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Sourdough newbie

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I want to try to make some sourdough bread for the first time and I am trying to not be so intimidated by the process. I was going to use the recipe Cathe posted in a few other threads but then I read in a cookbook that if you are making bread in an environment that doesn't have a lot of spores from previous bread making then it is best to use a starter that has yeast in it. As we have just moved into this house I am not really sure how many yeast spores are floating around in the air. I have a feeling the people that lived here before did not make much food here and ate out most of the time. So my guess is there aren't very many spores living in the air. Does anyone have any thoughts on this or know if it matters??
post #2 of 16
I was the first to ever make sourdough in my house and it was fine - I've read that caution too but I think that means in superclean/sterilized environments (which is definitely not my house). Anyway, it doesn't hurt to try - it's just a little bit of flour and not much work so you don't loose too much if it doesn't work. (I was hestitant to try if for a long time too but it worked great for me!)

By the way - I just made some sourdough biscuits with my starter and they were AWESOME - let me know if anyone wants the recipe.
post #3 of 16
Cathe- yes please- I would love your sourdough biscuit recipe. We are big fans of your sourdough waffle/pancake recipe.

Paniscus- I tried "stalking the wild yeasts" twice before I gave in. Each time I ended up with a moldy concoction. My third try I added 3-5 grains of yeast and it worked. I would give the no-yeast method a try or two before I resorted to a very little bit of yeast. Good luck on your sourdough journey- it is a fun process- and an addictive one.

post #4 of 16
We have a starter that was started with a little commercial yeast & IMO it works fine for making bread, but the bread doesn't have that sour flavor. After doing some reading, my understanding is that commercial yeasts 'overpower' the lactobacilli that are required for the sour flavor in traditional sourdough. You apparently can buy dried sourdough starter & then get it going with some flour and water at home. One site that I have found to buy a starter is:


I plan on doing so in the fall once the weather cools down.
post #5 of 16
Sourdough Biscuits
Another great use of sourdough starter – quick and easy to make. Based on recipe from The Book Lover’s Cookbook.

1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, diced
1 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil

Place dry ingredients in food processor and pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour starter into a mixing bowl. Stir in flour mixture. Add extra flour if necessary so you can knead the dough for about 30 seconds. Roll out onto floured board to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or a glass about 2 1/2-inches in diameter to cut biscuits. Place them on unoiled baking sheet. Brush generously with melted butter or oil. Let rest for about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 425º. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until bottoms are golden.

Makes about 16 biscuits

Sprouted Wheat Flour

Sprout 2 cups winter wheat berries for 1 to 2 days, or until sprouts are length of the seed. (Use 1 ½ gallon or 2 quart jars.) Spread sprouts on two large baking sheets. Dry in very low oven for about 8 hours. Grind wheat to flour. If you don’t have a grain grinder, use a blender, seed grinder, or coffee grinder. Store in covered jar.

Yield: 2 cups flour
post #6 of 16
free starter: http://home.att.net/~carlsfriends/

(you guys that are waiting; remember, this is a volunteer effort of love, so they only get to the po every several weeks. be patient, it'll come!)

post #7 of 16
A word of caution: Dont use starter that from batch that was started 100 years ago. One word GAS A word from the been there and wont do it again club. :LOL

BTW we love sourdough
post #8 of 16
I started two sourdough starters last week. I wanted to do the organic grape starter, but I couldn't find any organic grapes in local stores. So I made up some flour and water to catch wild yeasts. Then to hedge my bets I made another starter with a can of Guinness instead of water. The Guinness starter was active really quickly, and I just made two loaves with it yesterday. They are very very tasty! The thing about the Guinness brewers yeast is that it is bottom brewing, instead of top brewing like ale yeast. So the hooch forms at the bottom of the starter instead of the top, it kind of freaked me out at first until I read about the bottom brewing on a homemade beer site.

I am going to use the wild yeast starter this week. It smells very different than beer starter and I am not sure that I am going to like it.

What is the best container to keep your sourdough starter in?
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank ALL of you for your wonderful responses.

