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Old 12-16-2009, 12:49 PM   #1
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Sourdough starter?

I didn't want to hijack another thread, but I am wondering if anyone knows how to begin a sourdough starter from scratch?

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Old 12-16-2009, 12:55 PM   #2
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Don't try to use a dry yeast to "jump start" a sour dough starter. This is because it's the naturally occurring yeast in the air of your location that you want. Any imported yeast in your mixture will "go to war" with your local yeast and slow any progress you had hoped to gain by taking that shortcut in the first place.

The ratio of a starter is 2 parts flour to 1 part water (filtered or bottled water - NO CHLORINE. It will kill or degrade your yeast.) The entire process takes about two weeks on average before it's ready to use. And you have to feed it (add 1 cup of fresh flour and 1/2 cup of water daily after removing an equal amount) for the first few days and then weekly thereafter.

Now, if you want something faster, you can order San Fransisco-style sour dough yeast over the internet and use that immediately, but don't think that you can use that starter for very long, because your local yeast will eventually kill it off and replace it. Yeast is very regional and specific for each micro climate. A distance as short as 20 miles can make a difference in the variety of wild/local yeast that's available.

One more thing - as your starter matures (ages) it will grow stronger and develop a flavor all its own - one that can be really, really good and unique just to you and your area.

Good luck and I wish you well - it's worth the effort!
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Old 12-16-2009, 01:05 PM   #3
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Holy moly that was fast. THANKS!

Can I bug you with a couple of questions?

1. I have a water distiller...that water OK?
2. 2 parts flour 1 part water...1 cup flour - 1/2 cup water enough?
3. Its freaking COLD here right now, is there a recommended temperature that I need to keep the starter at?
4. Can I just leave it in a bowl? Covered at all (I suspect not)
5. Do you have a good sourdough recipe after I get my starter done?
6. How much starter do you need for each loaf?

Sorry. That was more than a couple. Can you tell I'm excited about a new project?
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Old 12-16-2009, 03:50 PM   #4
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I had a starter for a while. I went out of the country on business for a few weeks and someone let it die, won't name names though.

Haven't had the heart to make more... all those little yeasts dying, a million voices crying out all at once...
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:47 PM   #5
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Alix, in answer to your questions:

1. Yes, distilled water is OK to use.
2. I would start with 4 cups flour and 2 cups water.
3. The starter should stay reasonably warm. Perhaps on top of the refrigerator or shelf, were the warm air is.
4. I use a cookie jar/crock for mine, but yes, a non-metallic bowl with a dish towel across the top should also work.
5.Yes, but give me a day to dig it out. (I have company this evening.)
6. One cup of starter is enough to make a large loaf of bread, or two small loaves. Replace the starter that you use with 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water.

I'm glad you're excited! Playing with bread, to me, has always been fun and worthwhile. For my sense of creativity, bread, specifically, as well as baking in general (pizza dough, pies) is my favorite part of cooking. I love the smell, and it's inexpensive to practice.

Have fun!!!
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:18 PM   #6
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OK Alix, here's what I do... but you may want something different.

Ingedients:

* 2 cups bread flour
* 1 cup sourdough starter
* 1/2 cup warm water
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey
* Olive oil to coat bowl


In an electric mixer with the dough hook, combine the flour, starter, salt and sugar, and knead for a minimum of 5 minutes. Add the warm water 1 tbls. at a time until all of the flour has been incorporated but neither should it stick to the sides or bottom of the mixing bowl.

Place your doughball into a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with dish towel and let dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (I like the inside of a slightly warmed oven - being certain it's turned off.)

Turn out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and knead gently, removing any large air bubbles. Knead by folding in half in one direction, and in half again in the other direction, turn over and fold twice again, then shape into a tight ball, pinching the seams together beneath. Place on a well-floured board or baking peel, seam-side down. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat a baking stone, if available, or a heavy baking sheet lightly dusted with cornmeal, in an oven at 400 degrees F. With a sharp, serrated knife, cut a large "X" or cross-hatch pattern into the top of the dough. I also brush the top of the loaf with a little milk. It aids in browning.

