Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sourdough Starter (2)

I introduced you to Hershel on this morning. He is our sourdough monster.
We like him. He gives us hot sourdough crackers every day. And, a daily experiment with science for my kids.  Here is the science. Sourdough is a mixture of grains and water, that with time ferment producing  an inviting home for wild yeast and lactobacillus (good bacteria!).
At first the starter is weak, not suitable for bread. For with time and care, it grows in strength and makes fantastic bread/bakery items. Sourdough has been around for thousands of years when it was used not only for baking, but to make fermented beverages. It was also widely used by pioneer woman who baked in crude stone ovens.

I like thinking that I am making something that has sustained life for thousands of years, it makes me feel connected to a much bigger food history than what is presented at modern day grocery stores. Sourdough is significant. And old. And from one batch of starter you can continue making more...and more...and more....

You can make your own sourdough somewhat simply. It just takes a little bit of time and consistency. I am not ready to share how to do this from start as this time around I used a packet starter that I picked up from our natural food store. You can use these, but you certainly do not have too. I used Gold Rush Sourdough Starter. Cost: $1.50

To begin, I added the starter (which does not contain commercial yeast and that is important!) to one cup of freshly ground wheat and one cup of water. I let it sit for four hours and then fed it. To feed it I removed one cup, and added back into it equal parts water and more grain. Four hours later I did this again.

I feed my monster every day. This means removing one cup of starter each time. Thus far, my starter is doing fantastic. Growing, Rising, Falling, Bubbling.  I am using my one cup for crackers each morning as my starter is not ready yet for more serious baking. 

Here are a few resources for making your own sourdough. I have had good luck with the packet starter, but my next attempt will be from scratch.

1. Gnowfglins Sourdough E-Course (Looks terrific!) 
2. Starting a Starter Instructions
3. Wild Yeast Blog

You do not need the sourdough starter packet to make your own sourdough at all. I had already purchased the packet and simply wanted to use it up. Next week,  I will share step by step how to make the starter with grain and liquid alone.


Susie said...

Hershel is a fine looking fellow indeed! I had great fun with my sourdough. Great post and great links! Here's another that I found helpful, too: There are several tutorials on using sourdough, plus lots of other good info on the site.

Quirky Jessi said...

I love that you named him Hershel! Sounds like something I'd do, hehe.