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Wine Yeast to Make Bread

TroubleShooting

Julie Stewart — Loveland, Ohio asks,
Q

During the stay-at-home period I enjoyed starting to bake bread, but yeast was tough to find in the grocery store. Can you use wine yeast for baking bread? Also is there a way to make a sourdough starter from the yeast found on grape skins and other fruits to give my bread a home winemaker’s twist?

A
You can definitely use wine yeast for baking bread. Bread yeast and wine yeast are both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and both work the same way, by eating sugar and converting it into ethanol and carbon dioxide gas. In the case of wine, the sugar comes from the grapes. In bread, the sugar (simple carbohydrates) can come from the flour, which often contains somewhere between 1–2% simple sugars, or from a small addition of granulated sugar. When flour is mixed with water, the simple sugars can be eaten by the yeast, leaving the starch to create the bread. It is, after all, the carbon dioxide produced by yeast that allows a loaf of bread to rise. That said, wine yeast is a little different than bread yeast strains. Bread yeast strains aren’t bred (ha-ha) to be able to withstand high levels of alcohol so it’s not wise to try to make wine with bread yeast. Wine yeast will be able to operate just fine in the bread environment, which is not a high alcohol situation. Wine yeast is also, depending on the
Response by Alison Crowe.