Monday, April 18, 2016

Wild Yeast Starter-Fermented Wild Yeast-Health Benefits of Wild Yeast

Xenia Stavrinides

Wild yeast has been used since before 4,000 B.C it is a natural "TERROIR" yeast that contains beneficial bacteria. Wild yeast technically belongs to the fungus family. During the fermentation process the yeast species known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae consumes the gluten, starch and carbohydrate properties and converts them to carbon dioxide and alcohol. 

For thousands of years naturally occurring wild yeast has been used for baking, brewing and food preparation. 
Yeasts are naturally occurring in our environment and are found on the skins of fruits, berries, grapes and in the mass cells and fluids of plants, greens and even cactus. Some yeasts are found in the soil, compost piles, and some yeasts even have symbiotic relationships with various insects too. The white film found on the skin of grapes is a yeast and it is specific to the environment in which the grapes are grown, thus making most wine "Terroir". 

Local "terroir" yeast is as important to our diet as local honey, local bee pollen, local vegetables, local fruit, nuts, beans, peas, local foods, meat, poultry and eggs. Consuming locally grown foods benefits our overall health.
Since the industrialized agricultural revolution; diseases, allergies, obesity and illness have escalated and there is a connection. 

The health benefits of using wild yeast are many: 

a. The heavy and non-digestible starches and gluten have been consumed and converted during the wild fermentation process, thus having a far lower glycemic index and does not spike blood sugar as other baked goods do.

b. Wild yeast and wild fermented starter contain a much higher bacteria Lactobacillus index than other food, and  far less phytic acid. This helps the body to absorb more essential nutrients and promotes easy digestion.

c. Foods prepared and made from wild yeast and wild fermentation can often be beneficial to those who are gluten-sensitive because the protein molecules that bind making gluten have been broken down and converted into digestible amino acids. 

d. Wild yeast and wild fermented starters do not cause intestinal inflammation like many modern foods do.

e. Wild yeast contains Acetic acid–which inhibits the growth of mold. This also acts a natural preservative which also means that your baked goods or foods prepared from wild yeast stay fresher, longer. Acetic acid is fundamental to life and all living organisms. coenzyme A is necessary to the proper metabolism of carbohydrates, sugars, starches and fats. The Krebs' cycle maximizes the body's performance, optimizes energy production and metabolic activity.

f. The wild fermentation process increases the activity of beneficial bacteria which also helps control unwanted yeasts in the digestive tract. Since candida and yeast overgrowth is dramatically minimized,  this too can help rebuild good gut bacteria. 
g. Nutrient-density. Wild yeast contains beneficial bacteria and essential vitamins, minerals and good proteins. A healthy fermenting wild yeast will be loaded in vitamins B1-B6, B9, B12, probiotics (S. cerevisiaevar. boulardii), folates (Tetrahydrofolate (H4folate) and 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate (5-CH3-H4folate), thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, selenium, iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, potassium and essential fatty acids.
When made properly, the wild yeast is gluten-free. This means that the bio-activity of the wild fermentation process has consumed all the gluten, starches and carbohydrates. If you make wild yeast starter with gluten-free, starch-free or carb-free ingredients the wild yeast may be very weak and could possibly starve. 
Everything has a purpose and high energy carbohydrate foods are great for making wild yeast and boosting a hungry fermenting wild yeast. Wild yeast can be made with garbanzo beans and a wide variety of other foods.  In order for the wild yeast to be healthy it requires energy. Fermenting wild yeast thrives on high energy foods. I feed my fermenting wild yeast raw, unfiltered honey and raw goat milk to give it that extra big boost.

 I have at least one batch and often two batches of wild yeast fermenting on my kitchen counter at all times. I use the majority of it every few days and I feed it as it requires. This post is in response to several emails requesting more information on fermenting wild yeast, and how to start and feed wild yeast. I hope you enjoy this post. Thanks for your support.
Using a clean, dry glass bowl (ceramic, plastic, clay, coconut shell, a box lined with moisture-proofing), mix equal parts of 1 part any flour containing energy to 1 part luke warm liquid (clean water, raw goat milk or freshly squeezed juice). Gently mix into paste and cover with a clean cloth. Let sit close to an open window, and check it for foaming or bubbling activity in 24 hours.
I grind whole food with a pestle and mortar to make my starter flour. Using a pestle and mortar prevents the ingredients from heating. Heat can damage natural essential fatty acids which are naturally occurring in most good seeds. 
Most people start with 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup luke warm water.
Wild yeast thrives in temperatures between 78-82 degrees (f) and fermentation activity is best at those temperatures, excessive heat can kill the fermentation process and temperatures below 40 degrees(f) slows down the fermentation process. Freezing places the colony into suspended animation which is great if you want to save some for later use.  

Over the past 5 years I have noticed an increase in comments across the Internet about wild yeast that stinks like feet, rotten cheese and even worse. The number one reason why wild yeast will stink is due to the simple fact that wild yeast is everywhere and your starter can sometimes smell like what it captures out of thin air. 

Wild yeast is just that. Yeast which is captured from the air. DO NOT make wild yeast in your laundry room or anywhere where you have clothing, socks or shoes. Never place wild yeast starter by a restroom or open window where there is a dog kennel or fish pond.

Have you ever wondered why some cheese smells like feet or dirty socks;  well, it is because they share an identical molecule.  So, be sure to clean your kitchen prior to fermenting wild yeast. 

