Simple Whole-Wheat Sourdough Starter

| 4/12/2016 3:35:00 PM

Sourdough Capture Setup

Obtaining and managing sourdough starter can seem like an intimidating prospect for the uninitiated, but the process is surprisingly simple. With some water, flour, and a little bit of patience, you can capture and harness your own wild yeast to hand-craft a starter culture.

Like many novice bakers, I first only understood yeast as a weird, pellety material that you got from foil packages and then added to your dough because the instructions said so.

I had a vague, alchemical notion that it always had to be mixed with sugar to make something happen, and knew it had something to do with beer.  But as I kept baking, I began to understand the one-celled fungus of yeast a little bit better. And then the question struck me: How did people of the past make leavened bread without the aid of something store-bought?

Because I don’t think they sold little pre-measured pouches in those 1800s country stores, I’m confident there was no pellet-yeast hanging out the European bakeries of the Middle Ages, and I’d certainly wager that the Hebrew people, experiencing the first Passover in Egypt so long ago, weren’t just omitting Red Star from their recipes when they were making unleavened bread.

So, a little research taught me that the yeast you can buy in the store (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a different strain than the “wild” yeast which is used for sourdough (one of them being Saccharomyces exiguus).  This wild stuff is everywhere, and as easy to find as breathing, literally. It’s in the air in your home!

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