A species of yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae is the organism responsible for the lift in breads and the thrill in champagne, and while the individuals are not visible to the naked eye, when grouped together, they can be seen as that whitish film on grape skins.
There are hundreds of species of yeast (a microscopic, unicellular fungus), with many strains within each group, from tasty good guys to illness-causing bad guys. Before industrialized food production, bakeries and breweries worked together, with the brewer delivering the yeasty foam from the brew kettle—known as barm—to the baker, to use as a leavening agent. And while yeast residue has been scraped off the insides of ancient wine, mead and beer amphora (the earliest of these jars or vases dates back to 7000 to 6600 BC), it wasn’t until 1841 that the connection between yeast and fermentation was made.
Those tipsy Neolithic folks must have thought it was magic. It is kind of magical, isn’t it?
From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.