Saturday, 18 October 2014

Sourdough Starter

I've dabbled with the sourdough starter a few times now. The first time, we moved interstate and I never got to actually bake anything with it. The second time, after a few batches that started smelling like nail polish remover, I managed to bake a couple of great sourdough loaves. The process was time consuming and the house we were living in was old and cold and I just don't really think I was growing or collecting the right types of wild yeast, so I ditched the whole idea because I wasn't sure if I had the method right.

Fast forward 8 months, to now. We are buying organic sourdough spelt and sourdough rye loaves at $7 a pop, from our local organic fruit and veggie store. The kids have decided that they LOVE the sourdough as toast and we go through the loaves very quickly. Funnily enough, they wouldn't eat the loaves I had baked months earlier! I think that because we don't buy bread at all, other than the loaves we have just started purchasing, they think it's a bit special and fancy to have toast, hehe.

I have stomach issues when I eat wheat, so does my daughter, so we are a gluten free household. I read ages ago, that some people who are intolerant to gluten, can eat sourdough with no problems, because during the fermentation process the gluten is broken down by the bacteria in the yeast/starter.  So of course, I had to give it a go!
The loaves I baked myself seemed to be great on my stomach, I had no problems, but I am finding that the loaves we are buying now, give me a pain in the stomach and they just taste a bit....meh.

Our organic fruit and vegetables, raw milk and yoghurt, sourdough bread and eggs today cost me a whopping $201.87 in total. So, so expensive.
I decided that we REALLY need to cut back that cost a bit!!!!! One of the ways will be to have another crack at growing another sourdough starter, so I can at least bake our own bread.

We have moved to a new area, fresh country air and a lovely new house. I am confident that I should have better luck this time. Third time lucky!

**** In my previous attempts, I've used the flours mixed with fresh squeezed orange juice to give a little acid to help the starter grow, this time I'm just using Pureau filtered water.  ****

Here is what I've used this time...



3 level tablespoons of organic rye flour
3 level tablespoons of organic white flour
8 tablespoons of filtered water

Mix into a wide mouth mason jar (mine is 300ml I think. I might need to use a bigger jar later on).
I took mine outside into the fresh air and mixed it out there, hopefully I caught some lovely wild yeast in the wind!

Cover with a cheesecloth and leave in a warm spot inside. 20 - 24 degrees Celsius is ideal for the starter to grow.
I have left mine in the kitchen, on the bench next to the stove.


Not much going on here today. The starter looked a little dry so I gave it a stir and put the cloth back on and left it.


I checked it this morning, it was super dry still and I couldn't see any signs of life. I decided to mix in another tablespoon of pure water and I covered it with the cloth again and put it on our outside table in the sunshine (it was 26 degrees Celsius today and warmer outside than inside). 
I was hoping that the warmth from the sunshine might give it a bit of a boost along....

Later in the afternoon, I checked the starter again. BINGO! Alive! It's ALIVE!!!!!

As you can see from the pictures below, there are bubbles that have started to form.... Woohoo!

Now that it is active, I fed it the following:

3 level tablespoons organic rye flour
3 level tablespoons organic white flour
5 tablespoons Pureau water (room temp.)

I gave it a good stir and left it with its little cloth cover on, overnight on the kitchen bench. 


This morning when I got up, I placed it in a nice warm spot near the window. It clearly thrives off that little bit of warmth :-)

Night time is when I feed the starter. Tonight I was fairly happy with how it was coming along plenty of bubbles were forming and it had risen a bit too.

I gave the starter a good stir, then tipped out half of it and put it in the bin. I then fed it the following:

4 level tablespoons of organic rye flour
4 level tablespoons of organic white flour
10 tablespoons of Pureau water (room temperature)

I mixed it all together and put a little marker on the outside of the jar so I can tell how much it's rising.


I actually fell asleep last night and forgot to feed the starter....oops! 


This morning it had risen above the marker I left on it on day 4 and it was looking pretty bubbly. Phew, still alive!

I stirred it, tipped out half into the bin and fed it the following:

4 tablespoons of rye flour
4 tablespoons of white spelt flour
10 tablespoons of water

I stirred it all together and it was back at the original marker level I'd made on the jar the other day. I placed it in a warm spot in the bedroom.

I'm not sure if I made the right decision by adding spelt this time to the mix, but we'll soon find out I suppose! 

Note: 4 hours later, it had risen above the point of where it rose to before I refreshed it.

DAY 7 

Today I've been out and didn't get around to refreshing the starter until this evening. It had risen quite a bit, however, the bubbles were much smaller. I'm not sure why that is. At least it rose I guess!

I stirred, tipped out half and refreshed with the following:

4 tablespoons of organic rye flour
4 tablespoons of organic white spelt flour
4 tablespoons of organic white flour
12 tablespoons of water

I covered with the cloth and band and left to sit on the bench top. I also made a new mark on the jar. Hopefully soon I'll be able to bake a loaf!


I chose to leave the starter tonight. It looked like it could handle a little extra time between refreshes.


I refreshed tonight with:

4 tablespoons of organic rye flour
8 tablespoons of organic white flour
12 tablespoons water

DAY 10

I chose to leave the starter alone again today.

DAY 11

This morning I woke up and it had expanded so much, it was burstng out of the jar! I took the cloth off and washed it because it was covered in dough. I left the starter to sit for the rest if the day with an open top. It kept growing! The bubbles are starting to really go crazy now! I think it really likes the white flour in the mix.

NOTE:  I have noticed that the starter really hasn't had a proper fermentation type smell. It has just smelt like rye flour to me. 
The last few attempts of making a starter, I have used cling wrap (tut-tut!) over the jar. It caused the starter to smell like nail polish remover and I couldn't get rid of the smell (probably because of the cling wrap!). I didn't know, until this time around, that I should only cover with a cheesecloth.
Well, today, I FINALLY could smell a bit of a ferment-y type smell. Hooray!

I've been doing a test on it each time before I refresh... Apparently, if you drop some starter into a glass of room temperature water, it will float if the starter is ready to use for baking... According to this test, mine is not ready ;-)

Big bubbles!

Tonight, I will refresh with:

4 tablespoons organic rye flour
8 tablespoons organic white flour
12 tablespoons luke warm water (thought I'd give it a shot to see if it would help the starter ferment quicker)

NOTE: Before I refreshed the starter, I thought I'd give the 'drop a blob in some water' test another shot. It sank....meh. I pushed it to the side and continued to refresh the starter.... When I was finished, I looked over and the blob in the water was FLOATING!!!! 
I also noticed that tonight, the starter had quite a fruity, ferment-y kind of smell. Yay! 

DAY 12

This morning, the starter had risen more than ever in the short timeframe since I refreshed t last night. I had previously been leaving it up to 2 das to get this result, where now, it has only taken 8 hours.

I think it's ready!!!! 

I'm glad I didn't use orange juice in this starter. I don't think it needed it. Water and flour seem to have worked perfectly for me. 

Today, I'm going to prepare a trial loaf and see how it turns out! I will write about the loaf in a new post :-)


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