The Fresh Loaf

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Wondering if yeast nutrient

Abe's picture

Wondering if yeast nutrient

Wondering if yeast nutrient, common when making alcohol, will also have a positive affect on sourdough starters. Yeast nutrient is often nitrogen based and can have b vitamins too. It helps for a good fermentation and prevents any stalling as well. One can find many different varieties sold in brewstores but you can also make a homemade version by boiling up some bakers yeast. Yeast will feed on dead yeast cells and it helps perk them up making them more efficient. Can anyone see any cons to boiling up a teaspoon of dried yeast in a little water and using this, when cooled down of course, to feed a sourdough starter? 

Ilya Flyamer's picture
Ilya Flyamer

Wouldn't it be basically the same as nutritional yeast or yeast extract? You could just try adding a spoon of marmite :)

Abe's picture

by the same reasoning nutritional yeast or marmite are used as well. Both being yeast based. I know some people add nutritional yeast to doughs as a dough improver but i'm thinking about this as a 'yeast improver' to help boost the strength of a starter. 

Boiling up some dried yeast is just a simple way of making it at home. 

Ming's picture

Why go through all the trouble to boost a SD starter's strength while you could start with a strong one off the bat? 

Sourdough Starter (

Abe's picture

I'm talking more for troubleshooting starter issues for those either making their own or their starter is playing up for whatever reason. Something we can advise as a simple solution which really is no trouble as it takes minutes to make. 

This is food for a sourdough starter and not making a faux sourdough starter from yeast. It is simply acting as starter nutrient as the bakers yeast is not live.

Mark Stone's picture
Mark Stone

It's funny I was wondering about this myself. I have yeast nutrient here that I used to make high gravity beers. I was going to look into, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

Abe's picture

Why not take a little starter off and try an experiment on the side? 

Although this is just an idea stage i'm not sure if it best to put some of thst in a starter or boil up a teaspoon of dried yeast in a little water. Reason being one is made for beer and the other is made from yeast. Not sure what the pros and cons are. 

Worth a try to see if it gets the yeasts in your starter happy and healthy. 

mwilson's picture

The production of alcoholic beverages typically starts with a sugar rich solution. The yeasts must work hard to metabolise all that sugar and in doing so they may very well use up most of the naturally occurring nitrogen (essential for their growth – increase biomass) and their only reward is an ever more toxic environment as ethanol accumulates. DAP (diammonium phosphate) is the commonly added form of yeast-nutrient add it will help ease the burden on yeasts as they complete carbohydrate metabolism during alcoholic fermentation. This is beneficial where a wine ‘must’ maybe either rich in sugar (high density) or low in nitrogen e.g., a clarified (cold settled) juice e.g., as done for white wine, or both.

Putting that into context, the alcohol within a sourdough starter doesn’t typically exceed 1%. It is unlikely that a sourdough starter could be nutrient deficient since they are not consuming large quantities of carbohydrates.

Regarding dead yeast cells they will always be present since the carry over (inoculum) is incorporated as the starter is continuously propagated. However nutritional yeast / deactivated yeast or products containing autolysed yeast cells are a nutrient source and a growth stimulant for LAB, not something you want in this case.

Hope that helps…


Abe's picture

Makes a lot of sense. I've often wondered, in wine making, why a lot of sugar would shock yeasts if sugar is their food. And I think you have cleared up this question at the same time. and so too why a lot of recipes ask to build up a healthy yeast starter even though the yeasts should multiply in the must anyway. 

Often there's an overload of information but if one keeps at it the bigger picture becomes clearer. 

Nice one! 

Actually your point about old starter becoming fodder for yeasts in the fresh feed did briefly cross my mind. Perhaps this also explains when feeding one shouldn't go too crazy with a very high percentage of fresh flour. As always there's a balance. 

Thank you once again. 

P.s. i've decided instead of paddling when it comes to making alcohol i'll try my hand at it. It was information overload but theory will be like that unless one actually tries recipes out. I've started my first mead. That's what brought about this question. 

BKSinAZ's picture

Everytime I feed my starter,  I eat one tsp of it.  Is it good for my gut or am I just wasting my time?

Abe's picture

But I hope it's one tsp of mature starter and not straight after being fed. 

yozzause's picture

Funnily enough when i started my baking apprenticeship more than half a century ago the products now under the heading of Bread Improvers were referred to as Yeast Food and the New fangled "INSTANT" yeast food that was so important for the Chorleywood process that took dough straight from the mixer through the make up plant into the tins into the travelling prover and from there baked off.

i have noticed modern Bread Improvers today can be used at a lesser rate 0.5%  for timed doughs and are used as  dough conditioners or if its as an instant dough application at 1%  which has made it easier than having to keep a number of different products for different applications. 

Regards Derek