Back into yeasting

Ok, so yeasting isn’t exactly a word but I figured it explained things with a lot fewer words. I’ve been back into playing with yeast and friends in several forms. πŸ™‚

Bertha, my sourdough starter from some years back died a slow and mouldy death.Β My kefir has been going ok but after a couple of long ferments I had lost my grains amidst the curdled kefir of an overcooked batch. And after my weekend away at The Village Continuum where I’d learned about kefir cultured cheeses I figuredΒ it was time to buy some new grains.

I bought my grains off eBay. I would suggest buying from a seller who is local to you. The less time your grains spend in transit, the happier they will be. Alternatively, if you know someone with grains, I’m sure they will be willing to share. Kefir grains multiply, often faster than they can be shared. Your donor will likely be more than happy to get rid of some. πŸ™‚

2 loaves of bread, both long fermented sourdough and the jars from left to right are milk kefir 1st ferment, sourdough starter on top of 2nd ferment kefir, 2 quart jars of milk fermenting for cheese making and the small jar with the black lid is sourdough starter for a friend.

2 loaves of bread, both long fermented sourdough and the jars from left to right are milk kefir 1st ferment, sourdough starter on top of 2nd ferment kefir, 2 quart jars of milk fermenting for cheese making and the small jar with the black lid is sourdough starter for a friend.

The sourdough starter is as easy as chips to make, a heck of a lot cheaper and probably faster than having some sent via snail mail. You can usually find it online though I’m told if you prefer someone else to get it started. To make a starter, get some flour (I’ve made Bertha II with wholemeal although Bertha I was rye and you can use white too) and using a small jar, bucket or convenient receptacle, mix up about 2 tablespoons of flour with some water (best unchlorinated although mine is straight from the tap) until you have a runny paste similar to a thick shake in consistency. Stir it vigorously and in a large manner. You want to expose your beginner starter to as much air as you can because that’s where the yeasts you want to capture are floating. Put a cloth over the top and secure with a band or string. I use a mason jar with the ring only and cheesecloth. About 12 or so hours later, tip half of your starter out, add 2 tablespoons of flour and enough water to make it runny paste again, repeat the mixing and put the cloth back over. Repeat 12 hours later and for as long as it takes until you see your starter looking like a sponge with lots of little holes or bubbles through it. When you have those bubbles it means you have yeasts that are in there. They expel carbon dioxide as a waste product, hence bubbles. πŸ˜€


You can also add apple or grapes, sultanas or other fruits that have yeasts into your starter too. You remove the grapes or apple after a couple of days although the sultanas can stay in your starter indefinitely. You may find a sneaky one makes it into your bread every now and then though.

Feed your starter every 12-24 hours afterwards, discarding half and topping up. If you want to slow it down you can pop it in the fridge. If you want to make bread, feed it up 12 hours before. The starter will be halved in the process of bread making then.

Making kefir is almost the same in method and time taken. Strain the kefir milk into a separate container or jar, pop your grains back into the old jar, top up with milk and cover in the same way as the starter. Easy! I second ferment my kefir for added goodness and a vast improvement in flavour to my mind. The second jar contains a few lemon skin peelings and the kefir milk goes in there with no grains. When I have a new batch of kefir ready I turn the lemon kefir into a milkshake for my kids. Depending on my mood I drink some of it too. It’s zingy and zesty with a hint of lemon and it’s absolutely delicious.

You can make English Muffins with sourdough bread dough too, just roll into balls or cut with a scone cutter and fry lightly in a pan.

You can make English Muffins with sourdough bread dough too, just roll into balls or cut with a scone cutter and fry lightly in a pan. It’s better at a lower heat to brown them slowly whilst the heat cooks the insides thoroughly.

Now, as per the Milkwood post, I decided to have a go making the cheese from the recipe they posted. I took 2 quart mason jars and I’ve left them for 24 hours, each with a kefir grain and about 1L of milk. I poured in a little of my first ferment kefir too, just to give it a head start. I took out the grains this evening as they were sitting on the top of the gently firm fermented milk. The milk will stay on the bench until the white wrinkly mould forms and the curds separate from the whey. Then it’s cheese making time! πŸ˜€ I’ll let you know how it goes.

It feels good to be back in the kitchen brewing up yeasty goodness. I know how good the food is and there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had when the sourdough bread works to perfection.

So do you do any fermenting? Please share. πŸ™‚


13 thoughts on “Back into yeasting

  1. Yvonne says:

    I love reading about how others ferment all sorts of things. I keep buying cabbages in the hope that I will actually pluck up enough courage to make sauerkraut….one day….. I do use my sour dough starter once or twice a week (more frequently if my grandson is around as he loves my bread) and I make yoghurt every couple of weeks. I also make ginger beer once a year. I’ve also tried experimenting with making vinegar out of pineapple skin, not successfully I might add (or maybe I wasn’t used to the taste). I have an organic apple cider vinegar ‘mother’ sitting in a bottle which I will be using to make more vinegar with. I find that I don’t need to be making more stuff for myself. It was different when my family were all still home.

  2. Lucy says:

    I make yoghurt and feta cheese at least weekly, kombucha and water kefir is always on the go. Haven’t really enjoyed the milk kefir, but since reading the milkwood blog, I too will have another go but need to get some new grains. I always have sauerkraut on hand, love fermented carrots, so when I can get organic carrots cheap enough I do a big batch. I have just made some fermented garlic – raw this time, last year I fermented a batch of oven baked garlic – it was nicer, but I think raw will be healthier! I only make sourdough bread – usually just do a plain bread, but am playing around with fruit bread at the moment and I really want to make a pumpkin bread, but haven’t found a recipe or the time to start experimenting. Fermented beetroot is good, but my family prefer a vinegar brined beetroot. And I love kimchi, but haven’t made one for a while. I think that’s about it! Oh and I was into the Herman the German friendship cake, but haven’t done it for a while either.

    • Wow, you put my efforts to shame! I never had much joy with water kefir. Maybe I was making it wrong but never really liked it much. Same with kombucha. I love the bought stuff though! πŸ˜€
      Fermented raw garlic is amazing! I use it when I make hummus as it’s not so zingy as raw garlic but the depth of flavour is awesome.

  3. Jo says:

    Ooh, crazy fermenting going on here! I made sourdough bread that was to die for a couple of years ago, and haven’t made it since. I have just made my first jar of sauerkraut which is delicious and I am eating it in salad every day. AND I have coconut water kefir and kombucha going. The coconut kefir is yum and ongoing, but I am still experimenting to get my preferred kombucha taste..

    • Time to sourdough again perhaps Jo? πŸ˜‰ Glad you’re liking sauerkraut. I had a lovely hibiscus and passionfruit (I think) kombucha some years back, plus I tried apple and mint, both of which were lovely. πŸ™‚

  4. Lynda D says:

    Im here too, late as ever, glad you are busy in the kitchen. Not much fermenting going on here, Oh, except for perhaps me. LOL

  5. Leigh says:

    I just came from Chris’s (Gully Grove) where she just named her sourdough starter, “Griffin.” I’ve never named mine! I need to start another one. Usually our summers are too hot unless one likes turbo-fermenting. I did keep my kefir going all summer though, because I don’t want to have to buy grains again.(Hurray for refrigeration)

  6. dave says:

    got a couple of large scobys, for kombucha. free to anyne who wants to come and collect them. reply , located ballan

  7. Enjoying your blog, which I have only recently discovered. Have just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award and will be posting my blog post about it on the 16th February 2017. Happy Baking (and Yeasting) !!!

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