Fermented Things Friday: Sourdough Starter

Sourdough bread. Do you love it?

I do.

Enough to add to my ever-expanding array of kitchen counter-top jars.

I also love the idea of capturing wild yeast, for free, and using it to make bread. I’m cheap!

A year or so ago, I made a sourdough starter, but the recipe I had actually added yeast to being with. Now that I’m an experienced sourdough purist (ha! Not really….not at all) I realize that, well, the point of making your own sourdough yeast is to capture the natural local flavor of your region. So, when I started this sourdough starter, I didn’t add anything but flour, and water.

And I waited.

Not long, as it turned out. My starter was showing some bubbles by the end of the third day! Yay!

I followed Katie Kimball’s recipe directions on Kitchen Stewardship, and left my starter in the oven with the light on overnight. I fed it daily, equal portions of water and flour (I did some whole wheat that I was using up, and some milo flour, which is also called sorghum flour).

Then, I made some bread. You can check out the recipe I used here.

first attempt at sourdough bread. Decent rise. A bit too dense. Milo flour gave it funny taste…

It was…..OK.

Not that great. Kind of hard. Funny taste. A little TOO sour.

Here’s what I think happened – the milo flour, that had been in my freezer for a loooong time, is a gluten-free flour. I think that, while I did get rise with the bread, I either didn’t let it rise enough (It is true – sourdough bread takes a lot longer to rise. That is one potential downfall of this amazing bread.), or I should have added some xantham gum, OR, I should have combined the sorghum flour with some whole wheat flour. 

“But wait, are you all, like, wheat-free lately?”

Yeah, I have been. Mostly.

I have been looking into what happens to wheat flour when it gets some fermentation action with the sourdough starter. Some studies indicate that gluten content is affected.  And, what’s more, the glycemic index is lowered, meaning sourdough bread won’t give you the high-then-crash that regular wheat bread will. Further, its made with friendly bacteria.

I have made pancakes with the sourdough starter, and they were amazingly awesome. I used the simplest recipe of all time, from Heavenly Homemakers: 1 cup starter, 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk. Then add a little sweetener, an egg, and some butter. Add a bit of salt, and then a bit of baking soda (watch it foam up and get frothy within a few minutes! My hub’band couldn’t believe it. It was like whipped topping almost!) Whip it up, and sizzle it. (You can even let it sit overnight, for further fermentation benefits.)

Have you ever kept a sourdough starter? I have read of people keeping theirs for YEARS! What have I gotten myself into? Loaves of deliciousness, soon, I hope —


4 thoughts on “Fermented Things Friday: Sourdough Starter

  1. Trish Hoff says:

    Laura, I have been struggling for 2 weeks trying to get a starter going….I think our house may be too cold, but I am persistent, and I will. make. sourdough. bread.

    • Laura says:

      Oh man, 2 weeks, that is dedication, Trish! You know the old adage – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I’m curious what method you ended up using, and what flour blend. Right now, I’m “feeding” with a 75% whole wheat flour, and 25% rye flour blend, and that seems to be working nicely. Also, I tend to leave mine on the stovetop, to capture some of the heat from cooking (my kitchen is the coldest room in the house).

      • Trish Hoff says:

        Laura, I started with 1/2 C “clean” (i.e. boiled and cooled) water and 3/4 C King Arthur whole wheat flour (KA because it’s more “organic”). Once it had doubled I discarded half and fed it 1/2c water and 3/4 KA flour again. I finally have figured out that if I leave my oven light on it can get up to 77 or so degrees in there—started doesn’t like our 60-63 degree house.

      • Laura says:

        Hey, great detective work! Sounds like you did everything right, too. Are you getting some more bubbles now? Also, I *sometimes* discard mine, and sometimes I don’t, as it continues to double. Mostly that’s just me being a little on the lazy side! 😉

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