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sourdough starter questions--revised with even more questions!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I would like to make starter IMMEDIATELY but I have so many questions that I am stalled out. I know it's just mixing water and flour and maybe one grain of yeast and putting it at the right temp--I have two recipes for starter--but I still am not sure about:

1. The container: Is there a problem with making starter in a plastic container? ARe there kinds of plastic I shouldn't use? Does it have to be a new one or do I have to scald it with boiling water to make it work?

I don't have a large enough glass jar in the house, I don't think.

2. Someone offered me a dehydrated starter that he bought on a trip to SF. Is that as good as making my own?

3. Since starters are alive, does eating bread made with them result in probiotic health benefits in the same way as eating yogurt or miso?

post #2 of 10
I used a starter made from just 2 cups whole wheat flour and 2 cups water. I used a ceramic bowl and I would stick to ceramic or glass, personally. They are unreactive for flavor or adding chemicals to your food. If you don't have something big enough, maybe you could make two small batches. You could use mason jars, empty mayonaise jars, drinking glasses, big and ugly coffee mugs, an old coffee carafe, or glass measuring cups.

SF sourdough is world-renowned. I'd use it in a heartbeat.

I think that the heat of baking would kill all organisms in the dough, but I know that fermented grains (Nourishing Traditions, I think) are supposed to be excellent for you and I believe that all the organisms add to the protein content of your bread.
post #3 of 10
yea, cooking the bread kills the good bacteria, but you still get the benefit of the bacteria breaking down the grain and making it more digestible. it is best to use glass or ceramic, but plastic will work if that is all you have. you dont need to use any yeast or starter; the wild yeast in your environment will work perfectly- just stir the starter at least once a day to incorporate the yeast in the air into the mix.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
I bought a huge glass jar, the kind with the lid on a hinge and a rubber ring to seal it. I was nervous to use the glass jars we have in the house. I am a wimp.

The sourdough recipe I got (from the book Bread Alone) said to use a few grains of dried yeast on the first day because sometimes in urban environments the starter doesn't start, that there isn't enough yeast in the air. (though I think the yeast is in the flour, right? ) So I used a grain or two, I let ds help me make sure there wasn't too much on my hand. (It would be easy to use too much.) I also started with a rye sour because I have read online that rye is the easiest. If my sour is too sour I'll know that my wimpiness about using the yeast grains was a mistake.

In about four days I will let you know how my starter worked. In the meantime I am thinking about probiotics and reading about them here.
post #5 of 10
I've used extra yeast in mine before and it didn't hurt it. Mine just needed some extra umph that it couldn't get from the yeast in the air.
Yours should be fine.
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well, it didn't work. I got to the fourth day and everything looked good, and then read in the recipe that I was supposed to mark the side of the container with the level of the dough, and come back in 8 hours. If the dough doubled, the "chef" is mature.

The dough didn't double. It didn't rise at all.

I'm discouraged. Maybe it was the grains of yeast, or maybe the spot wasn't warm enough, or maybe the lid was too tight.


anyway I'm going to ask my friend if he'll bring me the SF sourdough starter and I'll try beginning with that.
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
My friend gave me his dehydrated starter and the book by Ed Wood that explains how to use sourdough starters. Apparently he ordered the starter from Dr. Wood. Okay. Now I have starter in my fridge that I am afraid to activate. I realize that I killed my last starter. Why? Because I found a layer of "hooch" on top (the alcohol that comes when your yeasts are dying!) I threw the starter out before I read the Wood book and it sounds like I might have been able to revive the poor thing.

Boo again.

Now Dr. Wood gives instructions for building a little warmer for your starter out of a styrofoam cooler and a lightbulb. I have a toddler. Where am I going to put this warmer that he won't be able to reach it? Also, and this is more to the point, we are short of funds AND I suspect that they don't sell styrofoam picnic coolers at the hardware store in December.

So can I use the oven instead? A cool oven? Has anyone done this?

If no one responds to the thread, I will strike out boldly on my own and come back with a report on how it went.
post #8 of 10
Captain O, I have subscribed to your thread, because I have had no success with sourdough starters (nothing like starting with a vote of confidence!). However I do bake ww bread and I put in my oven with only the oven light for warmth when I want it to rise. Would that be warm enough / too warm for your starter? I do hope you have success, then I will attempt it again!
post #9 of 10
thats what i do for my fermenting stuff- i leave it in the oven w/the light on. it works really well.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
More about sourdough that I learned from Dr. Wood's book:

People do not agree about whether the organisms that make the dough sour and leaven it (the wild yeasts and lactobacilli) are found in the flour, in the water or in the air. Dr. Wood thinks air! The ones who think it's the flour seal the container and the ones who think air obviously don't.

Also, Dr. Wood thinks it's BAD to use commercial yeast, I guess because it could crowd out your wild yeasts. But since what I'm planning to do is to use the dried starter, it doesn't matter.

But I can't start until after the weekend, I need my oven for making kugel and baked tofu and roasted vegetables and challah (with the dreaded SAF Instant yeast--sucks!) before my MIL comes.
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