A reader asked me to write about how to make yeast for use in a survival situation where the stores aren’t open or you just cant find any!
Yeast is naturally occurring and obviously our ancestors have made bread for centuries, long before the supermarket brought Fleischmann’s to your fingertips. So lets take a look at some ways to naturally cultivate yeast so you can make bread, that isn’t flat and uneventful!
Fruits and vegetables as well as many other natural things have yeast on their surface that occurs naturally, so this is just one way to get it. In a survival situation you will already be growing your own food in gardens or food forests (google permaculture) so you should have an ample supply of fruits and/or veggies to get this from.
FRUIT YEAST (Raisins)
1) Clean Glass jar, something around 24oz but whatever you have will be fine, just make sure it is clean and free of debris.
2) Clean water, filtered water or bottled is good. Tap can be used depending on your local conditions. Don’t use alkaline water!
3) Fruit (in this case raisins, raisins are also popular for making “Hooch” in prison as well, for exactly the same reason)
3-4 Tablespoons of Raisins, however the more you put in the faster this will go
(You don’t need to use only ONE type of fruit, if you only have a few of this and that, throw it all in there, we’re making yeast not fine liqueur!)
Note: You can also add a few tablespoons of Honey or Sugar to help the fermentation go faster
Pour your water in to just above the 3/4 mark of the Jar and lightly cap the jar, but don’t ‘Seal it’, the fermentation will need to escape, and if your not careful you could have a blowout!
Put it somewhere were the temperature is constant (I.e. Room Temperature), make sure it’s not a place that gets cold at points during the day or night, as cool temperatures kill off the little guys doing the work for you in the jar!
In a few days (3-4 in the warmer Summer, upwards of week in the cooler winter), bubbles should be forming at the surface, and their should be a “hooch” wine-like smell, and the raisins should all be floating (or at least the vast majority!)
Put it in the fridge you now have “Yeast Water”!
NOTE: You can use apple cores in the same way, just stick them in and wait the same amount of time, the sugars in the fruit help to ferment it faster. It should take around 4-5 days for the water to be ready, a good guesstimation is to smell it, when it changes from fruity to a wine smell that’s when its ready.
APPLE YEAST WATER
MIXED FRUIT YEAST WATER
(NOTICE THE BUBBLES)
TOMATO YEAST WATER
I will go over how to use this Yeast water at the end of the post after the other methods of making yeast water are discussed Hold on!
YEAST FROM GRAIN
Yeast is already present on Grain, so all you need to do is separate it just like you did with the fruit above.
- 1 1/4 Cup Unbleached all purpose flour (If you mill your own from storage this will be fine as well)
- 1 Cup Clean Warm Water(filtered, or bottled, tap is fine depending, just no alkaline water)
- 1 Jar with Cheesecloth or lid
Mix the flour and warm water
Keep at Room Temperature
Let stand a few days (3-4 in Summer, Around a week in the winter). It should be bubbling and the “batter” should be rising
Put in the Fridge You now have Yeast water
YEAST FROM POTATO
Just like the others, Yeast lives on potatoes which is why they are used for making alcohol like vodka. Yeast starters from potatoes have been used for nearly 4000 years so the history is behind it!
- 1 Peeled Medium Potato
- 4 Cups warm water (Clean water, no alkaline water)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1 Pot (and jar possibly)
Boil potato in unsalted clean water until “done”
Drain and save the water
Mash the potato and add sugar and salt, and let cool to Lukewarm
Add water to the potato mash so it the whole mixture EQUALS 1 quart
(This is where you could put it in a pot or a jar (as long as the jar is over a quart)
Cover and let sit in a warm place and let it ferment
Done, this will yield enough yeast to produce enough for a large family (more than one loaf)
From this recipe you now have Potato Yeast water and can use that for the following recipe to make more…
POTATO YEAST #2 (The everlasting starter)
- 1 small potato (about the size of a jumbo jumbo natural hen egg)
- 3/4 Cup Potato Water (from the first potato recipe above)
- 2 tsp Sugar
Boil the potato until done, drain and save the potato water
Mash the Potato, add the Potato water, sugar and enough flour to make a stiff batter or soft dough
Put in a warm area and let it ferment
Put in a wide mouth jar, with a loose fitting lid (in about 5 days it should be ready after this step)
Done you now have a “Everlasting” Potato Starter, much like the old sourdough bread starters
POTATO YEAST #3
Now to make old fashioned light bread from the starter you just made, use this recipe
- 1 1/2 Cups Potato Water (this is why you always save it!)
- 1 tbsp Sugar (This is why sugar is so important to store for long term and have LOTS of it!)
Get a Large bowl and put the Starter you made in the above recipe, Potato Water, Sugar and Enough Flour to make stiff batter
Beat well and cover lightly and leave in a warm place overnight to ferment
The next morning the batter should be “bubbly”, so now take out the same amount as the starter you used in Step 1. Put this in a wide mouth jar and place in the refrigerator or root cellar. Now you can see how the “everlasting starter” works, you always just add flour and make your bread and also a new starter!
Make the bread!
HOW TO MAKE BREAD FROM THE YEAST WATER
Now you saw how the bread was made from the potato starter which was made from the potato yeast water, and it is roughly the same for the fruits/vegetable yeast water you made in the first recipe.
You can make any sort of bread from the yeast water.
Pre-Fermented dough is easier to make and deal with, and you arent trying to be a artisan baker in a survival situation so lets stick with the easiest one!
PRE-FERMENTED DOUGH RECIPE
-Tupperware, container with lid or a Ziploc Bag
-Yeast water (warm to room temperature a few hours before you are going to do this)
-Whole Wheat Flour (if youre using stored wheat this is no problem)
- Small amount of Salt
Pour 3 oz of the yeast water into the bag/container (if the raisins fall in thats ok, if you like raisin bread)
Mix in 3.5 oz of whole wheat flour
Knead with fork or spoon for 3-5 minutes
When it gets hot (80F+) add a pinch of salt so it doesnt over-ferment and get a Sour taste (you can still eat it if you dont, but it wont be as good)
Cover and let it sit overnight. It will double or triple in size by morning
Note: If it doesnt do this (double or triple) your yeast water was no bueno (no good) and you need to make a new batch and start this recipe over again.
You can keep it in the fridge for about a week or longer, but try to use it before that time. The longer you keep it the more sour it will get but you can keep adding a pinch of salt to keep the fermentation at bay.
Another method for capturing the yeast that I read, but have not tried is to capture and store the dry yeast from the Yeast water that you make.
Once you have made the yeast water from the FLOUR/GRAIN method described above is to take that water and spread the LIQUID mixture out on a piece of wax paper/Plastic Wrap or clean surface instead of putting the whole mixture in the Fridge or Root Cellar.
When it is dry (and i mean DRY DRY DRY) break up the chunks of dried yeast into chunks
grind the chunks in a food process (or use your grain mill, the recipe i saw doesnt mention this, but I dont see why no)
FREEZE the yeast in a airtight container for long term storage (in a grid-down scenario you may not have a freezer so the “long term” option may be off the table.
TO USE THIS YEAST FOLLOW THESE STEPS
Dissolve 1 cup of the dried homemade yeast in the liquid mixture that your recipe calls for
Make the dough, but decrease the flour used in the recipe by 1 cup
Knead the dough and allow to rise as normal (but be aware that it may take 2x as long to rise compared to using commercial dry yeast)
Without Yeast, bread as we know it is impossible
A great Resource for home dough making and bread making can be found at http://originalyeast.blogspot.com which is where I originally found all my info to start doing this awhile back!