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  • Cindy Trotter

Wild Yeast Bread

Wild Yeast Bread

Capturing Yeast from Foraged Plants

Sourdough’s Less Demanding Older Sister


Foraging and Wildcrafting in the Mid-West

Cindy Trotter, Certified Foraging Educator

Therapeuo Wellness

Warrenton Missouri

Wild yeast is all around us. It is present on flowers, on berries and other fruit, on bark, on new growth in the spring; and on top of that, it’s easy to capture and cultivate! Wild yeast is something we are hearing more about these days now that making sourdough bread has become a trendy activity.  But unlike sourdough starter, yeast water doesn’t need quite as much attention.

I told my daughter that a sourdough starter is like a toddler. It constantly needs feeding. If it needs attention in the middle of the night, you have to go to it. Everyone in the starter parenting group says to ’put it on a schedule.’ But much like a toddler, it’s difficult to put it on a schedule when it has a mind of its own.  Sometimes it’s beautiful and cute, and other times it’s temperamental and wants everything to be just right. It wants what it wants when it wants it!  Yeast water on the other hand, just needs a good, steady, environment, enough food to satisfy it and it will grow and grow.  If you’re patient, and don’t rush it, it will perform beautifully without extra work or attention.  It’s like the golden child!

One of the simplest ways to make yeast water is to put some raisins and grapes in a lightly sweetened water, and let them ferment. But it's even more fun to find your own wild yeast! Foraging for flowers, bark, shoots, etc connects you to the world around you. The yeast from the fruit consumes the sweetener and multiplies.  It really is that simple.  Yeast covered fruit + spring water or distilled water + a little bit of sweetener along with a little time, will give you enough yeast water to make bread! 

Making Yeast Water           

To make the yeast water, sterilize a quart jar, wide mouth is you can find one. Forage for seasonal wild flowers, bark,  new growth in the spring, and or berries later in the spring and summer… Do a little research to find out what kind of plants carry the most wild yeast.  For my April batch, I used:  Dandelion and violet flowers, some new maple growth, some young juniper berries, and several  black raspberry stems.  New pine or birch branch work great too.  Do a little research to see what you might have on your own property. The search term is ‘spring plants with wild yeast’ or something like that. 

 Loosely fill the jar with this plant matter. Sprinkle a teaspoon of plain sugar onto the plants, then fill with either well water, spring water, or distilled water.  Do not use tap water because some of the additives may kill the yeast. Leave an inch or an inch and a half of space between the water and the lid.  Leave on a counter at room temperature, shake every day, and watch.  When the water begins to turn cloudy, and bubbly when it is shaken, you have captured and activated the yeast. It takes anywhere from 5-10 days.  (If you see black mold forming, throw it away and start over.)  At this point strain the plant matter from the water and you have yeast water!  You can make bread!  You don’t have to purchase yeast from the store! The miracle of creation has given you yeast that can be used for bread, wine or beer!!  I’ve only tried bread, but I’ve made 3 loaves of bread from one batch of yeast water!!!!!!  When I use it all up, I can go make more! 

Making Bread from Captured Yeast Water

 I used a recipe I found from Desiree Harvestlove on Facebook, and it works perfectly! 

The most important thing about this bread recipe is the temperature of the water used.  Pay very close attention.  If it gets too hot, it may kill the yeast.  But other than that, it’s a very simple bread.  It is actually a no knead, one rise bread!  And it’s delicious. 

 ~First, measure the flour, salt, and sugar into a very large bowl.   

 ~Preheat the oven to 475 and put the Dutch oven in to heat.

 ~Once the flour is measured and in a mixing bowl, go ahead and grease the bowl, loaf pan, or Dutch oven that you are planning to use to bake it in.  I put it in a stainless-steel bowl, and then put the bowl into the Dutch oven. 

 ~Getting everything ready first helps for when you finally start to heat the water.  You want it to be at temperature, and then mix right away. 

 ~Use a thermometer, and bring water to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and then add the yeast water.  Once it is added bring it back to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and add it to the preblended flour. 

 ~Stir until well blended, using a light but thorough hand.  The dough is more of a batter than a dough. Like a very thick pancake batter. 


~Pour the batter/dough into a greased loaf pan or other vessel and allow to rise for 12 to 24 hours.  Be patient.  It WILL rise!!! If it doesn’t, go back and make a new yeast water using more plants.  My first batch was very weak but I didn’t have many plants in the water. My second batch was strong!

 ~ Bake in a dutch oven, covered, at 475 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover, decrease the temperature to 375 degrees, and bake another 20 minutes or until browned.

Seriously, it really is that easy!  And it’s almost a miracle!  You will feel both empowered and awed at your ability to turn water into bread.  Truly!


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Mix together:

510 grams flour

10 grams salt

20 grams sugar

Heat to 100 degrees Fahrenheit:

300 grams water

100 grams yeast water

Pour over flour and mix by hand. Pour into a greased pan that will be used to bake the bread.  Cover and let rise 12-24 hours until it rises about double. 

Bake at 475 degrees 15 to 20 minutes, then reduce heat and bake until browned at 375.

Allow to cool and slice.  Delicious with butter, honey, and/or home made jam!


Gospel of John 2: 1-11


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