Soon after everybody closed down for the pandemic, there was no yeast in the stores. Then I looked around the internet and found this delightfully intriguing video from Bali:
It turns out wild Saccharomyces yeast is already in our kitchens, and we just have to tame it! I started putting just about any past-fresh fruit in a jar, filled it with water, closed it, shook it every day, waited a week and voilà, a jar full of yeast water to start my bread. Some strains were more successful than others, and I saved off successful strains to help start the next batch, which would cut the growth time down substantially. My domesticated yeast never were quite as active as that selectively bred commercial yeast, but they worked well enough to raise bread dough given time. I ended up going through four successful strains which I called α, β, γ, and δ. A couple strains each ended when I accidentally used it all in a dough, and one strain died when I tried to use it to ferment melon which for some reason killed it. Then after two years of making yeast water, I finally lost the δ strain when my jar broke. After that, since commercial yeast had long been back and making yeast water was so time and space consuming that I started calling that period two years before the yeast, I gave up the craft.
But oh those beautiful fruity yeasty smelling potions were so wonderful and not only made unique tasting bread but flavorful beverages too. And in retrospect, I developed an interesting inter-kingdom relationship with those little fungi. I gave each batch of the “guys” everything they could need, plenty of sweet food, fresh water, fresh air, an environment free of damaging sunshine or moldy enemies, plenty of encouragement to grow and multiply, all right up until the moment that I of course roasted them alive in the oven.
Anyway, I’ll try to dig up and share a photo or two, and at some point write about my relationship to the plant kingdom side of bread too. Mark I