- Dec 12, 2012
Keep your flour and equipment clean, and you shouldn't have any issues. A sourdough "plant" is exactly the same as any regular bread baked with yeast - you just use the wild yeast that naturally occurs on the grains and flour before it's milled. Those wild yeast cultures can survive for years, and you activate it when creating your sourdough plant. So yes, I guess there is a chance, but on the flipside, once the yeast actually gets going, chances of it "failing" is pretty low. Yeast strains are, for the most part, not friendly toward each other. That means that if you have a good starter going and your yeasties are multiplying and doing their thing, they will generally kill any wild bacteria or fungus (because yeast is a fungus) that enters the mix.I heard some horror stories of people getting sick if you get it wrong and end up with the wrong bacteria... Is that scaremongering?
If you bake bread with instant or activated yeast, you do exactly the same, you just don't let the wild yeast grow. You introduce a cultivated yeast colony that's bred for a single purpose: To make a loaf of bread. I don't know if you could make a yeast plant with cultivated yeast though, I'm not sure what'll happen with the flavours after a while, although for all intents and purposes I guess it'll be fine.
PS: If you're a homebrewer, beer yeast also works well for baking breads. Takes a bit longer on the rising side and all that, but it works WONDERFULLY. Also, some yeasts are known for their esters, which are by-products produced when they ferment (which is what yeasts do when the bread rises, which is also why bread and any baked goods baked with yeast will have trace amounts of alcohol in it), so you can actually select your yeast based on the flavour you want. For example, a Belgian Abbaye ale yeast will give you sharp, spicy flavours, while a Saison yeast for example will give you more sour spice. Yeast is a fascinating fungus, really.