The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yeast Water Troubleshooting

MonkeyDaddy's picture
MonkeyDaddy

Yeast Water Troubleshooting

Yeast water seems to be a popular topic over the last couple weeks so I thought I'd throw my question into the ring:

Started my yeast water culture 2 weeks ago tomorrow, using Dabrownman's Yeast Water Primer.  I've replaced the fruit once, according to the instructions, and I'll be making the second replacement tomorrow.  After the first week I placed 50g KA bread flour and 50g of the yeast water in a measuring cup (it came right to the 1/3 cup mark) and it took over 24 hours to double in volume.  This week on day 11 I repeated the test and the mixture took about 16 hours to double, but I did not replace the fruit (because I have a couple days left to go).  Instead, I replaced the 50g removed from the jar with fresh bottled water and another teaspoon of honey.  The next morning the water was bubbling along like soda pop, but as I said the flour/water took 16 hours to double.  

Yesterday, day 13, I took 8 grams of the starter mixture, and 8 grams each of flour and water and mixed them, then today I added 12 grams each of flour and water.  Also yesterday I took another 50g of yeast water and mixed with 50g flour and replaced the water with fresh water and honey as before.  

Curiously, the 2nd build of the old mixture appears to be doing nothing, the new starter in the measuring cup doubled in about 14 hours with HUGE active bubbles, and the yeast water in the jar appears to be bubbling less than it was on day 12.

After Lechem answered my question last week about keeping the initial yeast water batch heated, I left it on the heating pad until day 7, then everything has been done at room temp (about 65-75F) since then.

So the questions:

  1. As the culture matures does it tend to go through phases of greater then lesser activity?
  2. Since my test batches of starter seem to be doubling in volume in shorter and shorter intervals, do I just need to be patient and let it mature on its own time - or have I spawned a dud and need to start over?
  3. Are the lower ambient temperatures of my kitchen responsible for the activity changes, and should I go back to keeping it heated?

     --Mike

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

1) I use 1/2 an apple, any kind works but for some reason Granny Smith does really well. I use filtered water. I use a quart glass jar and put about a pint of water w/the 1/2apple

2) The minute the fruit chunks quit floating you take them ALL out and replace with another chunked up apple ...leave on peeling and core

3) Never use any sweetener . The one and only time I used some honey it almost stopped my YW after an initial fizzing burst. Your fruit is MORE than sweet enough so don't add any extra sweetener. 

4) My starter is 5 yrs old and the YW / flour mix more than doubles in 2-3 hrs. 

5) you can make regular yeast breads and sub the yeast water for 1/2 of the water called for and use a pinch of yeast and get an amazing product. 

6) I never leave my YW out. I feed it an immediately put it back in the fridge. There isn't any reason to leave it out once you have a fizzing YW. When I am going to use it I give it a good shake , the thick stuff that accumulates on the bottom of the jar is the " mother', and I take out how much I am going to use. I then feed it if the apples aren't floating and if they are still floating I add back in the amount of filtered water and put it right back in the fridge. 

7) The only time you have to have your YW warm, temp of an oven with the light on is plenty warm, is when you are first getting it going. After that there is never a time that it needs to be out. You take your YW that you are going to use for your starter and either add it directly to the bread you are making in place of some or all of the water, or you  make a flour/YW levain and add that to your formula or you can make a YW/flour levain and also make a SD levain from your current starter and make bread with a double starter. YW raised breads do indeed need much warmer temps to ferment. Warm oven light is plenty warm. Be careful to not over ferment. YW really goes gang busters in bread and it is easy to let it go too long and you lose most of your final jump in the oven as your yeast is exhausted. 

Good luck and ask away if you have any more questions. c

If you have any questions please ask.

MonkeyDaddy's picture
MonkeyDaddy

Two questions came to mind as I was reading your post:

  1. How small are the apple chunks you put in the water?
  2. When you're first starting out do you start in the oven with the light or just put it straight into the fridge?

There's a store that sells organic produce on my way home from work.  I'll grab a couple of Granny Smiths and give 'er a whirl.

