Man Uses Ancient Egyptian Yeast to Make Bread in a Hilarious Experiment

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As everyone is currently hanging our in quarantine, we’ve discovered the joys of making bread. People are making sourdoughs, they’re making focaccias, they’re making sweetbreads. But even though the whole world is baking bread, one man has taken bread into entirely new territory.

He decided that making bread with ingredients from the store was for squares. Instead, he decided that he would use yeast that was a full four and a half thousand years old.

No, you didn’t misread that. 4.5 thousand years old. It’s still somehow going strong and ready to be fed with grain, so he pulled it out, added some ingredients, and whipped up a loaf of bread.

We’re now placing bets on whether or not that loaf turned into something delicious or became absolutely inedible. The only way for you to find out is by checking out his Twitter thread. And here’s a secret: it wasn’t just the yeast that was old school.

Which is a phrase that makes the whole situation sound much less cool than it actually is. Back in July of 2019, Seamus shared the story of how he acquired the yeast and fed it its first meal in thousands of years.

Which is why he spends his spare time chasing down ancient yeast and researching what you can do with it.

Slow down Seamus you’re making the rest of us look incredibly lazy. Also deciding that you’ll recreate ancient baking techniques is a special kind of nerd extra and we are here for it.

You know, like a normal person does. Is anyone else deeply impressed that this guy uses his very smart hobbies to educate people on Twitter?

Apparently yeast from a long time ago would taste different than current yeast, not because of the plant itself but because of the microbiome of the air. Imagine taking the air itself into account when you bake. I can’t even be bothered to measure.

Everything from how old it is to what kind of soil it grew in will affect that yeast. So many things to consider!

Seamus had the realization that hypothetically yeast could stay alive…forever. Yeah, you’re eating immortal beings whenever you eat bread. Think about that.

Of all the cultures in the world, Egyptians are most known for sealing things away in long-lasting places, which makes it particularly likely that there would be a bit of yeast still around for us to use.

Other, more qualified people have thought about doing this before. But none of them had what Seamus has: the pure, unadulterated obsession with ancient spores. Which just goes to show that if you’re committed enough you can do almost anything.

Check out this pottery: the pores mean it’s even more likely that some microorganisms are hanging out in that pot. Waiting for someone like Seamus.

Aren’t we not supposed to go digging around in many thousand year old pots? Shouldn’t we protect those?

He has a lot of expertise, but it’s like a random guy from down the street walking into the Smithsonian and asking if they can use the original American flag for a science project.

But he will be cautious, and reminds us all that this is going to be a challenging process that might result in nothing.

Seamus enlisted some help from a friend to get access to the pottery that might be ablet o help him out here (he apparently has some very cool friends).

A full sampling kit ready to go! Seriously this man is truly committed.

If you’re like me, you’re weirdly excited at this point. Will he get the yeast? Will it all be for naught?

It’s like getting a sign from the gods: you’re here to find your perfect yeast and suddenly there in front of you is the bread you want to make.

Seamus got his yeast and sent it off to the lab. Wait, lab? Yes, that’s right, this bread is so intense it requires labwork.

They can separate out all the different microorganisms to figure out what’s what. That way they don’t get any unwanted modern stuff in there.

Seamus needed a few more samples, so he checked out Harvard’s collection, which is something I wish I could say I did.

He left the readers with hope: they’d take more samples and try to make bread and beer. But people had to wait with uncertainty for quite a while.

You know you would have too. It’s too hard to resist temptation like that.

Because the next step is adding grain. He made sure he was using an ancient grain (which takes on a whole new meaning in this context) and milled it into flour.

If you’re like me and have no idea what an autoclave is, it’s a heated container used for science things.

But if you want it to be authentic, you have to make sure it stays free from any modern contaminants. Although to be fair, this part does not seem like it’s how the Egyptians would have done it.

Until the end of March 2020, when Seamus shared that he had finally achieved what he wanted to do: make the authentic piece of Egyptian bread.

He also spent a lot of time perfecting ancient methods of baking. Yes, that loaf is triangle shaped, but apparently that’s how the Egyptians did it.

He was also committed to using a fire pit and baking hole instead of an oven. Once again, I have never been this committed to anything in my life, including my marriage.

But only VERY slightly, because if that picture shows an oven, then I’m an NBA player.

HE MADE THE BREAD!!!! This is so flipping cool. Maybe he’ll let me try some?