Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Most Unusual Gift

My buddy from the Big City North, where we now reside, and I have May birthdays 21 days apart - so we celebrate together.  Our families exchange gifts for the honorees.  This year we gave him a large gift bag filled with home dehydrated foods for his weekend hiking get-aways: pineapple slices, cinnamon apple rings, banana chips, "orange cookies" as our granddaughter calls her dehydrated orange slices, cinnamon apple fruit leather, and much more for snacking.  Then he dug up dehydrated refried beans for burritos and green beans with new potatoes for a couple of experimental trail meals.  

I, on the other hand, that same evening received a jar of sourdough starter and sage advice.
  1. Keep the starter in the refrigerator.  
    1. Take the starter out the night before and let it warm to room temperature.  
  2. Remove and either use or discard 1 cup of the starter every 7-10 days.
  3. Replenish/Feed the starter with the same amount removed.  Take out a cup, add back a cup.
    1. If a cup of starter was used, then I mix 2/3 cup of flour and 2/3 cup of lukewarm water with a pinch or two of sugar.  Sometimes a little extra water is needed.  The mixture should be slightly thinner than pancake batter.  Mix this into the starter jar.
  4. Let the starter sit, uncovered, on the counter in a warm spot until the starter gets "happy."  Here in the summer, 2-4 hours is adequate.  
    1. I added rule 4.1 to this list.  Place the jar in a bowl.  Sometimes the starter gets so happy it bubbles over the top.  This is a much easier mess to clean.
  5. Secure the lid, with the breathing hole covered with paper toweling on the happy starter.  Place back in the fridge.

Pint Jar of Sourdough Starter (sitting on Granddaughter's placemat)
Hole in the Jar Lid
During the first week, I looked through my cookbooks.  Somewhere in this house I had to have sourdough recipes.  Then I found what I didn't know what I was searching for.  Marie gave me this book several years ago, but I never had a reason to use it.  Oh, how I wish she were alive so we could share some of these pastries with a cup of coffee.  This book is a wealth of information and recipes.
Sourdough Jack's Cookbook

That's pretty much all there is to maintaining a sourdough starter.   Mom loves the smell of this starter.  It has a fresh, yeasty smell.  It's not a tangy as some starter recipes, but is delicious nonetheless.

Things to note:

  1. A liquid forms and floats on top of the starter.  This is a type of alcohol and simply needs to be stirred back into the starter.  You can control the amount of this liquid by skipping the sugar when replenishing the next batch.  
  2. If a more sour or tangy taste is desired, then let the starter sit on the counter longer, approximately 24-48 hours.  
  3. If the starter is too sour, sweeten it by removing a cup of the starter and replenishing it with 1 cup flour and 1 cup tepid water.  
  4. Add baking soda as one of the last ingredients to add to a recipe, especially a recipe like pancakes that needs to sit overnight.  Baking soda has a tendency to turn batter yellow.

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