The Fresh Loaf

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Hops Yeast Starter

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Noodlelady's picture
Noodlelady

Hops Yeast Starter

Has anyone ever made starter with hops? I have many old cookbooks with recipes. Not sure if you can keep it for a long time, like a sourdough starter.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

"Not sure if you can keep it for a long time, like a sourdough starter."

Why not a starter from hops?   And a sourdough starter can be kept for years, if not centuries.  I was chatting with my Aunt, she's hitting 80 soon, and she told me she and her Mother kept a starter for as long as she can remember.  It was also her Grandmother's and when package yeast came out, they stopped the starter.  I'm afraid this happened to many starters at the time.   We are the wiser and can now make our own, so why not start one using hops?  Much like the apple starter?  (actually it's the yeasties in the flour, the fruit might create the proper pH for growth) Hops used for flavor, will be bitter so it might make an interesting twist.  I've held the concentrated pellets in my hand and they do smell like fresh mowed hay. So, When are you going to try it?   --Mini Oven

rmcnutt's picture
rmcnutt

Bernard Clayton, Jr.s Complete Book of Bread (an awesome book of historic recipes from the Midwest and beyond- don't miss this one) has a really good historic Hops starter recipe- also the hops will give the starter unique yeast 'esters' not found in brewers yeast which should last throughout it's life. Accord to Bernard this recipe comes from 2 sisters in N Indiana who have been using the same live starter for 30 years at writing.BTW it does have the mashed potatoes too- that must be the starch which serves as the food for the yeast.   He suggests keeping the starter in the refrigerator or somewhere cool. 


 


Hops was used often in colonial America for starters when yeast wasn't available from a local brewer, etc.  Hops starter will give a recipe a truly unique flavor you won't get from a more traditional flour and yeast based starter.


 


Yeast strains all vary in their contributions to bread or beer. Esters are produced by the yeast during (alcoholic) fermentation- yeast consumes the sugars and produces alcohol, esters, and CO2 as byproducts, hence the bubbling of the starter during it's fermentation. The Belgian strains of wild yeast, for example, give their beers a truly unique fruity, bubblegum and clove smell and taste. Brewers find it very difficult to reproduce here using other, non wild yeast strains.


I just started a Hops starter today 24-48 hrs to ferment or "start" and it's ready to be used.  when it gets down to (1) cup then it must be primed with more potatoes,corn meal and water but only takes 8 hrs to reprime the starter. I'll add an entry once finished for those thinking of starting their own.


 

manuela's picture
manuela

I found instructions in a vintage cook book too, it is a recipe that calls for hops and potatoes, and that I chose because the author writes it is "self working", that is it does not require to add yeast.

I used dry hops I bought where beer brewing supplies are sold, since my own plant of hops is young and rather scrawny at the moment.

 

If it turns out well, including the results of a loaf of bread made with it, I was actually planning to write a post about it. I am very curious about how it will turn out :-)

Noodlelady's picture
Noodlelady

The reason why I didn't know if you could "keep it" for a long amount of time is because many of the old cookbooks say it will be good to use for three weeks or 2 months or they give no time period at all. I'm just wondering if I feed it flour and water will the hops taste disappear? Sounds like I need to experiment!

I plan to get some hops from a small country store (kind of like a whole foods store) this weekend. So hopefully the experiment will begin soon. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Good point.  That could very well happen.  A taster booster could be made using a hops tea  instead of plain water for feeding,  or...      --Mini Oven

manuela's picture
manuela

Noodlelady I was wondering the same thing, and I think as Mini Oven suggests that hops tea could be used for feedings.

On the other hand, it occurred to me that to make a starter there is a method (that is used, as far as I know, in Italy but probably elsewhere as well) which requires to mix pureed raw fruit (such as ripe apples or pears) with twice as much flour. But once fermentation starts, the feedings are done with water, the fruit is merely providing the right environment for the yeast, and it is not used after the first stage.

I have used Cascadian hops that have a very pleasant citrucy aroma and I think it would be nice to retain that aroma in the starter.

 

It will be great to compare our results and recipes once we have finished with our experiments! :-)

jschaech's picture
jschaech

I tried making a starter from hops last year. I grow hops in my back yard as an ornamental so was trying to find a good use for them. Since I made my own starter from grapes last year following Nancy Silvertons directions in her bread making book, I figured I might try a similar technique with hops.  After about a week it was VERY active and continued the hoppy smell. It looked wonderfully bubbly, but I ended up chickening out because it had a bit of an off smell. I was wondering if there was a way to tell if there was bad bacteria growing in it and that it wasn't a "starter". I ended up dumping it and going back to my other starter which works great.

 My hops are once again getting mature and I was thinking about trying it again. Do you have any more information that might help? I may try another posting to see if anyone else has tried.

Thanks,

Jan

Noodlelady's picture
Noodlelady

I never really did get off the ground with the hops starter. I followed directions in a very old cookbook, which called for mashed potatoes. Around day 3 I noticed mold, so in the trash it went. Not sure how they kept it "by the stove" without it going bad. It is worth another try, maybe this time without the potatoes.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

for flavor, I would combine it with coarsely milled grain berries.  Add a little honey and nd malt  and water and see what happens. 

Mini O

orfy's picture
orfy

I think you'll have beer!