No, it isn't a new book release, or a cover reveal, or even a new member of the family....
It's sourdough starter.
I made it. All by myself (with a LOT of help from God, and a little help from friendly wild yeast beasties).
If you go here, you'll read about my last attempt at making sourdough starter from scratch. In spite of my enthusiasm, it was a complete failure.
But this batch has been going strong for about three weeks now, and I've already made some loaves of bread with it!
Don't worry - I will share bread recipes with you, but not until I've experimented a bit more.
Today we're going to concentrate on the starter. If you start yours today or tomorrow, you'll be all set to make bread when I share that recipe next week!
My first step in making my own starter was to figure out what went wrong the last time. It took months to realize that my grain mill was the culprit.
Don't get me wrong! I love my grain mill, and I'll continue buying whole grains and grinding them for my baking.
But this puppy heats the rye flour just a bit too hot as it mills the grain. The wild yeast beasties don't like that.
In fact, they hate it so much that they...well...die. :(
And that is bad because sourdough is flour, water, and wild yeast. If you kill the wild yeast in the process of making the sourdough starter, you end up with yuck.
We don't want yuck.
So once I figured out the problem, I bought a bag of this:
This is the key. Cold milled flour!
And why rye flour? Because for some reason the wild yeast beasties love rye. It must be their chocolate or something. You can use other flours when you make your breads, but to begin your starter, you really should use rye.
So now that we have the ingredients, let's make starter.
That's it. Nothing fancy.
I feed my starter in the morning when I'm making my tea.
Day 1: Sanitize a quart canning jar, small glass bowl, or other glass container by pouring boiling water into it. Pour out the boiling water and add 1/2 cup cool water and 1/2 cup rye flour. Stir, then cover with a towel, cheesecloth, or other clean, porous covering. Set it in a warm place and ignore it for a day.
Day 2: Sanitize a second quart canning jar or other container. Add 1/2 cup cool water and 1/2 cup rye flour. Stir. Stir the 1st jar of starter and add it to the new jar, and stir the starter, flour, and water together. Cover and set in a warm place.
(How warm? I put mine on the kitchen counter next to my sink.)
Day 3 - 7: Repeat Day 2.
Now your jar should be pretty full. And after six or seven days, your starter is ready to use. It should smell yeasty and slightly sour.
It should also be brown (not green or gray or black!) (or yellow or pink!). If it is any color but brown, throw it out! Your wild yeast beasties have been taken over by the bacteria storm troopers and you need to start over.
It should also be a little bubbly. Pleasantly bubbly.
If your starter looks like this, rejoice!
Keep feeding it daily. If you forget a day, don't sweat it. Your wild yeast beasties will keep doing their thing. But you do need to keep feeding it or else the yeast will get weak and the bacteria storm troopers will start moving in.
Once your starter is established, though, you can feed it less. Reduce the daily feeding to 1 Tablespoon of flour and 1 Tablespoon of water. And you only need to change the jar a couple times a week.
Or, once your starter is established, you can also keep it in the fridge. The yeast beaties (now tamed and named) will slow down their wild growth pace. They'll only need to be fed a couple times a week.
I keep mine on the kitchen counter so that it continues to grow. I use it about once every four or five days.
Next week - recipes to use your starter!!!
And then there is this:
"Pretty" is not strong enough of a word to describe the Badlands of South Dakota.
Barren doesn't do it, either.
I'm beginning to research a story set here, at the edge of the Badlands. Rancher brothers and a legacy of faith and family.
Speaking of the ranching legacy, some ranchers need our prayers.
This prairie fire was huge Sunday afternoon during our drive through the Badlands. A "big bad boy" one person said, and movin' fast. If you can get an idea of how big it was - I took this picture from between 40 and 50 miles away from the fire. I have rancher friends who were in the path of the fire, but even though pastures and fence posts, etc. burned, their home was saved, praise the Lord.
And next week, sourdough part 2!
Jan Drexler loves her family, her home, cooking and just about anything made by hand. But she loves her Lord most of all.
Stop by Jan's website to learn more about her books: www.JanDrexler.com