Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The gift of food.

Posted by: Paul Gardener
A posse ad esse (From possibility to reality)

And really good food too. Really good and really versatile food. Sourdough. Yummy, tasty, sticky and stinky (in a really good way of course...) sourdough starter. After Heather did me so proud with her post about what she wanted to give, I thought I just had to chime in too. The wife and I...well, OK, let's not exaggerate, the WIFE started a sourdough start for our family about a year and a half ago and it has very quickly become one of our absolute favorite things. She takes care of it, feeds and extends it and makes the very best fluffy, tangy and tasty pancakes and waffles with it as well as very good sourdough bread. It's not a wild sourdough, in case you're a connoisseur, but rather was started from a simple recipe that contained flour, water, and a small bit of yeast as a starter. (You can find a similar recipe here.) We did originally start with a wild yeast, but found that it only got "funky" not "beery" the way it should. After a couple of tries, we went this way and have loved it. Also, after a year and a half of regular feedings where the starter is exposed to the air in our home, I have no doubt it has been hybridized with our local wild strains. It has certainly matured in flavor over the months.

But this isn't really meant to be all about sourdough, as much as I'd love to pine on about it, there are much more qualified people to do that. (That's your cue to chime in sourdough experts...) But instead it's about one of the best things in the world that we can do with sourdough to spread the love.
Share the start! I mean how better could we let someone really get a good idea of how much we enjoy our own sourdough starter than to send them home with some of it. And that's exactly what we did this weekend when A~'s dad left our house after Thanksgiving. We extended and fed the start during the week he was here, then packed up and sent him home to West Virginia with some of his own.
If you haven't had a chance, or have been afraid to try, making sourdough of your own give this simple little starter a try. It's pretty simple, easy to use, and only tastes better with age. Then, when you feel pretty stable with it, pass it on. It takes a bit of work to learn to work with, but will provide you and your friends with the security that you will always be able to produce tasty leavened foods at home no matter what.
Good luck.


Mrs. Anna T said...

I don't know what sourdough is, but I'll have to look into it - sounds interesting!

dragonsue said...

I've heard of sourdough before, but never knew what to do with it, how to start it etc, it was just something you guys in the US did! Now I am going to have to give it a try and see what happens! It should be an interesting project to take my mind off the Christmas rush for a few minutes each day, thank you. :-)

Dawna said...

I've done this myself in the past and you're right, it's wonderful to share and people love it! I confess it's been quite some time since I made this, but you've inspired me to start again. Thanks!

Laurie from Amish Country said...

I used to do this maybe about 15-20 years ago and we called it Amish Friendship bread. Back in the 1980's it was so popular that I think everyone in my home town had a bag of it. It was sort of like a chain letter, where when someone gave you a bag of it, you separated it into something like 5-10 bags and kept one for yourself and passed the others around to friends and they were instructed to do the same. It came with instructions and you had to feed it or mix it or do something to it each day until it was ready to use.
I totally forgot we used to do this and how popular it was, until I read this post. It does make a good loaf of bread, I remember that. I like how you keep yours in canning jars, ours were passed and kept in large baggies.
I should start this mixture again and pass it around to my friends and see if they pass it on as well.

Wife to 1, Mom to 5 said...

My 15 year old son has been begging me to find a recipe for sour dough starter. He wants to try to make bread like Schlotzkis has. Thanks for sharing! Oh, and Laurie, we do the Amish Friendship bread too.. in baggies. My canning jars are precious to me! LOL

Sadge said...

My sourdough starter, Pete (it's alive, so you're supposed to name it), was given to me over 15 years ago by an elderly neighbor. She's gone now, so I have no idea how long she'd kept her starter going. Safe to say, however, that my Pete has to be middle-aged, at least.

Joanna said...

Thanks for this. Now can you post the recipe or link for the bread you make using this starter?

Many thanks

James said...

Oddly enough, I just received a starter from my mother-in-law on Saturday. And even more coincidentally I'm raising bread now for a loaf tonight.

I used to keep a starter in Japan when I was stationed there, but it eventually had to be tossed out, when I moved back to the U.S.. I'm happy to have a good starter again.

I'm feeding mine with whole wheat flour, and it gets going really well!

Mimi said...

This is a great idea. I would love to receive some of my best friends starter. He makes great sourdough pancakes and the yeast has been in his family for about 75 years. Awesome!

P~ said...

Glad that I was able to inspire a couple of you to try it out. I never thought of Sourdough as an American bread per se, but I can see how that could be. I'll have to get back to you on the recipe for the bread. My wife does the baking and truth be told it's her kitchen and I have no idea where the recipies are??
Good luck all!!