Monday, July 24, 2017

San Francisco Sourdough Starter Culture

I received my San Francisco sourdough culture from "Cultures for Health" through Amazon on Thursday and promptly began the process of getting the culture to grow at 4:30 pm.  Apparently, they've had to update their instructions as the one included with the packaging differs from that on their website.

New Methodology 
  1. Add packet of starter to 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon water in a quart-size glass jar and stir thoroughly. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or breathable material secured with rubber band and culture in a warm place for 12-24 hours.
  2. After 12-24 hours, feed the starter with an additional 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons water. Stir vigorously. Your starter should have the consistency of pancake batter, and you may need to add more flour or water.
  3. After 12-24 hours, feed the starter with an additional ¼ cup of flour and ¼ cup water. Stir vigorously.
  4. After another 12-24 hours, feed the starter with an additional ½ cup of flour and ½ cup water. Stir vigorously
  5. Every 12-24 hours, discard down to ½ cup of starter and then feed the starter with ½ cup water and ½ cup flour. Continue this feeding schedule, and after 3 to 7 days, your starter will be bubbling regularly within a few hours of feeding.

Rather than go for every 24 hours (as I had been doing with my previous attempt), I decided to go with every 12 hours.  It was stored in the cabinet above my refrigerator (at a pretty constant 73.5 degrees).  

Believe it or not, I happened to wake up at exactly 4:30 am on Friday morning and did the first feeding.  There wasn't any action taking place that I could see and, after 12 hours, what I had was devoid of any bubbling and pretty bland tasting.  

At 4:30 pm on Friday, I can't say there was much difference.  By Saturday afternoon, it was smelling much better and there was definitely some sourness to the starter.  However, I still didn't see any bubbling and couldn't smell any yeast at all.  

Sunday morning at 9:30 am (still no bubbling, but it did have a layer of "hooch"), I went by day 5's instructions, discarded all but 1/2 cup of starter, and fed it the additional water and flour.  However, this time I added equal parts by weight (a 100% hydration) as I thought the starter was too thin at a 185% hydration. 

UPDATE: See my "Sourdough Infographic" page; this is the process I'm now following.

I put everything in my new jar and covered it with a coffee filter held on with a rubber band. I have the following 50.75 oz and a 33.75 oz by the same manufacturer; quite nice. 

Bormioli Rocco Fido Square Jar with Blue Lid, 50-3/4-Ounce

I checked it at around 2:30 pm Sunday afternoon and, much to my surprise, "Tony", is ALIVE!  Let me explain the name...  I've read that one MUST name their starter or "very bad things can happen" :)  I picked "Tony" as a name because, well, he left his heart in San Francisco :) 


"TONY" AFTER:  As you can see, it clearly doubled in volume in about 4-5 hours after feeding.  (That's PERFECT).  It had a wonderful, yeasty aroma, and tasted a bit "tart".

Now, my previous starter, from my initial post (called "Winnie"), was not working at all.  On Thursday, I gave her a couple of grains of the SF starter culture and followed the same feeding instructions above.  As of Sunday morning, there still wasn't any change.

Sunday afternoon, I gave her one cup of "Tony" and the same amount of flour and water I'd been feeding him.  I made the decision to discard some of the total contents because I was afraid that, if it did double in volume like "Tony", it would overflow its smaller storage jar.  I checked it Sunday evening and it turned out that my decision was a good one:



At this time,  "Tony" and "Winnie II" do not taste exactly the same or have the exact same aroma.  Close though I think...

I will continue feeding equal amounts of flour and water (by weight) for another couple of days until I'm sure "Tony" and "Winnie II" are both viable and ready to be used.