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How to Make Soft Hop Yeast and How to Use it in Bread Making

Updated on June 11, 2009

Hops: the Herb

Hops are a papery, yellowish-green flower, best known as an ingredient in beer. Hops have a relaxing effect on the central nervous system. They are useful for relieving tension and anxiety, especially where the tension leads to pain, restlessness, headaches and indigestion. The bitters in hops aid the entire digestive system, enhancing the action of the liver and digestive juices. Hops are also widely used to treat insomnia, often helping when nothing else does.

The Hop vine is native to Asia, Europe and North America, where it grows wild in meadows and along riverbanks in rich soil and full sun. It has been cultivated for brewing, and is commercially grown in a wide range of climates and soils. Hop is a member of the Cannabaceae family.

The hop vine grows both male and female flowers, on separate vines. Only the female flowers are used for herbal purposes. The petals contain various oils and resins that prevent bacterial growth and provide a pleasing bitter taste.

*Those with marked depression should avoid use of hops.

Why I use Hop Yeast

There is nothing like a sick child to make a parent search for a cure, and I am no exception. My second son was always full of spunk and go. He excelled at everything he did, especially if it involved running, jumping or throwing. He had his drawbacks: He could not sit still. He could not remember directions, or even focus on one thing long enough to understand what he was being told. In short, he exhibited every sign of Attention Deficit Hyper-active Disorder (ADHD).

Knowing that many of these disorders are allergy related, I sought to find out what he was allergic to, before he reached school age. Eliminating the usual culprits, like sugar, food coloring and preservatives, seemed to have no effect. Then we ran out of yeast bread. Since I had several loaves of quick bread available, plus biscuits and tortillas, I put off getting more.

Over the next few days my son’s behavior improved drastically; but, as soon as yeast bread was available again, he went crazy. He realized it too, and cried uncontrollably over his inability to focus. We immediately cut yeast out of his diet and received a loveable, responsive, active little boy in return!

But, diet changes are hard. Cutting out yeast bread not only meant no more sandwiches, it meant no more breadsticks or pizza. No more cinnamon rolls, and no more raised doughnuts. I began looking for an alternative. Homemade sour dough bread caused no ill behavior and was acceptable for sandwiches; but, who wants a sour cinnamon roll?

In an old cookbook, which gave directions for cooking on a hearth, I found recipes for making sweet yeasts. The book mentioned that brewer’s yeast (dry-active yeast) could be used, but the results were not as pleasant. This intrigued me, and I figured I had nothing to lose by trying an old recipe. It took several tries to get the amounts correct, since measurements were given in handfuls and teacups, but the smell and taste were well worth the effort! Our table is now properly supplied with bread that not only nourishes, but calms the hyper soul.

The following are my recipes, as adapted from The Young Housekeeper’s Friend.

Dry Hop Flowers
Dry Hop Flowers

Soft Hop Yeast


  • 3-quart saucepan
  • 1 quart glass jar with lid
  • small sieve


  • 1/3 cup dried hops
  • 6 cups quality water
  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry active yeast or
  • 1/3 cup good soft yeast from previous batch


  1. Simmer hops in water for 1/2 an hour letting the steam escape, to make a strong tea. The water will boil down to about 3 1/2 cups.
  2. Sterilize jar and lid in boiling water. I do this by pouring boiling water into the jar and over the lid.
  3. Place flour and salt in sterile jar, and strain boiling tea over the flour. Stir thoroughly. It is important to scald the flour to keep the yeast from souring.
  4. Cover loosely and allow to cool.
  5. When it is cool (not cold) add yeast and stir to incorporate. Cover loosely and keep at room temperature. It will bubble and ferment, producing a quality yeast.
  6. When it has fermented (6-12 hours), cover tightly and store in a cool place.

Yeild: 3 1/2 cups soft yeast.

Keeps 2 week, properly stored. When the yeast has a strong tart smell and watery appearance, it is too old for use.

Soft Hop Yeast Bread


  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • ¾ cup soft hop yeast
  • 10-12 cups flour, divided

Optional Glaze:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. In saucepan, combine cornmeal, salt and water. Bring to a boil, and simmer ten minutes, to form a thin gruel. Transfer to a non-metal mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in milk, to cool the mixture.
  3. Add yeast and 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat) to make a thick batter. Mix thoroughly and cover. This is called a sponge.
  4. Let sit in a warm (room temperature) place 2 – 12 hours. It can be worked again when the surface appears somewhat watery, though it is best to mix the sponge in the evening and finish making the bread the next morning.
  5. Stir in 4 cups all-purpose flour, to form stiff dough.
  6. Turn out onto a heavily floured surface, cover with more flour and knead to incorporate ingredients (10-15 minutes).
  7. Leave dough on the work surface, to rest while you clean out and grease the mixing bowl.
  8. Knead dough for twenty minutes, to develop the gluten. Return dough to mixing bowl and cover.
  9. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in bulk. This rising will take 45 minutes to 4 hours, depending on how long the sponge was allowed to develop.
  10. Knead again, divide and shape into loaves. This recipe will make three 4” x 8” loaves, or two 5” x 9” loaves. It can also be divided and shaped into rolls or hamburger buns.
  11. Place the dough in greased pans, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk. This rising should take no more than an hour.
  12. Mix glaze and brush on loaves or rolls.
  13. Bake loaves at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for 50-60 minutes, or until the bread comes away from the sides of the pan and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. - Rolls and buns are baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, for about 25 minutes.
  14. When bread has baked, turn out of pans onto a wire rack to cool. For a softer crust, cover loaves with a hand towel while they cool.

