Last week I wrote about making sourdough bread using cooked whole grain dish leftovers. Today I will write about how to make and care for the Sourdough Starter.
My first sourdough starter was given to me by a friend, she said it came from the original batch of San Francisco sourdough. I carefully fed it every couple of days until finally, I forgot. It went rotten and moldy. I had heard that I could scrape the moldy surface off and keep using it, but I didn’t want to take that chance. Maybe in the pioneer days when the nearest package of yeast was hundreds of miles away, and if I wasn’t going to see anyone else I could get some sourdough starter from, maybe then I would consider scraping off the moldy surface of my rotten starter and keeping on using it. But such is not the case in my life.
I found several recopies on the internet and one in the Lighthouse Cookbook, by Anita Stewart. Its a cookbook that celebrates the unique cuisine that has evolved among the BC coast light keepers, where self sufficiency is more than a niche or an interest, its absolutely necessary for quality of life when one only gets food supplies once a month and everything must be pre ordered. No going to the store if you forget something around there.
I actually prefer to use both yeast and sourdough starter if I make bread. This is based on the recipe in the Lighthouse Cookbook, but is my own interpretation, of how I made it when I needed to.
1 tbsp yeast
2 cups boiled water, cooled to lukewarm
2 cups all purpose flour
It can be made with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water as well.
Dissolve the yeast in warm water, add sugar and salt, then mix in flour. Leave out on the counter, loosely covered for 3 days. I store mine in a glass canning jar, with the lid on top but not tightened during this stage.
If you have wine or beer brewing in your house, keep the sourdough starter in a different room to avoid crossing yeasts.
Stir it each day, add a little bit of flour and water each day.
After 3 days, you need to feed it equal amounts of flour and water, and also give it “air” by mixing it up in an open bowl. Leave in the bowl for an hour or two before using to make sure it is activated.
This is a good time to use some or give some away to friends.
Return some to the canning jar after, and once every 4 or 5 days, feed it a similar volume to itself of flour and water. This is the basic sourdough starter that gets kept alive between using it, and improves with age. My current one is about a year old and tastes just like the “ hundreds of years old” one I was given that was part of the original batch of San Francisco sourdough. Strange how that happens, Eh?
But that’s because the same wild yeasts live here on the west coast as lived in San Francisco centuries ago according to experts.