The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Active Dry Yeast in place of 'Captured"?

phxdog's picture

Active Dry Yeast in place of 'Captured"?

At the risk of committing heresy, I wonder if instant or dry active yeast could be the basis of a good sourdough starter. Here's my reasoning:

I'm told that dry active yeast has been 'engineered' to be very active and supplies a very high concentration of yeast to make bread rise quickly and consistantly. Intant yeast is very easy to use but works so quickly that it sacrifices the depth of flavor one gets with a long, slow ferment.

Can instant yeast be slowed down enough by using less of it? Is it possible to use a SMALL measure of instant yeast added to a water/flour mixture, and let it slowly ferment, feeding daily and end up with a viable sourdough starter? After all, isn't it the bacteria and acids that give the flavor to a loaf of sourdough? If those bacteria are provided (mostly) from the flour, then it would seem logical that instant yeast could provide a fool-proof beginning to a very strong starter for a beginner. Could that same instant yeast be used to revive a neglected starter, overwhelmed starter?

Am I out in left field here?

Phxdog (Scott)

arzajac's picture

I'm no expert, but I beleive that the strain of yeast in commercial yeast cannot work well in low pH environments.  Your starter would not work predictably until the strain(s) of wild yeast which can thrive in acidic environments would start to develop.  So you would need to feed your starter for several days or more for this to happen.  You probably wouldn't save a lot of time doing it that way.


But that's no reason not to experiment...



PaddyL's picture

My buttermilk sourdough starter had yeast added to it, instant yeast, and it became very active very quickly.  I had to stir it down several times a day for the first two days.  Then it went into the fridge and bubbled away for some 5 more days before it was ready to make bread.  I still use the same starter every week and have been doing so for over a year, and as far as I'm concerned, the original instant yeast I used to get it going has long since dissipated or been overtaken by the natural yeasts flying around my kitchen.  I have another starter that's just made with flour and water and when I make bread with that, it thrills me to bits because there's no commercial yeast in this bread, wow!  But I am not against commercial yeast, especially the instant, and if you want to add some to your starter, go ahead.  It should get things bubbling a bit faster, and eventually, after feedings and so on, it will become a sourdough starter, in every sense of the words.  If you want a yeast-risen bread to rise slowly, simply use less of the commercial yeast.