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How to make yeast at home? Lievito Madre

Lievito Madre

How to make yeast for bread, pizza, and other leavened products at home? The so-called Lievito Madre.

If you start dusting an old grandmother’s recipes, you will certainly find the “Lievito Madre” recipe.

We only need two ingredients and a little patience at the beginning since it needs the care of a child to grow.

Lievito Madre is a fermented dough in which bacteria and lactic ferments develop naturally: it is a yeast with very particular characteristics, ideal for preparing bread, pizza, and focaccia.

The cures are called “rinfreschi” (refreshers) in Italian.

Lievito madre
Difficulty Intermediate
Best Season Suitable throughout the year

Lievito Madre, also known as a sourdough starter or natural yeast, is a fermented dough used as a leavening agent in bread baking. It is made from a mixture of flour and water, left to ferment over time.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup water
    • Mix water and flour at room temperature.
    • Form a soft and homogeneous ball.
    • With a knife, I cut the upper part of the cross-shaped ball (my grandmother always did).
    • Put the ball in a tall, long glass container and cover it with transparent paper (pierce the film with a toothpick).
    • Store it at room temperature in a dry place for 48 hours ( near apples to favor fermentation more).
  1. After 48 hours
    • Take the ball out of the container; if the upper part is dry, remove it.
    • Weigh it and mix it with the same quantity of flour and half of water.
    • Example: 100g of leavened dough (3.5 oz), 100g of flour (7/8 cup), 50-70 ml of water
    • Make it a soft and homogeneous ball, make it on the surface again a cross, and put it back in the jar; wash only with water (do not use detergent), and leave it there for 48 hours.
    • Repeat these steps ("rinfreschi") thrice every 48 hours.
    • Then, the refreshes are repeated 24 hours apart for seven days, always following the usual procedure.
    • At this point, the Lievito madre should be ready, and we can use it.
    • It means that it has reached the right strength to triple after 4 hours of leavening at a temperature of 26-27 °C (78-80°F)
    • If you’re having complications, refresh until it has reached its rising strength.
  2. How to keep it:
    • Put in the fridge in its closed jar, not tightly because it has to breathe, and refresh it every 5-6 days.
    • Take it out of the fridge and keep it out until it has reached room temperature; refresh it following the general rule, that is, weigh it and add the same amount of flour as the leavened dough (remove the dry part), half of the water and knead to form the usual ball engraved with a cross on top.
    • Let it rest for 2 hours and put it back in the fridge.
  3. How to use lievito madre:
    • If you have decided to make bread, pizza, or any other leavening product.
    • Get the "Lievito Madre" out of the fridge.
    • And keep it at room temperature for at least an hour.
    • Refresh it using the general rule and keep it at room temperature for 4-5 hours.
    • You only have to keep out the amount you need and put the remaining part back in the fridge.
    • After that, you can use it.
  4. So, the doses are:
    • For 500g (~4 cups) of flour, use 150g (5.3 oz) of Lievito Madre.
Keywords: lievito madre, sourdough, yeast