Easily Make Bread Yeast From Flour And Water

Making your own bread yeast also called “levain” or “starter,” is super easy. This yeast making technique comes in handy in an emergency situation or if you want to make bread like a pro.

How To Make Yeast: Step By Step Instructions

  1. Clean the container
  2. Place 3 Tablespoons of flour in the jar
  3. Add 2 Tablespoons of unchlorinated water
  4. Stir
  5. Cover Lightly
  6. Store in a cool dark place
  7. Repeat steps 2 to 4 every 24 Hours
  8. In 3 to 5 days, the yeast will bubble, it is ready.

Five days is sufficient for pancakes. If you want to create a strong starter (for fluffy bread) continue to feed (steps 2-4) for a couple of weeks before use.

What Equipment Do You Need To Make Yeast?

  • Container with a lid/Super Clean (I use a 32 oz Ball Jar)
  • Water distilled, or filtered: Chlorine kills yeast. If all you have available is chlorinated water, boil it, and let it cool to dissipate chlorine.
  • Flour (any kind will do)
  • Measuring Spoon
  • Stirring Device (I use the back of a long-wooden spoon)

Do I Have To Maintain My Yeast Starter After The First Five Days?

You have to continue to maintain (feed) your yeast starter (steps 2-4) but you have two options.

  1. Room Temperature Yeast Maintenance: Feed every day with 3 tbsp of flour and 2 tbsp of water or use a kitchen scale and weigh ingredients on a 1:1 ratio of water to flour. A 1:1 ratio means an equal weight of water and flour. Use the room temperature method if your power is out or if you bake often.
  2. Refrigerator Yeast Maintenance: Store yeast starter in the refrigerator and feed it once per week. The day before you bake, take the starter out of the fridge, feed it, and leave it in a cool dark place.

Tip: Place your lid on loosely, enough for oxygen transfer otherwise 1. your yeast won’t start or 2. it will explode.

How Do I Know If My Yeast Is Getting Active?

  • Bubbles are good! By Day 3 to 5, you should see bubbling. The bubbles indicate active yeast off-gassing Carbon Dioxide.
  • A good starter will smell a little like vinegar but it won’t smell super nasty.
  • If your starter gets nasty (looks or smells nasty- you’ll know it if this happens!) just throw it out and start over

How Do I Make A Lot Of Yeast Starter?

  • To make a large batch of yeast starter, just weight equal parts of water and flour on a kitchen scale.
  • Before weighing the ingredients, zero the scale with the empty container on the scale.
  • After zeroing the scale you can weigh your ingredients.
  • After weighing, add the ingredients to the yeast starter in your container and mix it in.  
  • Let the mixture sit overnight before using it.

Should I Remove Half Of My Established Starter Every Time I Feed It?

Removing 1/2 of the yeast starter, when feeding established levain, is a common practice among some professional bakers because it makes a more robust or active starter. It also reduces the sourdough taste of the bread. Some will throw the removed starter in the trash, not me.

I remove 1/2 of my starter when my jar is almost full and fry little pancakes in olive oil. I eat them with hummus or butter and jam.

If you decide to remove your dough there are many recipes out there for the use of excess dough.

Am I Really Making Yeast With Flour and Water?

You are not really making yeast in this process. You’re cultivating the natural or wild yeast dormant on flour and in the environment to ferment a yeast leavening agent, also called poolish, levain, starter or sourdough.

Scientifically speaking: sourdough starter occurs when natural yeast and lactic-acid-bacteria grow on a mixture of flour and water, fermenting into a yeast starter within 3 to 5 days.

What Is A Leavening Agent?

A leavening agent is a substance used in dough and batter that lightens, raises, and softens the dough.

Other Leavening Agents For Baked Goods:

  • Air
  • Steam
  • Baking Powder (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Baking Soda
  • Dry Yeast (regular-active-dry or instant)
  • Cream of Tartar

You don’t need a leavening agent. In an emergency, or if you choose to, you can make unleavened bread like johnnycakes, crackers, hardtack, or any number of other bread that fit the bill.

What’s The Story Behind Homemade Yeast?

