sourdough bread starter

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 5, 2011.

Snow-covered mail box and yard.
It’s a good time (Feb.) to ship live starter, as most of the USA
is in the deep-freeze. It arrived cold but not frozen.

Papers and a little baggie of starter.
The package contained the fresh, live starter in a little zip-bag, two thank-you notes, and
a hand-signed thank-you on the invoice—a personal touch is always appreciated!

If you don’t already have a sourdough crock or jar, Breadtopia has a nice sourdough starter kit, with starter, jar, Danish dough whisk, and instructions.

Wire bail jar, all apart.
I decided to sterilize my vintage ARC France jar, because it was a bit moldy from storage.
Take it all apart, wash, rinse, and then…

Jar in microwave.
put some water in it and microwave the non-metallic parts for a few minutes. Make sure the
lid isn’t sealed! Handle with a cup-towel; dump the water, reassemble, and close.
When the steam collapses, the jar will be sterile and vacuum-packed. Cool to room temperature.

Flour, water, jar, and starter.
The Stuff… Note the bubbles in the bag—Eric feeds it up before shipping.

Measuring cup with water and thermometer.
I microwaved a cup of distilled water and brought it up to 95°F. You don’t need
to use distilled water—just draw some and let it sit overnight to dechlorinate,
or use filtered or boiled water.

Bag of starter dough with added water.
I put some water in the bag and squished it around, causing the sticky starter to release from the bag. In retrospect, I should have saved half of it in case the first batch didn’t start for some reason.

Starter and water in jar.
Then dumped it all in the jar…

Adding flour to jar.
and added a cup of B4B.

Stirring with a long wooden mixing spoon.
Stir–stir–stir… My old wooden spoon was a bit moldy, so I washed, soaked and sterilized
it in the microwave, too. You don’t have to use wood, but this one seems designed for the
purpose, and it has a nice long round handle that you can twirl between your hands.

Checking initial temperature of starter in jar.
Temp is at 89°F—that should wake’em up!

Jar with rubber gasket removed.
Be sure to remove the gasket! The yeast makes CO2 gas (don’t tell Al Gore ;-))…

Jar with starter, water, flour, and utensils.
So there it sits, all fed up, with stuff ready for the next feeding.

Interior of jar, showing bubbly starter.
Only 4 hours and it’s getting cranked up nicely. I’ll thicken it up some on the next feeding.

Interior of jar, showing foamy starter.
After 8 hours, it was just plumb slap-happy! At this point I put in another cup of B4B and, since it was too thin, added just enough water to make it like a thick batter. When that gets all worked up, I’ll do a backup (dry some and freeze it), so if my batch ever goes bad I can restart it like new.

Jar with label, reads: Larrupin Good.
It’s a tradition—you have to name your starter… 😉
Note the bubbles—this is about 2 hours after the second feeding, and it’s risen about 50%.

Jar nearly full of risen starter.
A couple hours later (about 12 hours total, since received), it’s tripled in size, about to run over!

Top view.
It’s nice and bubbly and sticky. I fermented it at 80°F.

Spreading starter on parchment with a cake spatula.
Now it’s time for a backup. I did like Eric shows in his video, and thinly spread some on parchment.

Parchment with thin starter, on oven rack.
Then popped it in the oven, with only pilot heat. I monitored the temp and kept it under 100°F.

Starter jar with starter back down to about one-third of jar.
I stirred down the starter and popped in the fridge—no point letting it burn up the rest of its food,
and since it came from a mature batch, there’s no reason to feed, discard, and age it for days on end.

Dry starter on parchment.
A few hours later, the parchment-dough was all dry and crispy. The parchment wrinkles
up, so to release it, simply grab both side of the parchment and pull outward…

Holding up a very thin sheet of dry starter.
and off it comes, in one crispy sheet.

Dumping starter chip into a bowl.
Break it into chunks, fold the parchment over it, mash, then dump the pieces in a bowl.

Mashing starter chips in bowl with a hammer handle.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, improvise! A bowl and hammer handle worked OK.
Don’t pound it—it’ll fly everywhere—just mash down and twist. There’s no need
for it to be powdered, just small enough to measure or package conveniently.

Dried, pulverized starter in a baggie.
Put it in a freezer bag, roll out most of the air, seal it, and…

Baggie tucked between wall of freezer and grille.
Pop it in the freezer, in a place where it won’t get buried. In a few days
I’ll take out a little bit and revive it, just to make sure it’s a good backup.

So there you have it! I hope this helps you get a batch of sourdough going! I wonder, do I really have to feed it for 10 days before making my first sourdough bread? Now I need to go study sourdough recipes for awhile. Stay tuned!

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