Sunshine for Dinner Rotating Header Image

Blog 2011

Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Capturing the Wild Yeast

 

This is the time of year when I can look forward to baking again soon.  I don’t bake much in the summer because it makes the house too hot, and I am limited to an itty bitty outdoor toaster oven.  Not so good for fussing over bread loaves.  So the cooler weather encouraged me to get a sourdough starter going, to be ready for the bread baking season to come.

Every few years I experiment with making a starter from scratch – catching the wild yeast and making it grow.  I have had some successes and some failures, but this time I have a very active culture.  Here is how I did it.

making a sourdough starter from scratch

 

To make a sourdough mother, you need:

  • Clean glass or enamel bowl
  • Clean spoon
  • Clean distowel
  • 2 cups good quality white flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups good water (I use well water, but you could use distilled water or purified bottled water – you don’t want to use water that has been chlorinated, like what we call “city water.”  If you wouldn’t put it in your fishtank, don’t put it in your starter.)
  • a couple of cups more flour and water on hand to feed the starter for the first week

On Day 1, you will mix your 2 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups water in the bowl, with the spoon, and cover with the dishtowel.  Leave it out on the counter in the kitchen.  That is all.  Seems simple, but you have just laid a Cunning Trap for some wild yeast.  If there is any wild yeast floating around in your kitchen (and there probably is), it will begin to grow in your yeast trap, also known as your bread and water mixture.  It may take a couple of days to show itself, or you may get lucky, like I did this time, and you may get a yeast culture growing rapidly right away.  In the picture above, the “mother” (in sourdough circles we call it a “mother” and refer to it as a “her,” now that you are making your own, you can do the same) is only 12 hours old, but you can see the bubbling that indicates the yeast is growing, feeding and respiring.  Those bubbles are what make your bread rise.

On Day 2, you will feed “her” 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.  As shown above, this is a simple process of dump and stir.  You won’t get her perfectly smooth, just a few swipes with a clean spoon to incorporate the flour and water is good enough; the yeast will do the rest.  If you see a clear fluid on top of the mother when you check it, that is fine, just stir it back in when you feed her.  The fluid is alcohol which is a result of the metabolism of yeast (wine or beer, anyone?) and acts as a natural preservative for your starter and adds flavor to your bread.

On Day 3, do the same.  Keep on doing this until you have reached Day 7.  At this point, you should use or discard some of the starter, and refrigerate the mother in a glass container (I am using a mason jar).

**I decided to refrigerate my starter on Day 3, due to its very active nature and the fact that it was already getting very flavorful/sour.  Use your own judgement, these are guidelines, not rules!

IF you see any kind of mold or pinkish fluid on your starter – it is no good!  Throw it out at once!  The lovely trap of flour and water is desirable to many microorganisms, but the only one that we want to catch is the wild bread yeast.  You may unwittingly catch some other kind.  Just throw it out and try again with fresh and very clean bowl, spoon, and towel.

Wild Sourdough Starter Links

Here are some good resources for reading about making a starter from scratch, but I encourage you to go ahead and try it.  You can read and read about this kind of process, and look at various methods and ingredients, but in the end, you just have to try it for yourself.

My guidelines above are based on the instructions found at “Bread the Mary Jane Way.”  I love how her site expresses the joy of making an elemental baking substance out of thin air, as it were!

My first experience with setting a Cunning Trap for the wild yeast living in my house came from the encouragement found in my dear old battered King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.  They have quite a bit of that book online and here is the part about the starter.

There are very detailed instructions and lots of pictures here on the Wild Yeast Blog.

Soon I will tell you what to do with that starter once you have made it…

Share this:

On the menu: June 27, 2011

Asian yard-long beans 'Red Noodle'

 

Tomatoes

Japanese Eggplant

Yard-long Asian greenbeans – purple and green

Peaches ‘Harvester’ from Jamison Orchard, Nashville AR

Cherry Tomatoes ‘Black Cherry,’ ‘Gold Nugget’ etc.

