Thursday, May 14, 2015

Capturing wild yeasts to make French bread

Thanks to Louis Pasteur, the French microbiologist best known for developing pasteurization, in 1857, the western world learned that alcohol fermentation is due to living yeasts. It’s not surprising that a Frenchman would be the one to declare that yeast is a living organism, especially considering the important role of yeast in many of France’s preferred foods: wine, bread, cheese.

Wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria are present in the air and form a symbiotic culture when housed in a mixture of flour and water. Together they create unique and local flavors of sourdough bread. So, starting today, I will be setting up a yeast trap to capture some Canoe Island yeast and next time you come visit us, we can have our very own Canoe Island sourdough baguettes! Le baguette de tradition is such an important food in France that by law, only the following ingredients are allowed to be used in its making: wheat flour, water, yeast, salt. I suppose we’ll have to call our loaves les baguettes de Canoë!

A bubbly San Francisco starter in front of my very first yeast trap!

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