     --Mike

 

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

I cut the apple in half and then that 1/2 into three wedges and then just chunk them up probably 1" cubes. It doesn't matter I just wouldn't do them very fine. When I was getting my YW going 5 yrs ago I tried raisins and it never worked. As soon as I tried apples it was going great. I think the addition of sweeteners speeds it up so much that you get that blast of fizz and then it is all over. After your starter is reliably fizzing when shook hard then you can just feed it and place immediately in fridge. The yeasts are there and they don't need to be kept warm to be healthy and active. When you are going to use it then take out the portion you are going to use and warm it very carefully in the micro to about 90 degrees. Like you would the water for ADY . Add your flour and set it in the oven with light on. Should do nicely. If you constantly leave your YW out on the counter or where it is warm it will be like your SD and you will be feeding it ALL the time :) No reason for that. Also there isn't any reason to discard your YW it just need a little TLC and it will be fine. Oh and whenever you eat an orange save the peel and put about a 3-4" square in the jar with the new apples at feeding time. Gives a lovely fragrance and the YW really likes the acid. Take out ALL when getting ready to feed but don't mix up the mother that is in the bottom...you want that to stay there when you are changing out the fruit. Good Luck and please post back with your successes !  c

MonkeyDaddy's picture
MonkeyDaddy

I took the liberty of consolidating both of Trailrunner's answers to my questions and placing them all in one frame.  Just in case anybody wants to print it out, they won't have to print the entire thread. (Hope that wasn't too presumptuous of me.)

Trailrunner's YW Advice:

1)  I use ½ an apple, any kind works but for some reason Granny Smith does really well.  When I was getting my YW going 5 yrs ago I tried raisins and it never worked. As soon as I tried apples it was going great.  I cut the apple in half and then that half into three wedges and then just chunk them up in probably 1" cubes. It doesn't matter – I just wouldn't cut them very fine.  I use filtered water.  I use a quart glass jar and put about a pint of water in with the ½ apple.  Put the jar in the oven with the light on until it fizzes when you shake it, then it can be placed in the fridge.  The only time you have to have your YW warm (temp of an oven with the light on is plenty warm) is when you are first getting it going. After that there is never a time that it needs to be out.  

2)  The minute the fruit chunks quit floating it’s time to feed again.  Take ALL the fruit pieces out – don’t remove the “mother” (the stuff on the bottom of the jar) and replace with another chunked up apple.  Leave on the peel and core.  Oh, and whenever you eat an orange, save the peel and put about a 3-4" square in the jar with the new apples at feeding time. Gives a lovely fragrance and the YW really likes the acid. And remember – take everything out but don't disturb the mother that is in the bottom...you want that to stay there when you are changing out the fruit.

3)  Never use any sweetener.  I think the addition of sweeteners speeds it up so much that you get that blast of fizz and then it is all over.  The one and only time I used some honey it almost stopped my YW after an initial fizzing burst.  Your fruit is MORE than sweet enough so don't add any extra sweetener.

4)  If you can mix equal portions of YW and flour and it doubles in volume in a reasonable time, it is ready to use.  My starter is 5 yrs old and the YW / flour mix more than doubles in 2-3 hrs.

5)  You can make regular yeast breads and substitute the yeast water for ½ of the water called for and use a pinch of yeast and get an amazing product.  You can take your YW that you are going to use for your starter and either add it directly to the bread you are making in place of some or all of the water, or you can make a flour/YW levain and add that to your formula, or you can make a YW/flour levain and also make a SD levain from your current SD starter and make bread with a double starter.  YW raised breads do indeed need much warmer temps to ferment.  Warm oven light is plenty warm.

6)  I never leave my YW out.  I feed it and immediately put it back in the fridge.  There isn't any reason to leave it out once you have a fizzing YW.  If you constantly leave your YW out on the counter or where it is warm it will be like your SD and you will be feeding it ALL the time :) – No reason for that.  When I am going to use it I give it a good shake, and I take out how much I am going to use. Then warm it very carefully in the microwave to about 90 degrees; like you would warm the water for ADY.  Add your flour and set it in the oven with light on. It should ferment nicely.  If the apples aren't floating I feed it as above; if they are still floating I add back in the amount of filtered water and put it right back in the fridge.  After your starter is reliably fizzing when shaken hard then you can just feed it and place immediately in the fridge.  The yeasts are there and they don't need to be kept warm to be healthy and active.

7)  Be careful to not over-ferment. YW really goes gang busters in bread and it is easy to let it go too long and you lose most of your final jump in the oven as your yeast is exhausted.