Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning About Natural Yeast

Over the last year or so, I've been on a kick that's sent me down a rabbit hole of real, whole, natural, and traditionally-prepared foods. It sounds pretty basic and obvious, but I was shocked by how difficult it actually is to eat this way. It just amazes me how hard we have to try to avoid processed, factory-farmed stuff.

I am convinced, however, that it is well worth the effort. Very well worth it.

One of the biggest- and best- changes we've made since drinking the refined-sugar-free natural-dye Kool-Aid (ha ha) is switching to raw milk. Another switch that's becoming part of our yearly rhythm is buying a quarter of local grass-fed beef and packing our freezer with it (this year we included the offal along with the bones). With gratitude we gather our own organic, deep orange-yolked eggs every day, whenever we can we buy organic fruits and veggies, and I'm slowly adding more and more home-fermented veggies, condiments, and beverages to our stores.

My latest endeavor has been natural yeast. I've wanted to try baking with wild yeasty beasties for a long time now, but have always been intimidated by the whole process. Then, last week, I got my free natural (aka wild) yeast in the mail and I went for it.

It was obvious after my first attempt at bread baking with my natural yeast that I need a whole lot more practice with this new medium. What I know about bread baking does not translate to this new-to-me method. My first loaf was way too wet, which kept it from supporting itself when it proofed, and thus yielded two round "loaves" that were about 1 1/2" thick in the middle. They were tasty, though, so I don't feel completely defeated (deflated? ahem).

I found myself shaking my head as I pulled my flat bread out of the oven; how sad that this ancient craft and knowledge has basically evolved out of our common consciousness. Something like baking with natural yeast was something common even 100 years ago, but that along with so much more has all but disappeared thanks to this industrial food machine that has its vice grip on our culture.

My poor dad has to listen to me rant about this very thing every time I finish a new book or find a new blog that speaks to me, but the truth is I can't not see it now and I can't stop working towards my ultimate goal of whole-home conversion to traditional, nourishing, non-industrialized food for my family... my whole family. Which is why I chew on his ear whenever I get all fired up (and anyone else's, if I get the chance).

Plus, I really enjoy rediscovering what my ancestors knew and the reason why behind those old world processes.

So now I have a live yeast culture living in a jar on a warm spot on Scarlet's salamander, I have fermented sauerkraut in the fridge ready to accompany our meat entrees, and I have my eyes set on learning how to live-culture raw dairy and brew beer!

I'm gonna do it, y'all.

Watch and see.


Interested in what has inspired me so far? Check these out (I do not get paid to endorse any of these resources, I truly think they're worth your time):

The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther 

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