Note: this dough tends to rise up and not out, so make the base of the loaves or buns the desired size of the final product.

Making Bread

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hot out of the oven.Adding extra ingredients for a gourmet flavor.Dough has risen sufficiently when indents remain.Placed in a cold oven, the bread will finish rising while the oven pre-heats.Cool under a towel, for a soft chewy crust.
Hot out of the oven.
Hot out of the oven.
Adding extra ingredients for a gourmet flavor.
Adding extra ingredients for a gourmet flavor.
Dough has risen sufficiently when indents remain.
Dough has risen sufficiently when indents remain.
Placed in a cold oven, the bread will finish rising while the oven pre-heats.
Placed in a cold oven, the bread will finish rising while the oven pre-heats.
Cool under a towel, for a soft chewy crust.
Cool under a towel, for a soft chewy crust.

Various Uses for the Bread Dough

This dough may be kept refrigerated, and baked up one loaf at a time, thus providing fresh bread every day. Sweet breads, doughnuts, and crust for apple dumplings or pot pies can be made with the addition of butter, eggs, sugar and spices.

These ingredients are combine with the dough after the first rising to keep the dough as fresh as possible.  It also allows for a variety of breads to be made out of one batch.


Sweet bread (one loaf):

To two cups of light (risen) dough, add 1 egg, ¼ cup softened butter and ¼ cup sugar, using enough flour to make it workable, and kneading until thoroughly incorporated. Dried fruit, herbs, seeds and/or nuts may also be added. Shape, let rise and bake.


Raised Doughnuts:

To two cups of light dough add ¾ cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons softened butter, 2 eggs and your choice of cinnamon, allspice, lemon, cocoa or vanilla. Work these ingredients together, adding enough flour to shape the dough. Deep fat fry in oil.  If using a skillet heat 1 1/2" of oil until it is still.  Fry until golden brown, turn and fry the other side.  Doughnuts should be turned twice while frying to cook clear through.



Take two cups of light dough and roll in shavings of cold butter three times, adding as little flour as possible.  To make the crust, roll the dough thin, sprinkle shaving on half of the dough, and fold.  Roll again, to the same size as it was to begin with.  Repeat two more times.  Divide dough and roll to the appropriate size for the pie or dumpling.


Solid Beer:

If you like this bread, but would like a bit more beer flavor, use 4 cups of barley malt (omitting the whole wheat), to make the sponge.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you so much for your post. I stumbled across this this morning - because I was wondering if anyone made their own yeast anymore from hops - for the purpose of baking bread, and voila! Here you are. Will you tell me your source for hops? Did you use a specific kind? Did you buy the leaves or pellets? How do you store the hops? Thanks in advance.

    • profile image

      wildcraft diva 

      7 years ago

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for the useful infor. I really like to eat hops bread because I used to eat it when I was few years old, now I dream it all the time. I search a lot, and finally find your receipe. My question is where i can buy hops? what kind of store sell them? I live in Edmonton now.


    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      8 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Joe, I am not sure why the yeast is different. It may be the concentration of that exact strain. The yeast used is a very small amount, and seems to only be there to kick-start the process, so there is no souring. I do know, that like a sour, it takes on a different flavor in different areas and has none of the affects that regular yeast has on him. Plus, yeast is known to adapt.

      Thanks for the information on estradiol. I will definitely keep an eye on it and check into it. I don't currently use this recipe as much as I use to, but I must say, at 10yo, he is not lacking in Testosterone. The actual amount of hop tea in each loaf is pretty small, but still affective.

    • Joe Macho profile image


      8 years ago from Colorado

      Very interesting. I'm still confused about one thing though. When you make the "soft hop yeast" how is it any different than regular yeast? If you're kick starting the process with active dry yeast, wouldn't it still be the same yeast whether it fermented with hops or with anything else? Or does it not have to do with the yeast at all, and more about the sedative properties of the Hop Tea that makes the difference?

      Being a brewer myself, I do know that hops also can contain quite large amount of estradiol, or effectively Estrogen. It has been proven that the estradiols in Hops interfere with Testosterone production in males. That is why men who drink beer with a lot of hops often end up with "man breasts". I'm not sure if this would affect your son, but it might be something to look into.

      Thanks for the read, and although my comment is long after you wrote the article, I really do look forward to a response. cheers

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Is it possible that people seeking gluten-free bakery actually need yeast-free foods ? I'ts wonderful that the above writer knew just what her child meds needed.