Spray the oven walls lightly with a mister filled with water (I use a clean 99 cent spray bottle) and transfer your risen loaf onto the oven. After the first 10 minutes, mist the interior walls of the oven a second time with water and quickly close the door. Bake until golden brown, about 50 more minutes (60 minutes total baking time) and the bread should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Let your loaf cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. Cutting into it too soon will ruin the entire loaf and will dry it out. Just like a steak or roast, it needs time to rest. Store in a paper bag at room temperature.

Enjoy!
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:51 PM   #7
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YAY!!!! Thanks so much! I'm going to get one started tonight. You say 2 weeks? I don't suppose it would be ready for Christmas would it? Would that be pushing it?
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:04 PM   #8
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10 days is still OK. All I can say is try it!
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:18 PM   #9
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i recommend the book "Nancy Silverton's Breads From The La Brea Bakery" it has a lot of good info on making your own starter.

i used to keep mine in the fridge, but i found that i does better when left out on the counter. i feed it twice a day, but throw some out each time so it doesn't take over like the blob.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:18 AM   #10
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OK, got a big glass jar (used to store rice til recently) sitting on the counter back beside my fridge. Its the warmest place I can find. Hope it works! I'll keep you posted. Thanks so much!
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:25 PM   #11
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Don't forget to beat it back on occasion. My first attempt ended with a jail break, that stuff gets uppity.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
Don't forget to beat it back on occasion. My first attempt ended with a jail break, that stuff gets uppity.
LMAO! From the instructions I've read I should be dealing with it daily yes? Oh and thanks a LOT Frank, you made me snort hot coffee with that "uppity" comment.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:44 PM   #13
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If I remember correctly I had to do it twice a day for the first couple days...

The first one really got away from me. I thought it would take the cat hostage and start making demands.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:52 PM   #14
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Good to know. I'll keep the cats out of the kitchen!
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Old 12-17-2009, 01:09 PM   #15
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LOL!!!!!!
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:55 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ View Post
I had a starter for a while. I went out of the country on business for a few weeks and someone let it die, won't name names though.

Haven't had the heart to make more... all those little yeasts dying, a million voices crying out all at once...

At least I remembered to feed your cat.

That sourdough starter made great bread though. Sorry. :/

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Old 12-20-2009, 07:54 AM   #17
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sorry for the late input here, but in my experience, making a slurry of white flour and water and just leaving it out can just as easily result in green, purple & black slimy mold. you'll get surer results by enlisting the natural yeasts that inhabit the outer parts of grains, fruits, etc.

whole grain coarse ground rye flour will pretty dependably get you going, as well as organic grapes. i've also had good results with potato skins, but perhaps that was just luck.

unless you're using it daily, there's no need to feed it that often. after the initial love affair cools off, i think it's rare for most people (myself at least) to use it more than a few times a month for any extended period. i've never had any problems keeping mine in the fridge and feeding it once every week or two.

if you develop a starter that you just love, and plan on not using it for an extended period, you can pour some out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, dry it out somewhat less than 100% (not by baking of course), break it up into a zip-lock bag, and keep it in the fridge for months. some people freeze it, but i've never tried.

besides bread, my favorite use is for sourdough buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup. just fabulous!

good luck with the batch you've got going.
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Old 12-20-2009, 04:37 PM   #18
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Thanks! So far no disgusting mold, but I will admit that has occurred to me. (I am trying to rein in my germphobia here)

I have been a bit lax "feeding". Have only done it once but will do it again shortly. Its been a bit busy around here. I'm looking forward to trying this out and hopefully it will make a delicious loaf or two.
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:11 PM   #19
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OK, my starter has separated. Is that bad? Also there is no mold on the starter, but on the rim of the container there are a couple of spots. Am I good to just clean that up and keep feeding this starter or do I need to start over?
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Old 12-22-2009, 08:22 PM   #20
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Liquid separation is normal. Just give it a stir with a wooden spoon once or twice a day. Do you have a lid on your starter? If you don't you should. Not air tight, but to keep any more spores from infesting your starter yeast in order to prevent mold.

After your starter has taken hold (2+ weeks) it's best to refrigerate it to inhibit mold, but it won't hurt the yeast. I use one of those little brown cheese crocks - the ones with the wire lock on top - about 1-1/4 - 1-1/2 cup capacity. Something like that would work great.
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