sourdough bread starter
© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 5, 2011.
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.
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.
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…
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.
The Stuff… Note the bubbles in the bag—Eric feeds it up before shipping.
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.
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.
Then dumped it all in the jar…
and added a cup of B4B.
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.
Temp is at 89°F—that should wake’em up!
Be sure to remove the gasket! The yeast makes CO2 gas (don’t tell Al Gore ;-))…
So there it sits, all fed up, with stuff ready for the next feeding.
Only 4 hours and it’s getting cranked up nicely. I’ll thicken it up some on the next feeding.
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.
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%.
A couple hours later (about 12 hours total, since received), it’s tripled in size, about to run over!
It’s nice and bubbly and sticky. I fermented it at 80°F.
Now it’s time for a backup. I did like Eric shows in his video, and thinly spread some on parchment.
Then popped it in the oven, with only pilot heat. I monitored the temp and kept it under 100°F.
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.
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…
and off it comes, in one crispy sheet.
Break it into chunks, fold the parchment over it, mash, then dump the pieces in a bowl.
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.
Put it in a freezer bag, roll out most of the air, seal it, and…
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!