Sourdough and wellbeing
I first started building my sourdough starter a few weeks ago. My starter is finished and now just sits in the fridge until it is ready for a feed once a week. Feed? You might ask. The concept of a sourdough is somewhat gross but also somewhat fun and comforting.
Making a sourdough starter is quite simple. You just need three ingredients, water flour and time. I used a big jar and added a cup of flour and half a cup of water (recipes vary but the result is the same). You simply let the mixture sit for a couple of days then empty half the flour-water mix from the jar. Next, you add another cup of flour and water. This process goes on for about a week and by this time the sourdough starter should be bubbly and happy and smell slightly sweet.
But what is happening here with the flour-water mix and the bubbles?
Well, this is where it is a bit weird. There is natural yeast all around us. When we mix the flour and water and give it time, the natural yeast culture builds up from the surrounding environment, hence the need to ‘feed’ it. After a week of emptying half of the mixture and re-adding flour and water the yeast culture will continue to feed and build up over the space of a week until you have a complete starter ready to use. Once this happens it can go in the fridge where the cold temperature slows the feeding process, meaning you only have to feed it once a week or so.
I have found that it is not an overly strict process and is pretty straight forward and fun. Once you get over the idea of ‘yeast culture’ you realise that this is the process in all sourdough breads in the shop and as long as you keep your kitchen clean and keep the ‘bad bacteria’ out of the sourdough, you will have a healthy culture to make delicious bread.
I got a bit obsessive about my sourdough, as I tend to do with most projects I endeavour on. It was a great distraction from my stresses and always an excitement to see the bubbles forming around the jar. The best part perhaps is the opportunity for cooking breads, pizza doughs and focaccia. My starter is inspiring me to cook more and teaching me a whole new skill with dough making. I also find it provides a fresh perspective on dough, cooking processes, and my day ahead.