Monday, August 12, 2013

Making a Sourdough Starter from Scratch

I published this earlier as part of another post, but it seems that some friends had trouble finding it. To make it easier, I'll share it again here.

If you don't have a starter culture, the easiest and cheapest way to get one is to "catch" your own: Here's my adaptation of Sally Fallon's recipe from Nourishing Traditions:

Starter (takes one week):
Mix two cups freshly ground flour (rye works best, but wheat is fine too) and two cups water in a glass bowl. Mixture will be very soupy. Cover with a cloth attached with a rubber band and let sit in a warm place.

The next day, and every day for the rest of the week, mix in 1 cup flour and 2/3 cup water. Cover and let stand. After a few days the starter will begin to bubble and develop a wine-like smell. 
After 7 days the starter should be ready to use (although it will get stronger as it ages, producing lighter breads). Once the starter is ready, you can either keep it on the counter and keep using and feeding it, or it can be stored in the refrigerator if you can't bake that often. If you do put it in the fridge, make sure to pull it out and feed it at least 12 hours before you mix up your recipe, to give the bacteria a chance to "wake up" and get growing again.
Now, what to do with all of that extra starter? How about making some pizza crust? or pancakes? or waffles? or tortillas? or (my favorite) cranberry cinnamon rolls?)

For more information on sourdoughs and starters, try the book Wild Bread by Lisa Rayner or the blog Sourdough Home.
Ooh! I couldn't find this when I first posted, but I stumbled upon it again - this is a wonderful video about sourdough starters from gnowfglins. My kids even enjoyed watching it with me (can you say homeschool science for the day?)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Easy Lacto-Fermented Salsa

Salsa making season is upon us! Here's my favorite recipe (love the great probiotics - not to mention the fact that you can make as much or as little as you like!) 

Lacto-Fermented Salsa
1 quart chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp snipped fresh chives (dried spices work fine, too)
2 tsp minced garlic
2 chopped jalapeno peppers
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cilantro (use more if using fresh)
1 Tbsp sea salt
Mix all together and fill desired jars, leaving 1-inch head space. (If you have whey on hand, it helps to put about 1/4 cup on the top of each jar, to kick-start the lacto-fermentation. Or you can sprinkle the sea salt over the top of the salsa in the jar rather than mixing it in - this can help prevent mold forming on the top of your mixture.) Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 3 days, "burping" the jar regularly to release pressure. After three days, move the jars to a refrigerator or cool cellar for long-term storage.

(For an even stronger dose of probiotics, you can use a heremes jar and ferment it in a cupboard for 4 weeks (read the Saurkraut Survivor post for more information). After that time, transfer to the refrigerator.)