Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Tale of 3 Yeasts: Days 2-10

Well I certainly feel like I've gotten a crash course in wild yeast production.  It is amazingly easy and also challenging.  Here are my results.

The rye starter went well.  For those who read the original post, the flour/potato water combo seemed quite dry so I did end up adding more water.  Each day for three days I threw out half the mixture and added new flour and new water (just plain tap water).  On the fourth day I transferred the rye mixture to a clean jar and continued feeding it daily with new flour and water.  Mmmm, bubbly...

The grape starter was a different story entirely.  After three days, the grapes were a moldy, moldy mess as pictured below.  I was on some wild yeast sites and there were varying opinions of the mold situation.  Some mentioned that a healthy yeast culture should keep mold away, some thought it should be thrown out, some thought grape starter was ridiculous because the yeast on the grapes was a different type of yeast than that used in bread making, and some said not to worry.  Not one to worry overly much about food, I soldiered on and poured the juice off the grapes, trying my best not to disturb my plentiful mold colony.  I even mixed in some flour and extra water and watched (and smelled) as it bubbled away for a day or so.  Then I threw it out.  I kept imagining newspaper headlines detailing my untimely death from my wild yeast experiment.  I need a bit more time on this earth thank you very much!

Finally, the honey starter.  I stirred the honey starter dutifully every day for five days before moving it to a jar and starting the feeding cycle.  It smelled nice and sour.  Doesn't the picture below look delicious???

Here are my two jars of wild yeast starter.  I am continuing the feeding cycle (once a day) and will put them in the fridge after a couple weeks so the flavours get a chance to mature.

A few notes on the process:
  • The culture is alive so it needs to be looked after.  Think of it as your pet in a jar!  Feed it every day if it is out of the fridge and every week if it is in the fridge.
  • Your wild yeast can have a wide range of smells.  From sourdough to acetone to alcohol, the scent changes tremendously depending on where you are at in the wild yeast cycle.  My rye starter is going through an acetone phase and the scent is intense.  I am continuing to feed and nurture it in the hopes that it will soon go back to a nice sour tang.  The lesson is don't give up on your starters!  Fiddle with them and consult the wild yeast community.
  • One lady online called her yeast a "monster," which I thought was hilarious so mine are now officially called monsters.  It suits them doesn't it?
  • I wouldn't bother with grapes in the starter because I don't think they're necessary.  All you really need is flour and water and perhaps a little honey.  Keep it simple!

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