    • profile image


      10 years ago


      Thank you for your clarification. I much appreciate it! On the east coast, and the humidity is high here. So, it shall be an experiment, towards experience! I look forward.

      Again, thanks!

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Dqueue, The 6 cups of water is accurate and I never have trouble with it not simmering down in 30 minutes. Sometimes it evaporates even faster and I have to add more water or put a lid on it.

      I suppose though, it might depend on the size and shape of your pot. I use a 3 quart soup pot, which gives a lot of surface space for evaporation.

      It might also depend on the humidity levels in your home. Our air is extremely dry.

      Hope that helps. :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Question: How do you "simmer" 6-cups of water down to 3.5-cups in 30-minutes? That sounds like a rapid boil. Is the amount of 6-cups accurate?

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you Ekmek. Your website looks fabulous.

    • profile image

      Ekmek Sanatı 

      10 years ago

      One of my friends asked me about hops yeast. When I research information, I found your excellent sources and I given your address in my web site.

      Thanks for useful and rare information.

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you Aya. I hope to help others too.

    • Aya Katz profile image

      Aya Katz 

      10 years ago from The Ozarks

      Christa, thanks for this excellent hub! It looks like you found a very useful solution to your son's problem. I hope this helps others in a similar situation.

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Another thing that I just recalled: When I first realized that he was having issues with the bread, I attributed it to the preservatives, because my sister is allergic to all preservatives and has seizures if she eats any. For this reason, I began making my own bread. It was not until I realized that he could eat sourdough, but not regular yeast bread, that I pin-pointed the yeast, since that was the only difference between the two homemade breads. The above mentioned article came to my attention around the same time, and confirmed things to me.

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      10 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Hello Gayle,

      Around the same time that I discovered his yeast allergy, I stumbled across an article that connected many health problems to using the same type of yeast all the time. It made note of recent changes in the populations health that have only come about since people quit making their own bread. It talked about how yeast was now commercialized and consistent, so that one always could obtain the same flavor. The article also mentioned that the Old Testament law called for throwing out all of the yeast (leavening) once a year, and how following the dietary law often has health benefits. Since I had discovered that sour dough did not affect him, it made sense to me to try another form of homemade yeast.

      Yeast is a fungus, and it varies from area to area. This is what makes a sour dough taste different from place to place, and even loaf to loaf. My theory is that he is only allergic to one specific kind of yeast.

      BTW, I was researching the Autism/Candida Yeast overgrowth connection that some children seem to have, and did not bookmark the original article.


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I stumbled onto this recipe looking for ways to make yeast at home. This is very interesting, I'm wondering why you even tried to make the yeast yourself. If my son had shown an allergy to yeast I would have assumed he needed to stay away from anything with yeast in it. What do you think makes the difference that he has no problems eating yeast made in this manner?


    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      11 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      I'll e-mail you.

    • profile image 

      11 years ago

      Could I use this recipe in a writing I am doing if I give you proper credit?

      And if I may, what do you want the credit to say?

      I am so anxious to try this recipe!

      Jean Groen

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      11 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      MRS Great Caruso: It is amazing the problems allergies can cause! So much more trouble than just a runny nose and watery eyes.

      Lgali: Thanks for reading.

      BKCreative: Let me know how it turns out!

    • BkCreative profile image


      11 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      That bread looks spectacular - I will try it.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Lgali profile image


      11 years ago

      nice info

    • MRS Great Caruso profile image

      MRS Great Caruso 

      11 years ago

      Wow, I didn't know an allergy to yeast could cause such severe symptoms. Thank you for sharing this great recipe. The bread you show looks absolutely delicious.

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      11 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America


      Thanks for stopping by! I know this made a marked difference in my husband's attention span.

    • The Old Firm profile image

      The Old Firm 

      11 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

      This is one recipe that I'm saving Christa. It may even help my attention span.

      Thanks, TOF

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      11 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Thank you NVarchitect.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great info. source. Well done on being nominated.

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      11 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Wow! Thank you so much. I will have to go read those 10 yummy articles.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      11 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi Christa, hop yeast has been chosen as one of the delicious hubnuggets for this week. Check out Shirley's hub for the yummy details:

      Do vote and invite your friends to vote too. :-) congrats!

    • Christa Dovel profile imageAUTHOR

      Christa Dovel 

      11 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

      Jo Brown and Joy at Home:

      Thank you for stopping by! I do hope you enjoy hop yeast bread as much as we do.

    • Joy At Home profile image

      Joilene Rasmussen 

      11 years ago from United States

      Thanks so much for publishing this hub. I'll let you know how my first batch turns out. I've been an avid bread maker for years, but this method is new to me, in all but theory.

    • Jo Brown profile image

      Jo Brown 

      11 years ago from North of the Border

      Great hub! Can't wait to buy some hops and give this a try.

      Also, glad you found a solution for your little boy!


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