Experiments with Wild Yeast: Why I Started
A few weeks ago, my husband and I watched the Netflix documentary of Michael Pollan’s Cooked. I read the book when it first came out and was excited to see how it had been converted to a documentary. When we watched the section on Air – which is so interesting that my five year old actually watched it with us – I knew I had to start making bread with wild yeast.
What’s wild yeast, you ask?
Wild yeast is yeast that is in the air all around us. It’s miraculous, really, that you can put a bowl of flour and water on your counter, and yeast will find it, colonize it, and allow you to make bread. These little guys are called lactobacilli, and they make lactic acid which leavens the dough and gives the bread a tangy, kind of sourdough flavor. But it’s not just about the flavor – bread that is naturally leavened through the process of fermentation is easier to digest.
So, I found a tub and mixed it with water and flour, and waited a few days, swapping out some of the old mixture for new water and flour each day.
Then I started baking, and it’s the best bread I’ve ever made.
We’ve noticed a difference after eating some, too. I never have that bready, too-full-of-carbs feeling after eating this stuff, so I baked another loaf.
Out of all the homemade things I’ve ever tried, bread is absolutely the best experiment. It’s strange to think that bread was something that everyone used to either make at home or buy freshly baked at a local bakery, but now we buy packaged up loaves of unpronounceable ingredients, wrapped in cellophane from a factory in an unknown state. Making my own bread has connected me to the way people used to care for their families by mixing flour, water, and salt, and then waiting for magic to happen.
Plus it just tastes better.
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