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Friends, I learned last night over Zoom drinks that ya'll're baking so much that there's a shortage of yeast?! I, your local frumpy yeast geneticist have come here to tell you this: THERE IS NEVER A SHORTAGE OF YEAST. Here's where I'm a viking. Instructions below.
Scour your kitchen for any dried fruit: grapes, raisins, prunes, apricots. Fresh fruit works too, but it's best to leave it unwashed, and given our current situation this is probably not a wise thing to do unless you've grown the fruit yourself and trust it.
Take your fruit (or, if using fresh fruit skins--please use your judgmenet), pop it into a jar, and add a little bit of water to it. 2 or 3 tablespoons (30-40 mL) is more than enough. If you stir the fruit around, you'll notice the water gets slightly cloudy. That's the yeast!
You're well on your way. Add an equal mass of flour to this mixture. If you don't have a scale add enough flour to make a loose, wet dough. DON'T GET FANCY: old flour is fine. White flour is perfect (it's what I prefer). Doesn't have to be organic, doesn't have to be high gluten.
And then you wait. You'll want to keep this warm (but not hot). Hug it while you binge Netflix. Cuddle it while you yearn for human touch once again. Or put it on the counter while your dishwasher is running. Do it right and after 12 hours you'll see bubbles. These will grow.
YOUR YEAST ARE MAKING THOSE BUBBLES. Once the flour paste loosens up (24? 48 hours?), take a tiny bit of the fruit/flour/water mix, and add it to 30-40mL of water, add flour, and repeat. This time, it should come to life and those bubble should pop up much quicker.
It's closest I've come to witnessing spontaneous generation; it always feels like there's a bit of magic around whenever it works. And if it doesn't work the first time: 1) be patient and 2) try it with something different.
Don't be afraid to get creative. Try it with some old bread you have lying around. Or bread crumbs. There are old stories of Parisian boulangeries selling baguettes that were more old bread than flour to cut costs and stay afloat.
Just finish a lovely Belgian ale or were you drinking a bottle of wine with dregs at the bottom? Add it to some flour and water and see what pops up! Keep it mind, you'll be cutting your starter back quite frequently, so the original flavors won't be there when you finally bake.
What *will* be there is are yeasts from different sources that are ready to bring your bread to life! That's another thread for another time. Just remember: yeast is everywhere! Also: please wash your hands and stay away from other people. <3, your local frumpy yeast geneticist.
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