Monday, February 02, 2015


In recent months, I've mentioned my sourdough starter a few times and had a few questions - so here is one post with everything I've learned {which is just barely scratching the surface} about sourdough.

I was given a sourdough starter, but you can make your own if you don't have a friend who has extra. Here and here are starter recipes. Neither of these seem to match mine which calls for sugar and potato flakes to feed it.

There is a ton of info out there on sourdough, but the gist of it is that it is a live culture that you can use in place of yeast. It cultivates things from the air in its surroundings so it enhances your health in that it is cultivated in your living environment. Feel free to add additional health benefits and such in the comments.

To store: I store my sourdough starter in the refrigerator in a quart sized canning jar but instead of the metal lid, there is a piece of cloth held in place by the metal ring. This allows your starter to breathe. As warm of a climate as I am in, mine needs to be refrigerated.

To feed: the recipe I was given said to feed my starter every seven days. I started out doing that, but it was multiplying so fast that I could not use it all. I've eased way off of that and it is still happy - I feed it once maybe every third week. As long as you can hear it you know it is still active. Or if you pull it out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit it should start to rise and you will know it is active that way also. When we were gone for most of December, I took my starter to a friends house and she fed it for me to keep it active.

To use: when you want to use the sourdough, you scoop out 1 c. starter and add to recipe {more on this in a minute} then I usually feed it and put away until next time. I do not like the taste of very sour baked goods, so I don't let mine proof as long.

So far our favorite use for the starter is Sourdough Biscuits. They are quick and easy and don't require a long proof. I have tried Sourdough Bread but not had any success with it yet. I wonder if part of this is because I grind my flour and am not using all-purpose? At any rate, I have visions of gorgeous rustic loaves of artisan looking bread but alas, that has not been a reality. Not yet anyway.

I've tried english muffins, biscuits, bread, pancakes and cinnamon rolls. And, the two keepers from all of that are the biscuits and cinnamon rolls. The english muffins were also good and I may make them again. The pancakes were, to be very honest, awful. And, I love pancakes!

Sourdough Biscuits
From Mary Jane's Farm Cookbook
Makes: 12-18 {recipe says 12, but I think mine always makes more}

2 c. flour {I use freshly ground hard white wheat}
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sourdough starter

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter. Stir in starter. Roll out and cut with a biscuit cutter using a little bit more flour if needed. Let sit on a cookie sheet covered with a towel for 30 minutes. Bake at 425 for about 12-15 minutes.

So, is it worth it? I don't know yet. I've had my starter for several months and I do think there is a learning curve to it for sure. I've had fun experimenting with it and it definitely feels very pioneerish to use sourdough. I love the quaint-ness of the fabric covered jar in my fridge and the frugality of the whole experiment. There are tons of recipes on Pinterest and various other places on line so I am sure if time/energy allowed, I could do more with it.

Do you use a sourdough starter? What are your favorite things to make? Introduce me to a new use!!


Sarah said...

Ok, so I'm am new to this whole process as well; but I'll be happy to share some things I've been learning/doing. My sourdough starter is about 2 weeks old. I started it from scratch with just water and flour and continue to "feed" it with flour. It seems to be very flexible. I alternate between rye and whole wheat flour. It took about a week for the starter to grow/mature enough to use, and it is coming along beautifully. I've made waffles and bread with it so far. We live in Pennsylvania, so I can leave it on the counter with a coffee filter over it. I have it in a gallon jar. Next I want to try a honey/wheat sourdough where you start the sponge the night before.

Mom said...

I've done sourdough a couple of times through the years, but didn't like it enough to keep up with it. Good luck! :)
Love you, Mom