Thursday, November 11, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: Sourdough Starter by Accident

It's not much to look at is it?  I'm really excited about it nonetheless because it's my very first sourdough starter and it sort of came about by accident.  My mom makes her own yogurt, which is super simple.  When you do so, you always keep about a half cup of yogurt to add into the mix for the new batch.   The live cultures are what ferment the new batch into yogurt.  A couple weeks ago, a batch went kind of off.  It smelled and tasted really yeasty.  She decided that it was probably better to throw it out and start again using a jar of yogurt from the store as the starter culture.  Due to the yeastiness I decided to add in some flour and water and see if I could make a sourdough starter.  I mean if it smells like yeast it probably is yeast, right?  Success!  I've already used some for pancakes, the recipe for which I'll share in a future post.  Meanwhile I've been feeding the starter everyday, and growing it, so that this weekend I will have enough to take half and bake a loaf of bread.

I've been wanting to try to start my own yeast culture ever since I saw Martha Stewart do it way back in the 90s, using a leaf from a cabbage.  Apparently that white film that you see on cabbage leaves is a source of active yeasts.  The thing that always held me back is that if you read enough about sourdoughs they start to sound like an incredible amount of work.  You have to feed them and keep them at the right temperatures, and if you don't bake a lot, you end up throwing out starter and therefore wasting a lot of starter.  It always seemed like a project that I'd be better off starting later.  Then fate stepped in with that yeasty yogurt.  I guess I'm going to start baking more.

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