Creating Fruit Yeast Water Starter

Creating yeast water couldn’t be easier, simply combine fruit and water, and you’ll be ready to bake naturally leavened bread in less than a week. Here, I’ll show you how you can use yeast water to create a sourdough starter that’s ready in 3 or 4 days, instead of 2 weeks. 

If you’ve ever made a sourdough starter, you already know that yeast is all around us. All we have to do to harness its power is to harvest it. When you create yeast water you are harvesting the yeast that naturally occurs in fruit and vegetable skins or pulp. 

Although the process couldn’t be simpler, there are a few things you should note before making your yeast water starter:

Avoid using mango, pineapple, kiwi and papaya. 


You can use almost any edible, non-toxic fruit or vegetable to make yeast water, except for these fruits which contain a protease enzyme called actinidain. This enzyme destroys protein and inhibits gluten development. 

There are some bakers who have succeeded in using these fruits, but they must be cooked or specially treated first. As a first timer, I would avoid these altogether. You can do a deep-dive and research ways to use these fruits yourself if you wish. 

Temperature matters

Yeast water starters love warmer temperatures, the ideal range for yeast water fermentation is between 77 F to 80 F / 25 C to 27 C. A yeast water culture can incredibly temperamental and their activity is greatly dependent on environmental variables. Hot temperatures can make your yeasts explode with activity, while cold temps can make it stall. 

When my yeast water bakes have failed in the past, it was because my kitchen was a tad bit too cold. I’ve been most successful with yeast water in the summertime. 

Yeast water activity can vary wildly

Wild yeast are fickle beasts, in comparison to sourdough, yeast water can be quite unpredictable. I’ve had yeast waters that literally explode like a can of soda that has been shaken, and some that just fizz a little, know that explosiveness is not a prerequisite for a viable yeast water. 

I’ve found that my yeast water is most active at day 3 or 4, during this time my dough can rise almost as fast as if I used commercial yeast. But using it past this point, at day 6 for example, resulted in more sluggish activity, with similar or slower rise times than sourdough starter. This is why you need to watch for signs of readiness in your dough, instead of the clock. 

As one baker once told me, when baking with wild yeast, hide your clock and pay attention only to the dough. 

You can use yeast water directly in your bake

Yeast water can be added directly to your dough without creating a starter. Your yeast water is always ready for use, you don’t need to feed it like a sourdough starter to use it in a bake. 

But as I mentioned above, activity is really unpredictable and this is why I’d advise creating a levain with flour and yeast water anyway. This will let you “proof” your yeast, observing the activity of your levain can also allow you to gauge rise times of your bread. 

Most yeast waters will not affect the flavor of your bread 

The flavor of bread made with yeast water is more neutral than bread made with sourdough starter. Because the tang of sourdough develops overtime, the bread you make using your yeast water won’t have the same flavor as breads made with starter. As your starter ages it may develop this tang down the line, but it won’t have this flavor immediately. For this reason, many bakers prefer using yeast water to make sweet enriched breads, and pastries. 

Most of the time, the flavor of the fruit you use for your yeast water won’t transfer to your finished bake. There are some fruits or vegetables that affect the flavor of bread, however, I haven’t baked anything where this has occurred. I’ll be sure to announce it on my Instagram if or when I do! 

Test for pH level

It’s important to ensure your yeast water is safe to consume by testing its pH level. This can be done easily using pH test strips. Your yeast water may appear active, but it may not be acidic enough, therefore unsafe for consumption. Safety is paramount, your yeast water should register at a pH of 4 or lower before you can use it. 

Maintaining your active yeast water

There are a few options for maintaining your yeast water starter

Convert it to a sourdough starter. Once you’ve created a starter using flour and yeast water, you can now maintain that as you would a sourdough starter. There are many articles online about sourdough starter maintenance, so I won’t recount the steps here. Know that feeding your starter with plain water at this point is absolutely fine, and you won’t need to keep using yeast water to maintain your sourdough starter. 

Refresh it with fruit or sweetener. After your yeast water is fully active, you can strain the fruit out of it, keep the liquid and store it in the refrigerator indefinitely. Once you’d like to use your yeast water again you can top it off with some fruit or even sugar and keep it at room temperature before use to increase activity. 

Process

Things You’ll Need

***You can other kinds of fruit, but I’ve been most successful with grapes, so I recommend using them for your first time. 

Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This in no way impacts my recommendations.

Instructions

Create Your Yeast Water

Left: Day 1 – Middle: Day 2 – Right: Day 3

Day 1:

Split a handful of grapes (10 to 15) in half and place them in your container and cover them with 4 to 5 inches / 10 to 12 cm of water. 

On the first day, your water will be clear and all of the grapes should lie in the bottom of your container. 

Set aside and allow to ferment.  

Day 2: 

Loosen the lid of your container to release any CO2 build up. Place the lid back on tightly. 

Shake your yeast water vigorously. This prevents mold from growing on your yeast water. 

Repeat this process once or twice.

Day 3/4:

Release any gas buildup and shake your yeast water vigorously, 2 times throughout the day.

At this point the water in your yeast water may have changed colors and all the fruit should be  floating. 

Test the pH level, if it registers at 4 or lower, your yeast water is ready to use. If not continue to release gas and shake until it is reaches the optimal pH level. 

Create Your Starter

In a separate container or bowl, combine 30 grams of yeast water with 30 grams of flour. 

