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rotuts

Breaking Bread with the Ancient Pharaohs

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in the NWTimes , Science Times , there is an article on recovering ancient yeast that had been used in Egypt 4,000 years

 

ago , and with current , but ancient strains of wheat , making Ancient Bread .  Barley and Einkorn flour was used.

 

the article from the NYTimes didn't show up on their web site , but this similar is not better article turned up on Google :

 

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/yeast-from-ancient-pottery-used-bake-bread-1618093

 

in the NYTimes article :

 

from Mr. Blackley :   "  The Crumb is light and airy,  The aria and flavor are incredible. "

 

more work plans to be done to make sure the ancient yeast has not been contaminated w more modern yeast

 

during the extraction.

 

 

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I'd like to know much more about their microbiology techniques.

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in the NYTimes article , they plan on doing some gene-sequencing on the yeasts involved.

 

Im sure the actual technique is published somewhere , probably obscure.

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Posted (edited)

I originally saw this on Twitter on August 4 and again a few days later and found this link.

 If you have a twitter account, you can do a search for Seamus Blackley  and follow dozens of tweets about his "adventures in yeast, dough and breads"  - not something you would usually see from a PHYSICIST!   He shows where he is milling with emmer. and then the various breads.  It's a very interesting thread.

and I saved the link to The Guardian article:   and the BBC article

And I tweeted about the  National Geographic production when Ed Wood helped reconstruct an ancient Egyptian bakery back in 1993. (they were excavated in 1991)   That set Ed on a search for other strains of  wild yeasts  which became the Sourdo.Com selections of various cultures from around the world.

I have posted in much earlier threads about my adventures with some of these strains, back when I was doing a lot more baking.

 

P.S.  There is also on Twitter - an  Ancient Yeast Club!

 

 

 


Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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14 hours ago, rotuts said:

in the NWTimes , Science Times , there is an article on recovering ancient yeast that had been used in Egypt 4,000 years

 

ago , and with current , but ancient strains of wheat , making Ancient Bread .  Barley and Einkorn flour was used.

 

the article from the NYTimes didn't show up on their web site , but this similar is not better article turned up on Google :

 

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/yeast-from-ancient-pottery-used-bake-bread-1618093

 

in the NYTimes article :

 

from Mr. Blackley :   "  The Crumb is light and airy,  The aria and flavor are incredible. "

 

more work plans to be done to make sure the ancient yeast has not been contaminated w more modern yeast

 

during the extraction.

 

 

 

Thanks, @rotuts.  I actually dug out our dead tree NY Times to read the article, but it you click or tap with your big toe on "Today's Paper" the article is indeed online.

 

Looking forward to hearing that the ancient yeast was not corrupted.

 

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The problem is keeping the cultures ISOLATED.  I had a method to keep them isolated for a few months but the local NATIVE cultures have had centuries to acclimatize to a locale and they are strong.

That is why trying to maintain a "foreign" culture in places like the Bay area, where that culture simply overwhelms any  outside cultures within a few weeks.

It is easier here in the desert because the wild yeasts are not as vigorous.  in one thread I related my experience with an exceptionally STRONG sourdough response  when a local brewery was still operating.  It was an experience I do not care to repeat.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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of course , if the yeast is really 4 K old

 

a double blind tasting test should be done :

 

today's ' wild type '  i.e. the yeast that's floating around in your kitchen

 

vs 4K old yeast and the same greens.    suspect there is a lot of wishful thinking that Ancient is tastier .

 

its more about older , pre-modified grains Id say.  taste wise .

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10 hours ago, rotuts said:

of course , if the yeast is really 4 K old

 

a double blind tasting test should be done :

 

today's ' wild type '  i.e. the yeast that's floating around in your kitchen

 

vs 4K old yeast and the same greens.    suspect there is a lot of wishful thinking that Ancient is tastier .

 

its more about older , pre-modified grains Id say.  taste wise .

When I first began doing my "experiments" with various regional sourdoughs, I couldn't find flours from the "ancient grains" so had to grind my own. In fact, that is what prompted me to get an electric mill- which was just so-so  and a year or so later I replaced it with a Nutrimill which worked exactly the way I wanter.

I found (as have many bakers before me, though few seem to mention it) that TOASTING the raw grains prior to grinding them - allowing them to cool first - improves the flavor a great deal.  

It's odd that many of the bakers with whom I have corresponded (before the internet) always seem to fail to mention that they routinely "bake" their flours before storing them.  

My best results with most of the "foreign" cultures was with a blend of emmer, kamut and a small percentage of rye. A couple of the cultures I got from Sourdo.com  had a strong affinity for RYE flour and developed a very vigorous starter that lifted either rye or whole wheat or other grains to heights I had not seen before.

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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Posted (edited)

I finally found my notebook where I recorded my results with the various cultures.

Sourdough international stated about the South African culture: "This is the only culture we are aware of that leavens whole wheat flour better than white flour and is ideal for home bakers who grind their own. The flavor is truly unique, and the texture, sourness and flavor are unsurpassed. - It ferments spelt and kamut very well. - The nutty flavor persists. It is grown and packaged in whole wheat flour.  This culture was collected by Gray Handcock in Kenilworth, a suburb of CapeTown."

 

I used 1/3 spelt, 1/3 kamut and 1/3 bread flour  to start the culture, and I used my "isolation technique"  by using my steam cleaner on every exposed surface, including the ceiling, of the small room that was once a "utility" room with a laundry sink until I had that sink removed so I could use it for my dehydrators.  Those were covered with large plastic bags.

I only opened the starter in there and removed what I needed for each batch of bread and using that method, was able to maintain the culture for 8 months - at which time it became very sluggish and would no longer have enough "oomph" to rise the ground "ancient grains" which I had been using half and half  spelt and kamut.

It worked fine with bread flour or all purpose with no more than 1/3 King Arthur white whole wheat.  

 

In the meantime, I had activated, using the same isolation technique, the Bahrain Culture, which was extra sour and was very enthusiastic with straight bread flour or with bread flour with up to 1/3 NUT or SEED FLOURS.  A friend had suggested trying sunflower seed flour.  

I was able to keep this culture isolated for about 6 months, only because I got careless and opened the container without takign precautions.

 

The next one I activated, after a few months of no sourdoughs at all (kept the purchased cultures in the freezer) 

was the one from New Zealand that was recommended for RYE SOURDOUGH and it did a spectacular job.  

And that one I kept going for two years, the last year I worked and the first year of my retirement. 

I also froze some, and was able to revive it in 2012 and maintained it until 2015 when I had open heart surgery and was away from home for 2 1/2 months.  

If anyone is very partial to Rye sourdough, this is a fantastic culture and it resists conversion to "local" wild yeasts better than the others.

 

I still had a couple of cultures in the freezer and activated the Australian (Tasmanian Devil) a couple of years ago.  I did not go through all the isolation techniques because at this point I didn't care if the wild locals took over.

My notes are rather sketchy on this one but I did note that it was VERY ACTIVE and produced distinctive sourdough flavor with HUGE BUBBLES in the crumb and made great CIABATTA bread in large, wide loaves. 

 

The remaining cultures I had in the freezer were Poland and Finland and earlier this year I sent them to a younger friend who has been experimenting with sourdough.


Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Heard this story on NPR while I was on the road this past week. Pretty fascinating.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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