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Sour Dough Starter

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Sour Dough Starter

Postby Drakenstead1 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:05 pm

We finally got tired of failed sour dough attempts using boughten starters or recipes that are confusing and so varied as to be useless. We've kept some going well for a couple of years but eventually even if we follow the suggestions we find for renewal they tend to die off or start producing what looks like a swamp of weird growing things. There's also the problem we had of a starter that works well with whole grains and flour made from rye, buckwheat or things like oats. What ever we used never seemed to give the bread the lift we wanted. Getting a real sour taste also has eluded us. So we gave up and tossed the rule book.

We put two cups of whole rye flour in a bowl and added two cups of luke warm water from our tap. Hard water seems to run contrary to a good culture so we used softened water from the appropriate tap. We left it in the summer kitchen for a week after which we were rewarded with a bubbling mass of beautiful sour smelling culture. I set aside a cup of it and added a cup of all purpose wheat flour and a cup of water to save for further use. I'll add a cup of each today and keep stirring once a day for the next week then let it go dormant in a pint jar in the fridge or use it again, saving yet another bit for more use.
Going on instinct, we added two more cups of whole rye flour and one and three quarter cup of water. We lightly dusted the top with a bit more rye flour and covered the bowl with a cloth setting it back in the summer kitchen to work it's magic. This morning we added a teaspoon of salt, two table spoons of oil and eight tablespoons of wheat gluten. We then stirred in two cups each of whole rye, whole wheat bread flour and white wheat bread flour. A vigorous session of kneading followed and we separated it into two loaves, formed them and put them in two oiled bread pans. We let them rise for a full four hours, cut a split in the tops, painted them with a bit of milk and a sprinkle of poppy seed. Fifteen minutes in the oven at 400 degrees with another hour at 360. We cooled them on racks and rushed to try as soon as possible to do so. The results are heavenly.

The problems we've had are as mentioned, hard water, with locking into a time for the sponge to work or the dough to rise. We've found that each flour or combination, each yeast and the temperature and humidity need to be taken into account. We can't go by a recipe that says something needs to "rise for two hours". This culture only needs one rise not the two that conventional yeast requires. Basically we needed to bake a lot of half good loaves to get to the place where we could use our experience and instincts to produce good bread. We needed the confidence to decide what to do based on what we know, what the various ingredients(especially the yeast) and the environment dictated.

Now if we can keep the yeast beasties alive were on the road to the real staff of life with no more flour and water paste eh.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby watcher » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:40 pm

Here are some interesting videos on yeast/sourdough and preservation of same: https://youtu.be/leC_cCs4i5w and https://youtu.be/9q8kNsc3iv8. They are from a company that sells historical reenactment.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby Cin » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:15 pm

I made a decent sourdough that lasted about 5 years. You have to make sure to keep it warm, even by an open window on a cool night can kill it.

2 cups of water, 2 cups of flour. Left in a warm spot, sponge developed a couple hours later. I'd feed it every 3 days, scoop of flour, about a cup of water. You can add yeast, but if you do, add a spoonful of sugar, helps it grow.

I used it to make pizza dough and bread. Pretty tasty.

When it died, I never re-started it, got sidetracked and stopped making my own dough. I plan to restart it in a few days when it warms up more.

BTW, I put it by a closed window, and it got sunlight every morning for a few hours.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby rebnavy1862 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:42 pm

I have used English ale yeast for a sourdough starter. Interesting flavors. You can get it at a homebrew store.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby Cast Iron » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:29 am

I always make extra dough, and save some for the next time I make bread.

It is not quite sour per say, but it does develop some interesting flavors.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby arkieready » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:45 pm

@watcher: I love jas. Townsend' videos. There is quite a bit there we can glean.

My last sourdough starter flopped. I didn't really use barm--my buddy gave me ale dregs, not the same. Not very flavorful, not much loft.
@cin: too cool has never been a problem for me, just slows it. But too warm and it turns "interesting" colors.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby Drakenstead1 » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:18 pm

Interesting responses to my post. At least a few of us are interested in good taste. I figure that making good bread with a renewable starter is not only a survival skill from the point of self reliance and sustainability but from the stand point of taste. One of the dangers of living off basic food stuffs, particularly LTS food is what I call "palate death". I lived for a time in East Africa and witnessed famine first hand in the Karamoja district. I have seen people die in the abundance of food when it either is repetitive and bland or totally unfamiliar or alien to their culture. Staying alive and prosperous is not only about quantity but about taste as well.

