Cherry Blossom Yeast Water

Ingredients & Supplies

  1. Tap water boiled and left to cool
  2. Unsure of variety, perhaps Prunus Serrulata Yamazakura cherry, rid of any leaves
  3. Other types of sugar may be used here, even honey, but according to Ploetzblog, it may significantly slow fermentation
Day one

Combine ingredients in an airtight vessel and stir or shake vigorously to break up blossoms slightly and dissolve sugar. More on beginning with anaerobic fermentation here. Leave in a warm place like an oven, off with the light on.[1] Make sure to monitor so that it gets no warmer than 48° C or any wild yeasts will begin to die.

Day Two

Stir and leave in a warm place. Look for tiny signs of life, it can be quite exciting.

Day Three

By now, there may or may not be bubbles and the water may or may not be getting cloudy. Optionally, inoculate with a small amount of starter from a previous wild yeast water along with some more food (sugar).[2] Stir, remove airtight seal and only cover to protect from fruit flies. Leave in a warm place.

Day Four

Now the days are going to differ between environments and seasons but at some point in the process the water should be cloudy (mine was peachy from the light pink flowers), have a pleasant, light floral wine smell and some bubbles. Flowers may also clump and float to the top. Maintaining a warm temperature seems to the difference between sluggish and vigorous life so it seems necessary to keep in a warm place.[3]

Day Five

Once the water is fizzy (you can look for effervescence like in a soda and even put it up to your ear to listen), strain the flowers from the water. To a new vessel, add 250g (boiled and left to cool if tap) water, 250g yeast water and 25g sugar and mix. Leave on the counter, covered but not airtight, until visibly fizzy again. At this point it’s able to be used to carbonate homemade soda, ferment juice or tea into alcohol or as the leavening agent in a bread recipe.[4]

More Notes

  1. Write a note on the oven so you (or your housemates) don’t accidentally preheat while your wild yeast is in there.
  2. I began a ginger bug at the same time and, since it got bubbling sooner, decided to add it to the yeast water to help it along. In previous attempts I failed because I didn’t have enough flowers but this also ensured there were some wild yeasts floating around. In this case I added 0.5 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp unripe ginger bug.
  3. The temperature in the oven had gone up to 38° which initially worried me but it seems to have helped boost activity.
  4. I’ve found that with the long fermentation times, making a biga or poolish (a preferment) to then use in a dough has worked best. I used the recipe for an 80% biga loaf in Flour, Salt, Water, Yeast, replacing all water in the recipe for yeast water. This method of replacing water may be used in a dough without a preferment but be sure to give it time to rise. Mine showed pretty vigorous activity after an initial overnight ferment. The resulting bread was subtly and pleasantly cherry blossom scented.

Method with guidance from Junko Mine, Ploetzblog, and Taro Ya.

Alternative Method

Using Calendula Petals & Ginger

I’ve found that using this continuous feed, aerobic ginger bug method (described here) has given me the most consistent success when baking bread. Make sure to have enough material to work with to add some each day of the process or just change what you use when it runs out. This can be left in the fridge when done and fed every week or so as a continuous starter. Pascal Baudar has a section in his book, The Wildcrafting Brewer, about this method.