Tom Newman

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Tom,
      It would depend on what type of fresh yeast you would be getting. The method I talked about in this post is for a sourdough starter using only flour and water, so unless you’re buying a fresh sourdough yeast, it wouldn’t work to feed it using this same method. Before buying, I would recommend asking the store what type of yeast it is and whether or not it would be possible to feed the yeast to keep it usable for several more weeks since not all types of yeast are able to be fed and maintained like sourdough yeast is.

      • Thomas Newman says:

        Many thanks for your comprehensive reply;; unfortunately for me the yeast would be of the type the supermarket uses for their everyday baps and country bread etc.
        I shall follow your advice and speak to the staff as you suggested.
        I take it that your sourdough bread is in no way related to soda bread which is another method that I have used in the past.
        Thanks again , tommy usu

  20. Natalie says:

    I am on my third day feeding my starting, and I think it stinks. It doesn’t smell like yeast at all? Is this normal?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      It does usually have a stronger smell, and it doesn’t smell like regular store bought yeast does. Homemade yeast actually varies in scent depending on where you live too, actually, since it’s created from the natural yeasts in the air. Mine has a kind of tangy sourish smell.

      • Mia says:

        Hi, I love your web site gives simple instructions in comparison to complicated web sites. I to have a problem with my starter smelling funny. I live in Australia and it is very warm here at the moment. I’m at about day 4 and it smells not very good blind of sour kind of old socks!! It has some bubbles at the top I’m not sure if I maybe started feeding it to early but I was just wanting to know if their are any other signs that I have captured the wild yeast? And also if the smell is an indicator of that it my not be working or do I need to feed it more or less. I am feeding it once a day. Thanks

        • ourheritageofhealth says:

          Hi Mia, It’s hard for me to tell without actually seeing or smelling your starter, but it sounds like there’s a good chance that you were able to capture the wild yeast. Bubbles are a good sign, and the starter does usually have a kind of funny smell. Mine has sort of a tangy smell – not an absollutely horrible smell, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a pleasant smell either. One of the best ways to tell if your starter captured the yeast successfully is to try baking with it to see if the dough will rise.

          As far as feeding goes, once a day is probably good for a couple more days since you’re on day 4, but by the time you get to day 6 or so, the starter should be pretty well established and you can probably it back to once every other day or once every couple of days.

  21. Mia says:

    Also should I have left it for longer at the start and how do I tell when to start feeding?

  22. aji alfas says:

    Thank you for sharing this good information. I live in Indonesia with nice and warm weathers and I have sone questions. Is it possible that I am fail to make this sourdough starter if I make with regular flour ? How do I know my starter grow by good bacteria ? How to avoid bad bacteria live in my starter? What is the sign if it fail? Is it possible to add herb such as gingger or garlic to avoid bad bacteria? Sorry I ask too many questions.

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Aji, those are very good questions! 🙂 Regular flour should be fine for your starter even with the warm weather you have. The way to tell if your starter has grown by the good bacteria is if you see bubbles in it (or if you try baking with it and are able to get dough to rise with it.) The chances of it developing any bad bacteria are very slim as long as you keep it in a clean jar and use clean water when feeding it. I’ve never heard of adding ginger or garlic as a way to avoid bad bacteria, and I’m not sure the starter would still work effectively if you added them. If your starter ever starts to smell really bad, then that would be a sign that some bad bacteria might have gotten in there, but that would be very rare since the good bacteria act as a protection against the bad bacteria. I’ve been using the same sourdough starter consistently now for over two years and have never had a problem with it, even during the hottest parts of the summer. I hope you’re able to be successful with your starter! 🙂

      • aji alfas says:

        Thank you Lori for the answers. I have another question about the bread dough that stay overnight. Did you loose the air, cut it, put it in the pan, and grow it again before you bake it in the morning or you cut in & put it on the pan at the night ?

        • ourheritageofhealth says:

          When I make bread, I usually follow a sourdough bread recipe, and I prepare the dough the night before. I usually use 3 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 2 Tbs sugar, 1/2 cup sourdough starter, 1 cup warm water. I mix those all together, knead the dough, and then let it rise overnight. The next morning, when it’s risen and ready to bake I put it in the oven for about 45 minutes. I start with yeast that is already active and bubbling and add it right into my dough when I’m mixing it up at night, and then the next morning all I do is put the pan in the oven. I hope that helps!

  23. Nikunj says:

    Hi!

    How would the time between feedings change in a very hot place? I’m from Bombay, our spring is almost over with temps around 95 F. Summer will set in soon and temps will be 105-110 F on an average.

    Are there any visual cues to look out for so that I can feed it according to them rather than based on the timings given?

    I know it’s almost 3 years since this post but still hoping for a reply!

