Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Hot Yeast on Yeast Action (Sourdough Starter)
That's right folks. Right now there is all sorts of hot yeast on yeast action going on in a bowl on top of my fridge. Those little yeast guys are making out, having babies, expelling all sorts of naughty gasses, and just generally gettin' nasty (bet you didn't think I could comment on a sourdough starter in an immature manner, did you?).
But seriously, I am of a mind that you should really only have to buy (or catch) yeast once in your life. After that, just reserve a nob of dough or a bit of precipitated yeast from your brewing vessel, store it, feed it, and you will have a constant supply of self-regenerating leaven. This isn't really realistic for all applications, but for sourdough bread and especially beer making (where the yeast may be pricey), it is pretty easy.
I had a sourdough starter that I made a couple summers ago (from our own, wild Upstate yeasts) going for about a year. His name was "Sour Joe" and he lived in a jar. I think Mrs. Dave mistook him for some manner of rottenness that I had forgot about and left in the fridge. So she emptied him into the garbage. Quickly forgiving this yeast murder, I decided to start a new pet yeast colony for bread making.
The bubbly little bastard pictured above got going with some Ale yeast I reserved from a brewing project. I bottle condition beer most times, so I am left with a nice layer of expended yeast on the bottom of the vessel. I simply transfer this to container, throw in a little water and sugar, and let the yeasts reproduce away. A few ounces of this is usually enough to get a brew going. Using this homemade yeast inoculation might add a few days on to the fermenting time. I am big on rough, homestyle brews (which pisses off other home brewers with their veritable chemistry experiments) and this method seems to play to that.
For the sourdough starter simply throw a little of the Ale yeast into some flour with a little more water. You will have a bubbly beauty ready to leaven innumerable loaves of tasty bread in no time. About a cup of the starter is good for a nice large batch, follow any given sourdough bread recipe. Always remember to replenish what you have taken away.