Secrets of sourdough

Secrets of sourdough

By
From
A Year of Practiculture
Photographer
Rohan Anderson & Kate Berry

Sourdough used to be such a mystery to me, as it is to a lot of people, I imagine. I’d look over thick books on the subject, I’d peruse endless pages of sourdough recipes, have some sort of mini anxiety attack and close the book, never to look at it again. We love to over-complicate things, don’t we? I’m not sure why, but I see it in all facets of life. The result of the over-complication of sourdough is that most people who initially show an interest in the subject eventually shy away, believing it’s too technical. It’s similar to cooking in general. The more people make things look difficult, fancy and over-complicated, the less interest we’ll tend to show. The inevitable side effect is that people opt for the convenient processed food, which we all should know by now isn’t doing anyone any favours in the health department. The same can be said for bread. If you look at the ingredients list for processed bread it’s as long as your arm. But home-made sourdough has the same three ingredients it’s had for centuries: flour, water and culture.

I’m no doctor of medicine or nutritionist, nor am I a researcher in food science, but I can’t help wondering what all those ingredients in supermarket bread do to our bodies. I wonder why so many people have bread issues these days. I don’t remember anyone having bread allergies or being gluten intolerant when I was at school. Maybe bread is doing something to us that it didn’t thirty years ago. Has the way bread is produced changed so much that it’s making us sick? Like I said, I don’t know the answer, but I did know I wanted to stop eating processed breads, so years ago I started to make my own. Initially I used dried yeast, then I moved one step further to independence and took up sourdough. I haven’t looked back.

The starter

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

  1. Day 1 – Combine 100 g organic rye flour with 250 ml water in your starter bucket and stir until well mixed.
  2. Day 2 – Add the above to your starter bucket.
  3. Day 3 – Add the above to your starter bucket.
  4. Day 4 – Check for any bubbles. If you have bubbles this means you have fermentation occurring. You hip dude! Fermenting is, like, so hot right now. Discard about half the contents, add your usual 100 g rye flour and 250 ml water, and stir well.
  5. Days 5–8 – Each day, take out half the contents and feed your starter as usual. Once the starter has a sour smell and fermenting bubbles, you can start removing half and feeding it every second day.
  6. After a few weeks of looking after your starter and keeping it alive by feeding it every second day, try making a loaf.

Tip:

  • Leave your specialist sourdough bucket in the warmest room of the house, especially if you’re trying to develop a starter in the middle of winter. Summer just happens to be the best time to get a culture going because the starter is more vigorous in warm temperatures, but anything is possible. And don’t forget, when you take starter out to make a loaf, feed it to keep the level of starter constant.
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