Do you know how to feed your natural yeast? Have you heard of natural yeast? Today I have the honor of writing a review on the book, Beyond Basics With Natural Yeast by Melissa Richardson. This is actually her second book, and I am totally in awe of this new book. I met Melissa about three years ago, as I remember. I had never heard of natural yeast at that time in my life. I have since attended several of her hands on classes to learn to make and use natural yeast. I learned to make my own natural yeast flakes using her first book. I continue to give natural yeast “starters” to many bakers here in Southern Utah.
The first book is a great source to learn not only the “how” in using natural yeast, but also why it is so simple to make and use, and also many of the benefits of controlling how the yeast we use is made. This second book gives us some good “reminders” about why natural yeast can be our friend and how we can go about learning to love that wheat we have stored. I realize many of us are intimidated by the thought of making our own natural yeast and the effort it takes to monitor the development of the starter into usable yeast. Yes, you have to babysit this product, but it is well worth it. Like so many other things we try in life, the first few times can be a little time consuming, but as we try the process multiple times it becomes much easier, and actually can be fun as we watch our “little baby” take shape an mature into something usable.
Melissa’s new book Beyond Basics with Natural Yeast has so many new recipes, and wow are they ever easy and healthy. I learned I can make gravy with my starter…what!!!! My husband is a serious mashed potato guy so when I saw the recipe in her new cookbook I had to try the gravy recipe. WooHoo! I am never going back to the flour gravy…I can add my natural yeast starter to the (cooled down) drippings. If you add the starter to the hot drippings the starter will start to cook. You know its called lumpy gravy…yep lumpy. I followed her instructions and had the perfect Thanksgiving gravy. If you do not have drippings you can use chicken, beef, pork or vegetable broth. I can’t stress to you how much I love my Danish Whisk that Melissa introduced to me, that is one of my favorite kitchen tools. It works great making this gravy. Easy peasy.
Feed Your Natural Yeast
I really want to show you how easy it is to “feed your natural yeast”. The jar above on the left is a natural yeast starter I just pulled out of the refrigerator. The Danish Whisk is the tool that has the wooden handle and the metal twirly deal on the far left side above. To feed your starter you will scoop off any discolored natural yeast and discard it if not needed. Next, you scoop out lets say 1/2 cup natural yeast to put into the clean jar on the right. Next you use an equal amount of water (as the yeast) which is 1/2 cup of water and stir the water into the new yeast jar. Stir until completely mixed and smooth. The last thing is to stir in a heaping 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour. My wheat is freshly ground hard white wheat. I use the Danish whisk to thoroughly combine the flour into the yeast/water. After stirring the ingredients together it should not be runny but thick and similar to an oatmeal mixture.
Yeast Is Alive-See The Air Bubbles
The jar above shows the joy of knowing your natural yeast is alive and well. Can you see the air bubbles??? Oh my goodness, I just love making natural yeast. The reason it brings me such joy is the fact that I can make bread without commercial yeast. I still make my regular freshly ground whole wheat bread every week with SAF instant yeast. But I can make natural yeast bread from scratch as well. I also make natural yeast flakes and save them to share with others. People can then make their own natural yeast following Melissa’s instructions in her original book. You will store your yeast in the refrigerator with a lid that is gentley tightened so it still has access to air. The reason for this is because the yeast needs to breathe. Once you get the hang of using natural yeast it is amazing and so healthy. The recipes are never ending. I wish I had known about this process when I was making bread, pancakes, muffins, crepes, etc. when I was raising my family. If you do some research you will see that commercial yeast became popular in the 1970’s. Since then people started having gluten problems. If this is the case, then why do Europeans typically not have gluten issues. They have wonderful unleavened bread everyday.
Europe And Natural Yeast
I have read articles where families traveled to Europe and had been told by physicians that they probably had gluten intolerance issues. A few families traveled for months in Europe and could not resist the beautiful loaves of bread sold everywhere. Some family members ate several loaves….for weeks and had zero gluten/stomach issues. I have to ask is it the wheat, the yeast or the chemicals we have in the US that is causing stomach problems for family members? I have heard maybe it is the way the wheat is treated or grown here….
I personally know a few people who have started making bread with natural yeast and they no longer have gluten intolerence issues. I have several families who travel to my house to get natural yeast that are so grateful for Melissa’s books and her knowledge of bread making. I have no medical training concerning gluten issues. I just have first hand experience with families who must only bake bread the old fashioned natural yeast way.
They no longer have bloated stomachs or are unable to eat freshly ground whole wheat bread made with natural yeast and chemical free additives. People thank me all the time for the knowledge Melissa shared with me about the old fashioned way to bake bread. Now let’s have some fun making these recipes in this busy holiday season. Melissa’s publisher is having a blog tour right now!
Here are some of the recipes in Melissa’s new book:
2. Gravy (I told you about that one)
3. Basic Naan
4. Carrot Cake
5. Bread Pudding
6. Salted Chocolate Sourdough Bread
7. Natural Yeast Soft Pretzels
8. Light Rye Bread
9. Crackers (LOTS of recipes-fabulous)
10. Oven Pancakes
11. Muffins, muffins and more muffins ( I love muffins)
If you want to meet my friend please follow Melissa’s website The Bread Geek, you will be so glad you did. I promise.
I hope you enjoy her new book as much as I have! I love love, love the recipes, pictures and all her tips to help us bake healthier foods!