Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mother Yeast

The holidays are now over, we got back home Thursday night at 4 am.
I brought with me many memories, pictures and a general feel of well being and happiness. Spending time with my family really fuels my soul.

I also brought with me Mother Yeast, or Pasta Madre, or Lievito Madre.

My mother got some from a friend who got it from her brother-in-law, who got it from a family somewhere else.

This is a dough which is usually passed down for generations in the households of rural Italy.

Some families had Mother Yeast passed down for the past 400 years. The older the dough, the better it works. It's something amazing to think about: you might be baking using a natural yeast  your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother used to bake.

You may be kneading the same flour they kneaded. 

However, it is hard to come by because it's not sold in any shop, you must find someone who has extra and is willing to share it.

My mother has some now, and she insisted I take some.

It needs to be renewed every week, some people renew it every single day. In fact, the more you renew it, the better it works.

Some chefs say it is at its best after 3 or 4 years of "life".

Now, to the renewal process.

First, you get the Mother Yeast out of the fridge, where is kept in a glass jar with the lid on.

Then, prepare the tools: scale, spoon and a clean bowl.
 Cover the scale plate with some tin foil, and lightly dust it with flour, so the Mother Yeast will not stick to it.
 Place the Mother Yeast on the scale and weigh it. 
Add the same amount in fresh flour.

 Place both in the bowl.
 Measure half the amount in water, for example you have 100 grams of Mother Yeast, so you'll add 50 millilitres of water.

 Knead it well as if you were making a bread loaf.

 Now, place it in the bowl, make a cross on it with a knife and cover the bowl with a clean cloth.

 When it looks like this, it is ready to go back in the glass jar and in the refrigerator.

I have renewed my own Mother Yeast today, on a Sunday, so that each week I will make sure I do it, as Sunday is usually the day we bake. It takes literally 5 minutes for the renewal process and it is great to be able to bake without any store-bought yeast.

I will be giving it a try soon, and report back ;)

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