Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sourdough I: Starting your starter

If making your own bread isn't enough anymore and you want to make your own yeast, continue reading. I used to make no-knead bread. It's great, but I needed to put something extra in it---rosemary, caraway seeds, walnuts---to give it some flavor. My sourdough doesn't need this.

Sourdough starter with bubbles from yeast.

The first step is to catch some yeast. I followed Sandor Ellix Katz's instructions.

  • 2 cups flour (I used a mix of white, whole wheat, and rye)
  • 2 cups water

In a jar, mix the flour and water. Stir vigorously, cover with cheesecloth or a cloth napkin or other porous material. Stir at least once a day. After two or three days there should be bubbles produced by the yeast (there will always be bubbles when you stir up the starter, but these are irrelevant). Add 1-2 tbsp. of flour to the starter every day for 3 or 4 days and keep stirring. The starter should get thick, but if it becomes so thick that it's not really liquid any more, add a bit more water.

After these days of feeding, you'll need a bread recipe (coming soon!). When you use the starter, leave a little bit behind and replenish with equal parts water and flour. If you're using the starter a lot (say, every week), you can leave it out and feed it a spoonful of flour every day or so. If you're using it less, put it in the fridge. Let it warm up and feed it a day before you want to use it. In the fridge, you should still feed it once a week or so.

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