Farm fresh eggs

Jalapeno and Hungarian Wax Pepper (hot)

White Onion ‘Elizabeth’

Cucumber

Summer squash, including ‘Zephyr’ (bicolor), ‘Eight Ball’ zucchini, ‘Golden Glory’ zucchini, white and yellow patty pan and straight neck squash

Asian Yard-long Green Beans

I first encountered these wonderful beans at the farmer’s market last year – I knew I wanted to grow these beans.  I ordered the seed for two varieties, ‘Gita’ and ‘Red Noodle,’ and we planted them at the end of the summer, letting almost all the beans mature into seeds, thereby increasing our seed stock so that we could have enough to plant for all our subscribers.  They succeeded spectacularly.  Hardy plants have put on lots and lots of beans, even in the harsh growing conditions we have experienced this summer.
These beans are delicious steamed, in stir-fry, or fresh as a snacking veggie.  Eat them fresh and you will taste their natural sweetness.

yard-long beans growing on trellises in the garden

 

 

Share this:

Yellow Tomato Salsa!

 

Revisiting the Memorial Day Green Tomato Salsa Recipe, as now we have some ripe tomatoes.  Granted, they are ‘Taxi,’ which is not my favorite tomato by a long shot, but still.  Ripe tomatoes.

So here is the recipe,

Fresh from the Garden Green Yellow Tomato Salsa

A Sunshine For Dinner original recipe!

 

Green Yellow tomatoes – a couple

Garlic – plenty

Cilantro – a bit

Fresh peppers (Jalapeño is ripe now and perfect!!!) – how spicy do you like it?

Red onion – a few tablespoons

Lemon or lime juice – a few tablespoons till it tastes bright

Salt – to taste

 

Run it all through the food processor until coarsely blended, or chop it up with a knife and mix it in a bowl. Enjoy!

 

Delicious!  The salsa does not look as pretty with the yellow tomatoes as it does with the green.  The taste is great, though.  A bit more sweetness due to the ripe tomato.  I can’t wait to keep trying this recipe with different varieties as the summer goes on – it will be different every time.  But what will I do for cilantro?  Mine is fading fast in this heat.  I bought some more seeds but they won’t be ready overnight. Maybe I will be able to find some at the farmer’s market.

 

Share this:

On the menu: June 6, 2011

First Ripe Tomatoes! ‘Taxi’ (Yellow when ripe)

Red Onions

Red Oakleaf Lettuce

Sweet Corn ‘Peaches and Cream’

Peaches from Jamison Orchard, Nashville AR

Green Tomatoes for Green Tomato Salsa

Jalapeño and Hungarian Wax Pepper (hot)

Cilantro

Spring Garlic

Cucumber

Farm fresh eggs

Ripe Tomatoes – ‘Taxi’‘Taxi’ is a yellow tomato, and the first to ripen in the garden this year.  If they seem a bit green, leave them out on the counter for a day or two and they will ripen up nicely.  We picked all the ripe tomatoes before yesterday evening’s windy rainstorm, or they would have all been knocked off the vines.  Let’s eat them up!  You could make yellow tomato salsa, same recipe…

Berries –  I am disappointed not to have any berries in the bag this week. The mid-season blackberry variety is not performing well this year.  Hopefully I can get some fruit off the next variety to ripen up.  I will do my best

Share this:

On the menu: May 30, 2011 plus Green Tomato Salsa recipe

Red Onions

Chard ‘Sunshine Mix’

Carrots

Blackberries!

Green Tomatoes

Cayenne and Hungarian Wax Pepper (hot)

Cilantro

Spring Garlic

Green Beans ‘Roma 2’

Herb Bouquet

Farm fresh eggs

 

Fresh from the Garden Green Tomato Salsa

A Sunshine For Dinner original recipe!

Perfect for a relaxed Memorial Day meal.