    Nik

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Nik 🙂 Yes, you’ll probably end up needing to feed your starter more often, especially during the hottest times. In the summer where I live (with temperatures usually in the 80s and 90s) I feed mine 3-4 times a week. You might need to feed yours every other day, or maybe even every day if it’s really hot. I’ve noticed with mine that sometimes in the summer time it can look a bit more watery and a thinner consistency if I don’t feed it often enough. There have also been times when it’s really warm outside that my starter has been so active and risen so much that it started to overflow the jar. If you don’t use it more than once or twice a week for baking and you find that it starts to get close to overflowing, you might need to take a few spoonfuls of it out of the jar before feeding so it doesn’t overflow when it rises.

  24. Sarah says:

    Hi. Thank you for this information. Do you have a tried and true recipe using honey rather than sugar?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Sarah, I’ve actually never tried using honey before. I would think it would still probably work to substitute, though, but you might need to use slightly less water.

  25. Lori says:

    Hi Lori! Thanks for sharing this! I’ve had a heck of a time finding fresh yeast. One question though… Do I ever put an actual lid on the jar, or do I just keep the cheese cloth on with a rubberband at the top, or just lay the cheese cloth on top but push it down to where it lays flat on the actual yeast surface and leave it openly like that? Thanks! ~Lori

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Lori 🙂 No, I’ve never put a lid on my jar because that would cut off the air supply to the yeast. It might survive for a little while with the lid on, but it would eventually die. What I usually do is to use just the band of the Mason jar lid without the round center insert. So I lay the cheesecloth across the top of the jar and then screw the metal band on to keep the cheesecloth in place. A rubber band would work just as well, too, though.

  26. neale says:

    Very much appreciated! Thank you! We’re constantly cutting back, financially, &I’ve discovered the savings of baking bread, from one sack to a million bread products we consume daily, to include gravy… waffles, etc. The last cost affect, was yeast, & amazingly, I’m excited to try this, and see where it goes!

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Yes, it’s really nice to be able to save some money with making homemade bread and homemade yeast! Good luck with your yeast and bread baking. I hope it goes well!

  27. neale says:

    I did it! Thanks to this cite. The loaves are awesome! I ‘exclaim’ because of this: I was extremely intimidated of results; 1. my ‘starter’ did not look as frothy as yours; 2. I’d used tap water & feared I’d killed something. I gave it extra time, & was on the 6th day of the starter. Our region is in the summer session, avg. 75degrees, & I’d raised the loaves outside. Again, fearful of failure, I opted for the maximum (in addition, they didn’t look impressionable at 12hrs) 18hr rise (12 hr 1st rise, punch re-shape, 6 hr 2nd rise). Seemed a majority of the rise occurred the last few hours. Thank you, again!

  28. Gerda Bester says:

    Hi Lori I want to make buttermilk rusks for the kids and have been wondering if I can use this recipe as a base.

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Gerda,

      It’s hard to say whether that would work as a base or not since I don’t know the exact recipe you’re planing on using. Does your buttermilk rusk recipe call for using yeast? If so, it might work, but you might have to do a bit of experimenting to find out the right amount of homemade yeast to use as a substitute for the yeast in the recipe.

  29. Cary Walter says:

    Hi Lori, I really love this recipe. I was wondering if it is possible to dry the yeast culture after it becomes active to keep from constantly feeding it and baking. I love to bake but HOLY COW!

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi Cary, that’s a good question! I know I’ve seen recipes in some old cookbooks that refer to using a dried yeast cake, but I haven’t specifically seen a mention of drying sourdough yeast. I’ve never tried it, so I really wouldn’t be able to say whether or not it would work, but it would certainly be worth a try. (I would just recommend saving out a little bit of your yeast just so you have a back-up in case it doesn’t work.)

      I’ve found that it really doesn’t end up being as much of a problem as it sounds like it might be to keep feeding it. I usually only feed mine three times a week now, and I usually only bake with it once or twice a week. It takes less than five minutes to do the feeding, and I only use about a half cup of flour at a time, so it really doesn’t end up being that much.

      • Midget50 says:

        Can you start with a smaller amount, say a 1/4 cup. I don’t bake but once a week and do not want to have a large “supply” and have it go bad.

        • ourheritageofhealth says:

          I think you probably could start smaller. I’ve never tried using just 1/4 cup, but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work. You wouldn’t have to worry about the yeast going bad, though. I’ve been using the same yeast for a few years now (and I usually only bake once or twice a week too) and I haven’t had any problems with my yeast going bad. The good bacteria in the homemade yeast protects it from developing any bad bacteria that would make it spoil.

  30. Sue says:

    Thank you for this recipe. After following the instructions, I now have about 2 cups of starter. It smells good, not too strong but a little yeasty. The cat is very attracted to it for some reason – do cats like yeast? I don’t know.

    My question is: Due to a surplus of bread, I won’t be baking for a while. Do I need to cover it while it sits in the refrigerator?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Yes, it’s usually best to lightly cover it while in the fridge, especially since the fridge is such a dry environment and the starter could start to dry out otherwise. You don’t need an airtight seal, but a lightly screwed-on lid is good. And as for cats liking yeast … good question! I have no idea why that might be, but my dog is pretty intrigued by mine too 🙂

  31. Rod Smith says:

    in english imperial mesurements a gill , pronounced jill is n5 fluid ounzes

  32. Wendy says:

    Can you spelt flour to make the homemade yeast?

