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(posted by CAT)


Sourdough is ancient - most likely a happy accident and used by a frugal or a desperately hungry cook. Natural yeast spores in the air floated into a mixture of forgotten flour and water, warmed, perhaps, by the sun. By the time the cook retrieved it, the mixture was bubbly and aromatic. The cook stirred in more flour, cooked it, and enjoyed the lightest, tastiest flatbreads ever!


Sourdough starter is commonly called a “sponge”, and is wet and bubbly with a sour odor. Both yeast and sourdough are “raising” agents, or “leavening”, and it is what makes bread products light and tasty. Yeast, baking soda, and baking powder are all used as leavening, but they are relatively “new”. They work much faster and are easy to store and use.


In the sourdough process, the yeast spores, given the proper host such as flour and warm water, break down the starch into sugar. This is the process of fermentation. Yes, it is like “spoiling”, but this can be used as leavening. Fermentation can take place as long as it has nutrients to feed on.


You may not always have yeast available, but with a sourdough starter, properly cared-for, you’ll always have the ability to make bread, pancakes, rolls, and more. After it’s fermented, you can even freeze it for later use. Take it out, let it thaw, feed it, and let it set out to “work” as before.


There are some rules to working with sourdough starter:


Never use a metal container for your starter. Some books even say you shouldn’t stir it with a metal utensil, but I have when I’m using it in cooking (not to stir during fermentation). Use glass, plastic, or ceramic. Many old-timers used a crock. (I used to use a Tupperware mixing container with two lids, one in the center, which had a spout I left “open” by turning the lid.)


A loose-fitting lid or cloth cover can be used over a starter to keep dust, etc. out of it, but it should never be tightly closed.


Never add anything except flour and water. If your starter turns orange, *throw it away*!


Use lukewarm water when replenishing your starter, never hot or cold.


Whole wheat flour in starter doesn't raise as high but works faster than white.


Starter should be used and replenished at least once a week - more often is better. Replace enough flour and lukewarm water to restore it to its original amount and consistency.


You may refrigerate your sponge after it has fermented, but your sponge should always be at room temperature when you use it. Take it out of the refrigerator several hours in advance of using it, until it is again room temperature and active. After using, replenish it, and let it work in the container, outside the refrigerator, for at least a day.


It may be left out on the counter as long as you keep feeding and using it.


Using sourdough:


Sourdough cooking requires slightly more heat or a longer cooking time than ordinary baking. Adjust your recipes accordingly.


Baking soda turns a sourdough product yellow, so you may want to use baking powder if additional leavening is required.


Avoid mixing the batter too much. Over-mixing knocks the gasses out of the dough, which are needed for the raising process.


Your baked products will be lighter if you use a combination of whole wheat and white flour. Using only whole wheat will make it denser and heavier.


If your recipe requires buttermilk, you may need more leavening with sourdough.




More later!


If you've used sourdough, please post your help, experiences, and recipes!


(Waiting for Westbrook to return... she has more experience with sourdough than I!)



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We call my sourdough "The Beast" and he is a sweet beast, meaning I also add sugar to him. I am the 3rd generation to keep this culture growing and the flavor is very distinctive. He is quite popular among my friends, I am often asked to make "Beast Cakes" when ever we have company.

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Here's the one I use. Unfortunately, I don't keep it around. It seems I forget to feed the poor beast, LOL. So when I have sourdough planned, I do up the starter, let it do it's thing on the counter top, then make two loaves with it. Talk about planning WAY in advance, LOL.


The Sourdough Starter

1 pkg Active dry Yeast

2 cups warm water

2 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tblsp. Sugar

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the water. Stir in remaining water, flour and sugar. Beat until smooth. Cover with lightweight cloth and let stand for 5 to 7 days at room temperature. Mixture becomes bubbly. Stir twice daily. To store, put Starter in a jar and cover with cloth and refrigerate.

Never cover tight with a lid, jar can explode!

To use Starter, bring the amount you need to room temperature. Then replenish the Starter jar with 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup milk and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let stand at room temperature overnight and then refrigerate again. If you don't use starter for ten days to 2 weeks feed it with a spoon of sugar and stir occassionally.


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I was saving the recipes for *today’s* post! )


Replenish every 7-10 days by stirring in equal amounts of flour and water. After replenishing, let stand at room temperature overnight, then return to refrigerator.





1 c warm water

1 tsp dry yeast

1 c whole wheat flour


Finish as basic starter, except replenish with equal amounts of whole wheat flour & water.





1 envelope dry yeast (1 Tbsp)

2 1/2 c warm water

2 Tbsp honey

2 1/2 c flour


Finish as basic starter, replenish the same, but occasionally stir in a tablespoon of honey.





2 1/2 c lukewarm water in which potatoes have been boiled

1 3/4 c flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 envelope dry yeast (1 Tbsp)


Finish as basic starter, replenish the same.





1 envelope dry yeast (1 Tbsp)

1 Tbsp nonfat milk powder

1 c whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c warm water


Finish as basic starter, except replenish with equal amounts of whole wheat flour & water.





1 c rye flour

1 c warm water

1 envelope dry yeast (1 Tbsp)


Let ferment 3-4 days, stirring several times a day with a wooden spoon. Replenish with equal amounts of rye flour & water. (May add 1 slice of onion to original starter mix, removing after 3-4 days.)





1 c warm water

1 1/4 c flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 medium potato, peeled and grated


Mix first 4 ingredients in 1 qt. mixing bowl; add grated potato and mix well. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture from evaporating and allow it to sit in a warm place for 24 hours. Stir several times during this time, replacing wrap. Then poke a couple of holes in wrap. Within 2 or 3 days the mixture will become fermented. Stir down at least once per day. Finish as basic starter, replenish the same.




If your starter is very tangy and you want a mild flavor, add 1/2 tsp baking soda with the flour when making breads.


Recipes for using starters next time!!



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Cat, thanks for the sourdough info. I used to keep some going many years ago. After tomorrow I've got free time and I think I'll start some again. I'm going to look up a recipe I used to use I think out of Diet for a Small Planet or something like that.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 4 months later...

This one uses a small amount of yeast to get it started.


Sourdough Starter


1-1/2 cups lukewarm milk

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

2 cups unbleached white flour

1/4 cup spring water


1. To prepare the starter, place the milk in a mixing bowl.

2. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk.

3. Whisk in the honey and 1-1/2 cups of the flour.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature (72 to 76 degrees F.) for 72 hours (3 days).

5. After 72 hours, stir in the 1/4 cup water and whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup flour.

6. Cover again with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours; the mixture should be bubbly and have a sour, tangy aroma and taste.

7. Remove the amount of starter the recipe calls for and set aside.

8. Transfer the remaining starter to a sterile' glass jar and replenish it by mixing in 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.


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