I love baking. I find it to be one of my favorite things in the whole world, with the exception of eating what I’ve made! Breads are among my favorite foods to bake. In fact, we almost exclusively eat homemade bread now verses that air that they sell in the store. Not only does it taste 100 times better, but it is so much cheaper to make – however, that’s outside of the scope of this post and will be addressed at a later time in a future post.
Yeast is an organism – a fungus really. The most common types of yeast are baker’s yeast, brewer’s yeast and a yeast used in the wine making process. However, there are literally thousands of types of yeast that have been discovered, and scientists believe there are even more that have yet to be discovered. Yeast is used in many ways besides just baking too – everything from bio-fuel production to medical research. It’s quite the multi-tasker. And like mushrooms, there are good yeasts and bad yeasts (and yes, “yeasts” is the correct multiple of yeast – I looked it up!); yeasts that can help us and ones that can kill us. In my recent research on yeast, I’ve learned these five facts:
1. It is a micro organism in the fungi kingdom.
2. It thrives best in environments where sugar or vinegar are present.
3. It can grow in a wide variety of temperature ranges – from 50 – 98.6 degrees F, but will generally be destroyed at temperatures over 122 degrees F.
4. Depending on the type of yeast used, when it grows two gas are emitted – ethanol or carbon dioxide.
5. When yeast ferments, it converts into mold; which spoils foods.
As a baker, I have learned a little bit about yeast and its value in the bread making process. Most of us are aware that adding yeast to breads make them rise, especially if we add a catalyst like sugar or honey and allow the dough to set in a warm place for a while. The yeast feeds off the sugar and multiplies, creating a gaseous by-product called carbon dioxide. As long as the gas is trapped inside of the dough, it will increase the volume of dough and when baked will have a spongy, light, chewy texture, which is very pleasing. However, if the dough is left alone too long, the yeast will overtake the dough, the gas will destroy the integrity of the bread and you will end up with an over-proofed, tough lump of cooked flour that tastes like the bottom of a beer barrel. Yuck!
In Luke 12:1-3, Jesus tells his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees – beware of their hypocricy. The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!”
Jesus understood the principles of yeast. He knew the evil motives that were hidden in the hearts of the Pharisees and religious leaders of that day. He understood that given the right conditions, those evil motives would overtake the hearts of the people and would spoil them for the gospel. Jesus wanted to make sure his disciples (and us) were aware that religious leaders and teachers can be full of bad yeasts; looking for ways to sew in our hearts seeds of dissension, lust, anger, greed, malice, envy, bickering, doubt, and fear. Just like yeast allowed to grow within the proper conditions, once these anti-Christian ideas have been introduced to our hearts by those we trust or look up to they will take root, multiply quickly and ruin our lives if we are not firmly rooted in Christ.
I have made plenty of batches of bread that didn’t turn out right. In some cases it was too cold and drafty in my kitchen, in other cases, the water I used to bloom the yeast was too hot and it killed the fragile yeasts, in other cases I let the dough sit too long and the yeast fermented, and other times when everything else was right my yeast had gone bad before I even started.
In real life, there are lots of variables around us that we don’t have absolute control over – our family, friends, jobs, schools, neighbors, hobbies, media, etc. But the one thing we can do is guard our hearts. We do that by staying in the Word, in fellowship with other believers, and in prayer and meditation. If we keep our hearts focused on Christ and his will for our lives, then we won’t be ruined by the bad yeasts around us.
“Dear gracious heavenly Father, I pray that today you will help me to guard my heart against the bad yeasts surrounding me. I pray that you would plant seeds of faith in my heart – seeds that will grow and mature into lovely works of art for you. I also ask that you will make me a good yeast; and that I will be a positive influence on the lives of those I come into contact with today. Allow your love, and the love of Christ to flow from me in such a way that others will be drawn to you. Thank you for Jesus; it’s in His precious name I pray these things. Amen”
Have a blessed day!