So I've been researching the health benefits of cultured foods. I decided that I wanted to make sourdough noodles, breads, and crackers - but all required a sourdough starter. (For more info on the health benefits of Sourdough read here I did some researching and decided to order a San Francisco Sourdough live culture starter from Cultures for Health. Of course, if you know me, you realize I am NOT patient. Internet shopping is difficult for me - I LOVE buying but totally hate waiting for my purchases to arrive. As you might imagine, waiting for my live starter and then waiting while I feed and grow the starter for a week is a real test of my patience.
In the wait time, I stumbled up on the Kitchen Stewardship where there happened to be a really informative post on starting your own Sourdough starter capturing wild yeast. Perfect timing. I decided to try it! My husband has been fondly referring to my starter as my "little science project" (of course he was quick to point out that I was terrible at science!) Judging form the sour smell, I think I have successfully captured yeast! I'm ready to try baking some crackers (incase I didn't get the yeast and there is no rise!)
Here is the original post on creating a Sourdough starter from Kitchen Stewardship. Here are my directions:
What you need:
Boiled water cooled (pasta water or potato water will ensure a healthy starter, but are not necessary)
Flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1. Save water from boiling pasta or potatoes. If this is inconvenient it is not necessary. If you have tap water (city) boil a large batch and store in a separate airtight container for feedings. Allow this water to cool to room temperature.
2. Boil to sterilize your glass jar and wooden spoon. You can also run through the dishwasher and then use immediately afterwards.
3. Add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour to your jar. Stir vigorously with wooden spoon until completely combined.
4. Cover with coffee filter and use rubberband to secure edges.
5. Turn on oven light and place jar close to the light. If you have a cooler and a heating pad you can use this also. We live in Florida, so over the summer I'll probably just leave mine out on the counter. Cooler climates will require the warmth of a light or heating pad on low to get an active starter.
6. Every 12 hours stir in 1/4 cup tepid water (boil ahead of time if necessary, do not add hot water to starter) and mix vigorously. Then add 1/4 cup flour and mix vigorously. Be sure to combine air into the mixture as you stir.
I did this for about 6 days - and today my starter is bubbly and sour smelling. I have used one cup of the starter to make a cracker dough (more on this tomorrow!) and have fed my starter as mentioned in step 6 again. Once I have tried a few recipes I am going to dry some of my starter by spreading it on a piece of plastic wrap and letting it dry. That way, next time I can start with some dried active starter. Once you see bubbles consistently in your starter (my photos don't really show this, but I will try to capture better photos) it's active. If you aren't going to use it regularily (every day or two days) you can store it in the fridge and feed it every couple of days (straight flour to thicken it and flour and water as mentioned above to maintain the pancake batter consistency). Just remember that when you need active starter you'll need to take it out and allow it to warm to room temperature, and feed it.
I was nervous, but so far, it's turned out ok! Sourdough is very healthy, and by capturing wild yeast from the air this is a relatively inexpensive way to try your hand at creating a cultured food starter!