Start at the Start(er) / by Terrence Salmond

 

Summary: 

1. This is a quick explanation of what not to do with a starter. 

2. At the time I made the starter I did not know what I was doing.

3. I still do not know what I am doing though my current starters are alive and seemingly well. 

4. I have visual aids in the form of digital photographs taken with my phone which I will share. Please do not mock the quality of the photographs.

5. A starter the wild yeast product used to make sourdough and old-style breads. 

8. Starters are equal parts gross and cool

 

A starter is a colony of wild yeast which takes up residence in a bowl flour and water of your choosing. Many/Most baking or cook books will not refer to your yeast colony as such because it conjures the vision of insects or "bugs". But make no mistake, when you create a starter, you are harvesting a colony of fungus who will eat the sugars you feed them and then fart bubbles of CO2 of various size which you will then use to judge the quality of the bread you just baked. Life is gross, process it. 

My first starter was created following Ken Forkish's method in the book "Flour Water Salt and Yeast" (heretofore referred to as FWSY). Great read, check it out if you haven't.

A starter is a colony of wild yeast which takes up residence in a bowl flour and water of your choosing. Many/Most baking or cook books will not refer to your yeast colony as such because it conjures the vision of insects or "bugs". But make no mistake, when you create a starter, you are harvesting a colony of fungus who will eat the sugars you feed them and then fart bubbles of CO2 of various size which you will then use to judge the quality of the bread you just baked.

Life is gross: process it. 

I'm not going to dwell on the method as it is very straight forward, can be found in the FWSY or anywhere else online, and pretty much just involves one leaving a bowl of flour and water mixture out over night for like a week. What I am going to tell you is one thing that will fuck up the process. Allow me to give you a clue through digital images or "pictures". Incidentally, my camera had been stolen so these were taken with my phone. Please forgive the quality.

 

 

You see that? 

You see what's different? Mid week I switched the colony over to a tall jar from a pyrex bowl. I have no idea why I did this. The jar has an air tight top, so maybe it was that I feared insects, who the fuck knows? It was a little while ago and I have the short term memory of a common grandpa who lives in the backroom of your house making weird noises and says inappropriate things at the dinner table. The next day the telltale bubbles of a healthy starter were absent and the funky smell had been replaced with a funkier smell. 

The important thing here is that you don't do the same thing that I did. Don't do it. Leave your gross fungal wheat sludge in it's bowl. It likes it there. All of it's friends live there. 

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