Have you ever wondered about sourdough starter? I have mentioned before about my family living in the Alaskan Bush and some of our adventures. Some of my best memories are when we were introduced to sourdough pizza crust and waffles from some friends in the village. They of course had a 100 plus year sourdough starter that had been handed down from generation to generation. This was my first taste of sourdough and the wonderful baked goods you could make with it.
My First Attempt
I remember getting some of the starter from my friend and how I was so excited to have had received such a family gift to begin my own starter. I even remember talking to my mom about it and that I needed some kind of container to do this successfully. We were in a small village that was not on the road system so I couldn’t just jump in the car and drive to the store. So my mom had bought and shipped to me these beautiful green stoneware canisters, but they weren’t big enough. So the whole plan had fallen to the wayside. Not to mention that I had an 8 year old and a new baby at the time.
Fast forward… oh about 16 years and I am ready to try the task again. I have completed a lot of research and believe I am ready this time. All except for the fact that I still don’t have an appropriate container. Oh well, I will use what I have on hand and then find something to store it in. Just don’t laugh!!! Yes I used this drink dispenser for my container. Full disclosure though, I sealed the spout off with plastic wrap so that I didn’t have to worry about a thick paste building up and the complications of cleaning it.
What is Sourdough Starter?
Basically it is a mixture of flour and water that contains a colony of microorganisms including wild yeast and lactobacilli. The purpose for the sourdough was to produce a complex flavor, to increase dough strength, to enhance the keeping of the quality of the bread and to achieve health benefits that come with sourdough.
The sourdough tradition was carried into Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. They would carry a pouch of the starter either around their neck or on a belt and were fiercely guarded to keep from freezing. These people were to become known as “old sourdoughs” and is a term still used today in Alaska.
I have found that most recipes on the internet use starter and yeast both. In my research I have found that this is only for taste purposes and a true sourdough uses only the starter. Which is what I am going to attempt with this starter. We are amid the middle of the Corona virus and I will be making my own bread since we are in short demand.
The recipe I am using will actually use a package of yeast, flour and water. It will take approximately 4-5 days to reach the fermentation needed to use the starter for recipes. We will each day then take out from the starter and then feed it again with more flour and water. The first recipe that I will use will be Sourdough Pizza Crust, so make sure you check back and see what yummy baked goods we have made with it. I wonder what Charlies Buffet Hot Buns would taste with the sourdough starter? With any luck it will be a success!
- 1 large jar with lid
- 1 pkg .25 ounce active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 Cups warm water
- 5 Cups all-purpose flour
- In a large non-metallic bowl, mix together dry yeast, 2 cups warm water, and 2 cups of all-purpose flour and cover loosely.
- Leave in a warm place to ferment overnight. Depending on temperature and humidity of kitchen, times may vary. Above 70˚ is optimum. Place on a cookie sheet in case of overlfow and check occasionally.
- Day 2: Stir mixture and take out 1/4 cup of the starter and discard. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix and set aside to ferment again.
- Day 3: Stir mixture and take out 1/4 cup of the starter and discard. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix and set aside to ferment again.
- Day 4: Stir mixture and take out 1/4 cup of the starter and discard. Add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix and set aside to ferment again.
- When mixture is bubbly and has a pleaseant sour smell, it is ready to use. If mixture has a pink, orange, or any other strange color tinge to it, THROW IT OUT! and start over again. Keep starter in the refrigerator, covered until ready to bake.
- When you use starter to bake, always replace with equal amounts of a flour and water mixture. So, if you remove 1 cup starter, replace with 1 cup water and 1 cup flour. Mix well and leave out on the counter until bubbly again, then refrigerate. If a clear to light brown liquid has accumulated on top, don’t worry, this is an alcohol base liquid that occurs with fermentation. Just stir this back into the starter, the alcohol bakes off and that wonderful sourdough flavor remains! Sourdough starters improve with age, they used to be passed down generation to generation!