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Wild Yeast Source- Sourdough Starter

 
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McAuliflower



Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Posts: 3
Location: Eugene, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2005 12:09 am    Post subject: Wild Yeast Source- Sourdough Starter Reply with quote

Hello! I've been lurking here and there, this is my first post ... Smile

I've had the good fortune to pick up a used copy of Nancy Silverton's Breads from the la Brea Bakery and am sooo anxious to get my first starter going. Her procedure recommends using organic grapes as the source for the wild yeasts. We don't have organic grapes easily available here yet Sad

Does anyone have experience using some other types of fruit for sourdough starter?

thanks!
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Lady Amalthea



Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2005 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Wild Yeast Source- Sourdough Starter Reply with quote

Wow! I've never even dreamed about making my own starter. So I can't offer you advice; just good luck and keep us posted on what happens.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2005 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may have some very lively yeasts in Eugene. Just how far are you from San Francisco?

The fruit is supposed to accelerate the initial development of a yeast colony since they have such a ready supply of food on the fruit. But, lacking the fruit, if you've got strong ambient yeasts, you should be able to do the same thing by just providing the nutrient culture for airborne yeasts.

I have Nancy Silverton's book but I haven't used it in years. Does she have an alternative recipe for starting a sourdough without fruit? I could get you one if she doesn't. Many of us (if not most) are willing to get things going with a bit of commercial yeast. A tiny bit is all that's required. Are you opposed to a jump start? Meanwhile, if it's really important to you to do it Nancy's way (who am I to argue? She makes killer bread and there's no denying it!) how about a local healthfood store for the grapes?

The idea of a sourdough is, simply, that you provide the rich nutrient source and the yeasts (whether from commercial yeast, fruit or the air around you) move in and reproduce making your sourdough an effective leavener. As your starter matures the local airborne yeasts, with their characteristic flavor, take over whichever way you got started. That's what gives San Francisco sourdough its unique flavor and will give yours Eugene's flavor. I'm wondering if you don't have similar humidity, prevailing coolness and proximity to the ocean that might, eventually, make your starter blessedly similar.
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McAuliflower



Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Posts: 3
Location: Eugene, Oregon

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Rainey... I wasn't thinking about air-bourne yeasts being available for grabs. I was assuming the yeast came from the fruit skin (and maybe inside?). Our local grapes have at least a couple months before they're mature enough to pick. I plan on using some of my neighbor's grapes.

The science geek in me wants to not use commercial yeast. We'll see how difficult that is though!
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Lady Amalthea



Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now I'm curious--how do you make yeast? I wasn't even sure this was a possibility...
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My one peice of advice is don't shake the starter . A friend saw that hers had separated so she gave it a shake, that kitchen never knew what hit it.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lady Amalthea wrote:
Now I'm curious--how do you make yeast? I wasn't even sure this was a possibility...


Well, you don't make yeast. It's a living thing. Basically, you culture the yeast that are all around all of us. This is the same process as getting a starter going. Then you dehydrate some starter and save the resulting paste/powder.

If you wanted to do that you'd just take some of your starter and smear it on something like some plastic wrap or a Silpat mat and leave it to dry. When dry, you'd crumble it into a small baggie or jar for storage in a dry place.

This is always a good idea to have as "insurance" when you get a healthy starter going. Never know when you'll be away or forget to tend your starter or forget to reserve some when you're baking. Shocked The dried starter will get you going again in no time and keeps a l-o-n-g time in it's dried form.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

McAuliflower wrote:
Thanks Rainey... I wasn't thinking about air-bourne yeasts being available for grabs. I was assuming the yeast came from the fruit skin (and maybe inside?). Our local grapes have at least a couple months before they're mature enough to pick. I plan on using some of my neighbor's grapes.

The science geek in me wants to not use commercial yeast. We'll see how difficult that is though!


Yup, the yeast you'll get from the grapes is exactly the same as the yeasts in the air around you. They've just collected on the skin of the fruit because it's a rich concentration of sugar.

I hear ya about wanting to go the authentic, purist way. I've got that streak in me too. Wink

Tell ya what you can do now, until grapes become available: make some bread dough and reserve a handful of it (this is called "old dough" or "levain") before you bake. After a day, feed it as though it were a starter. Do this every 3 days at first and then every week. You'll have a very healthy starter in no time and the tiny bit of commercial yeast will have been completely overtaken by the ambient yeasts by the time you've got your grapes to get a second, more organic one going.

Meanwhile, while your old dough starter is brewing, pull or spoon out some of it and include it in each bread you bake. Cut the yeast called for in your recipe down to 1/4 tsp or so. Allow more time for rising. ALWAYS try to achieve the s-l-o-w-e-s-t rise possible for the best flavor. And if you bake frequently, pull off a handful of dough and save it for the next baking.

BTW, once upon a time someone wanted Nancy Silverton's recipe for starter. It took me a couple days to post the whole damned thing. By the time I got the whole thing done, neither I nor the person who asked for it had any interest left in using it. Laughing But that's my natural laziness kicking in. You have a great time doing it and enjoying your wonderful bread!
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Feste



Joined: 03 Apr 2005
Posts: 32
Location: Berkeley, CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 9:19 am    Post subject: capturing the wild yeast Reply with quote

Hello,

I'm new here and have looked around, but had to write about this topic. I got Nancy Silverton's book a couple of years ago, and being the eager cook that I am, couldn't wait for the whole organic-grape thing (or even worse, what if I did something wrong and had to wait even longer for my coveted loaves??). So I bought a packet of dried sourdough starter from the market, basically the same thing you will get from the grape method just dried and powdered, and reconstituted it according to the directions. Instead of making bread immediately, I started feeding it 3 times a day as described in the book and it worked great! The first loaves I made were good, but the quality just got better as time went on.

I was doing landscaping work for a friend at the time, and he thought the towel-wrapped jar I brought with me every day and fed from a plastic baggie was hilarious.

My starter has been dormant in the fridge for some time now, but I am planning on reviving it once summer begins. (As well as some earnest jam-making, of course.)
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birgit



Joined: 31 Jan 2005
Posts: 247
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:08 am    Post subject: Re: capturing the wild yeast Reply with quote

hm, just to add: I normally buy a handful of good sourdough at the bakers of our local wholefood store, put it in a glass jar (filled about a third high), feed it with a little lukewarm water and some rye flour (half liquid now, like pancake dough) and keep it in the fridge until bubbling nicely. The whole stuff goes into the next dough, where it'll be combined with more rye flour and a little salt first and nearly the same amount of wheat flour 24 hours later. Before adding seeds and the like, I take away a new ladle of sourdough to keep in the fridge for the next loaf. There it keeps about a fortnight, the dough is getting more and more aromatic and the bread is always great. If it's too sour I'm feeding the starter with some wheat flower the next time. I wonder if every wholefood baker could provide some sourdough? But possibly this might only work in germany, because they sell lots of sourdough breads here anyway?

Thanks for the hint with drying and crumbling, I'm going to try that. Baking a big loaf of bread every fortnight is only workable if you've got a big family Smile
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