Monday, March 5, 2012

Make it from scratch Monday: Sourdough Starter

I have to say, this is one of my more unusual recipes! And it's one of my prouder moments as a from-scratch cook. (Haha, apparently, it doesn't take much! :P )

But in my continuing quest to be more self-reliant and self sufficient I really wanted to try starting sourdough. I have been baking my own bread now for a while and one thing I can't do without is yeast. Sure, I can go to the grocery store and buy a jar of it, but what if I couldn't do that? Like a good Depression-era housewife, I need to be prepared for the possibility that I can't just go to the store and buy something. And jar yeast is something that has an expiration date; you can't buy it in bulk and store it very well.

So I decided I wanted to get some sourdough starter and give it a go. I don't know anyone nearby that had some started that they could give me, so I turned to the internet. Of course, there are lots of places that want to sell you some starter, but, cheapskate that I am, I'd rather find it for free. There are also ways to gather wild yeast from the air, but that can be hit-or-miss.

Sourdough bread is also one of those iconic foodstuffs of the American West, and since I love history I found the perfect match- a free starter kept from an 150-year old yeast that traveled the Oregon Trail (bonus points for anyone that remembers that game from elementary school!). It's available here: . All you need to do is send them a self-addressed stamped envelope and they send you about a tsp. of dried sourdough starter.

It took me about 2-3 weeks to get mine and of course I started it right away. But it was a good thing I only used half of it, because the first try didn't start. I think I must've used too hot water and burned it, or it was too cold and things never really got to fermenting. But the second time turned out to be the charm, and I have a lovely quart jar of sourdough yeast bubbling away on my countertop right now.

It even smells like sourdough! I can't wait until this weekend when I make sourdough hotcakes and biscuits!


  1. Good luck, I'm like you too, I make my own bread. I hope your sour dough comes out!

  2. In the 60s I made sourdough rolls, biscuits or cornbread from scratch every single night until the women's lib movement convinced me to break the bonds of housewifery. I later mellowed a lot and realized I could have a career and a nice home...but I never got back into the bread-baking habit.

    I can't wait to hear how your sourdough turns out!

  3. Good for you! I used to make a rosemary olive oil sourdough bread, when I lived in VA and (at the time) it was impossible to find good high gluten breads to buy.

    Finally dug out the recipe again, but don't know if I 'll be making it--we have an incredible bakery in the area.

    Let us know how it turns out!

  4. That sounds yummy- I am going to try my first loaf of sourdough bread this afternoon. I think I will try mixing in some olive oil and rosemary, because the recipe seems really basic. Might try dusting it with parmesan as well!