Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
I know this article is not about gardening; however, Master Gardeners have classes about chickens, canning and other homestead, backyard basic subjects that the public requests so when a friend asked if we had a class on making sourdough bread, I decided to share what I’ve learned. The pandemic has spurred the interest of many people to begin growing their own food, preserving and baking bread. March put us all into “shutdown” mode and suddenly it was hard to find yeast in the stores. Since sourdough bread doesn’t require yeast, the rest is history.
You can turn water and flour into a delicious, bubbly fermented living organism. It takes just a bit of time the first week since the “starter” needs to be fed daily. Here’s how.
Starter: A mixture of flour and water which naturally collects yeast and bacteria from the air causing it to ferment. Each batch can taste different depending on the microorganisms and surroundings. Starters from different parts of the country vary in taste since they are pulling different microorganisms from that particular part of the world. If you take care of it, the starter can live for years.
· Mix ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons of flour and ½ cup of water and stir until smooth in a one quart clean plastic container. Cover with a paper towel or dish towel not a lid.
· Place the container on the counter or other location for 24 hours. A location that is 70 to 75 degrees is best, and somewhere you won’t forget about it. Some people use the top of their refrigerator.
Feeding: Everyday about the same time, stir in the same amounts of flour and water. This is called feeding the starter. After several days the starter will begin to bubble. Never put it in the refrigerator since this causes the fermentation to stop.
Fifth Day: Take one-half of the starter and put in a container in the refrigerator. This causes the fermentation to stop. You will use that starter for your next recipe.
To the remaining starter add:
1-1/2 c of lukewarm water
½ cup of oil
1 tablespoon of salt
1/3 cup of sugar
6 cups of flour
Knead the mixture and let sit until it rises double. Cover with a clean dish towel.
Then punch down and put in loaf pans. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again. Cook at 300 degrees for 40 minutes. Times vary depending on your oven.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.