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      I’ve never actually tried using spelt, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, especially since that was a common type of flour back before modern all-purpose flour existed, so I’m sure many of our ancestors used spelt for their sourdough yeast. One thing that I have heard, though, is that whole grain flour can sometimes cause an “off” flavor to develop in their starter, so it might be a good idea to sift out the biggest pieces of the bran if your spelt flour is whole grain.

  33. Madhusudan says:

    hi
    Please apologize if my question is dumb. The content which is stored in the bottle is sour dough (or) yeast right, out of which we need take out a 2 or 3 tablespoon and mix it in the wheat flour for making breads.
    Thanks in advance..

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      That’s a good question, and there’s no such thing as a dumb question 🙂 Yes, the contents stored in the bottle is the homemade sourdough yeast, and if you’re making bread, you would mix that in with the rest of your flour (and any other ingredients in your recipe.) Depending on what recipe you’re using, though, you would probably need a little bit more than just 2-3 tablespoons. I usually use about a half a cup of the sourdough yeast when I make a loaf of bread.

  34. Sahil Mohile says:

    Hello Thanks for sharing recipe it was really useful to make a yeas tat home as i live in warm weather i got 4 day result in 1st day yeast had bubbles and it was smelling like yeast at seems perfect then i tried making bread from it but even after 6 hours dough has not doubled please any solution for what to do now? and would it have to been better to keep feeding yeast even after it was ready at day 1 means i thought i would die if i keep it for 4 days. Thanks please tell as soon as you can i am keeping dough in warm place.

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      My bread dough usually takes quite a bit more than 6 hours to fully rise, so it’s not unusual that your dough hasn’t doubled in size after just 6 hours. In the summer time when the weather is warm, my dough usually rises in about 12 hours. In the winter, it’s closer to 18-20 hours. I would recommend keeping your dough in a warm place for a few more hours to see if it continues to rise. If after 18-20 hours your dough still hasn’t risen much at all, then it’s possible that your yeast wasn’t quite ready to bake with yet. If that’s the case, you can keep feeding the yeast for a few more days and then try again. A couple of other things that can affect the dough rising are having too much salt or sugar in your recipe, so you could try using a little less sugar and salt. You can also try using filtered water if your water has chlorine in it because that can sometimes kill off some of the yeast and keep the dough from rising.

  35. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for this . recently i have discovered the form of cultures being used in fleischmann’s dry yeast are saccharomyces cervacia this is toxic fungal yeast that Sakrete very harmful by-products in the form of mycotoxins and that this is actually very harmful to our bodies .it causes a great amount of candida amongst other things .trying to go back natural the way it used to be done when bread was healthy, I found it a challenge to say the least. This is the first article that actually explains how to make your own starter not having to get it from somebody else . so thank you for that have you ever made cinnamon rolls using this method?
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  36. Anne Graham says:

    Hello and Thank you for a wonderful website! I am enjoying it.

    I am going to try your bread recipe listed above. I have it together and awaiting the rise. I used a mix of unbleached bread flour, all purpose flour and whole wheat flour and my ready and active homemade sourdough starter. I did use about 2/3 cup of starter and about 2 tbsp brown sugar. so with all of those changes, will see how it turns out! This is such a simple recipe, it could be made on a regular basis even with a busy work and home life. I did spend most of yesterday off and on making a complicated sourdough which came out really good and with nice complex flavors but I can’t see doing that all the time. This one is so easy, I am excited about it!

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      I hope the bread turns out well for you! 🙂 The simplicity is the main reason why it’s my go-to recipe. I don’t have time for all of the more complicated recipes!

  37. Satyavani Harkara says:

    1) I live In India and the summer is here so I still do the 6 -7 days for the starter dough.
    2) Once I use 1/2 cup for bread how do I feed the starter to store it. If I do not intend to bake for next few weeks or month, could I keep it in the fridge without feeding or do I feed once or twice a week.
    3) what If i substitute 11/2 cup whole wheat flour)atta and the the rest 11/2 cup the all purpose flour would it work.
    I am looking forward to start on the sourdough starter and baking my own bread without a bread machine.
    Thanks
    V

    • ourheritageofhealth says:

      Hi V, here are some answers to your questions:

      1) Since it’s summer where you are, it’s possible that your starter might not take quite as long to be active. I would recommend checking it every day to see how it looks. It should look bubbly and should have a tangy smell.

      2) You can keep your starter in the fridge for several weeks or a month without having to feed it. If you wanted to leave it for longer than a month, then you would want to feed it once in a while to make sure it stays active. Feeding it once a month should be enough, and you would need to let it sit out to warm up a bit before feeding it because it will become very cold and stiff in the fridge.

      3) Are you referring to a bread recipe in this question. If you are, then, yes, it would be fine to do half whole wheat flour and half all purpose flour.

      Best wishes for a successful starter and bread-making!

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