Autumn Approaches: Making Wild Yeast Bread Starter

With this warm weather, fermenting batch of wild yeast bread starter is easy. It lives and grows in a Ball jar on the kitchen counter until it’s ready for use.

September is here: it’s time to make this winter’s batch of wild yeast bread starter.

I think having a bread starter in the fridge is essential through winter. The wild yeast I make is so much better than the dried, processed, powder yeast from the market. That stuff is a poor substitute for a naturally fermented, jar-full of living organisms.

Last night, I combined two cups of wheat flour with one tablespoon of raw sugar and one teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt. Then I whisked in enough warm spring water (chemicals in tap water can kill the natural yeast that lives on grain) to form a thin batter. Placed it in a Ball jar, covered the top with a brown coffee filter, and secured it with a rubber band.

With the warm weather, fermentation is no problem. It sits on the kitchen counter and is stirred twice daily. In three to five days, we’ll have a yeasty, heady, earthy, sour bread starter ready to use. I feed it once weekly with equal weights of flour and water (three tablespoons flour and two tablespoons water), and it lives in the fridge until next summer arrives and it’s time to turn off the oven.

There is nothing like homemade, unprocessed bread when the weather cools. From the start of the process – creating the wild yeast compound – through to the end - a warm, yeasty, crusty loaf of bread -  bread making is a joy.

When I met my husband, his idea of bread was Wonder white. I nearly choked when I found out. Bread as bread is intended has three ingredients – whole flour, salt, and water. It is soft and full of air on the inside, rich and crusty on the outside. Wonder bread has about 31 ingredients and additives. That's not bread.

When you have a piece of real bread in your mouth, its fragrance fills your nose and throat. It makes everything else you eat at a meal taste better. It's perfect food.

Now, when I bake bread, my husband hovers. He wants to know when it will be ready to eat. He slices of a big piece, butters it, takes a bite, and swoons. It just kills me that he lived so long without knowing what bread is. But a part of me is super happy to be the person who introduced him to its beauty.

Live in peace.

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