Several people have posted questions about sourdough. Although I am a
relatively neophyte baker, I have done almost all of my breads using
sourdough. There is an excellent source of information AND starters which have
been collected from all over the world. Sourdoughs International is the name
of the organization.
They have a book called World Sourdoughs From Antiquity which is very lively
reading and relates the author's (Ed Wood) adventures and misadventures in
collecting authentic indiginous sourdough cultures from all over the world. It
also includes a wealth of information about sourdough (care and feeding) and
is a treasure trove of recipes...The new edition of the book also includes a
large section on using sourdoughs with bread machines! Exciting for most of
you but unfortunately not for me - I do it the old fashioned way out of
necessity i suppose - with five kids and a wife who teaches school!
One note: many people tell me they dont mess with sourdoughs because they are
too much work. I say hogwash - i feed mine every couple of days or so with a
bit of flour and warm water and always have an active starter. (I get cool
stackable square two gallon buckets from my local grocery bakery for 25 cents
each with snap on lids) If I am not going to use a given culture for a while I
simply put a couple of cups into a mason jar and fridge it.
They will last 6-8 months maybe longer like this and then simply warm them
back to room temp and begin feeding them again until they become active (which
can be several days if they've been sleeping long!) but they are not hard work
only a quick ritual right before bed...about as much trouble as watering a
plant. Personally I prefer delicious sourdough bread (and FREE yeast) to the
houseplant! But work is a relative term and what is a joy for me may very well
be a chore to someone else.
Sourdough (REAL sourdough, that is...) is a symbiotic mixture of wild yeast
and lactobacilus bacteria. They both produce byproducts which inhibit the
growth of competing wild yeasts and other bacteria - a very stable situation.
There are many different strains of wild yeasts AND lactobacillus bacterias. A
sourdough culture normally is a product of the flora and fauna of a given
location i.e. sanfran or yukon, etc. and each one has different flavor
charactristics and leaven uniquely. Supposedly, S.I.'s Russian culture rises
VERY quickly and is very well suited to bread machines.
I have baked using their "San Francisco", "Yukon", and "French" culture, and
they also have cultures from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Austria, Bahrain,
Giza, and the Red Sea. Just yesterday I recieved a letter from them...
"We are please to announce a remarkable new culture never previously available
to home bakers. The dominant wild yeast is Candida milleri and the
lactobacillus is L. sanfrancisco. These are the key organisms that have
produced the famous S.F. sourdough for well over a hundred years...It differs
from our other California culture which is a mixture of several wild yeasts
and lactobacilli strains..."
It sounds like they are offering an improved and perhaps more authentic
version of San Francisco - which I will be ordering - but the one I have
already makes DELICIOUS breads. There is no way to describe the exquisite
aroma which comes off of a starter when you crack the lid of the bucket after
being kept warm... each one is definitely different - with different fruity
and floral aromas.
I hope this helps any of you who are looking for sourdough information - Ed
Wood's World Sourdoughs from Antiquity has become a tattered and torn addition
to my kitchen and I wholeheartedly reccommend the book, the cultures, and the
company. They even have a (quarterly I think) sourdough newsletter!
After all of that hooplah here is the info...
Sourdoughs International, Inc.
P.O. Box 670
Cascade, Idaho 83611
Phone: (208) 382-4828
Fax: (208) 382-3129
Please email me with any questions or comments! Sorry Im So Windy!!!