If you let Kombucha ferment for a longer time, or maybe if you’ve got a busy Continuous Brew set up, you’ve seen plenty of dark brown, maybe gloppy strings of yeast collecting near the bottom of your brew.
While an overabundance in our maturing Kombucha can be a bad thing, there is another use for those extra yeast, and one that makes great use of Kombucha’s naturally sour flavor. Yeast is used to make bread. Starting to get the picture??
History of Sourdough
Historically, bread has been an important part of the human diet. The oldest breads are the unleavened types such as pita and naan. According to historians, leavening was in use as far back as 6000 years ago (4000 BC). Leavening occurs when wild yeasts populate a mixture of flour and water.
The yeast feast on the carbohydrates (sugar) of the grain and attract lactobacillus to create a symbiosis (sound familiar) and ferment. This fermentation process breaks down the naturally occurring phytic acid, creates a lighter texture (yeast release carbon dioxide) and preserves the bread from spoiling too quickly.
Almost no store bought breads today have undergone any fermentation; they are usually unhealthy gut bombs of refined flour and sugar designed to get you addicted to the rush. But bread was not always such a poorly understood product.
In fact, bread was such a precious commodity that in the 16th century, bakers were often bankers, using loaves of bread as currency.
During the Gold Rush of the 1860’s, miners who roughed the elements in the Yukon and California were known as “Sourdoughs” due to the lump of starter they wore on their person to keep it warm. They knew that it was nutritious, hearty and comforting.
The most famous sourdough bread in the United States hails from San Francisco. But why this place in particular? Is it just because the best bakers live there? Or perhaps the water is different on the West Coast?
No actually, this is due to a very special (and particularly active and tasty) yeast that thrives in the San Francisco climate dubbed lactobacillus sanfrancisco.
Boudin’s Bakery has maintained their mother culture for over 150 years, even surviving the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.
Since Kombucha is also a symbiosis of bacteria and yeast, it is an excellent source for making your own sourdough starter at home.
Moreover, using Kombucha yeast dregs jumpstarts the process and reduces the amount of time needed for an active starter.
Blogger and Kombucha Kamp reader Sissy L Menz offered her recipe for making a Sourdough Bread stater using the spent Kombucha yeast from the bottom of the brewing vessel.
Kombucha Bread Starter by Sissy
When Kombucha is ready to be “harvested” you may have noticed a significant amount of yeast on the bottom of your brewing vessel.
Sometimes it might just be very dusty looking. Sometimes it looks murky.
This is perfect for making a revved up wild yeast bread starter!
Start Your Starter
- Large bowl
- Cloth cover
- 1½ cup of KT dregs from bottom of jar
- 1½ cup flour
- Sanitize the bowl with distilled vinegar and filtered water.
- Add flour and KT to bowl.
- Mix until combined. It can be a little lumpy.
- Cover with cloth.
- Set aside for 24 hours.
- Check the starter to see if any bubbles of formed and if it has doubled in size.
- If it isn’t bubbly or hasn’t doubled, then feed it another 1/2 cup of flour
- Letting the dough rise near your Kombucha brewing vessels is a good idea as it will capture wild yeast that is in the air.
- If after 24 hours the starter doesn’t have a ton of small bubbles and hasn’t at least doubled in size just feed it.
- As soon as it gets lots of small bubbles, and a nice sour smell then you have a mature starter and can bake bread with it.
- Store in the fridge between feedings. It will keep several months. To revive, remove from fridge and feed.
Some recipes call for feeding the starter 3 straight days before baking. It all depends on the strength of your starter, how bubbly it gets and how much wild yeast is naturally cultivated.
If it’s not looking active enough, just feed it like Sissy says and give it 8 – 10 hours to bubble up, then bake with it or move it to the fridge if it’s ready, or feed it the next day if it’s not.
Here’s a great, simple way to make use of that lovely, sour Kombucha bread starter you’ve just cultivated!
Kombucha Sourdough Bread Recipe
adapted from the Nourishing Traditions Cookbook by Sally Fallon
Makes 1 loaf.
- 3 cups of Kombucha sourdough starter
- 4 cups of flour – wheat, rye, spelt or combination
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- ½ cup of filtered water
- Starter should be room temperature and have been recently fed.
- Combine starter, salt and water in a large bowl and mix until the salt has dissolved.
- Slowly mix in the flour. It may be easier to use your hands.
- If the dough is too thick, add more water. The dough should be soft and easy to work.
- Knead in the bowl for 10-15 minutes.
- Shape into a loaf. Avoid pressing down on the dough to do this. Place in a buttered loaf pan.
- Cut a few slits in the top of the loaf.
- Cover with a cloth and let rise 4-12 hours (depending on temperature)
- Once it has doubled, then bake at 350 degrees for an hour.
- Allow to cool before slicing.
Here’s another great use for starter from podcast buddy Sandor.
Alaskan Frontier Sourdough Hotcakes
adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
Mix batter the night before for breakfast pancakes. Makes about 16 pancakes.
- 1 cup Kombucha sourdough starter
- 2 cups lukewarm water (to make the yeast happy!)
- 2½ cups whole wheat pastry flour &/or white flour
- 2 tbsp sugar (or other sweetener)
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I recommend melted butter or ghee)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- In a large bowl, mix the starter, water, flour & sugar.
- Stir until smooth.
- Cover and let ferment 8-12 hours (overnight). **Don’t forget to replenish your starter.
- Beat the egg and add to the batter with the butter and salt.
- Stir until smooth.
- Mix the baking soda with 1 tbsp of warm water, fold it gently into the mixture.
- Heat a cast-iron pan or griddle and grease.
- Ladle batter into pan and cook until many bubbles have formed.
- Flip pancake and cook until medium brown.
- Serve warm!