4 July 2007

Sourdough starter

I started the sourdough starter on July 1 with one cup of flour and one cup of rainwater. Then my back gave me a lot of grief so although I could see the starter sitting on the bench, I didn't look at it until yesterday. I really thought that I'd have to come here, apologise, then start all over again. But it just goes to show you what a strong force natural systems are. The sourdough survived very well on it's own - with no feeding - and now it's puffy and fermenting. I gave it its first feed early this morning. It looks happy so I'm going to bake with it and hope to make my bread tomorrow, after it's had two more feeds.

My starter this morning.

Sourdough relies on the wild yeasts in the air you breathe and the beneficial bacteria in your particular environment. Each sourdough will be different, each will have its own individual taste. Isn't that wonderful. I didn't want dust or any bugs to crawl into mine and as I didn't want to put the lid on the jar, which would stop the entry of the wild yeasts, I came up with a simple and old fashioned way of gently protecting the starter. It allows air in and out but covers it at the same time.

It is a piece of thin
cotton, you could also use loose weave linen, with some beads on the corners to hold it down. I have several of these milk jugs covers that I use for various things and here is the one I made for the sourdough. I'm going to make another one of these when I have more time. This was a rush job to quickly cover the starter. It's a simple and quick project that you might like to try. It will only take an hour to complete. You need a square of fabric, beads or buttons and embroidery floss, which is a bit sturdier than sewing machine cotton.

I wonder how the other starters are going? If you started one, pease let me know if it's fermenting or if it's changed in any way.



  1. Mine fermented nicely - lots of bubbles, smelt and looked like the description, so I've stuck it in the fridge. I'll give the bread a go hopefully tomorrow.

  2. I tried this a while ago, but found the bread I made was bit dense and chewy - not like the crusty delight I remembered from San Francisco years ago. The taste was right, but I think you have to be a bit careful as you make it - the dough isn't as strong as usual and doesn't hold its holes. I am now the proud owner of some authentic San Francisco sourdough culture which is currently hibernating in my fridge. I haven't got around to making bread from it yet - a bit scared I will be disappointed with the result. Bread making is so consuming, I hate it when it doesn't turn out the way I expect.
    Like you though, I love the idea of being able to generate a bread starter out of thin air. I tell my kids we will all be fine when the bomb drops because I will know how to do all this stuff :-) . I can remember Friendship Cakes doing the rounds many years ago - an Amish idea I think - you fed the starter with sugar as well as flour and water and made a yeasty fruit cake when it was ready, and were supposed to pass on a cup of the starter to a friend rather than ditching the excess. A nice communal idea. And ginger beer plants are the same sort of thing. I will be interested to see if your bread turns out well. Good luck!

  3. I too will be interested to see how the bread turns out. Being time poor I haven't even managed to find my breadmaker in the shed yet. But when i do I will have a go at the Pizza dough that I got from Crazy Mummas blog :)

  4. Hi Rhonda
    Julie (yes, my sourdough starter has a name) started really quickly - and was all frothy and bubbles in 36 hours. By the time I came home from work on the 2nd day, Julie seemed to have moved "beyond" frothy, and had some hooch on top, so I fed her once more, and gave half to my friend. (Juliet!). Today is day 3, and I have poured off the hooch, fed her again, (and created "Julian" for another friend) and popped her in the fridge. She still smells beery and has a sour/sweet smell - I now realise that I probably should have put her in the fridge after 36 hours, even through that seemed way too quick - so I am hoping that she will be OK. I plan to make the sponge tomorrow evening and bake on Friday. Will let you know!

    Glad you are feeling a bit better!

  5. kez, isn't it good when it does what is supposed to. LOL I felt good when I saw those changes.

    Marg: Yes, I remember the Amish Friendship Cakes too. It's a lovely idea. I hope you get back to your breadmaking and let me know how it goes.

    Julie's pizza dough is very similar to mine, Lisa. I hope it turns out well for you.

    Duck: I love that you've named your sourdough starter. Hopefully Julie will be with you for many years to come. Mine produced hooch too, which I poured off. I'll be making mine tomorrow. I've got the sponge on the rise now and will put it in the fridge overnight. Let me know when you make yours.

  6. I have been making sourdough for years! I started baking whole wheat bread when was 14 and never looked back (I am now 56). I wanted very much to learn to make whole grain sourdough bread without adding any other leavening. It took me a long time, mostly because I don't use white flour. I love whole grains and always use whole wheat for my starter.

    I have gotten away from baking bread this year, but intend to start again. If you would like to see my posts on sourdough, please visit my blog (http://lindercroft-smwon.blogspot.com/search/label/sourdough). I used to only add flour and water, but I received some Amish sourdough one time that used milk and sugar and have been using it with that since.

    I enjoyed reading your post about sourdough. You always have such neat topics in your blog.

    Thank you!


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