Wild Yeast Harvesting

There are wild yeast spores floating in the air all around us all the time. To harvest airborne yeast, all you need is something for them to land on that supplies them with the moisture and sugar they need to feed on and a warm ambient temperature of about 75
° - 80° F.

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If you have a container of fruit juice in the back of the fridge that has set there for weeks and the container is bulging and it has become fizzy, that is caused by wild yeast fermentation. You can use this liquid to make beer, bread  or anything else that needs a yeast starter.

http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_raisins.jpg
Raisins, apple peel and lemon


Put a handful of raisins, an apple peel and the lemon juice from a used lemon wedge into a glass of warm (about 110 °F) water with sugar, about a tablespoon of sugar for a half cup of water. Cover with a light cloth and leave in a warm place. The top of the fridge is usually a good place for this, as it is usually warmer than the lower part of the room.



http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_potwater.jpgPotato Water

Take a cup (236 mls) of the water in which you have boiled potatoes. Add a tablespoon of malt extract. Expose it to some yeast by putting it in a wide shallow bowl and leave it out for a while and yeast should start to grow in it. Easier to do in the summer than in the winter.


Wild yeast on growing fruit

In summer, look for yeast on fruit growing in the wild such as grapes, blackberries, sloes, blueberries etc. This will be a brown, fuzzy down on the fruit, either covering the entire berry or in splotches. Put fruit into a bowl of sugar -water with a few drops of lemon juice. Cover with a loose-woven, breathable cloth secured with a rubber band and leave in a warm place.


http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_grapes.jpgGrapes

Wild yeast are naturally present on the skins of grapes, so grape juice made from grapes you have pressed yourself will spontaneously ferment.




http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/peach.jpgPeaches

Peaches are another excellent source of wild yeast. Take a peach, don't wash it off, cut it up with the peel on and put it in the blender with some warm water. Add a spoonful of sugar, cover with cloth secured with an elastic band and leave on top of the fridge or in another warm place.


http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/applecider.jpgHard Cider

Unpasteurized fermented apple juice (known as "scrumpy" in the English countryside) already has a live yeast culture in it and your work done for you. In the US, where cider is sold as soon as it is pressed from the apples and before it has begun to ferment, you have to keep it for a while. Eventually, apple juice pressed from apples with nothing added to kill the yeast will ferment. You can add some raisins to speed up the process.



http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_sdough.jpgLiquid separated from sourdough batter

If you make sourdough bread, the liquid that collects on top if you have not stirred it recently contains airborne yeast. If you have some batter that you are currently planning to use to make sourdough, just add some water, stir, wait a day and then pour off the amount of water that you had added. This will give you a lactic-acid fermentation, otherwise known as "lambic beer"

http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_kahm001.jpgKahm-Covered Leaves from sauerkraut

That white stuff that you worry about that forms on your other ferments is from yeast. Add some sugar water and they will grow happily and you will have your own house yeast starter.

Pictured here: kahm-covered leaves pulled out of the sauerkraut jar after it had finished fermenting and put into a jar with water and sugar syrup added.



http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/water_kefir.jpgKefir grains

Rinse off some kefir grains in warm water and then put them in apple juice for a week.(These can be returned to milk afterwards. They might need a little extra time and perhaps some extra cream in their milk to make up for their brief no-fat diet.) If you make water kefir, you can use that as is as it already has an available yeast culture active in it.

Kefir whey also contains wild yeast.


http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_kvass.jpgKvass

Kvass made from kefir whey will have some yeast that grew from the kefir and some that was airborne when it was made. If you did not use kefir whey to start your kvass and used only salt or other kinds of whey, there will still be some yeast fermenting in the kvass. Add sugar and water, cover with a light cloth and keep in a warm place until it starts to look frothy.



Other sources

You probably don't need to the know this, but in the interest of intellectual honesty, you can also get wild yeast cultures from moldy hay, bird droppings, feathers, insects and soil.

Technique, how to prepare a medium in which to grow wild yeast

Preparations, or things to have on hand:
Make sugar syrup, let cool and store
Have a clean glass jar.
Have a loosely-woven cloth cover for the jar. It should be thick enough so that insects cannot get through the weave but loose enough to allow the culture to breath, that is, for air to pass through. To test air-flow, put the cloth to your mouth and see how easy it is to blow our or in through the cloth.

http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/wildyeast_medium.jpg
Assembling:
Fill the glass jar about 2/3 full with warm water
Add sugar syrup at a ratio of about 1 part sugar syrup to 4 parts water
[optional] Add a teaspoon of yeast nutrient. This can be brewers or nutritional yeast, malt extract, bread crumbs or commercial yeast nutrient.
[optional] Add  a 1/4 teaspoon or pinch of something acidic. This can be cream of tartar or lemon juice.
If you are harvesting your wild yeast from something like raisins or over-ripe fruit, add those. (If you use fruit, be sure to shake the jar often while it is fermenting to prevent mold from forming.)
Cover the jar with the loosely-woven cloth and secure with a rubber band.

book suggestions

Wild Fermentation
by Sandor Katz. 
Truly Cultured Rejuvenating Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods b
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harr Buhner
The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Samuel Thayer



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How To Make Beer With Wild or Airborne Yeast
Yeast, like bacteria and other microbes, ultimately comes from the soil. From the dry topsoil it is picked up by the wind and from there blown into the air around us. If the yeast spores in the air land on a source of food (sugar) and water, it will feed and grow, and from there can be put into any other food source where it will digest (ferment) the food and produce either the alcohol of fermented beverages or the carbon dioxide to make bread dough rise. In late summer, you can pick wild fruit that is starting to develop mold or go off, and use that as the source to start a fermentation.

Make a yeast starter with wild yeast
Mix with a quart of warm herbal tea
Add 1/8 cup of sugar syrup and 1/4 cup malt extract
Mix until all sugars are dissolved.
Cover with an airlock
3-5 days after fermentation begins, put in plastic bottle(s) with screw-on cap and twist tight. (See Adjusting Alcohol to decide how long to let it ferment.)
When bottle cannot be squeezed, put in fridge to cool and drink within a few days.

How different fermenting mediums actually did to produce a wild yeast ferment: Conclusions

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