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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter
I've been in the mood for Frisco style sandwiches,(Slow roasted chicken on grilled herbed Sourdough with Creamy Basil Sauce) on grilled sourdough. They're best on homemade bread. I guess I'll have to make a starter.

I usually have the best intentions going into it, ie..trying different sourdough recipes, baking a loaf every few days, giving away starters... but after a couple of weeks, I usually forget about it, and wind up with a dried up container, in the back of the fridge.
But I ran across a great idea a while back, freeze the leftover starter, then let it thaw a few hours, before using it in recipes. Here we go again, the last time I made a starter, it went totally berserk, and started overflowing from the container in a couple of hours.
From what I understand, the dough captures live yeast from your kitchen... if it ferments very quickly, you have a lot of those little buggers running around.

Before dried yeast became available, you had to add fruit juice or similar to flour and water, then wait..and wait..then wait some more, until you finally capture enough yeast..sounds kinda dangerous to me.

Sourdough is nothing new, it's been used for thousands of years, but somebody had to have discovered it by accident. Somebody, somewhere, (probably a man) looked at an ancient, bubbling, oozing pile, and decided to cook it. Yep, definitely sounds male-ish. I'm not generally the squeamish type, but I would have looked at the pile with a bit of interest, maybe poke it with a stick, then kept on walking. So these fearless types are really important, and have made huge contributions to mankind...the ones who survived, that is. What's that saying?..."There's a fine line between bravery and stupidity" I've been on both sides of that line.

This is the old King Aurthur Flour sourdough starter, Ill give their exact instructions..

Ingredients:
2cups warm water
1Tbl. of sugar or honey (optional)
1Tbl. or packet active dry yeast
2cups flour


Preparation:
Pour the water into a 3- to 4-quart glass or ceramic container or bowl, and add dissolve the sugar or honey and the yeast in that order. Stir in the flour gradually. Cover the jar or bowl with a clean dishcloth and place it somewhere warm. By using a dishcloth instead of plastic wrap, you'll allow any wild yeast in the area to infiltrate and begin to work with the domestic yeast which itself is beginning to develop "wild" characteristics and flavors.
The mixture will begin to bubble and brew almost immediately. Let it work anywhere from 2 to 5 days, stirring it about once a day as it will separate. When the bubbling has subsided and a yeasty, sour aroma has developed, stir your starter once more and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it. The starter should have the consistency of pancake batter.

Here is what Better homes and Gardens had to say about the process.
" Let stand in at room temperature (75 degree F to 85 degree F) for 5 to 10 days or until mixture has a fermented aroma and vigorous bubbling stops, stirring 2 or 3 times a day. (Fermentation time depends on room temperature; a warmer room will hasten the fermentation process.)"

If you don't want to freeze your starter, it has to be replenished.
King Arthur Flour's instructions for maintaining your sourdough starter 

                                Whisk together the starter ingredients.


I'm making sure it doesn't overflow this time! I know, it's overkill.  I covered it with a dishcloth, secured with a rubber band.
I think this plant room, under fluorescent lights, is a good warm spot. I have lots of room since I kil...er...uh..over-loved all the orchids. It's amazing how long an orchid can live after you've rotted all it's roots away!( a year in some cases.)
                    This is after only 1-1/2 hours. let's take a peek inside.

Definitely signs of life. The expansion comes from the carbon dioxide, the yeast gives off, trapped in the batter. Just give it a stir or shake to release it, if it looks like it will overflow.

            After1 day, the starter has separated, give it a stir, and re-cover.
  
I let the starter ferment 3days, then baked soft-parmesan garlic sourdough bread.

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