The Wild Yeast Sourdough Experiment – Day 1

I have been thinking about making sourdough bread for years.  Or well, not literally for years on end, but the thought came and went whenever I wanted nice summer food, and picnic fare or panzanella, or just antipasti platters with bread came to mind, and I wondered if I could manage to make my own sourdough bread.  But then I inevitably would end up thinking that it was too messy, too complicated, and took too much effort and time, and give up on the idea.

The only thing which was different this summer was having more time to rest, in a long while – meaning that I have had enough sleep for the first time in some years, and thus, brimming with excess energy, I have given my kitchen a thorough counter-tidy and then, in a burst of more excess energy yet, and with a thought of a homemade sourdough bread in mind, I have decided to try capturing wild local yeast for the experiment.

Reading this website and talking to a friend whose mother tends to keep sourdough starter at home, yielded several important pieces of wisdom about starting my own starter (see further below).  Not all the information I found in the course of hours of reading at aforementioned site, Sourdough Home, will get mentioned in this post.  I imagine not all of it will even necessarily make it to the follow-up posts I plan to do for this experiment – and this is what it is, for I plan to figure out how easy and convenient it really is to bake sourdough-starter bread in one’s own kitchen, and how good the results are going to be.

As per advice and reading above, here’s the short list of ideas on which I base the start of my experiment:

  • The starter should be started using about equal (by weight) or 1 to 2 part (by volume) measures of water and flour respectively.
  • Starting with whole grain flour can give more interesting results due to natural microorganisms present on the bran.
  • It is not needed, nor is it useful to add baker’s yeast to the mixture, and same goes for chopped fruit, since the yeast I want is the one present either in my kitchen or the one which comes with the flour itself.

So, without further ado, I’ve sterilized a 1.5L jar with boiling water, put in about 2/3 dl of Graham flour and 1/3 dl white flour, and 1/2 dl water, whisked it all a bit to combine, scraped edges down into the mix, covered with a bit of cling film and left it.  Apparently it is to be checked every 12 hours, and if actively bubbling, half is to be discarded and fed with same amounts of flour and water as above.  And then, obviously, allowed to double and fed double amounts a couple of days before I plan to bake with it.

So far, it’s supremely easy.  Obviously, there is still a week at minimum to go before I will attempt to make bread – as the advice is given, there is no way the starter will be mature enough before the week is over.  So I am shooting for weekend after next, giving myself 9-11 days.  I will post some updates with the progress as I go along, though I doubt anything interesting will happen daily – I’d be both, surprised and likely worried if it does!

And also, no picture so far mostly because an unstarted just-mixed starter is simply a very boring thing to look at.  Perhaps it’ll become more interesting as times goes by and it comes alive – or so I hope, anyhow!

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