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On this day ten years ago…
via Brewing Up a Civilization

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CNN.com

Israeli scientists have brewed beer from a 5,000-year-old strain of yeast — and apparently it tastes pretty fruity.
The University of Jerusalem’s Ronen Hazan and Yuval Gadot had the idea to reactivate the yeast, which was recovered from clay pots found at the nearby Tell es Safi/Gath archaeological site.
The site is believed to be the ancient city of Gath, home to the Philistine people.
It’s said to be the hometown of the giant Goliath, who — according to the Bible — was defeated in battle by the boy David.
Says Hazan, “I thought, wow, that’s kind of a miracle that the yeast survived thousands of years in these pots. Amazing.”
The beer took eight weeks to ferment, which is fairly speedy considering the yeast has been prepped for millennia.
One taste-tester described the beer as “really interesting” and “fruity like nut and bananas.” Another claimed that it was “tasty” and “unique” and “going down like oil.”
Not everyone was a fan, though. One person who tried the ancient beer concluded, “It tastes like burned bread.”
Yeast can impart 500 different flavors and aromas to beers and is very good at surviving the ages.
Some researchers say ancient Egyptians began brewing beer as early as 5,500 BCE.
But it was also being brewed in Mesopotamia, now Western Asia, where people may have used straws to drink it.
The team from the University of Jerusalem are currently in talks to find investors who might be interested in commercializing this beer from the time of Philistines and Pharaohs.

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On this day( sorry it’s two days late) ten years ago…

via More Sourdough pictures

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On this day ten years ago…

still no photos, sorry
via Ancient Wild yeast Culture-Giza

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On this day ten years ago…

the photos aren’t there anymore, sorry.
via Ancient WildYeast Starter-Giza Plateau

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on this day( one day late) ten years ago…
via Ancient Wild Yeast Starter from Giza

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On this day ten years ago…
via Spring-Almost-and this bakers thoughts turn to Wild yeast!

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Israeli researchers raised a glass Wednesday to celebrate a long-brewing project of making beer and mead using yeasts extracted from ancient clay vessels —some over 5,000 years old.

By ILAN BEN ZION

Apnews.com

 

Archaeologists and microbiologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and four Israeli universities teamed up to study yeast colonies found in microscopic pores in pottery fragments. The shards were found at Egyptian, Philistine and Judean archaeological sites in Israel spanning from 3,000 BC to the 4th century BC.

The scientists are touting the brews made from “resurrected” yeasts as an important step in experimental archaeology, a field that seeks to reconstruct the past in order to better understand the flavor of the ancient world.

“What we discovered was that yeast can actually survive for a very, very long time without food,” said Hebrew University microbiologist Michael Klutstein. “Today we are able to salvage all these living organisms that live inside the nanopores and to revive them and study their properties.”

Beer was a staple of the daily diet for the people of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Early Egyptian texts refer to a variety of different brews, including “iron beer,” ″friend’s beer,” and “beer of the protector.”

The yeast samples came from nearly two dozen ceramic vessels found in excavations around the country, including a salvage dig in central Tel Aviv, a Persian-era palace in southern Jerusalem and ’En Besor, a 5,000-year-old Egyptian brewery near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. The project was spearheaded by Hebrew University microbiologist Ronen Hazan and antiquities authority archaeologist Yitzhak Paz.

Other researchers of ancient beers, such as University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick McGovern, have concocted drinks based on ancient recipes and residue analysis of ceramics. But the Israeli scientists say this is the first time fermented drinks have been made from revived ancient yeasts.

Aren Maeir, a Bar Ilan University archaeologist, excavates at Tel es-Safi, the biblical city of Gath, where ancient Philistine beer pots yielded yeasts used to brew a beer offered to journalists. He likened the revival of long-dormant yeast to the resurrection of ancient beasts fictionalized in “Jurassic Park,” but only to a point.

“In Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs eat the scientists,” he said. “Here, the scientists drink the dinosaurs.”

“It opens up a whole new field of the possibility that perhaps other microorganisms survived as well, and you can identify foods such as cheese, wine, pickles,” opening a portal into tasting cultures of the past, he said.

For this initial experiment, the team paired up with a Jerusalem craft brewer to make a basic modern-style ale using yeast extracted from the pots. The ale had a thick white head, with a caramel color and a distinctly funky nose. The mead, made using yeast extracted from a vessel found in the ruins of a palace near Jerusalem that contained honey wine roughly 2,400 years ago, was champagne bubbly and dry, with a hint of green apple.