Green tomatoes – a couple

Garlic – plenty

Cilantro – a bit

Fresh peppers – how spicy do you like it?

Red onion – a few tablespoons

Lemon or lime juice – a few tablespoons till it tastes bright

Salt – to taste

 

Run it all through the food processor until coarsely blended, or chop it up with a knife and mix it in a bowl. Enjoy!

 

I think I put all you need in the bag – except the lemon or lime juice. What you really need here is an acid to balance the flavors, so if you need to, substitute some kind of light colored vinegar, no balsamic! The color will be very unappetizing!

 

Garlic: This is spring garlic – uncured, just freshly pulled from the soil. Very easy to peel, very delicious, and needs to be kept refrigerated. My garlic crop is not looking too good this year, but the taste of spring garlic makes up for the disappointment.

 

You could also make fried green tomatoes if the salsa is not for you!

 

 

Share this:

On the menu: May 23, 2011

Spring Onions

Chard ‘Sunshine Mix’

Carrots

Bok Choy

Radishes

New Potatoes

Spring Garlic

Herb Bouquet

Farm fresh eggs

 

Spring garlic:
Spring garlic is like the soft-shell crab stage of garlic.  The papery layers haven’t matured and cured yet into their customary dryness.  To enjoy this delicacy, just peel off the outer leathery layers and then chop up the entire head – no need for any more peeling!
Keep this garlic refrigerated, and use it up quick.  It is not for storing, it is for using!

Herb bouquet:
What to do with this?  That is the question I ask myself each time I go in or out my front door, passing my overflowing herb garden!
The best thing to do with it is drop it down into a small juice glass with water, and put it in your refrigerator.  Each time you open the door, the beautiful scent and appearance of the herbs will cheer and refresh you!
Pick them out of the bunch and use them as you like, when they wither, put them in the compost pile.
Contents: parsley, rosemary, chives, sage, lavender blossom, lemon balm, dill

Enjoy,
Georgiaberry

Share this:

On the menu this week: May 16, 2011

Spring Onions

Yellow Summer Squash

Red Russian Kale

Beets and Beet Greens

Radishes

Baby Romaine Lettuce

Parsley

Chives

Rosemary

Farm fresh eggs

Share this:

On the menu this week: May 9, 2011

Spring onions

New potatoes – ‘Red La Sota’

Red Russian Kale

Beets and Beet Greens

Radishes

Baby Romaine Lettuce

Parsley

Chives

Rosemary

Farm fresh eggs

Share this:

Eggs for Sale in Texarkana! Farm Fresh Eggs from Hardworking Hens

Our Farm Fresh Eggs from Hardworking Hens are for sale in Texarkana.  They are available at Sunnyside Natural Food Market,  4032 Summerhill Square, 903-792-4385, and at Granary St. Discount Health Food Store, 3425 New Boston Road, 903-831-5940.

I will be offering eggs for sale through these distributors as supplies allow until I start making veggie deliveries – then the eggs will be going “in the bag.”

Share this:

Watching your food grow – February 2011

This grassy looking stuff is newborn baby spinach.

After Christmas is over, we set about starting garden plants.  Our indoor lighted plant racks are filled with flats, and soon we can enjoy watching the seedlings emerge and grow.  Above is spinach, and those little clods of dirt stuck on some of the leaves are the seed coat, which split to allow the seedling to grow and is still clinging to the tip of the seed leaf.

Swiss Chard is beautiful straight from the seed - no waiting!

These Swiss Chard seedlings are in their full glory – there is a gold variety – “Bright Yellow,” a pink – “Magenta Sunset,” and a red – “Ruby Red.”  We created this mix from varieties purchased from Johnny’s Seeds.  I call it “Sunshine Mix.”  I hope it finds its way into all of our salad plates in the coming months.

These babies have all been moved outside to a greenhouse area, as they can tolerate the cool weather, and flats of tomatoes have taken their place indoors.

I know you all join me in hoping for a prolific year in the garden!

Share this:

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin