Wow, two posts in one day...
Ok, meet George.
He is a "wild caught" sourdough starter. I made it by mixing 1 part water with 2 parts whole wheat flour and putting a whole purple cabbage leaf in the jar. (You know that white film on a purple cabbage leaf? That stuff is yeast. Wild yeast ready for taming!) About 24 hours later I removed the leaf and fed it 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 cup flour. And did it again 12 hours later. By that point it was bubbling well and doubling in size after every feeding. Once it was doing that, I put it in the fridge.
So, you want to make a sourdough starter? Or you some one gave a cup of their "mother"?
The Care and Feeding of Your Sourdough Starter
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup flour.
DO NOT let ANY sort of metal touch the sourdough. We use plastic spatulas or wooden spoons. I refuse to even use measuring cups with metal handles. Or plastic spoons with metal handles. I'm really careful with this.
DO NOT let any salt touch it
Keep it in a very large class container. You want it big enough that the starter can comfortably double in size.
DO NOT use a container with a narrow neck. The gas from the yeast will get trapped and it might "pop"
Keep two large glass jars for your starter. Each week we transfer it into a clean container. We scrub the container between uses and run it though the dishwasher so it keeps VERY clean to prevent cross-contamination. I think this is the biggest factor as to why we have been so successful with this starter.
1 part water
1 part starter
2 parts flour
10 ounces water
10 ounces starter
20 ounces flour
(Sorry for the blurry picture...)
We also add 2 1/4 TSP of yeast to the water and let it bloom before adding the other ingredients. Our starter isn't quite strong enough to really leaven the bread the way we like it. We figure that we are primarily interested in the flavor.
Mix well until the dough cleans the bowl. (I use a stand mixer for this.) Continue to knead for around 8 minutes. Put in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise. NOTE: Sourdough takes around twice as long to double in size as regular bread. Also, cover with a moistened towel or plastic wrap.
After the rise either shape into one large round, peasant loaf or divide into two loaf pans. Let rise again until doubled. Before baking, lightly score the top of the loaf with a knife.
(this is how mine looks after the first kneading.)
Bake at 450. We put a pan of water in the oven for the first 5-10 minutes to steam the loaf a little. It helps brown the loaf. After you remove the water bake for an additional 5-15 minutes. Watch it and you'll be able to tell when it's done. (If you "thump" the crust it'll sound hollow)
Our Weekly Sourdough Routine:
When you get home from work, pull the sourdough out of the fridge. Let it come up to room temperature. You'll notice it start to bubble. It has the consistency of very thick pancake batter. After it is at room temperature, feed it. (around 7pm) Leave it out in a warm spot.
Feed again when you get up in the morning.
If you have enough to bake with AND it has doubled in size you may now bake with your starter. If not, feed it again Saturday evening around 7pm.
Saturday afternoon IF (AFTER) BAKING WITH IT:
transfer remaining starter to a clean glass container and let sit.
Saturday evening IF YOU BAKED WITH IT:
Feed and put in the fridge
If you don't have enough to bake with or it needs more activity, just follow the Saturday baking routine on Sunday.
Another thing to know:
It can get too big. If you let it get too large without using it, giving some away, or throwing some of it away (the horror!), it will start to fail as the wild yeast will not have enough to eat as it has already consumed what it can from the flour at hand.
Also, it LOVES whole wheat flour. About every other week we will feed it a nice meal of whole wheat flour before we put it in the fridge. We even make whole wheat bread sometimes!