The beer incorporates modern ingredients, like hops, that were not available in the ancient Middle East — but it’s the revived yeast that provides much of the flavor.

“We tried to recreate some of the old flavors that people in this area were consuming hundreds and thousands of years ago,” said Shmuel Naky, a craft brewer from the Jerusalem Beer Center, who helped produce the beer and mead. Yeasts, he said, “have a very crucial impact on flavor.”

Naky described the beer as “spicy, and somewhat fruity, and it’s very complex in flavor,” all attributes produced by the ancient yeast.

Genome sequencing of the yeast colonies extracted from the pots showed that the ancient strain of yeast was different from the yeast used in beer-making today, but similar to those still used to make traditional Zimbabwean beer and Ethiopian tej, a type of honey wine.

The researchers said their next aim is to pair the resurrected yeasts with ancient beer recipes to better reproduce drinks from antiquity.

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What happens when an amateur paleontologist with a love for beer teams up with a microbiologist? Bone beer, or beer made from yeast scraped from a 35-million-year-old whale fossil, to be precise.

The new brew, dubbed Bone Dusters Paleo Ale, is a concoction created by amateur fossil hunter Jason Osborne of Paleo Quest, a nonprofit paleontology and geology advocacy group, and microbiologist Jasper Akerboom of the Lost Rhino Brewing Company in Ashburn, Va.

Like many scientific innovations, Bone Dusters came to Osborne late one night while he was drinking a beer.

Osborne was hunched over his desk, studying ancient whale bones he’d collected on an underwater expedition, when he took a sip and began to ponder how beer has yeast — an organism that transforms sugar into alcohol — and yeast can be found almost anywhere. His gaze shifted from his glass to his fossil.

“I thought, even though this is dead, there’s got to be things living on it,” he tells The Salt.

And an idea began to brew.

Osborne enlisted his friend Akerboom to swab the fossil and a dozen more from the basement drawers of the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland. Akerboom, a former research specialist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, didn’t think the prehistoric bones could sustain yeast’s appetite.

But in the name of science and great beer, he swabbed away. The results, he said, surprised him. While most fossils failed to create suitable yeast, Akerboom found one that fermented.

What he discovered was a wild yeast subspecies, which the pair named Saccharomyces cerevisiae var protectus, after the yeast’s host, protocetid whale “Eocetus wardii,” an early whale ancestor that Osborne had described in a 2011 paper in the journal BioOne.

The whale was a prehistoric beast that had hind legs, molars and canine-like teeth. Scientists say it may have been amphibious, dwelling on both land and water.

To retrieve the fossils, Osborne went 30 feet down into a Virginia swamp wearing full scuba gear and equipped with a type of crab cage. Down there, the violent water rushed past him like hurricane winds, he says. It was an “extreme sport for science.”

“It’s such a high risk,” Osborne says. “But the yield of return is super awesome.”

In this case, that yield is not just millions-of-years-old fossils, but bone beer.

Akerboom says that the yeast is probably not nearly as old as the fossil it was scraped from, but he believes that it came from the swamp that the bones were found in. And it behaves in mysterious ways.

“The fermentation is so strange. It stops and then continues. That’s something we haven’t seen before, not from our brewing strains,” says Akerboom.
Osborne and Akerboom are not the first to craft a prehistoric brew. In a feat that resembles Jurassic Park, Raul Cano extracted yeast from the stomach of a 45-million-year-old fly entrapped in fossilized amber to create his own beer.

Cano, a microbiologist who now operates Fossil Fuels Brewing Co., raises some skepticism over the origins of the yeast Osborn and Akerboom discovered.

He thinks that the yeast is most likely the product of contamination, whether from the museum or from the people who handled it.

But he praises the team’s accomplishment. “Regardless of whether it came from a whale bone, or someone’s fingernail, I think it’s amazing.”

But only the taste can take this brew from gimmick to classic, he says.

“You drink the first beer because of curiosity,” Cano says. “You drink the second because it’s good, so if people keep drinking it, I’m impressed.”

At the Bone Dusters premiere in late June, scientists and beer geeks alike arrived to taste what Akerboom described as a citrusy, Belgium-style amber. Osborne will donate part of the Paleo Ale proceeds to buy microscopes for underserved schools in Virginia, he says.

“This was an adventure,” says Osborne. “It’s getting people excited about paleontology in a different way,” one prehistoric pint at a time.

