Recently, (well more than recently actually) I started baking my own bread. I got tired of buying grocery store loaves with their long list of ingredients and preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. So. I began perfecting the art of homemade goodness and believe me, there’s nothing like a freshly baked slice of warm bread, dripping with butter. Contentment.
And then quite recently my mom and I discovered Sourdough and how to make it. It’s definitely more challenging versus regular yeast bread because one is growing – or cultivating – wild yeast. Sourdough requires a long soaking method which is why it takes so much more time than just using Fleischman’s Active Dry Yeast, but that’s what makes sourdough so unique. Soaking breaks down the minerals in the grains so that our bodies can digest and actually use those nutrients so much better!
But to make sourdough you need a starter culture. That’s the first step. So we bought ours from http://www.culturesforhealth.com/ and chose the New England Sourdough Culture. Originating in the 1800’s (they can practically live forever!) it’s an excellent culture that rises quickly and makes wonderful bread. And the website also recommended that I feed my starter culture at least once a week.
Someplace I read that each culture is slightly different based on it’s location and environment, so the sour tang (created by the good bacteria Lactobacillus which is found in yogurt, kefir, sour cream etc.) will vary. And even though we have the same culture, when Mom and I compared loaves, her’s was definitely more sour than mine.
It was really tricky though getting my “Mother” to grow. There are so many different rules of thumb out there as to how to do sourdough that I got so confused. So instead of having a ratio of more flour than water I had it backwards and was basically drowning the poor thing!
Here is my “Mother” culture with the “Baby”. Unless I’m going to bake something I keep my “Mother” in the fridge in a pint jar with the lid loosely sitting on top, not tightly screwed on. The culture needs air to circulate and to keep it alive. But since I was going to bake some sourdough I took her out the day before and let her sit on the counter to warm up a bit. Then I fed her a scant 1/2 cup of flour and a 1/4 cup of warm, room temp. water. By evening she had grown almost to the top of my pint jar so I used my wooden spoon and put half of it in my quart jar. That is now my “Baby. Then I fed the “Baby” the same ratio of flour and water.
This is the “Baby” all stirred up the night before:
And by the next morning it had grown to almost 3 cups of starter!
Showing the fermentation bubbles:
I didn’t have a sourdough bread recipe to follow so I just used a basic whole wheat bread one and remembered to use more flour than water – the bacteria feeds and grows on the flour. Pretty skimpy looking loaves….
but 8 hours later they certainly had risen quite a bit!
And here is the final product…
crispy, crunchy and oh-so-buttery with gobs of glorious Black Currant Jam!
Once I got the hang of it, Sourdough isn’t as difficult as it sounds! In fact, it’s the next easiest fermentation process besides Kefir. (I’ve made that one too. Maybe now that I have a working, functioning camera again I’ll take pics of making my own Kefir…next time around). 🙂
There are many health benefits for making Sourdough! And ever since trying sourdough I’ve noticed a big difference. So try it and see what ya think. If you’ve got the time and inclination and like the adventure of trying something new then go for it! I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.