Starting Something New

February 19, 2012

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What is this ghost like creature taking up residence on our kitchen table? A very exciting new creature indeed, friends! Beside the stacks of textbooks, the scribbled on outline for my thesis and an empty French press sits my brand new sourdough starter.

Following Sandor Elix Katz’s advice in his famed book, Wild Fermentation, I began trying to cultivate my own wild yeast to bake into delicious loaves of bread.

Any recipe for sourdough bread requires the addition of starter in place of some portion of the flour and liquid found in other bread recipes. Some starters can be made from bakers yeast, or bought from a company that specializes in producing starter to be regenerated in a home kitchen. Traditionally, however, starters are made by allowing whole grain flour and water to sit at room temperature and cultivate the wild yeast already found on the grains and in the surrounding environment.

Katz reminds his readers that bread was made in this way for hundreds of years before we even knew there were living organisms responsible for making our bread rise and for imparting that distinctly sourdough tang. I began my starter with locally grown and milled flour and tap water hoping to grow something totally unique to this environment.

I worry my apartment may be on the chillier side for yeast cultivation, but this morning, less than 48 hours after I began, I was greeted by tiny bubbles on the surface of my starter and a distinctly sour smell as the good organisms are competing for space with the bad microorganisms. Hopefully this bodes well for the future of my little guys!

If all goes according to direction I’ll have lovely loaves to post about this time next week. Fingers crossed!

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