Letter Re: Yeasts and Natural Leaven for TEOTWAWKI

Dear Latimers,

Your latest post on leavening bread is certainly of interest.

One of the concerns with store-bought yeasts is that they use bromides to kill off the bacteria in the yeast. Unfortunately, this de-natures some of the effects we should have in our breads, and the bromides are thyroid suppressants. Furthermore, guess what? We have thyroid deficiency in endemic proportions!

If we will go back to the leaven that the Hebrews have passed down since times immemorial, using methods that have proven themselves over millennia, it seems that we can be sustainable, and have better health.

Those bacteria that are killed in order to isolate and stabilize baker’s yeasts, well, many of these are needed to help render the proteins of the grains more digestible. Also, it has been shown that some of these bacteria are able to survive not only baking temperatures but even the firing temperatures of ceramic and still go on to reproduce. They dwell with everlasting burnings (Isa. 33).

Here is an article telling the way some have been able to have a natural, sustainable source of leaven.

Some years ago, we got a start of an old (many centuries old) Swedish leaven from a friend. Our goal was to make non-sour bread that was as well-leavened as if it were made with store-bought yeast. And, yes, with trial and error we succeeded!

Half the challenge of natural leaven is in cultivating it. We find that it needs to be kept at the right temperatures and fed often when it is growing. For livening the leaven, temperatures of 70-80 F are best. The leaven needs to be fed every three to four hours. Then, when it is lively, we feed it again with less water. Then, we put it in the refrigerator, where is can store for a week nicely and two weeks, if necessary.

The bread does rise slowly. From start to finish, making and baking bread can take from 8 to 14 hours, although we try to keep it going faster rather than slower.

One very interesting point is that Jesus said that a woman took leaven and put it in three measures of flour, until the whole was leavened. (Matt. 13:33 and Luke 13:21) We have found that this is the correct proportion for making bread! We use one cup of leaven, three cups flour, and add water.

Another benefit of the natural leaven is that added sweetening is not needed to feed the yeast. The only essential ingredient besides flour and water seems to be a little salt, but other ingredients and sweetening can be used if available and desired.

Some in our family are gluten intolerant, so we make oat bread, using the same Swedish culture grown in oat flour. It does not rise as high as wheat, but it is definitely leavened.

While many are trying to gather yeast from natural sources, we feel that the shortest route to sustainability is to preserve the old, tried-and-true cultures. Note that, while the Israelites were required to remove any leaven from their houses at Passover, there is not a specific decree that they must discard all leaven. However, their kneading troughs would need to be stored elsewhere, since they would contain the microbes.

In short, we are persuaded that the “old paths, where is the good way” are the solution to the yeast problem.

Take care and God bless. – C.F.