What is Truth? (What is Yeast?)

OK, I confess, the title is a bit of a teaser to get you reading. But we will start exploring the question today.

JD Rockel

Mostly, I want to bring you up to date on what has been happening here in JD Rockel’s life. I am writing solely off the top of my head and will likely miss some things but that gives us space for more posts. I’m also working hard at taking selfies. It’s the smiling part that has been rough. I had to activate muscles in my face that have been dormant all my life. LOL

One of my many hobbies (another subject for further discussion) is brewing. My first choice of alcoholic beverages is beer. All types from old world classics (Pabst, Schlitz, Hamms) to the microbrews that have sprung up around the country. My home for many years, the Milwaukee, WI area was a great place for brewery tours.

I am blessed not to be drawn to alcohol. If you can’t stop at one drink, please seek help. Any and all addictions can ruin you life and the lives of those around you.

I just finished a batch of Dark Irish Stout. It was a new brewing adventure as the roasted grains make a dark mess that needs to be cleaned up throughout the process. But again, a subject for further discussion.

I am also a science geek. So the chemistry of brewing and the science of the ingredients fascinate me. In particular, I’m fascinated by yeast. Yes, the little buggers you put in bread that makes the airholes inside. There are many, many strains of yeast and the little guys are everywhere. If you mix up some instant mashed potatoes, leaving the result juicy, and then let it sit on you kitchen counter, you will see bubbles on the surface in a few days. The bubbles are carbon dioxide being made by yeast that settled onto you mixture out of your kitchen air.

Hope I didn’t just freak you out, but it is true that you have millions of yeast cells living in your body as well. According to webmd.com, yeast in the digestive tract keeps it healthy and in balance. “It can help you absorb vitamins and minerals from your food, and even fight disease.” Of course, yeast in the wrong places is a disease and must be cared for. The same is true of bacteria and viruses.

But for bread making and brewing, yeast literally comes in many varieties and supplies different tastes to your food. Sourdough yeast is different from Italian bread yeast is different from French bread yeast.

“Wait a minute”, you say. When I make any kind of bread I just use the bread yeast I get in the store. True, some of the difference in bread comes from the ingredients and method of mixing and baking. But the classic example of a taste difference coming from the yeast is Sourdough bread.

A good website to learn how to make a sourdough start can be found at theclevercarrot.com. Using different ingredients than I mentioned above, you collect the yeast needed to make bread. Your sourdough will be unique for your area. Take pride it your bread’s special personality.

Growing Nottingham Yeast

As for beer and wine, there are dozens of yeast strains from around the world. One of them is Nottingham. I have used this yeast in light Ales (beer fermented at room temperature). As it happened, I saved a very small number of grains of yeast from the bag in my frig. A few days ago, I made a starter of that yeast. The results were hundreds if not thousands of times more yeast volume. Indeed I may be grossly underestimating the results. But I now have more Nottingham yeast for future brews. And at six to twelve dollars a packet (one packet = five gallons of beer), it was worth the effort. (I will provide more details on my process of yeast growth later.)

So what is truth? In the case of yeast, truth is that yeast is everywhere. It is both beneficial and harmful depending on where it lives. It can be grown in a jar and collected out of the air. You are breathing in yeast right now. Thankfully, it is not taking root in your lungs.

Every area of life has a source of truth. I hope to expand on this subject in the future as well.

Do you have yeast stories? Please share them in the comments below. I’ve had some reports that creating a comment is a bit challenging. The settings I have in place are that you provide your e-mail address once. Then, for your first comment, I review it to ensure it is not nasty. After that, you should be home free. If this is onerous to you, please let me know at info@jdrockel.com.

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