Monday, August 11, 2008

Sourdough Starter

If you guessed that the bubbling batter in the last photo was sourdough, you were correct. I've had a batch of starter taking up the back corner of my refrigerator for a number of years now. Initially, it came from my friend Rebecca, whose mother in law bequeathed her with a starter from King Arthur flour. When she passed it along to me, it had already lived through a couple of moves (through Iowa and Minnesota) and countless batches of sourdough bread. And I was a little bit nervous that I might kill it. Turns out, he wasn't really so difficult to take care of. I just keep him in a wide mouthed jar, like so.
This photo is of some starter that was fed fairly recently, but you'll notice that it's already developed some "sourdough liquor" (that's the brownish-black liquid collecting along the edge there). As the sourdough ages, it accumulates more and more liquor. Some people drain this off when they feed their starter, but I keep most of mine and simply incorporate it back into the batter. Every now and again, I take him out of the fridge, let him warm up a bit, remove about a cup of starter (which I either use or toss), and then give him a mixture of flour and water to "eat". While he's eating, he bubbles gaily and expands to about double his usual size. He likes to eat for about 12 hours before being used again or going back into the fridge, where he lies dormant until the next time I need him. And so, following those basics, Herman survived in my refrigerator. And, in fact, still lives there today (yay!). I've even shared him with friends. One batch of Herman was shipped all the way to New Jersey! And he survived. I believe he's still living there to this day. Since I just spent my weekend with my batch of starter, I'll be featuring a sourdough series this week so that you can see just what I do with Herman on a regular basis.



Creative Commons License
©BURP! Where Food Happens

11 comments:

  1. Would you know how to start the sourdough from the begining? I'm very interested in doing that. Thank You and looking forward to your sourdough recipes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ditto Bunny!

    I am really interested in this...making bread has always interested/intimidated me. Breads made from grains that have been sprouted or fermented (like sourdough) are much easier on the body to digest.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bunny - I've heard of people starting sourdough from scratch, but I also know that it's a sensitive process. Mine actually came from an active batch of starter purchased from King Arthur Flour, but I've never tried starting my own.

    Amanda - Bread still intimidates me a bit (although my success improved when I resolved myself to a longer process with the sourdough), but I've found all sorts of great uses for starter.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You know I even went to King Arthur to see if there was a recipe there but there wasn't ...that I could see. Probably because they sell it! well I'll just have to hunt somebody down that has one!LOL!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. For those of you who would like to start your own sourdough starter, you can find directions and a recipe for pain au levain (sourdough bread) here:

    http://www.breadcetera.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now that's a starter! The older starters are the best ones. Can't wait to see the series you come up with using Herman!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Can't wait for your sourdough series! I've only recently discovered sourdough so I'm basically walking on Mars when it comes to Herman :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good for you for making your own bread! :) That is great! I have never really liked sourdough that much...I know, bad me, but I am ALL about making bread at home! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Herman! I'm still caring for some of your offspring here in New Jersey, though I will admit I can be a neglectful parent. I actually killed the starter in my fridge, but had frozen some in case of emergency and it came to life with ease. So, Son of Herman lives on in at least one place! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey Stephanie - So glad to hear that Son of Herman is alive and well!

    Freezing a bit of extra starter is a great plan!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This absolutely cracked me up. :D

    ReplyDelete

We're thrilled that you came to visit us here at BURP! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. We're not always able to respond to every comment, but we'll make every effort to answer questions in a timely fashion. We especially enjoy reading about what's going on in your own creative kitchens. So, don't be shy!

And thanks for stopping by!