As you know, we here at The Salt love our beer, so stay tuned for an upcoming video poem celebrating beer … and the evolutionary saga you can taste in every pint.

Original article:
by NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR
July 15, 2014 4:52 PM ET
NPR.org

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My own Giza sourdough

Topic: Sourdough
Good article, as a food historian and a ” ancient bread ” expert I was pleased.
I had to add my own sourdough in the pictures.

The day began with heavy rain soaking San Francisco’s hilly streets. But as we made our way to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, walking along the seagull-dotted piers that jut out onto the bay, the sun began to cut through thick fog and silvery clouds. We wandered past artisanal cheese stands, organic chocolate shops and vendors hawking avocados and oranges. As the briny air wet our cheeks, a familiar craving arose; my stomach was longing for that San Francisco tradition: sourdough bread.

Related article: Love, war and the Philly cheesesteak
Sourdough is the quintessential San Francisco comfort food, with yeasty and earthy aromas wafting out of the city’s bakeries, hinting at warm loaves fresh out of hearth ovens. Thick and hollow, sourdough is crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Its complex taste is uniquely tangy, thanks to the pre-baking fermentation process that creates naturally occurring lactose acid, strains of wild yeast and copious flavours. In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, more than 3.5 million sourdough loaves are baked each week.

Bake like an Egyptian
“Sour” dough, one of the oldest known fermentations, likely began accidentally in Ancient Egypt around 4000BC. As the story goes, an Egyptian baker on the Nile set out to make unleavened flat bread with grain porridge, but left the dough to rest too long and wild yeast took hold; once baked, the bread naturally puffed up. Archaeologists and food historians point to both Egyptians’ well-documented relationship with yeast and remnants of sourdough discovered in Ancient Egyptian sites as evidence to this theory.

For centuries, the process uncovered in Ancient Egypt was the only form of leavening available, and generations throughout the Middle East and Europe passed down their recipes. It was not until 1860, when French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur identified yeast as the cause of fermentation, that it was subsequently isolated and produced commercially for bakers.

All sourdough begins with a starter: a mixture of flour and water that is left to ferment for days – and in some cases years – at room temperature, creating a bubbly, sour mixture of wild yeast and bacteria. As long as flour and water are replenished to the starter, the dough remains active and its cultures alive. In just two cups of starter – enough to make a loaf – there are more than 200 million yeasts and 20 billion lactobacilli bacteria.

Sourdough rush
It is not clear when sourdough first landed in the United States. Local legend points to Basque immigrants who migrated to South America, mainly Argentina and Paraguay, during the Spanish civil wars of the 1830s. When news hit of gold in Northern California, thousands of Basque and pioneers from across North America rushed to San Francisco in search of wealth. From 1847 to 1849, the city’s population swelled from 1,000 to more than 20,000.

Lore credits these Basque migrants as the original carriers of sourdough starter. Sourdough was soon a staple of the miners who relied on it to make biscuits, breads and pancakes at their camps. They would mix flour into portions of their starters each morning, then slowly bake the blend in a large cast iron pot fitted with a lid, placed on coals in the ground and covered with dirt. Each night when they would arrive back at camp after a long, arduous day, the bread was baked, warm and ready to fill their bellies. So common were the loaves in the gold camps that “sourdoughs” became a nickname for the miners themselves (who – they say – slept hugging their starters to keep them warm).

San Francisco’s wild child
The Gold Rush is firmly entrenched in San Francisco’s history, its legends and traditions woven into the city’s fabric. Sourdough is no exception. The hyper-sour taste unique to San Francisco has taken it from a miner’s calling card to the modern urban dweller’s go-to bread, legendary around the world and iconic to the foggy city by the bay.

The principal wild yeast strain found in San Francisco’s bread is native to the region and it is the defining factor in its distinctive tanginess. Microbiologists Frank Sugihara and Leo Kline identified the strain in 1969, naming it lactobacillus Sanfranciscensis in honour of the city. Any sourdough starter left to ferment throughout the area will breed this native yeast.
But just as the weather affects the Bay Area’s surf, it also changes the taste of its bread. More humidity means a slower rise. Higher temperatures accelerate the production of leavens. And as starters ferment, the flavours are enriched as yeasts and bacteria work in symbiosis to produce a complex dough with as much character as San Franciscans themselves.

Louise, la baguette!
Legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen famously wrote in the 1990s: “Fresh cracked crab with Boudin [Bakery] round ‘dark bake’ sourdough and a well-chilled bottle of California chardonnay is still the quintessential SF meal.”

