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Friday, February 21, 2014

Resuscitating my sourdough starter

Another frugal thrill for me this week . . .

Over last weekend, I discovered my sourdough starter shoved to the back of the fridge. It was early November the last time I baked with this starter. That's a long time to leave a sourdough starter uncared for.

Anyway, I lifted the lid and the grey hooch that sits on top of the doughy mass was a bit on the green side. And it smelled more like cheese and less like hooch. This definitely did not look good.

This starter had taken me about 10 days to make, and I wasn't ready to start over from the beginning, without at least trying to resuscitate it. So, I thought I'd risk a cup of flour on it, just to see if I could bring it back to life.

Sure enough, after a day of feedings, the starter was all bubbly. I continued to feed the starter for a few days, just to get it going strong. By Wednesday afternoon, it was ready for mixing a dough.

I make my sourdough bread the old-timer way, with just starter, flour and a small amount of sugar and salt. It takes a good 24 hours from mixing the dough to baking, but it is so worth it.  Traditional sourdough bread has to be the most frugal of all bread to bake at home, as there's not even any yeast added.

Taking a few days to fire up my starter left me with a LOT of starter. So, yesterday I baked 2 loaves, and tomorrow I'll bake another 2. That should just about catch me up. I wish I could have just given some of the starter to you, but that might get a little messy in the mail.  -- And also could have aroused some odd suspicions with our postal service! :-o

If you are interested in learning more about making your own sourdough starter, you can find more information in a series of posts beginning here.


  1. I remember one time when my mother was visiting and trying to be helpful, she threw away my sourdough starter. She felt really bad when I told her what it had been, but it was easy enough to get some more from a friend. I haven't had any sourdough starter in a while. Maybe I'll looking into getting some more.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Oh, she must have felt awful about that! As you said, fortunately you could get more easily. I'm sure she felt somewhat better knowing that.

  2. My husband got me a bread cookbook a few years ago as a gift so today I'm trying a new recipe out of it. The cookbook was written/published in England and features breads from around the world. As I was leafing through it this morning to pick out a new recipe to try, I saw a lot of breads which require a starter, and I thought, no matter how yummy these are, I'm pretty sure I don't have the attention span to make my own starter and use it! I can barely wait 2 hours to chill cookie dough with butter in it before baking--these multiple-day recipes are beyond my level of patience (that's why I use quick-rise yeast!). I bet your bread is absolutely delicious, but keep the starter for yourself! :)

    1. Hi Kris,
      getting a sourdough starter going is definitely for someone with patience. I wish I could just send you a loaf!

      We tend to think of using a fermented dough, as North American (Alaskan Jacks, or San Francisco sourdough, for example). But fermented doughs can be found in almost all countries' culinary histories. The cookbook that your husband gave to you sounds like a fun read.

    2. It is fun! I made a Mediterranean bread today. I notice with many European breads that they are really stiff to knead. This one had a crusty exterior and soft interior.

      I do think it would be a useful thing to know how to make sourdough starter (for the extremist in me who wants to know how to fend for myself when civilization collapses--okay, I'm not an extremist but I do think it's fascinating to know how to do basic survival activities). I think that's the reason so many of us are interested in camping or the Little House series. There's always that thought of "could I live like that?" in my mind.

  3. yay! How neat that you were able to revive your starter. :)

    1. Thanks, Belinda! It's always a good feeling when I can "save" something.

  4. Good sourdough bread is one of the very few things I miss since going gluten free. I've never tried making it myself, but do you think it would work with spelt flour?

    1. HI Liz,
      Yes, I've read many recipes for sourdough, using spelt flour, as spelt is a species of wheat. But as you probably know, many people who don't do well with modern varieties of wheat, say that they can use spelt flour.

      It's very important to note -- spelt is *not* safe if you're celiac. Spelt does contain gluten, and is not a gluten-free alternative grain.


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