Starter-Yeast-bread or leaving dates back to the Egyptians, it’s how our ancestors did it, and it’s how professional chefs and bread baking connoisseurs do it today.

One difference between home bread baking, with yeast packets, and the homemade yeast starter is the pros and connoisseurs measure ingredients by weight on a kitchen scale versus measuring everything with spoons and cups.

I don’t have a kitchen scale and I need to make bread now! The stores are out! Don’t fret, I have a recipe down below that is made with measuring devices.

Why Should I Make A Sourdough Or Yeast Starter?

  1. You don’t have commercial yeast, and it’s not available at the store
  2. Bread stores longer when you make your own yeast
  3. Flour is pre-digested by the natural fermentation process reducing gluten
  4. Different flavors and texture can be created
  5. Nutrients are more bio-available when you make your own

Why I Wrote This Article on Making Your Own Yeast

When an unnamed virus hit, I had a substantial pantry. More than enough flour to ride-out a short-term setback. One problem: I didn’t even think about yeast, and I couldn’t get it at the store because the shelves were bare. I searched the internet for how to make your own yeast.

I spent a day scraping together bits and bobs of information all over the internet so that I could make bread with the pounds of flour in my pantry. This article is what I needed, so I’m writing it for you.

If you want to really get into bread making you’ll want to research bakers’ percentages and how bakers mix ingredients to get specific types of recipes like French Baguette, Italian bread, fluffy white bread, etc.

Let’s Make Some Bread With Our Yeast Starter!

This recipe is basic. It’s to get you through until you get back to buying your bread. Although, I’m pretty sure cultivating your yeast and making bread with it will get you hooked on bread making, the way the masters do it.

Necessary Ingredients:

  • Flour 3 Cups
  • Salt 1.25 tsp
  • Water 3 Tbsp
  • Stiff Starter 1 CUP (Feed the day before and leave at room temperature)

If you find that you don’t have enough starter for a recipe, or for the number of loaves you want to cook, add the amount of flour and water you need to your starter jar on a 1:1 ration (by weight),  plus some extra to keep the starter going and wait 24 hours at room temperature.

1.Mix Your Bread:

  1. In a large bowl dissolve the starter into the 3 cups of water and add 1/4 tsp of salt
  2. Add 3 cups of white flour

2.First Rise:

  1. Cover the mixture with a tea-towel or plastic wrap
  2. Let it rise 3 to 4 hours at room temperature


  1. Cover your work surface and hands in flour (don’t be stingy this helps keep things from getting sticky)
  2. Remove your dough from the bowl and gently shape into a round (you are not kneading you are shaping, so go easy)
  3. When you’re done shaping, place the dough in a well-floured bowl for the second rise (flour will keep the dough from sticking to the container)

4.Second Rise:

  1. Cover the dough with a tea-towel or plastic wrap
  2. Let the dough sit, at room temperature, an additional 2 to 3 Hours in the covered bowl

5.Bake Your Bread:

  1. Preheat Your Oven to 450° F
  2. Bake your bread on a greased cookie sheet, in a dutch oven, cloche, or on a baking stone.
  3. Bake at 450° F for 35 to 40 Minutes

How Do You Measure Baking Ingredients By Weight?

  1. Turn on your kitchen scale
  2. Place you mixing bowl on your electric scale
  3. Push the “tare” or “zero” button (“z/t”). Your scale will show “0.0” (adjusting for and removing the weight of your mixing bowl or container)
  4. Add each baking ingredient until you reach the desired weight.

How Do You Remove Chlorine From Water To Make Bread Yeast?

When you are making yeast or starter, you can’t use chlorinated water because it kills the microorganisms that make the magic happen. 

  • Remove chlorine from your fermenting water by boiling it for 20 minutes and letting it cool to room temperature.  Chlorine will naturally dissipate from water, but boiling the water speeds up the process. 
  • Some municipalities treat drinking water with chloramine because it’s more stable than regular chlorine. The problem is it’s harder to get rid of. You can’t remove chloramine by boiling the water. Your best bet for removing chloramine is by using Campden Tablets, commonly used by brewers.
  • Campden tablets will remove chlorine and chloramine from yeast- starter-fermentation-water.

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