Friday, March 19, 2010

Mazatlan Sourdough Starter

I love to bake bread.  And sourdough, made with wild yeast?  It's so ... miraculous.  And easy.   Just look what you can do with air, flour, and water!

What is wild yeast?  It's yeast that is floating around in the air, everywhere.  Maybe not so much in the dry Mojave, but tons around the ocean or humid places.  The day I caught my little yeastie pals in Mazatlan was sunny and breezy.  All you do is mix an amount of pure water and flour, 1.5 to 1, and go outside and stir, stir, stir.  Leave it outside for a while and then stir some more.  Put it in a clean jar and don't screw the lid down all the way, because the little yeast organisms digest and produce co2 which will need to escape.  But you'll need to nourish and grow your little colony of yeast.  So, after your initial "catch" has sat in room temperature anywhere between 8 and 12 hours, take half of it and throw it away, Yes, it seems a waste, but until you have a good batch you have to do it. Then, you need to feed the remaining "batter" with more pure water and flour, in 1.5 to 1 proportion.  Stir, stir, stir again, because yeast likes oxygen.  Think of the remaining yeast organisms getting stronger and healthier, and reproducing at a faster rate.    Do this 3 or 4 times and you'll have a lovely little Yeast farm in your jar.  It should smell pleasantly tangy,  sour and ... yeasty, and a little liquid will form on the top, this is "liquor" and it is alcohol.  You can either stir it back in or let it drain off.  I think the flavor doesn't improve the sourdough batter and when I make bread, I use a lot of starter, so I pour it out.
So, to recap:
1. Put flour and purified water in a bowl on a breezy day.  About 2 to 1 water to flour. Stir well.
2. Set outside for a couple of hours.
3. Stir again and put in a clean jar or container.
4.  8 to 12 hours later, take out half, and put more flour and water in.  Stir well. Cover with a loose lid and let it sit out unrefrigerated.
5. Do it again.
6. Do it again.
7. Do it again.
8. Add 2c. flour and 3c. water the last time.  When it's bubbly, either use it or put it in the fridge until you do.
9.  Always add flour and water every time you use some.  It can go right into the refrigerator afterwards.

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