After 3 to 4 hours, if your starter doubles and appears bubbly it is ready to use and will be strong enough to bake bread! 

Et Voila!

Creating a sourdough starter using yeast water is such an easy and uncomplicated process. If you’ve had trouble making a starter the conventional way or if you don’t particularly like the tang of sourdough, I recommend trying this method out. I love how creating a yeast water allows me to use fruit that I would otherwise toss in the bin. 

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about fruit yeast waters? Let me know in the comments if you have questions I didn’t answer in this post! 

Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Remember to post a photo and tag me @makeitdough when you make this delicious recipe, so I can check out your bake.

Follow me on Instagram @MakeItDough or like Make It Dough on Facebook for more sourdough and baking ideas.

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24 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol says:

    Very interesting – thanks. I have seen amazing baguettes made with yoghurt yeast water. I have tried making it with zero success. Do you have any clues about how to make it? I dream of making perfect baguettes by hand with a thin crispy crust and light open crumb just like the ones made from yoghurt yeast water in IG.

    1. Thanks, Carol! That’s interesting. I’ve never seen yoghurt-leavened bread bread before, though I have been seeing people make beautiful bread out of kefir! I recently purchased some kefir grains, I’ll try with that and report back here 😁

  2. Tess says:

    Wow, what a neat technique! I have a friend who’s been trying to maintain a starter for months, but it always ends up dying. He thinks it’s because of the water. Do you think using this method will yield better results? Thanks, and fantastic blog! Will visit often 🙂

    1. It may be because his tap water has chlorine! He could also boil water to evaporate any chemicals, and then let it cool before using.

      This may help by greatly speeding up the process!

  3. Wow, what a neat technique!

    1. Thanks! I love it for speeding up the process of creating a sourdough starter, or a starter that’s not too sour.

  4. Kaplan says:

    Love this and the tip on the ph strips!! I’ve been wondering about PH and a simple way to test. Thanks!!! And congratulations on your blog award, nice job!

    1. Glad I could help! And thank you so much!

  5. Erin says:

    I just found your post, this is great information. I have just made my starter, now do I strain the fruit from my yeast water and put it in the refrigerator for future use? Thanks so much for this and I’ll be sure to let you know how my bread turns out!

    1. Yes you can place your yeast water in the fridge and feed it with more fruit when you’re ready to use it! Alternatively you can use it to start a sourdough starter culture.

  6. Charlotte says:

    I haven’t been able to locate any pH strips …..but think my yeast water is nearly ready. Is there any other way to test it, please? Thanks

    1. If your yeast water looks bubbly and shows all other indications of being ready, it should be fine to use. You’ll be baking this anyway so it should be safe.

  7. Rory says:

    Hi! I’ve just tried your method of making yeast water and then made a flour mixture. So far it’s bubbled and I can see the little spots where the bubbles popped. I’ve never used a starter like this for bread and I’m wondering what’s next? Is there a recommended amount to use? Thanks for the great and digestible information!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad this information was helpful. You can now use this as you would a regular sourdough starter!

  8. This is my first time creating yeast water and I love experiments like this. I made it with raisins and this is day 5 and it looks great. I mixed it with 30g flour to see if I can get it active. So many people can’t find yeast, but I still have some in the freezer, along with my sourdough starters. I’m anxious to see how this works to bake with. Thank you!

  9. Rachel says:

    I just made this and it worked great! The yeast doubled in size and has bubbles. I’m not making bread right now though, can I store the mixture in the fridge? If so, should the lid be on tight or loose? Thanks!

    1. At this point you can now treat this as a regular sourdough starter! Store with a tight lid and feed at least once a week! More if you’re baking with it.

  10. I made this and it worked great! The yeast doubled in size and has bubbles. I’m not making bread right now though, can I store the mixture in the fridge? If so, should the lid be on tight or loose? Thanks!

  11. Tariq says:

    Is it absolutely necessary to use a 1 liter or 32oz bottle? would a 16oz jar possibly explode or something from gas buildup?

    1. Use what you have! Just make sure you adjust the amount of water you use.

  12. Bill says:

    I started using yeast water a little bit ago and have had some minor success. I’m in the middle of making dough right now, actually. On a whim, I added a teaspoon of sugar to my 454 g levain to get the little buggers going a little better…it looks like it’s going to make a difference and I’m glad to see that your guide had that as a thing to do. One thing I haven’t been really able to find is how to use yeast water in a non-sourdough recipe? I would love to branch into softer crumbed bread, but don’t know of a reliable way to do this. Any thoughts are welcome.

    1. Glad you’re trying yeast water! It’s such a fun experiment. Hmm what do you mean by non-sourdough? By “softer crumb” do you mean enriched doughs?

  13. Sara Johnson says:

    I’ve been making yeast water using dried blueberries, raisins and dates. When I add equal parts yeast water and flour, it does double in size, but when I test it for a float test it doesn’t work. Would my dough starter that I made with yeast water and flour still work even though it doesn’t past the dough test? I’ve used it in the past and it worked fine but I never tested it before I used it. I just recently started testing it at its peak when all the bubbles have built up and it doubled in size and it still didn’t float in the water for some reason.

    1. The float test is notoriously unreliable. You could be knocking all the air out of the starter when you scoop it and that could be why it won’t float. As long as your starter is rising, it should be able to make your dough rise. Remember that yeast water really likes warm temps so make sure you are proofing at around 80 F or higher

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