I’ve been experimenting with sourdough bread making with great results. I made my own starter. Bacteria from my surroundings cultured my starter and gives it a distinct flavor. It is one plus to living off grid. I don’t have to worry about bad air ruining my adventures in friendly bacteria. 🙂 I made my starter with rye as per the instructions in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook. It stews for seven days on a counter top, covered with a cloth to keep bugs out, until you have around three quarts of starter. You use two to make three loaves of bread and save the other quart for next time. I use whole grain spelt flour to make the bread.
As you can see here, the starter develops yeast naturally from what already exists in your surroundings. The dough rises beautifully with nothing else added. I flipped when I first saw this look in my starter, but was reassured, and then began to notice that it looks quite a bit like packaged dried yeast, just moist and gray.
I’m out of batteries in my camera so I don’t have a picture of a finished loaf, but it looks like the milk and honey sprouted wheat bread that Jenny has blogged about at The Nourished Kitchen. The bread is a bit more dense than store bought breads, but oh so tasty. Mine has a distinct cheesy flavor of a sharp variety. Almost like a dry Asiago or sharp cheddar, but better than cheddar. Yours will taste different. That’s the adventure. I have heard that you can get unique flavors by creating starters in different containers and setting them in various locations around your home. Ummm… bathroom sourdough. I’m kidding. 🙂
Storing your starter for next time is fairly simple. Place it in a glass container in the refrigerator. It can keep a month or so without feeding it, but I wouldn’t go any longer than that. The starter is a living thing and needs fed. That becomes obvious and so interesting when you actually put your hands in the dough to knead. It breaths and pushes back. 🙂 You can also order starters online. Cultures for Health has a wide variety of affordable starters for sourdough and other creations that I’ve been dabbling with lately – namely yogurt. I recommend purchasing a starter if you live in a place with lots of traffic, pollution, or an area that is not well ventilated.
We are enjoying sourdough here, and I am quickly learning that we don’t have to be afraid of real, fresh food like we have been taught to fear our grocery store food. Knowing from where our food comes makes all the difference in the world and is why I’m loving my kitchen experiments.