A few weeks back, I said I was playing around with sourdough starters and such, and that I would keep you apprised. It’s been a small adventure, but things are finally getting to the point where things seem to be good. So, I want to introduce you to the starter I cultured from scratch: Audrey.
Chose the name as a week or so ago I could have sworn I heard a small female voice say “feed me.” So far, all she seems to want is flour and water, and I’m good with that. Any suggestions I may have discussed the landlord’s cats as tribute are not worthy of further comment.
Part of this came out of X (no longer referencing the “dead” name as omitting it seems to make Stephen King foam at the mouth) and the posts of QT, Snarksalot, and Lauren Gruel. Lauren has been posting step-by-steps on culturing and various uses. Snarksalot has posted a large amounts of helpful advice.
The basics are easy enough. For me, I took a quart canning jar and cleaned it out, and then added in four ounces of water and four ounces of whole wheat flour. Twelve hours later I put four ounces of that mix in with four ounces of AP flour and four ounces of water, cleaned the jar, then put the mix back in. Do that every day for about two weeks, and you should have a good active starter.
The first culture bubbled okay, but would never rise. So, I started again and have ended up with Audrey, who bubbles and rises. I’ve been working to get her to the point of being a mature starter and hope that this Friday/Saturday I will attempt to make my first loaf of bread.
Meantime, I’ve been having delicious biscuits, pancakes, and more courtesy of the discard. Rather than throwing it out, I’ve been putting it into another clean mason jar and keeping it in the refrigerator. There are so many recipes out there for using the discard it is not funny.
Some things I’ve learned and want to share. Keep chlorinated tap water as far away from the process as you can. Chlorine hates yeast (and most other things). When I have to wash something then use again immediately, I rinse with some distilled water. I’ve been using distilled water for almost everything, as it is what I drink, use for coffee/tea, etc. Bottled water that has not been chlorinated should be fine. Give things time: for Audrey, I made sure she had her legs under her before going to the every 12-hour feeding. It may seem like nothing much is happening at first, but it is. Be patient.
There are a LOT of good resources out there. You may get odd smells or even some discolorations — most are fine. The good resources can help you figure out what is going on (too much feeding, not enough, etc.) and keep you going. Once it is mature, you can keep it going for decades with care. Heck, I’ve heard of some cultures that were started in the early 1800s (think ’49ers even) that are still going.
Nice thing is, you can do bread and more without commercial yeasts and lots of additives. A good loaf of sourdough is pretty much flour, starter, water, and a pinch of salt. Something you can make even in an emergency with a bit of forethought.
If ya’ll are interested, let me know and I will do up a post with links to not just resources, but to recipes. For example, I have one biscuit recipe that is incredibly flaky, while the ones shown above are some of the softest biscuits I’ve made in decades. I’m also looking at doing some pizza dough with either starter or discard. Not on this one as the landlord is having a new dishwasher installed and I’ve been having to do some stand-in for him with that project.
More to come.
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