Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just Like Grandpa's...

My kitchen is starting to smell like sourdough!

Sourdough flap jacks were the comfort food of my childhood.  My grandpa made them every morning for over 50 years and even when he traveled his crock of starter rode along with him in a red Coleman cooler.  I have kept a starter myself off and on most of my adult life and now that I am once again settled in to a domestic existence, I just had to get one going again. 

Growing a starter is a process that to initiate takes 5-7 days.  It also requires adhering to a few simple rules.

  1. Use clean, preferably seamless, metal utensils.  The spoon in the photo is NOT ideal because of the rivets and seam that can collect bacteria you wont want added to your starter. 
  2. Keep loosely covered.  I use a square of clean, light weight cotton secured with a  rubber band.
  3. Don't neglect it.  Feed your starter every evening and stir it down every morning.  If you are not going to be using it at least every other day, store in the refrigerator and remove 12 hours prior to planned use. 
  4. Keep the sides of your sourdough crock clean. 
With those few things in mind, the only materials required to get started are a glass jar or crock with a loose covering, a clean metal spoon, flour, and water.  Any kind of flour can be used in a starter, but for the initial week I prefer rye since it is less likely to mold than other varieties.  After the bacteria has taken hold and my starter is going well, I switch over to all purpose white flour. 

Day 1:  Mix 1 cup of rye flour with 1 cup water in your very clean container.  Cover loosely and set aside for 24 hours.

Day 2-6:  Stir down and feed your starter 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water every evening.  Over the course of this week you will start to notice first a sour smell coming from your starter and then see some bubbling activity.  The consistency of the starter should be like thick pancake batter and the ratio of flour/water can be adjusted to obtain this. 

Day 7: Use 1-2 cups of your starter today!  Stir it down early in the day and remove what you want to use. Good first uses for sourdough include biscuits and bread.  I usually give two weeks before attempting flap jacks. 
Tonight feed your starter as usual, but switch to white flour if you have been using rye. 

A well cared for starter can live indefinitely and with all the fun recipes to try there is little chance you will grow tired of it's use.  

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