The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Yeast Water questions.

MonkeyDaddy's picture

Yeast Water questions.

Greetings All, 

It's snowing like crazy outside, which tends to decrease traffic through the ER, so I'm sitting here thinking about my next baking experiment (as I often do when it gets cold outside).

I keep seeing post after post about the vigor of raisin yeast water as a leaven, and I am inspired to give it a try.  Several posters have written of yeast water procedures; Akiko (who posted under the name of Teketeke) gave an especially detailed description in one of her posts.  But I've not yet been able to find a "yeast water primer" as it were, so I thought I'd just throw out a couple questions to those among you who have been using it successfully.

My sourdough culture has been happily living in the back of the fridge for over a decade, emerging when it calls to me, then retreating to its blissful dormancy every few weeks.  But in Akiko's post she mentions that she only keeps a raisin yeast water going for about six months then she tosses it and starts over.  Why is that?  Does it go bad?  Lose potency? Change flavor?  

And during that six months, how often is it recommended that you refresh it with more raisins?  I can let my sourdough go up to four months and still revive it, but I'm suspecting that the yeast water would die much sooner with no more of a substrate than water and a little fructose.  

At my local health food store I can buy granulated fructose right off the shelf - could I refresh with that, or would a fresh batch of raisins be a better choice?  They also sell organic raisins, so either way is fine - I was just curious.

In one of the articles I found on Google regarding yeast water, it was mentioned that the yeast that lives on raisins tends to be particularly vigorous.  However, Dabrownman, in a recipe he called Teketeke bread (to honor Akiko) used a yeast water made from apples and mandarin oranges.  Does the fruit you choose have a significant impact on taste, and therefore lead you to different choices?  Or is it a matter of the specific strains of yeast that you are trying to isolate from different kinds of fruit?

Also, with regard to fruit yeasts, I read an article many years ago about starting a sourdough culture by submerging fresh grapes in a flour/water slurry until it begins to produce bubbles.  Has anybody tried using fresh grapes rather than raisins to make a yeast water?  In that article, it said that the grayish "frost" on the surface of a grape skin is the presence of the yeast.  It makes sense that the yeast on fruit would be present on the outer surface of the skin, so if you're using other fruits do you need to include their skins/peels as well?  What about sugary vegetables or legumes (like peas or corn) as a possible component?

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

Very easy to make. Nothing to it. And here's a visual...

Once you have made it and it's viable then all you do is make a starter from the yeast water by doing a preferment. The flour within the yeast water starter should be 20% of the added flour (whether this is the ONLY way i'm not sure but this is what Dabrownman taught me so I stick to it).

So if your recipe is...

500g bread flour

300g water

10g salt

then your preferment should be 200g (100g flour + 100g yeast water)


Prepare the preferment 12 hours before making the bread and allow it to bubble up. Then use it in place of a sourdough starter. after that it's pretty much the same.

Just replace the liquid you have taken out, add another teaspoon of honey and replace some of the old fruit with new fruit. It will be fizzing again by the next day ready to use. You can keep it in the fridge until ready to make a preferment. I think a few weeks should be ok. If it's been a while then simply retain a little of the water, replace all the fruit, top back up with fresh water and add a little honey. It will activate very quickly. Always make a preferment before using in a recipe. I think like sourdough starter everyone will have their own schedule and ways/means.

Like whole rye lends itself well to sourdough starters, raisins lend themselves well to yeast water. But by no means does one have to only use raisins. Mine started off as raisins but because I couldn't find any un-sulphured or with no oil it is now an apricot yeast water.

Yeast Water has great oven spring, with a nice soft crumb, and a slight sweet taste.


My latest apricot yeast water einkorn loaf.

MonkeyDaddy's picture

No wonder I couldn't find the yeast water primer.  I was searching for "yeast water" instead of "yw"

trailrunner's picture


MonkeyDaddy's picture

Thanks Abe for pointing me in the right direction, and thanks Dabrownman for the work you put in on the primer.

The yeast water primer was just what I was looking for.  Also, it was a bit easier to follow than Akiko's even though Dabrownman credits her with its inspiration.

Is the 20% flour (and accompanying water) taken from the recipe ingredients, like you do with a tang zhong, or is that flour and water added to the whole, like a baker's percentage ingredient?



AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

How's your yeast water coming along?

With tangzhong I use 20% flour from the total flour. Flour within the tangzhong + added flour = 100%

With yeast water bread I calculate the flour within the starter to be 20% of the added flour which is 100%

This is how I do it. Whether or not this is correct it works for me.