The Making of Sourdough

I cater to the wants of my son. Well, not all of his wants, but when a want is something made with love in the kitchen, I always give in. Sometimes, giving in doesn't always happen immediately because I have to do some investigating. Last year, my sweet fella asked if I would make SOURDOUGH BREAD. Gulping, I knew I would be trying my hand at MAKING SOURDOUGH.

When I heard the request, I was like, "Sure thing, I'll get right on that!"  With my first sourdough starter, I was REALLY UNPREPARED. I just dumped the flour and water in a jar gave it a good stirring, covered it with cheesecloth and I watched it. I mean how hard could it be to catch wild yeast in a jar?

Frog's Lilypad: The Making of Sourdough

Each day I added a little flour and water. And each day I got discouraged. I did not realize  IT WAS DOING ITS THING but at a different pace. Mine wasn't growing or churning with lots and lots of bubbles like everyone else's, so I tossed it out. 

Quick lesson... Not ALL sourdough is going to do what all the websites, videos and photos show. Every batch of sourdough is different, because of your location. During the winter months, I read up on sourdough making and what to expect. Seriously, just about EVERY website tells something different. With all the shared information from everyone's point of view it's hard to decide on who to follow. I'll share momentarily where I did my reading.

The Making of Sourdough

GIVE A STARTER-BATCH TIME -  I found that while many were stirring and feeding their starter every 12 hours, I did not have to do it except for once a day.  Your location and temperature is going to depend on how active your starter will be.  It may take MORE than just a couple of days for your starter to get to the point of being active. GIVE. IT. TIME.

In November, I came across the idea of making the starter using pineapple juice and thought, "Huh, I think I can do that." Every time I opened a can of pineapples and drained the juice, I hid the juice in the freezer. There is a family member (who will be nameless) who has a hound dog nose for pineapples and pineapple juice; both are on the endangered list in my kitchen.

The last week of April, I decided to try again at making a starter. I began the process on May 1st, so I could keep up with my days and the feeding and separating of the starter. I used a gallon pickle jar to mix it up in, I wanted to make sure I had enough room for my starter to grow without it growing over the top of the jar like a volcano. * A jelly bag works wonders as a cover.*  Also, I did not pour out any of the starter, I kept it all for my first batches of bread, pancakes and pizza dough. The beginning of May in Montana, is not too warm, so my starter was a little slow getting started. But, after three days of adding the pineapple juice with the flour to the starter, it took off and became very active.  I was one happy camper!

The making of sourdough

For the first seven days, I added flour and pineapple juice for three days and then switched over to water for the last four. If you are wondering about the pineapple leaving a flavor ~nope, no pineapple flavor.  Once the starter was on day seven, I used a cup of it to make bread. I took pictures of my bread, but they are evidently lost in the outer space of the memory card because I can not find them anywhere. In all honesty, these loaves look just like my other bread photos that are found on the blog. The only negative comment my sweet son had, was the bread didn't have the sour taste. Well, thank you very much! After only a few days, there won't be a sour taste; that taste comes with age.

After day nine I gave the starter one more feeding. After about two hours, I put a regular lid on the jar (not tight) and placed it in the refrigerator. I did not bother with the starter until Wednesday night when I pulled it out and gave it a feeding to "wake it up" so I could use it yesterday. It sat in the refrigerator for little over a week without a feeding. I covered it again with the jelly bag overnight in case it decided to blow it's top. Thankfully, it did not. Maintaining a sourdough is not chore! In the link below to Breadtopia, he explains how easy it really is.

 Sourdough IS NOT rapid:

Get ready for some slow rising breads! Sourdough does not have the rapid rise DNA, it takes its own sweet time.  Baking a loaf of bread can take anywhere from 4-10 hours and maybe longer. You read that correctly... 4-10 hours! Many bakers mix their bread dough at night for the first rising.  I like mixing mine around 6:30 in the morning and putting the dough in the oven with the light on to help speed up the process. Then around lunch time, I shape the dough and put in the pan. Again, it goes in the oven with the light on until it rises above the edge of the pan.

Baking with sourdough is not for those who are in a hurry! You have to be patient, but it is so worth it in the end.

Now for the resources I used in learning and making sourdough starter... The Fresh Loaf - everything imaginable about bread baking.  Breadtopia - another everything under the sun and then some.  Noreen's Kitchen - Youtube videos for each day of making the starter with pineapple juice.

Here's a link to my Sourdough Pancake Recipe. Because of this recipe, I have stopped making regular pancakes. This is a huge hit for our family.