Avoid sweeping or stirring up dust around the fermenting wild yeast. If you must clean while you are fermenting wild yeast,  use a damp cloth and gently swipe the counters and the floor to collect dust and debris, this will help avoid getting any unwanted or undesirable smells or debris-particles in your wild yeast. Another option is to place the wild yeast in a safe place while you are cleaning and wait at least 1 hour before putting the wild yeast back onto the counter. 

Keep Fermenting Wild Yeast covered with a clean, dust-free cloth at all times.


Never use harsh chemicals around the wild yeast. Avoid using bleach, ammonia or other toxic cleaning supplies around the fermenting wild yeast. Never store any grains such as corn, wheat, rye, barley etc. near fermenting wild yeast. Grains are covered with natural yeast and some of the yeast that is naturally occurring on grains can become very toxic when exposed to moisture and you do not want "that" yeast getting captured. 
Depending on your climate and environment,  the fermentation time will vary. If you do not see any activity within the first 24 hours, do not panic, just wait another 24 hours. Your wild yeast will be very unique to your environment, climate and surroundings, so it is worth the wait. It takes a little practice to really understand your own fermenting wild yeast activity and once you develop a knack for caring for your "TERROIR" Wild Yeast, you will notice a very distinct flavor to all the foods that you prepare with it, and that is totally worth it!
When the yeast is hungry you will notice bubbling. This is when it needs to be fed 1-part carbohydrate (energy) and 1 part liquid. I feed my wild yeast with our raw goat milk  and for added carbohydrates I sometimes use banana, our raw wild honey or I feed it gluten-free oats. It just depends on what I have handy. I enjoy experimenting with fermenting wild yeast, so I may feed it only one ingredient or even a combination. I even feed it bee pollen, and my colony loves it. 

Recently a friend asked me for the exact measurements and I replied with "I do not measure". This is a living colony of live, active organisms, there is no measuring. It is important to feed and hydrate the living organisms as much as they require, and this is based on the activity. 
Most people generally feed their wild yeast 1 cup luke warm water and 1 cup all purpose four.

Sometimes the wild yeast just needs hydration, other times, just a carbohydrate (energy) and sometimes it may want a treat, like something sweet. This is a colony of living organisms and they have special needs. It is important to understand the needs and behaviors of your living colony, so take the time to make the very best fermented wild yeast that you can possibly make. It could be the family tradition that gets handed down from generation to generation. That would be a hoot!

 I do not follow general rules of thumb that wild yeast is fed water and all purpose flour every day or every 2 days because it does not satisfy the needs of my fermenting wild yeast. I feed the wild yeast when it is hungry and I feed it real food (raw milk, raw honey, pestle and mortar hand ground seeds, etc.) because I like a very healthy, nutrient-dense wild-yeast that is bursting with naturally occurring essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, beneficial bacteria and probiotics. 
When the sponge or proof has doubled in size or when it has a strong sour smell that you like, it is ready. You can use it within the first 24 hours or the longer it ferments the more you will notice a sour smell or even a slight beer-like smell. This is because the fermenting wild yeast is consuming gluten, carbohydrates and starches and converting them to carbon dioxide and alcohol. Fermentation, phytic acid breakdown and gluten conversion takes about 12-25 hours.

It does not matter if you use your wild yeast in 12 hours or in 5 days. As long as you keep it in good shape by providing proper care.  The carbon dioxide bubbles will continue to form and the smell of beer will become more noticable. Wild yeast continues to cycle through the fermentation process, so you can use it every few days or every day (sourdough breads, pancakes etc.). Leave a little in the bowl and feed it. This will keep the colony thriving and growing. 

 If the wild yeast becomes liquid-like, runny or if you notice a foul odor this could mean that it is starving, needs energy food or that a bad bacteria may be invading or taking over. If the consistency is too watery, simply feed it and the bad bacteria will be consumed by the fermentation process. If you think the colony is dead, start over with a fresh batch. 

Runny or liquid = bad
Runny or liquid = bad bacteria
Fluffy, Foamy, growing and Bubbling = good stuff

Is Wild Yeast Gluten-Free? YES!
When fermented properly, Wild Yeast is gluten-free. Yes, even if you feed it a high gluten flour, it is still gluten-free. Once the Wild Yeast has consumed all the gluten and it has converted the gluten to carbon dioxide and alcohol and there is no gluten, no carbohydrates, just carbon dioxide and alcohol. Wild Yeast is just that, carbon dioxide and alcohol. If you have any doubts, take samples of your fermenting wild yeast to the nearest food analysis lab and have it tested. it is a very simple and inexpensive lab test. 

When baking gluten-free sourdough bread sprinkle freshly ground oats on the baking pan.This helps to prevent the loaf from sticking to the pan. 


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  2. Xenia, I'm curious about the Acetic acid. If someone appears to have an allergic reaction to Acetic acid. In other words they present a reaction ( seizures) when fruit or vegetable starts breaking down but is fine to otherwise fresh fruit and vegetables. Do you think the person would be okay with Wild Yeast?
    The allergy panels show allergy to yeast but I think it might be more of the conventional yeast which is how they test. They are also allergic to mold. Extreme mold allergy.
    Could it be also that the body is not making sufficient Amino Acids in order to absorb or process correct?