A Bay Area institution, Boudin Bakery lies at the origins of San Francisco sourdough. Well-known French bakers, the Boudin family arrived in San Francisco around the time of the Gold Rush. On an October day in 1849, Boudin Bakery opened its doors selling what is now the city’s most iconic loaf, its Sourdough French Bread.

Master baker Isidore Boudin – the story goes – borrowed a spoonful of starter from a gold miner and married it with a standard French-style bread dough. The resulting starter – affectionately known as the “Mother Dough” – is still in use today, the cultures kept alive by adding water and flour to the mixture daily. So treasured is the Mother Dough that Isidore’s wife, Louise, is said to have rushed in to the bakery to save it during the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906.

Over time the bakery expanded, fought off bankruptcy and changed hands to the Giraudo family. Today, Boudin Bakery is a sourdough empire, making more than 9,000kg of dough a day for its dozens of California locations. In 2005, Boudin opened tourist extravaganza Boudin at the Wharf: a behemoth, high-ceilinged facility at Fisherman’s Wharf that has everything from a demonstration bakery to a market, cafe, bistro and museum. Their signature sourdough bread bowl, hollowed out and filled with creamy New England clam chowder, is a favourite.

Rounds and loaves
San Francisco brims with creativity and intellect, innovation and swagger. Home to the most restaurants and farmers markets per capita in North America, this is where food trends are made and redefined. And when it comes to the city’s sourdough, the competition for a standout loaf is fiery.

Locals flock to French-inspired Tartine Bakery & Cafe, a long-time favourite tucked away on a corner in the Mission District, where it brilliantly executes pastries, cakes, pies, sandwiches and breads. Baker/owner Chad Robertson, is obsessed with crafting the finest loaves imaginable. “Bread, to me, is a mixture of flour and water that is transformed into something through the course of fermentation that transcends the simplicity of those basic ingredients,” he said.

This passion manifests into some of the city’s best sourdough. The loaves are complex and yeasty, full of earthy flavours, a touch of tang and a distinct underpinning of char. The crust is dark and heavy, owing to the dough’s long rise. Inside is moist and springy.

Robertson’s breads find their way into the cafe’s sandwiches, served alongside soups and tucked into puddings. To snag a freshly baked loaf, check online every day after 4:30 pm or pre-order your sourdough three days in advance. Scoring a loaf of sourdough to be enjoyed in a nearby park, the thick fog inevitably rolling in, is well worth the wait.

For a Berkeley-born favourite, make the trip to the historic Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on the edge of San Francisco Bay, where artisanal food vendors, organic farm stands, legendary coffee shops and a host of restaurants buzz with chatter, tasting, slurping, clanging and eating. At Acme Bread Company, pick up a sourdough loaf that is said to have launched an artisanal bread-making revolution in the 1980s. Co-founder Steve Sullivan began his career as a busboy then baker at another Bay Area institution, Alice Water’s Chez Panisse. In his early days of baking, Steve created a leavener with a starter inoculated with wild yeast from wine grapes. The result was the bread that kicked off a movement.
Acme’s sourdough has a wheatier, cereal-like taste with a notably mild sour flavour. It is baked fresh daily in a hearth oven and remains the exclusive bread of Chez Panisse. Purchase a round and head next door to Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop for some exceptional soft aged cheeses, the perfect accompaniment to any picnic.

And then there is Sour Flour, a community-focused bakeshop in the Mission District. Founded in 2008 by Danny Gabriner, it began as a home experiment with sourdough baking that resulted in a doughy vision. The first 1,000 loaves of bread baked each day are given away for free to neighbours, “collaborators and anyone who expressed an interest in Sour Flour”.

In addition, bread making classes fill their monthly roster. Two-hour workshops teach students everything they ever wanted to know – and more – about maintaining sourdough starters and the fermentation process. Bread-baking protégées flow out of their classes, hands covered in flour and fresh loaves happily tucked under their arms.

The number of noteworthy, must-try San Francisco sourdough spots far exceeds the word count of this article (Josey Baker Bread and their newest venture, The Mill; and Della Fattoria at the Ferry Building, for instance). With a plethora of stunning loaves and rounds, it is perhaps the eternal San Franciscan love for creating something from the ground up, native to the land and deeply connected to its consciousness that makes this city’s sourdough so unique.

Original article:
BBC .com

By Caitlin Zaino nov 26, 2013

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My own sourdough

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