How-to: Small batch sourdough starter

It’s week 6 of self-isolation due to COVID-19, and of course I’ve been learning how to make sourdough like a true millennial. Nothing says self-growth quite like embarking on a 3 day baking journey that takes another 7 days to prepare for, in a time when flour shortage is a thing, and bread yeast is apparently no longer a thing at all.

Unsure what sourdough bread is all about? Keep reading. If you’ve done the research and are just looking for my recipe, scroll down. If you’re interested in the background, my personal experience, and a full visual experience, check out my YouTube video (like, subscribe, and tell all your friends) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W3hfSgkau0&t=20s

Sourdough starter – give me the rundown.

Sourdough bread is made with an active starter culture in place of dry yeast that most risen baked goods require. Sourdough starter is a live culture, or live yeast, that is created by adding flour and water to the same mixture repeatedly, over time, until the culture is bubbly and active, or there is ample amount of yeast bacteria. A fermentation process, if you will. In order to keep the culture active we have to feed it with flour and water. Yum, right?

The thought of this grossed me out for a long time, and quite frankly confused the heck out of me. But yogurt, beer, and kimchi are all made by a fermentation process, and the results are quite palatable, so I figured it was time to turn my nose back down and give this sourdough starter a try.

The starter is high maintenance to get it going, which is why I decided to take advantage of my time at home during the pandemic. It needs to be fed once per day at roughly the same time of day for four days, and then twice per day, 12 hours apart for the next three days. Not impossible, but likely not a huge priority when you’re trying to make it to the bus on time.

Once you have an active, bubbly, growing starter you can apply this to any sourdough recipe you like, AND you can maintain this starter and share it with your friends for years to come. Starter does best when it’s fed regularly, but if you don’t plan to bake every other day, you can easily manage the starter’s growth process by storing it in the fridge. Once mature, a starter only needs to be fed once a week, which makes it less maintenance than a pile of laundry.

I scoured the internet for easy beginner sourdough recipes that really weren’t that easy to follow – they required a method to weigh ingredients, and had a lot of scientific jargon that went right over my head. I wanted to use the basic equipment I already had in my house, and ingredients that weren’t impossible to find. I finally just decided to use the concepts that I learned, and create a starter recipe and method of my own. The gist of a starter growth method is to double. Add double the flour and double the water to the amount of starter you’re feeding. In order to avoid incremental growth, keep removing starter from the mixture and feeding that portion of it.

Sourdough Starter How To

Equipment:

  • 2 glass jars with lids
  •  spatula
  • 1 tbsp measure
  • paper towel

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 3 tbsp rye flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • water

Method:

Day 1: Measure 3 tbsp rye flour and 3 tbsp water in a jar. Mix thoroughly. Cover the jar with paper towel and secure with a mason jar ring or elastic band. The paper towel allows air flow but blocks debris. Place the starter in a warm spot in the kitchen – on top of the fridge is a good temperature. Mix 1 cup of rye flour and 1 cup of all purpose flour in a jar and set aside. This will save time during the feeding process later.

Day 2 (24 hours later): Measure 2 tbsp of rye/AP flour mixture into a new clean jar. Add 1 tbsp of starter and 2 tbsp of water. Mix thoroughly. Cover with paper towel and set aside.

Day 3: Repeat the feeding process from Day 2.

Day 4: Repeat the feeding process from Day 3.

*You may notice a liquid start to form and sit on top of your starter. This is called hooch and it’s forming because your starter is hungry. Drain it off or mix it in, it won’t harm you.

Day 5 Morning: feed your starter the same doubling recipe; 1 tbsp starter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp water.

Day 5 Evening: feed your starter the same doubling recipe; 1 tbsp starter, 2 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp water.

Day 6: Morning and evening feed.

Day 7: Morning and evening feed. By the end of Day 7 your starter should be doubling in size, and be nice and bubbly. By this stage it should be ready to bake with!

Is your starter ready?

Get baking! My go-to sourdough bread recipe is from www.thekitchn.com. It’s super easy to follow and requires only a small amount of starter (perfect for my small batch recipe!)

Yard to Table Spaghetti Boats

One of the biggest projects we worked on in our new home this year was our garden plot on the side of the house. I value the garden, and our entire yard, much more than I ever imagined, but foremost for its ability to bring a bit of sustainability to our lives (I’ll share more on this another day). With the Farm to Table movement on the rise (or maybe it was risen and then declined and now it’s heading back up?) I continue to be inspired to grow even a small contribution of our consumption on our very own plot of land. In true Farm to Table fashion, though, I created a meal that was a community contribution, and I hope to inspire you to try the same!

This recipe came about because someone I love has been facing a challenge lately that I can’t provide comfort or reprieve for. So I set out to handle my own stress and provide comfort to them in the best way I knew how – I started to cook with ingredients that were grown and produced love. I’m sharing this specific recipe with you because it meant a lot to me, but I would encourage you to tweak any recipes you love, and swap out local ingredients, an herb from your window box, or subbing a store bought option by making it from scratch.

These spaghetti squash boats are full of heart, soul, and (some) organic, locally grown ingredients.

Spaghetti Squash Boat
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Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash from my friend’s father’s garden in Saskatchewan
  • 6 tomatoes, grown from seed in our living room
  • 1 mason jar of roasted tomato sauce (made with tomatoes from our garden)
  • ½ jar water
  • 1 green pepper
  • ½ yellow onion
  • ¼ ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Slice the ends of the squash, slice in half length wise, and place seed side down on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. The flesh should release from the sides and resemble spaghetti. 
  3. In a pan, brown the ground beef. Add chopped onions and green pepper. Sautee until tender.
  4. Add the oregano, crushed garlic and a dash of salt and pepper. 
  5. Add the roasted tomato sauce and half a jar of water to the mix. Cover and simmer for the remainder of the roasting time of the squash (low and slow to optimize flavor in the sauce!)
  6. Add the fresh diced tomatoes during the last 5 minutes of the cook time.
  7. Once the squash is tender, carefully scoop out the seeds. I hold the squash with a towel or oven mitt and use a soup spoon to scoop. Fluff up the squash with a fork to loosen the flesh.
  8. Scoop the sauce on top of the squash, ½ of the mixture in each. Enjoy!

For the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (this recipe is and adaptation from my neighbor, Cindy!)

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 medium tomatoes
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet (I put a non-stick sheet underneath)
  3. Quarter the onion and red pepper and place on the sheet.
  4. Smash the garlic and add to the sheet too.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and spices. I just do a rough measurement.
  6. Once the veggies are roasted and the onions are starting to brown, add to a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Store in a mason jar in the fridge or freezer. If freezing, leave about ½ inch from the top, as the jar will crack if it’s filled to the brim. 

Inspired by yard-grown ingredients, these recipes are also paleo, gluten free, dairy free, and Whole30 compliant. I’d add they are also delicious. 

What do you love to grow in your window box, greenhouse, or back yard? What do you bring home from the farmer’s market? Share your favorite ingredient in the comments – I just may have an idea to cook up!

Xx

D