The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

yeast allergies

jschopp1's picture

yeast allergies

I learned last night that my wife has allergies.  She can't have brewers yeast or baker's yeast.   I've heard of creating a starter from just mixing and resting flour and water on the countertop for a long time.  Does this work?  Does it have the same properties as packaged yeast?

She's also, seemingly, allergic to cow's milk, but that's a whole different kettle to stir.

thanks in advance,



mrkhmusic's picture

I've done this several times, and it works just fine.  I can't speak to your wife's allergies, and whether or not this will trigger, but I can say that I have baked great bread with "wild-caught" yeast.  Here's how I do it:

  1. Set out a bowl with 1 part flour and 1 part water (not a metal bowl). Stir it all up.  The exact proportions are not important, but you'll want a decent amount, like a cup of water and a cup of flour.

  2. The next day, scoop out and discard half of the sludge and replace it with about the same amount, again 1 part flour and 1 part water.  This is called "feeding" it.

  3. Keep doing that daily.  Suddenly, one day you'll see it has frothed adn bubbled.  That means you've caught some yeast spores out of the air, and they've grown in your bowl.  Feed it and set it out for another day, just to make it stronger.

  4. The next day, you have full-on sourdough start, and you can make bread with it.

  5. Put what you don't use making bread in the fridge, covered (like in tupperware, or a crock).

  6. Once every one or two weeks, pull it out of the fridge, pour off the nasty-smelling liquid (called "hooch" - it's alcohol), and feed it again.

  7. When you're wanting to use it out of the fridge, pull it out the night before, and feed it.  Leave it out on the counter to re-awaken and activate.  The next day, use it as you would in the recipes.

I usually use a cup of start in a recipe where I might normally use a Tbsp of commercial yeast.  That will change up your hydration formulas a little, I'd assume.


Here are some resource posts from my blog:


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

...made with soda and baking powder?  A starter will contain not just one yeast but many and might not be the way to go.  Check with your doctor. 

A large variety of breads can be made with baking soda and baking powder.  There are also combinations with acid/base to create gasses to raise dough.  There are also muffins, biscuits, and fruit breads.  Crackers are also fun!

ehanner's picture

Breads made with a natural yeast might be OK, but check with your doctor first. There are numerous ways to create a natural culture referred to as a sourdough starter. If you search here using Debra wink and sourdough  you will find a simple fast way to create a healthy starter.

While there are many commercially made breads that have whey or some other milk component in them, you can easily make lean French style breads and many others with out and dairy products.

Mini's suggestions above about using chemical leavening (quick breads using baking powder and/or soda) with a touch of vinegar may be your best alternative if she can't have sourdough. There are plenty of folks here that will be happy to get you started. Lots of options.


nicodvb's picture

I could never find an answer to this question: many people supposedly allergic to baker's or brewer's yeast say that they can eat naturally leavened bread.
Yet in wild yeasts there's also baker's yeast, so ... how can it be?
Of course it's not massively present as in the yeast bags we all know, but still it's definitely present and it's still the main leavening agent.

So? ...