The Road Home

The Road Home
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Adding Sourdough To The Menu

I have tried to get a sourdough starter going a couple of times over the past few years, but it just doesn't work. This time was no different. I had read that using potato water was good for a starter so when I made potato salad recently, I tried again.




I got out my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and followed the directions. It never did start. So I dumped it out....again.

 
In the meantime I contacted a relative that I knew had a starter that she had been using for years to see if she could send me some. She was more than happy to do so and it arrived Christmas Eve, a nice present.
This is a starter with a history. It was given to my relative in 1986 when they moved to Anchorage, Alaska. They met some friends who were part owners of a lodge on the Iliamna River. These friends had gotten the starter from an elderly man who had lived on the river for years. At that time, 1986, the starter was 85 to 90 years old. It has made several moves from Alaska to their current home and now to ours. I think that is really neat. Now, if I can just keep my part of it alive.


I am brand new to sourdough and caring for a starter so this is a very introductory post. When we got it from the post office, we brought it home and fed it. This consisted of giving it 1 cup of white flour and 1 cup of water. I stirred it up well, covered it with some cheese cloth and crossed my fingers. Throughout the day, I checked it and stirred it up a few more times. It worked! It bubbled up a little and looked like the descriptions I had read. Yea! So far so good.

After it's arrival and apparent living state, I began to look through my cookbooks. I actually thought I had a sourdough cookbook, but found I didn't. There are some recipes in Cookin' With Home Storage that I looked at. Then I searched online and found some information and recipes. Then I went and found a couple of cookbooks and ordered them. In the meantime, I fed the starter on Christmas again and it looked healthy so I decided to try it out in a bread recipe. The first one I tried didn't rise. Well, it may have risen half an inch. So we got another taste of brick bread. This is what Frank calls the bread I make that doesn't rise well and is very heavy. The taste was fine, it was just very dense and heavy. Disappointing, but not too surprising since I was using starter and no yeast for the first time.

So for the next loaf I tried a different method. I found a recipe that had me start the sponge the night before. So I took one cup of my starter, added two cups of fresh ground whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup of water. Stirred very well, several times, covered with cheese cloth and let sit out all night.


The reason I have wanted to learn how to maintain a starter and be able to bake without yeast is because one day I fully expect to run out of yeast and not be able to get anymore. This is another step I have wanted to take in becoming more self-reliant. Just like learning about and maintaining kefir. I will one day run out of yogurt culture, but want to be able to produce a product that will help maintain our digestive health. The funny thing is, after we received the sourdough starter and I started looking for recipes online, I ran across this information on "the health benefits of sourdough bread." God works in mysterious ways. No doubt about it. I had never even considered the possibilities of sourdough having added health benefits compared to regular yeast breads. I was surprised. So here are the health benefits listed from that article.
  •  the longer rising/soaking time [like making the sponge overnight] breaks down the gluten making it more easily digestible, therefore making it better for those with gluten intolerance
  • the bacteria present in the starter eat the starches and sugars in the grain lowering the carbohydrate content of the bread, thus helping to regulate blood sugar; also increases vitamin and mineral content of the grain
  • lactic acid predigests the grain for you
  • bacteria present activates phytase, an enzyme that breaks down phytic acid which can strip your body of minerals and be hard on your digestion 

Amazing! That is what I thought when I read this information. I had no idea. It reminds me of the wolf spider and finding out they carry their babies on their back. The world is just full of unique opportunities for learning and I cherish them, especially if they prove useful to our endeavors to be healthier and return to a more natural state.


The bread we made from the overnight sponge was great! I only made enough for one loaf just to try out the recipe. When I turned it out, I thought it was a little much, but I didn't know if it would turn into brick bread again, so I left it all together instead of dividing it into two loaves. Well, it just about fell out of the pan it rose so much. So here is a comparison of my first two loaves.

I have since made another batch with the overnight sponge, this time dividing it into two loaves. It didn't rise near as much and since we had company and I wanted to bake it for lunch, I didn't wait on it as long either. The loaves were smaller, but still had a great flavor.


I have left the original starter out on the cabinet since it's arrival, feeding it everyday. A few days ago, I took about a cup and a half of it and put it in the frig to see if I can keep it alive. It's next to my extra kefir grains that I am also experimenting with to see if I can store them and keep them alive as well. Both will need to be fed once a week, so that will be one of my Saturday chores.


We have been provided with many different opportunities to be self-sustaining when it comes to food. There have been many things produced by man in the past decades that we are not able to reproduce and we didn't give them a second thought for many years. Now the more I
read and learn, the more I realize how important the 'old knowledge' and skills are. Like gardening and heirloom or open pollinated seeds that will reproduce themselves, unlike the hybrid varieties. Speaking of which, have you ordered your seeds yet? When you do, order or buy more than you will ever need in a couple of lifetimes. I truly believe they will soon be worth more than gold. Do you know how many people you can feed with just one seed?


Learn all you can. Books, online sources and easy access to information may not always be around. Be ready, be diligent, be vigilant. Wolves may come knocking in sheep's clothing.


Until next time - Fern


22 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. Sourdough is on my LIST!
    Nice to read others peoples experiences with it.
    I have the Cooking with Home Storage book as well.
    Have a great day!

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  2. Your last paragraph should be taught to all children from the time they are born and should be taught the skills necessary to survive. This should be done by parents, or whoever is raising them, and not by the schools.

