Sam Sifton today had a great piece in the New York Times on sourdough cultures, showing how natural fermentation is going mainstream. For those who are interested, I spend a whole chapter explaining sourdough cultures in my book and the science behind it. Fascinating stuff.
Here's a quick post I wrote some time ago on how to make a sourdough culture. The video that accompanies it uses rye flour.
Quick tips to keep in mind:
- Whole grains help jump-start the culture, because of minerals and other components in the bran.
- Keep the temperature warm, the ideal is 78-80 F. If your kitchen is cool in the winter it will be very hard to get the culture going.
- Start with acidic liquid, such as pineapple juice to start to favor the right organisms (they like an acidic environment).
- Keep going even when the culture looks dead. It's alive.
- Sourdough is ready when it floats in room temperature water. Take a piece out to test it. Or rise a stiff ball of sourdough in the water itself. It will rise!