The first loaf we made from this starter was just short of magnificent. It was on a par with the best old world European bread of my experience. I suspect that living in a farm house that is well over a century old has something to do with the variety and vigor of the yeast beasties and lactobacilli we caught. I'm fairly certain that it is also a matter of luck. I'd suggest that it takes several tries to get a good culture and that one should not be discouraged by failure. Failure is an integral part of the learning process. It seems to me to be a good idea to perfect this skill prior to an "event" rather than learn on the fly. Secondly I can say that life is too short to drink suboptimal beer or to eat lousy bread. I believe that beer and bread are absolute proof that G-d wishes us to be happy (In which I paraphrase the eminent Mr. Benjamin Franklin). There is also the consideration that not all strains of yeast are perfect for all kinds of flour. A culture that works with whole grains, wheat or others may be foul with a white all purpose flour. It also can work the other way as a culture suitable for that white flour may leave an attempted whole grain rye loaf suitable only as a boat anchor. As my Late Father advised me on my wedding night "keep trying until you get it right".
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby Cast Iron » Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:31 pm

Drakenstead1 wrote:Interesting responses to my post. At least a few of us are interested in good taste. I figure that making good bread with a renewable starter is not only a survival skill from the point of self reliance and sustainability but from the stand point of taste. One of the dangers of living off basic food stuffs, particularly LTS food is what I call "palate death". I lived for a time in East Africa and witnessed famine first hand in the Karamoja district. I have seen people die in the abundance of food when it either is repetitive and bland or totally unfamiliar or alien to their culture. Staying alive and prosperous is not only about quantity but about taste as well.

The first loaf we made from this starter was just short of magnificent. It was on a par with the best old world European bread of my experience. I suspect that living in a farm house that is well over a century old has something to do with the variety and vigor of the yeast beasties and lactobacilli we caught. I'm fairly certain that it is also a matter of luck. I'd suggest that it takes several tries to get a good culture and that one should not be discouraged by failure. Failure is an integral part of the learning process. It seems to me to be a good idea to perfect this skill prior to an "event" rather than learn on the fly. Secondly I can say that life is too short to drink suboptimal beer or to eat lousy bread. I believe that beer and bread are absolute proof that G-d wishes us to be happy (In which I paraphrase the eminent Mr. Benjamin Franklin). There is also the consideration that not all strains of yeast are perfect for all kinds of flour. A culture that works with whole grains, wheat or others may be foul with a white all purpose flour. It also can work the other way as a culture suitable for that white flour may leave an attempted whole grain rye loaf suitable only as a boat anchor. As my Late Father advised me on my wedding night "keep trying until you get it right".


Well said.

One reason why I think after a prolong period of time eating canned goods or MREs, some will be quite willing to trade things they normally would never consider for, say, fresh eggs.
E.g. see my The Fall, in prepper fiction. Bold, mine for emphasis.

I made some bread with some dough I made last week.
Imparted some very interesting flavors, reminded me of French bread, the crust was exceptionally crusty.
I made a starter today, using a Black&Tan beer. See what that tastes like in a week or so.

I have noted, when making pizza dough, using milk rather than water makes for a more tender crust.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby watcher » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:06 pm

The bread we made for St. Pats day was a variation of Jas Townsend multigrain bread with barm - https://youtu.be/0dtBjqIu5W8 - with two substitutions. The first was to use whole grain spelt flour in place of the whole grain wheat and the barley flour (the DS tries to avoid wheat flours). The second was to replace the water with more beer (the beer we used was a rye stout). The bread was excellent. Ate up some more of it today as reuben sandwiches.
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby DR1VENbyKNOWLEDGE » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:38 pm

Great, interesting stuff here all..... Unfortunately for me, its all French(Bread)...lol.

As an ABSOLUTE newbie to this, where would you recommend I get some good info starting my bread skills?

I of course found some resources already but am curious to veteran recommended links....

This is my current prepper goal.... Bread.... In its entirety - including easy starts thru grinding my own wheat.

Thank you guys for any quick links in advance....
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby Cast Iron » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:42 pm

DR1VENbyKNOWLEDGE wrote:Great, interesting stuff here all..... Unfortunately for me, its all French(Bread)...lol.

As an ABSOLUTE newbie to this, where would you recommend I get some good info starting my bread skills?

I of course found some resources already but am curious to veteran recommended links....

This is my current prepper goal.... Bread.... In its entirety - including easy starts thru grinding my own wheat.

Thank you guys for any quick links in advance....


Good joke.

I have had several books prior to this one, but this one really brought it home for me: https://www.amazon.com/Bread-Bakers-App ... apprentice
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Re: Sour Dough Starter

Postby kappydell » Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:37 pm

not all yeastie beasties in the air are good for bread. Nor for good tasting fermentation. I consider it worth the expense to purchase the first time starter, then keep it going, that way I know what I will get and that it will taste decent.
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