Sunday, November 13, 2011

Starting Sourdough Starter

At the begining of the year, I made it a quest to become a domestic goddess which including making a killer loaf of bread.  So that hasn't happened yet and this morning I woke up deciding to start my own sourdough starter.  Which by the way, is super easy and I can't believe I haven't done things before; it's just the whole feeding it everyday thing I need to remember. 

I remember the first time I heard of sourdough starter I was kinda grossed out.  Years ago, I saw a story about a bakery in San Fransisco that makes their bread from a starter dating back to the 19th century or earlier 20th century. Admittingly, I had no idea what went into making a sourdough starter and this was pre-eating bacteria is good for you phase of my life.  The chance of that San Fransico's starter still having flour that was over 100 years old is pretty slim and later, after learning what a starter was I was less grossed out. 

Sourdough starter is the tratitional way of leavening bread; how our ancestors made bread before they could go to the store and pick up some Fleshmanns. When the mix is left on your contertop, wild yeasts are cultivated in the container.  How in the world does that happen?  Well, when the flour and water become one in your container, it starts to ferment yeast which creats lacto bacteria which feed on metabolic products produced by the yeast, while producing lactic acid preventing unwanted organisms from infecting your starter (The Urban Homestead).  Whew!  Alton Brown explains it much better, don't you just love his videos?

Sourdough bread is reported to be "richer in certain vitamins and enzymes that are by-products of lactic fermentation, and it contains less phytic acid, which blocks mineral absorptoion." (Good Bread is Back). A perfect loaf of sourdough bread has a crispy crust and soft, chewy, tender inside.  Delish if you ask me. 

To make your starter:

1. Get a glass container with a lid that can hold at least 4 cups of liquid.
2. Add 1 cup white flour & 1 cup lukewarm water (I used unbleached, organic flour from a local mill).
3. Stir until smooth.
4. Put lid on the jar and place it in a warm place to rest.  I am keeping mine on top of my stove. 
5. Everyday pour off 1 cup of starter and add 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup warm water. YOU MUST FEED IT EVER DAY!
6. After a few days it will start to get bubbly, this is good and a layer of liquid forms on top. 
7. After two weeks, you shoud have active culture of wild yeasts that you can bake bread with. 

You can use the cup of starter that you throw out every day to make pancakes, muffins, etc... Which I intend on doing, so it doesn't go to waste!

I will keep you updated on the progress of my yeast!

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