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Sourdough Starter


cleohanlon
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How do y'all keep your starter alive? I had some several years ago that turned funky pretty quick, and feeding it every few days used a ton of flour for no good purpose, since I tossed most of it each time. I bake weekly at most, and have had great results using an old-dough method - saving a golf ball sized hunk of dough just before shaping the loaves, and freezing it in a plastic container. Next time, thaw out and build a 3-stage dough, adding yeast at the final stage. (This method in Baking with Julia, from Steve Sullivan of Acme Bakery.) Mixing up the flours every once in awhile adds interest, and as the "starter" dough ages a little bit, it adds more and more character each time. (I liken it to the solera system of sherry, where the cask is topped off with new wine, but the contents might "average" many decades old ...)

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How do y'all keep your starter alive?

I must confess that I abuse my starter. A lot. It will occasionally go a few weeks without being fed (in the refrigerator). But it has always bounced back with a couple of feedings (if I am that patient and don't just use it as is).

When you say your starter turned "funky", how so?

My 2-cents -- there are a lot of methods that work. If you find one that is good for you and produces the kind of loaf you like, stick with it! :blink:

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I must confess that I abuse my starter. A lot. It will occasionally go a few weeks without being fed (in the refrigerator). But it has always bounced back with a couple of feedings (if I am that patient and don't just use it as is).

When you say your starter turned "funky", how so?

My 2-cents -- there are a lot of methods that work. If you find one that is good for you and produces the kind of loaf you like, stick with it! :blink:

It's actually not that difficult to create your own starter. All you have to do is harvest a wild yeast, which can easily be done. I got my last one from green grape skins, and it works great.

The key to keeping your starter healthy is feeding it consistently, about once every 2 weeks. Feed it sugar, as that's what allows the yeast to reproduce. Your container should be air sealer, only only be about 1/3 full. As it grows quicker than you will be able to use it, don't be afraid to throw a bunch out to keep the container at the right level.

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I decided to try making a sourdough starter.

I mixed equal parts (by weight) of bread flour and water, as well as two leaves of red cabbage. The next day I doubled the flour and water. The next day I had sort of fizzy bubbles up top, and it sort of smelled like sourdough. However, the whole container seemed sort of striated. At the bottom was just a gooey mess of flour and water. Above that was about a quarter inch of yellow-orange liquid. Floating above that was about three-quarters of an inch of flour and water full of bubbles.

I mixed all the layers together, then discarded half of the mixture along with the cabbage. I added in fresh flour and water. A day or two later, same thing. The starter has sort of "separated."

What's the yellow liquid? Am I doing something wrong? It's not really "rising," just forming foam on the top layer.

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I decided to try making a sourdough starter.

I mixed equal parts (by weight) of bread flour and water, as well as two leaves of red cabbage. The next day I doubled the flour and water. The next day I had sort of fizzy bubbles up top, and it sort of smelled like sourdough. However, the whole container seemed sort of striated. At the bottom was just a gooey mess of flour and water. Above that was about a quarter inch of yellow-orange liquid. Floating above that was about three-quarters of an inch of flour and water full of bubbles.

I mixed all the layers together, then discarded half of the mixture along with the cabbage. I added in fresh flour and water. A day or two later, same thing. The starter has sort of "separated."

What's the yellow liquid? Am I doing something wrong? It's not really "rising," just forming foam on the top layer.

There was a nice little article in the Post this morning about starters - it says the yellow liquid is OK and can be stirred back in. You may want to check it out.

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