    My grown boys, in their 30s, are truly flabbergasted by the lack of what I call common knowledge among many of their contemporaries - cooking from scratch, household repairs, auto repairs, sewing, cleaning, and I could go on and on.

    I'm going to try making high fiber, low carb tortillas this week, am currently buying them at 8 for $2. Not sure that I can but the recipe certainly doesn't contain all those additives - just WW flour that we grind, flaxseed meal, water and a little olive oil.

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    1. Hi Bellen,

      I hope your tortillas come out like you want them. The only ones I have made are made with plain white flour, olive oil, salt and water.

      Thanks for the input.

      Fern

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  3. Thank you for sharing. I want to get started with sour dough too. My dad made it a lot when I was growing up and I loved it. For the same reasons you have, I think it is important to master the skill of using the sour dough. I have been using kefir for about 7 years and really enjoy it. This Christmas I received water kefir seeds, which have some of the same healthy values that milk kefir have, except you feed it sugar and water. You can make drinks that have carbonation in them like soda, by adding fruit to it. I can't wait for my first batch to be ready.

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    1. Hi Lanita,

      What are the benefits you have seen from using the kefir for so long? We are curious if we will be able to tell the difference. I am really glad we have been able to add it to our diet.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Fern

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  4. I'm looking forward to reading more about your experiences with sourdough. I know next to nothing about it, so it'll be nice to learn vicariously. Eventually I'm sure I'll try my hand at it as well.

    Now I am going to see if you have any posts on kefir.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Amanda,

      Any new experience always brings along a chance to learn. There is a kefir post here that I did in December. I hope it provides some good information.

      Fern

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  5. Fern,
    We have seen a real difference in the frequency of illnesses and the duration. We have had a lot fewer colds and no flu. We have also seen a lot less allergy problems. Over all our health is much better. No one in our family has been to the doctor for an illness since we have been using kefir. I have gotten a lot of other people to use it too and they are seeing similar results.

    Lanita

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    1. Lanita, thank you very much for the information. Do you know of anyone that has used kefir long term that has arthritis? Does it help?

      Again, thanks for the information. I really appreciate it.

      Fern

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  6. Fern,
    No, I do not know anyone with arthritis who has used it for a long time.

    Lanita

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  7. I have made "yeast water" in the past very easily. It's not a sourdough start, but it's easily done. Just put a little bit of white flour (I used 2 tablespoons) into some water (I used 2 cups) and lightly cover it. I just used a jar, put the lid on top but didn't screw it back on at all. Leave it in a warm place, lots of people put it on top of the fridge. It will form small bubbles when the yeast has formed. Just use however much water the recipe says to dissolve a packet of yeast in, for example if the recipe says 1 cup of warm water, just use 1 cup of the yeast water! It was my first successful "prepper" experiment.

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    Replies
    1. That's very interesting, I hadn't hear of this technique. Do you feed and keep it going, or make new once you have used it all? Thanks for sharing!

      Fern

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  8. All this discussion of making bread has made me hungry! I do have a couple of questions thought that this post made me think of. Not being able to get yeast is one thing but how long can you store wheat to make flour? How long can you store flour and my last question is about salt. We need salt in our diets, especially so in warmer climates where we sweat a lot, we need salt to be prepared to cure and store our garden and animal produce, how long can you store Salt and how? Food for thought......

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    1. Fiona,

      I have known people to store whole wheat kernels for many years. Once the kernel is crushed or ground, as in the case of wheat, it starts to deteriorate quickly. Some ground wheat will keep for a year or two, and when it goes bad, you will know it. It smells bad. Try to only grind your whole wheat kernels when you need flour. Finding wheat kernels for human consumption can sometimes be a bit difficult.

      To the best of my knowledge nothing disturbs salt. It will store like whole wheat kernels, in rodent proof, food grade, five gallon buckets for a long, long time. I have found that bulk salt, like at Sam's Club, does not contain iodine. Iodine is a great nutrient, but it will affect some foods when used for canning purposes.

      Good solid questions. Thank you.

      Frank

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  9. I wish I could buy a little starter from you. I am in Oklahoma, too. I guess it's too cold. Bummer. K in OK <><

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  10. The bread looks delicious. I've started sourdough starter with the recipe from the Little House Cookbook- http://glory-farm.blogspot.com/2013/07/sour-dough-little-house-style.html . It's worked both times. I keep it on top of my fridge where it's warm. I recently found your blog and am enjoying it. Thanks.

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    1. Hi Odiie,

      Thank you for the information. Glad you found us.

      Fern

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  11. Fern, I have started learning about culturing and fermenting this year also. I have started kefir, kombucha, yogurt, and sourdough. I have learned that you should keep the different cultures at least 4 or 5 feet away from each other while they are culturing, or the cultures can cross with each other and make something you were not looking for. I listen to Know Your Food with Wardeh and she said she could not get her cheese to set up one time and it was because she was making sourdough bread that day. I have actually had to move some of my items to other rooms because I don't have that much room in the kitchen to keep them far enough apart.
    Thanks for sourdough post and the information about the health benefits!

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  12. Fran, I have been making sourdough bread/rolls/pizza, etc. for over a year and I love it. I also found that you can dry some of the starter for long-term storage. Reviving the dried starter is very easy. The info can be found on a website called Breadtopia.com.

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  13. I will be featuring this post on Thursday at the HomeAcre Hop!
    Thank you for contributing to the hop!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sandra, I appreciate that!

      Fern

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