Yeast: Healthy Alternatives


Yeast is an essential ingredient in many sweet and savory preparations. For baking purposes, it is usually sold as instant or active dry yeast, a light brown powder made from a yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Dry yeast is activated in the presence of water and sugar when it starts to metabolize sugar. This process activates the production of carbon dioxide bubbles which remain trapped in a dense mixture. Then, they expand at room temperature or when exposed to heat, causing the dough to rise.

Il fermentation process is due to particular microorganisms (i.e. small mushrooms) called yeasts: bread and the majority of baked products, but also cheeses, wine and many other products that are part of the daily diet are obtained thanks to leavening or fermentation.

You can replicate this leavening process without yeast.

Symptoms of yeast intolerance

Yeast intolerance is often characterized by the appearance of some symptoms such as:

Bicarbonate and acid component

Among the alternatives to yeast, we find sodium bicarbonate to be used combined with an acidic substance. The Baking soda and acid work together to trigger the same reactions as yeast in powder. However, using baking soda or acid separately will not leaven baked goods – you need to combine them for the reaction to occur. The use of baking soda and acid does not require a leavening time and the leavening effects will not be the same as baking powder.

Examples of acids to use together with sodium bicarbonate to replicate the leavening action of yeast:

What quantities? To replace baking powder with baking soda and acid in a recipe, use half the required amount of baking powder with baking soda and the other half with acid. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of baking powder, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of acid.

Mother Yeast

Sourdough contains natural yeast. AND prepared with flour and water and used for naturally leavened doughs. Sourdough can be stored and regenerated for years, continuously fermenting to provide a strong flavor and smooth texture to artisan breads or baked goods.

Sourdough fermentation works the same way as instant yeast fermentation, forming bubbles of carbon dioxide in the dough to help it rise. Using sourdough starter instead of yeast, however, requires about double the rising time.

What quantities? Use 300 grams of sourdough to replace 2 teaspoons of yeast.

How to make sourdough at home

The preparation of the sourdough starter requires a minimum of 5 days. Then you need to keep it cool to use. You need:

  • at least 600 grams of all-purpose flour
  • at least 600 ml of water

Five steps for five days

  • Day 1: prepare the starter with 120 grams of flour and 120 ml of water in a large glass container and cover with cling film or a clean kitchen towel. Leave at room temperature.
  • Day 2: add 120 grams of flour and 120 ml of water to the starter and mix well. Cover lightly and leave at room temperature. By the end of the second day, you should see bubbles forming, which means the yeast is growing and fermenting.
  • Day 3: repeat the steps on day 2. The mixture should smell yeasty and have a good amount of bubbles.
  • Day 4: repeat the steps on day 2. The bubbles are increasing, the smell is stronger and more sour, and the paste is growing in volume.
  • Day 5: repeat steps on day 2. The sourdough starter should smell yeasty and have lots of bubbles. It is now ready for use.

To keep your sourdough starter beyond the fifth day, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use or discard half each week and feed with another 1/2 cup (120 grams) of flour and 1/2 cup (120 ml) of water to freshen it up.

Natural alternatives to baking powder

There are several alternatives to yeast for sweet and savory doughs. Those who are not vegan, for example, can use egg white whipped until stiff with a pinch of salt. Or again, unite baking soda with yogurt as yeast in the preparation of sweet baked doughs, which will be particularly soft.

Foamy beer

Using a very foamy beer, for example in savory batters, but also in pizza or focaccia, can be a valid alternative to industrial yeast. In this case you wouldn't even need bicarbonate of soda. Beer it must be added gradually: 100ml is the ideal dose for 200g of flour, 80ml of water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Finally add salt to the mixture, let it rest for a few hours and then proceed with cooking. Choose an unpasteurized and very cloudy beer.

Cream of tartar

Baking powder can easily be replaced with cream of tartar. It's a acid salt with leavening properties which is usually also found in the supermarket. It is a valid alternative to yeast, it is sold in powder form and can be used alone or together with bicarbonate. It is added to the dry ingredients, without the need to dissolve it.


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