Friday, April 11, 2008

Sourdough Instructions


To expand a live culture, spoon the contents into a medium size, glass bowl with a plastic top. I use a 1 quart Pyrex container, and this is the container that is home to my active culture. If your bowl is metal, it should be only stainless steel. Other types of metal could adversely affect your culture. Add 1 cup of warm water (70-80 degrees F). Now stir in about 1 cup of wheat flour (unbleached white, or a combination of whole wheat and white). Don't use pastry flour. The consistency should be that of fairly thick pancake batter. Use slightly more or less flour to achieve the desired consistency.
Cover the bowl with a plate, plastic lid or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot where the temperature is between 70-80 degrees F. This temperature range is important for growth. If the temperature is too low, the starter may not activate. A temperature that's too high may invite the growth of undesirable bacteria.
After about 8 hours you should see some bubbles. Stir in 1/4 cup of flour. The flour is food for your growing culture. The next day, stir in another 1/4 cup of flour.
Your sourdough starter should be ready any time between 48-72 hours, but it might even take as long as 4 days although 2-4 days is about average. Continue to feed the culture each day, with 1/4 cup of flour, maintaining a temperature of 70-80 degrees F. until it becomes active. If a liquid forms on the top, simply stir it in. You'll know your starter is ready when it is bubbly, frothy, expansive, and smells sweetly of the earth.
When ready, store your starter in a covered container in the refrigerator. Your starter will continue to grow so do not reef down the cover, particularly if your container is glass. Use some of the starter within 1 week to bake bread. Replace what you've taken from your starter culture with an equal amount of flour and water. The texture should be of a thick pancake batter consistency. Return your starter to the refrigerator.
Even if you're not baking once a week, you still must feed your starter at least once a week. (I have found two feedings per week superior to one). Do this by taking 1/2 cup of starter and give it to a friend or relegate it to the compost heap. Into your starter container, stir in about 1 cup of flour and an equal amount of water. It will be up to full strength in a day or two.
Given proper care, your starter could be passed on to succeeding generations.

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