Cathe - thank you for the biscuit recipe. I had the the most amazing biscuits at a restaurant the other day and have been craving some. I think they may be my first "sourdough project."

momto l&a - do you know if your starter was the same one suseyblue recommended (carl's oregon trail starter)?? I think I may try using a starter and I kind of like the idea of using one that is so old - but not if it gives everyone gas If so, I may just try the one from sourdo.com. i am going to go look at that site right now.

CluckyInAZ - i have heard of using grapes to start the sourdough and now you have reminded me of that. I will have to do some research online to see what i can find out about that.

I would also love some ideas on what kind of container to keep the sourdough in - any suggestions would be WONDERFUL!!!
post #10 of 16
um, where do you think sourdough cultures come from? they don't spring into existence out of nowhere. you are dissing the oregon trail pioneer starter? do you think gas could be a side effect of whatever grains & how you are treating them, rather than this venerable, much respected-within-sourdough circles (read: http://www.nyx.net/~dgreenw/sourdoughqa.html) starter?

(i am assuming you are talking about this one, & not one of those 'amish friendship bread' silliness things going around or something.)

all great starter strains have been being passed around for ages, including the commercially available ones from russia, poland, the middle east, etc. their reliability and vigor is the reason people carried them around at great hardship rather than just leaving some flour & water to sour in their kitchens.

sorry, but carl was a great man, the volunteers are awesome, & the sourdough is the best i've ever worked with (and as delicious as the sanfrancisiensis i grew up with.) gas, my ass. eat some tempeh if you want to talk gas.:P

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Suse - what a great site!! There was SO much good information on that site. in fact, it even answered my original question about the yeast in the air. In case anyone was wondering this is what it said:

- Firstly, forget everything you ever heard about catching yeasts "from the air." Yes, there _are_ yeasts - and lactobacilli - in the air, but from a practical point of view it is important to note that there are far more of them already present in flour! In a cup of flour we're talking millions of them. So the good news is that you already have the yeasts and bacteria you need, right off the supermarket shelf, the bad news is that you also have mold spores and other bacteria which aren't so desirable. Fortunately, given the right conditions the yeasts and lactobacilli quickly dominate and the starter becomes too acidic for the other organisms to survive. The microorganisms are not destroyed (though they are probably diminished) by bleaching so can happily get a starter going from normal store flour. However, since they are more plentiful on the surface of the grain, a wholemeal flour is the easiest (quickest) to get going.

Thanks again - i had no idea there was this much information out there about sourdough.
post #12 of 16
The starter we used was from a locally famous woman. I beleive her Mom had originally started the starter :LOL I am just sorry we couldnt have kept the starter going.
post #13 of 16
ahhhh. like another poster, i thought you meant the pioneer one. (it is the only '100 yr old' one going around here at the moment...) sorry! suse
post #14 of 16
I made my sourdough starter from grapes off a hundred or so year old grape vine I had in my backyard up North. I looked into getting one sent here ( a sour dough starter that is ). There is a place I found googling that sells all sorts of very interesting sounding ones. But the cost was a bit prohibitive. So I ended up using the grapes. It was my way of preserving an old heirloom plant as it won;t grow down where we are now & I don't like grapes.

When I made mine, it took about 3 loaves to get into it & rise well. So do persevere if it doesn't come out right at first. I left it in the fridge too long & was worried about it once so I put some kefir whey in too. Now it makes the most beautiful bread. I don't eat much bread so I usually only make a loaf of bread a week. In between, I keep it on the counter & feed it a bit of flour & water each day to mimic it being used. I also make a pizza in between with it & put it in pancakes if I make them. I think the key is to keep it out all the time as a pose to keeping it in the fridge.

I would guess you could use organic raisins as they are just dried grapes. The wild yeasts are on their skins.
post #15 of 16

sourdough container

what does everyone keep their starter in?
post #16 of 16
I have a 1/2 gallon jar that I keep my starter in. I keep it covered in the refrigerator between uses.
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