frame for photo courtesy of cottagearts.net
Sourdough was the first form of bread to exist. Commercial yeast and yeast breads are a relatively new phenomenon in human history. Many commercial sourdough breads today are just yeast breads with sourdough flavoring. Authentic sourdough bread is actually made from a sour dough, impregnated with a balanced culture of healthy bacteria and yeast. This culture, which is used to make the bread, is sometimes called the “Mother” or the “starter” (pictured above).
Most sourdough starters can be purchased or received as a gift. If you are new at baking with sourdough, this is an excellent way to start because you can learn what a healthy culture looks like and learn how to maintain the culture. Once you know what to look for and how to take care of your culture, then you might venture out to make your own starter. In its most basic essence, a sourdough culture is made from flour and water (and lots of time). The microbes are naturally present on the flour and become active after being exposed to water. Also, the wild microbes in your environment will have some influence. No need to special order any bacteria or yeast!
Pictured above is our sourdough starter. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? We are not heavy bread eaters in our household. So, she spends most of her time in the refrigerator, so she doesn’t grow too fast. We take her out and feed her flour and water on a weekly basis. With it being winter, we’ll typically bake a loaf of bread each week.