Naturally, we’re all about yeast at Anchor Yeast, and that’s why we’ve put together a few cool and interesting stories about our favourite single-celled microorganism and its myriad uses!
Someone recently made bread using 4500-year-old yeast – and apparently it was incredible! Seamus Blackley, an amateur baker and one of the people behind the Xbox, negotiated access to 4500-year-old vessels that had been used to make bread and brew beer. A team of experts accessed the dormant yeast, which had settled into the ceramic vessel, and gave Seamus one of the samples. He then cultivated the yeast for a week, creating a sourdough-type starter which he then used with grains that had been available in Ancient Egypt – barley, einkorn and kamut. And the end result? A bread that is “much sweeter and more rich than the sourdough we’re used to” with a crumb that is “light and airy” with “incredible” aroma and flavour.
On that note, yeast from space has been used to make beer – to mark the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a brewer in Hawaii released an ‘Interplanetary Ale’ made with a yeast strain brought back from space. Brewer Steve Haumschild from Lanikai Brewing Company convinced two NASA research pilots to ‘lure’ wild yeast with a baited petri dish while they were cruising at 70 000 feet – one of the yeasts they brought back was usable when combined with a strain of yeast from earth. The resulting beer is described as having “a kind of funkiness to it, with mild undertones of overripe tropical fruit with a very dry finish.
If it wasn’t for yeast, we wouldn’t have chocolate! It’s all down to fermentation – cacoa beans, once harvested, are placed in large, wooden boxes and left in the sun. Wild yeasts feed off the white gooey pulp that surrounds cocoa beans and ferments the product. Researchers have, according to reports, been trying to streamline the fermentation process by pinpointing the yeasts that create the best end-product – and it turns out that it’s the same yeast species that creates the best yield of beer, bread and wine. So you can thank yeast for quite a lot of delicious things!