Home-Baked Bread From Potato Water Starter

Brewing a potato water starter is easy, and once you have it you can use it again and again to make your own variety of home-baked bread.

| November/December 1973

In the "good old days" on the farm, all the bread was made at home for two reasons: First, it was cheaper (it still is...the cost today is about 10¢ per loaf) and second, rural folks couldn't go to the store every few days for a fresh supply. Today many people would add a third motive for doing their own baking: Commercial bread tends to become monotonous, and the homemade loaf is considered a special treat. 

If you're a home baker yourself, you may want to try a simple, economical leavening made from potato water. Once you've established the starter you can maintain it indefinitely without further addition of yeast, and it's available whenever the whim strikes you to get up to your elbows in dough. 

Here are the nine steps farm housewives use to make home-baked bread by this old-fashioned method.

[1] To establish the starter, save the water from boiled potatoes...or better, cook a potato and mash it in its own liquid. Pour the water into the container you plan to use permanently (a quart jar is good).

Next, dissolve a package of dry yeast in a quarter of a cup of warm water and pour the solution into the potato liquid. Add two tablespoons of sugar and fill the jar with warm water, leaving an inch or more of empty space at the top. (Remember that warmth causes the yeast to work rapidly, but too high a temperature will kill the organisms.) Stir the mixture.

[2] Let the starter stand for about eight hours.

3/3/2012 6:36:57 PM

I love making my own bread and have been a Mother Earth subscriber since the 70's ( well a few stops during moves etc) > I love finding these old recipes and resources to revisit my past and broaden my scope of bread making skills. See further results here at http://www.empowernetwork.com/northerntrials/blog/potato-bread-a-new-beginning/

Karen Getzinger
10/2/2011 1:33:06 PM

I just put 1/4 of the dough into regular loaf pans and it filled out beautifully after rising overnight. I made 2 regular loaves and used the other half of the dough for cinnamon rolls. Next time I'll skip kneading in extra sugar and butter into the dough for rolls- just made the dough hard to work with and with the butter and cinnamon sugar in the filling not really necessary.

bob gabriel
1/11/2011 9:22:47 AM

Home-Baked Bread from Potato Water Starter-- Step 6 indicates to place two loaves in an 8"x10"x2" container. I assume the 2" is the height of the pan. That does not seem very high. What would be the size of the formed loaf before placing in the pan? How high does the loaf rise in the pan?

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