Good morning, sweet friends, how are you?
With everything going on around us, as usual, I find myself defaulting to things I have been doing for such a long time. Canning. Adding to the seedlings in my porch. Checking our pantry and filling holes a little extra full.
You all have followed me a long time, so that comes as no surprise, I am sure…in fact you are probably doing the same thing (and if you aren’t consider this your warning that you should!)
So imagine my surprise when I happen to casually mention I’m doing my sourdough starter again from grapes like I used to years ago…and get all this fun feedback that pretty much sounded like
Lol. And even more when I go to the archives SURE I blogged about it sometime…and I didnt. My bad.
Here it is.
Sourdough has been turned into this crazy complicated thing for a lot of bakers and frankly my friends, it was never meant to be that.
You were never meant to have to have kitchen scales, and special proofing baskets, have to take a course on how to make fancy cuts in the top (cool as that is to my little artist heart) or worry that if you left it and neglected it on your counter more than one day it would blow up and take over your house, leaving you forever breadless.
Friends. Please listen to me.
Do you think the woman traveling halfway across the country in a covered wagon thought (or cared) about any of those things?
What about the gold miner’s daughter?
Or the thousands up thousands of others who have, over hundreds and possibly thousands of years kept and grown their own yeast from their own sourdough starter to keep their family in bread for all that time? Before fridges, and electricity, and scales, and online classes.
So lets make it simple again, shall we??
Grapes have wild yeast. So do apples and plums and quite a few other fruit, like blueberries. Heck, you can literally mix up a slurry of flour and water, and leave it open and covered in your backyard and will probably catch some wild yeast from somewhere. And that is exactly what makes sourdough.
I like to have SOME control over it ( insert wild laugh here). So this is what I do.
1. Go to your favorite grocery that sells organic grapes and grab whichever ones appeal to you.
2. When you get home take 6-10 grapes off before your kids see you brought them grapes, and rinse the grapes lightly under water. Nothing but water. Grab a sterile glass container and something to stir with.
3. Next, make a little bag out of cheesecloth or some other sterilized, porous cloth, ADD THE GRAPES, and tie it tight with cotton twine.
4. Walk away from the little bag of grapes and fill the sterile glass container with 1 cup fresh flour (I grind my own but a good quality wheat or unbleached white will work just fine. Don’t sweat this step!) and 1 cup filtered water (in a pinch you can use what my kids call sink water, but it is loaded with stuff that might mess with your sourdough—just FIY). Then stir until its smooth or as smooth as you can get it.
5, Taking the back of a spoon or butter knife, bruise and break the grapes-in-a-bag. Now if you have zealous kids helping you, explain you DONT need pulp, you need grapes that are a teensy bit smashed, not juiced. Take the bag, and toss it into the slurry. Using the back of your stirring utensil, push it into the slurry and try to not wince at how gross that looks.
6. Close the top, and put it aside in a regular room warm place for SIX DAYS. Remember how God made the world in six days? Well friend, you’re about to have your own wild creation moment, and it takes the same amount of time. If its a little colder, it may take longer. But this time around is the third time I have made this (the last couple ones perished in a move, and because I didn’t feed the first one for two years) and almost always it takes six days. Kinda cool actually.
7. ON DAY SEVEN—you will see the bag is starting to deflate. or sink. or whatever its doing. It may still be puffy. But the starter will now smell fermented-ish and you will have a clear liquid on top with a sludge on the bottom. Congratulations. You now have sourdough starter and it needs a name. My last one was Fred and I still miss him. He left this world in a glorious smash of goo and glass when my then six-year old Clara dropped him in the driveway of our new home in SD as she was carrying him into the kitchen. But I digress.
Remove the bag, and toss it. Stir up your starter, and feed it with an equal mix of flour and water. DO NOT discard anything. Set that covered jar on a plate and go to bed. Because it had been six days, and I’m a busy mom, you don’t get any pics of this or the following until we get to my post on making pancakes from the discard later this week.
8. The next day your starter will be ready to be fed again, and you can either get rid of 1 cup of the stuff in the jar, or mix it into something like sourdough pancakes…which I will be adding a recipe for tomorrow.
9. Don’t need to use it more than once a week? Stick it in the fridge and pull it out the day before you want to use it. Discard 2 cups, feed it it the same ratio of flour/water you did all along. Let it sit on the counter and warm up. After that first feeding, I almost always use the discard in whatever we are doing next…pancakes, muffins, crackers, whatever. I find it takes about two solid weeks of regular use and feeding for this to make the best darn sourdough bread you will ever make. I promise I will blog about that early next week too…but you have a starter to make and that gives me six days to get to that point!
Let me know if you make it!!!!
Blessings to you and yours,