Woman kneading dough on a wooden counter.

It’s likely we will never forget the great run on toilet paper at the start of the pandemic in 2020.

But toilet paper wasn’t the only thing missing from grocery store shelves.

As people stayed home and supply chains came to a screeching halt, yeast disappeared.

Products such as Fleischmanns Act Dry Yeast couldn’t be found unless you went to online sellers who charged upwards of $45.

If you aren’t a baker, this may not seem like a big deal. But it is.

Many Americans buy store-bought yeast instead of making their own, so when there was a yeast shortage, baking and brewing stopped.

As much as we’d like to believe 2020 is far in the rearview mirror, that isn’t the case.

We are still dealing with supply chain issues. Add in diesel issues and inflation, and people have plenty of reasons to worry about yeast and other items, such as bread, remaining on grocery store shelves.

For example, Yahoo reports, “with the continuation of Russia’s war in Ukraine (the countries account for nearly 20% of global cereal grain production), ‘many bakeries and factories may struggle to obtain the necessary ingredients to make bread, leading to a potential shortage in 2023.’”

The good news is that wild yeast exists outside grocery store shelves.

Yeast occurs naturally, so if you know different methods for making your own yeast starters, you can become self-sufficient in the kitchen.

Flour sprinkled on the floor.

How to Make Your Own Yeast from Flour

You can make fresh yeast using only water and flour.

Keep in mind that, if you make fresh yeast, you will need to refrigerate it and use it within two weeks.

Here is a recipe for fresh yeast from MasterClass:

Note - Making your own starter takes about five days.


  • All-purpose flour
  • Water
  1. In a large mixing bowl at least twice the size of your mixture, combine three tablespoons of all-purpose flour and three tablespoons of water and mix with a spatula until evenly combined. Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  2. The next day, add another three tablespoons of flour and three tablespoons of water and mix to combine. Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for another 24 hours.
  3. On day 3, add six tablespoons of flour and six tablespoons of water and combine them. Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for another 24 hours.
  4. On day 4, remove a fourth of the mixture from the container and discard it. Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for another 24 hours.
  5. By day 5, your yeast starter should be ready to use. It should be light, bubbly, and fluffy and have a pronounced, almost sweet, fermentation aroma without any acidity. To double-check, pinch off a small amount of starter and place it in a bowl of warm water. If it floats, it’s an indication that the starter is ready.

[Related Read: How to Make Bread without Yeast or Oil]

How to Make Your Own Yeast from Dried Fruit

Here is a recipe for DIY Yeast from Sudeep Agarwala (a yeast geneticist):


  • Flour
  • Water
  • Dried Fruit (i.e., grapes, raisins, prunes)


  1. Place dried fruit into a jar.
  2. Add 2-3 tablespoons of water to the jar and stir.
  3. Add an equal mass of flour (should be enough to make loose, wet dough).
  4. After about 12 hours, you should begin to see bubbles.
  5. Once the flour paste loosens (between 24-48 hours), take a tiny bit of the mixture, and add to 30-40 mL water, add flour, and repeat.
Wooden bowl filled with red apples.

    How to Make Your Own Yeast from Apples

    Here is a recipe for yeast using apples from Little Cooks Reading Books:


    • Clean glass jar (with lid or cheesecloth)
    • Cut-up apple (with skin)
    • Filtered tap or bottled water


    1. Fill up a glass jar a 1/4 to 1/2 full of cut-up apples (skin on).
    2. Pour water over the apples until the jar is 3/4 way full. (Do not fill up to the top!)
    3. Place the lid loosely on the jar (or use cheesecloth) and place the jar in a warm area. (A windowsill that gets sun is perfect!)
    4. Around day 3, you will start to see bubbles forming in your water. This is an indication that the yeast is reacting to the carbohydrates in your apple.
    5. If you are using a lid, shake the jar each day and then open the lid to allow some air to get in.
    6. After you see a lot of bubbles forming and a foam around the top, your yeast has formed!
    7. Use the yeast water where recipes call for yeast!

    How to Make Your Own Yeast from Potatoes

    Here is a recipe to make your own yeast using potatoes from Little Cooks Reading Books:


    • Clean glass jar (with lid or cheesecloth)
    • Medium peeled potato
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • Filtered tap or bottled water


    1. Peel one medium potato.
    2. Add 4 cups of water to a pot.
    3. Add peeled potato and boil until potato is soft.
    4. Remove potato (reserve the water!).
    5. In a small bowl, mash the potato.
    6. On top of the potato mash, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar.
    7. Place potato mash mixture into a glass jar.
    8. Fill the jar with potato water until it’s 3/4 full.
    9. Place lid loosely on jar or cover with cheesecloth.
    10. Place the jar in a warm place, like in the sun on a windowsill.
    11. If you are using a lid, shake the jar each day and then open the lid to allow some air to get in.
    12. In around 3 days, you should see yeast forming with bubbles on the surface.
    13. Use the yeast water in any recipe that calls for yeast.
    Dough in a glass bowl covered in plastic wrap.

      How to Preserve Yeast

      If you want to preserve yeast, you will need to dry and store it.

      If you don’t dry it, what you have is a starter. With a starter, you must “feed” it daily to keep it active.

      Feeding a starter requires adding a cup of water and a cup of flour to the yeast daily.

      The starter must be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If placed in the refrigerator, it only needs to be “fed” once a week.

      In contrast, dry yeast has an extended shelf life.

      It can remain active for two years if unopened. If stored chilled in a freezer, it can last significantly longer.

      In order to preserve yeast and keep it fresh, you must store it in an airtight container. If exposed to moisture, it will shorten its lifespan.

      Store the airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

      Label the packaging with the date the yeast was created.

      Before using the yeast, test it to see if it is still good.

      [Related Read: The Science of Shelf Life and How to Slow It Down]

      How to Determine If Yeast Is Still Good

      You likely won’t be able to tell from looking at it if your yeast is spoiled.

      [Related Read: 5 Tricks to Test If Your Food’s Gone Bad]

      Inactive yeast doesn’t look strange or put off odors, but if you use it, your recipes won’t work.

      You can avoid this by testing to see if your yeast is active.

      If you are wondering if the yeast you have stored is still active, please follow these directions.

      1. Mix 1 tsp. white sugar into ½ cup of warm water (around 110 degrees).
      2. Mix in 2¼ tsp. of yeast.
      3. If the mixture has risen to the top of the container within 10 minutes, the yeast is active and does not need to be replaced.
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