First and foremost, I wish to tell Linda and Herdog that I am replying to you both in posts. Your comments spurred research that is just wa....y to fascinating and will cause further experiments to transpire.
For today I'm going to continue on the path of sourdough.
This site http://poserbaby.com/recipes/46/bread-starter is awesome and answered all the science questions I've had about sourdough until I thought of some more.
First of all I think we need this as a basis for our discussion.
"Bread starter is a base for breads that include sourdough. It uses naturally occurring yeast as a leavening agent. Wild yeast are to be found everywhere. They float freely in the air, they live on the surface of grains, fruits and vegetables, in soil, even in living organisms. The yeast used for leavening bread are certain strains of Saccharomyces exigus, including some varieties of Candida. In sourdough, they coexist with Lactobacillus and Acetic acid bacteria. The bacteria, by producing lactic and acidic acids, sour the dough. Depending on which strand is more active, your sourdough may or may not have sour taste."
Did you catch that last line. Your sourdough may or may not be sour. Personally, I prefer the less tangy ones.
But I was further excited because this site answered some questions I've had for years and though I read sourdough cookbooks, they never covered the subject. I like history and particularly pioneer history that gives accounts of daily lives. The ones like Farmer Boy which is factitious but based on fact. It has always been more about the things they did in the story and not the personal relationships that spurred my interest to read that book over and over and over again. I'm Autistic, what do you expect? So I once read a historical account of a family that brought sourdough dried patties to America. It is hard to travel the ocean and carry a liquidy start. I could never find out exactly how these patties were made until this site. ..........Going to try this for sure.
Another thing I learned from history is that Juniper berries were used by pioneers to make sourdough. I've found a small amount on this on the Internet but the one site I glance at didn't have a vigorous start. I'll try this one time because my neighbor has a tree and I pluck roses off their bush for jelly so I'm sure they'll let me pluck Juniper berries. Best of all they don't spray them.
I didn't know just how many things you could use to start a culture until my brain started thinking what has a white blush on it. Plums, grapes, cabbages, to name a few. This site tells that grains, fruits, and vegetables all have some wild yeast. I'd suspect that some naturally have more. That explains why using freshly ground whole wheat was so successful. It has the wild yeast as part of the mixture.
This article also tells about things like milk, yogurt, beer, sugar, honey, and potatoes that can be added to boost the start and impart flavor. Another site said it was best to add these to the add on because it can eventually mess of your Mother, the beginning starter which you take parts of to make your bread product. You then take a part of this Mother and culture it with a choice of grains like rye, triticale, or spelt. To these additions you can mix in the dairy products, honey, potatoes etc. I add my potato flour in earlier but so did a great many Sour Doughs, which is what they called miners in some areas because of their sourdough cooking.
Many of the Internet sites I saw fed their starts twice a day. I know from feeding my sourdough start that was given me that that is a bad idea. You need to let the stuff brew, do it's thing. I fed my start once a day with great success but if you aren't getting a good bubbly reaction, two to even four days may be needed. You may add less flour and water mixture if things are a bit slow but I've never done less than every other day feedings. The temperature in which your start sits is very important. Warmer, things will brew faster, colder, things will slow down.
I've also seen on the Internet where you can create a start from pineapple juice and flour. Linda comment on my first post that hers is quite weak. From what I remember you are hoping a wild yeast in the air will light and bless you. Am I right? Correct me if not. I'd rather hedge my bets and use something with wild yeast on it. Who knows what all is floating around in my air. I do make frequent trips to the barnyard. Though I can see where different plants would have a difference in potency of wild yeast. One site said Juniper berries were weak but then again I don't know how many were used and if the person fed often enough or too often. If they used freshly ground grains or what.
Thinking that the original site I mentioned had answered all my long lost question another one popped to mind. What if the sourdough turns pink or orangish? I thought I saw a slight cast of orange on my sourdough start last night and panicked. Then again I didn't get around to feeding the start until late and the lowered light might have made difference along with using wheat instead of white flour. The cast was very light. It still sent me off on an Internet search. I found the answer, throw it out.
If it has a grayish cast then this is called hooch and just stir it back in. This is the brownish/grey cast of my old sourdough start in the fridge. I'm assuming that hooch means alcohol since this liquid does have that smell. Sometimes I pour it off it my sourdough gets a bit more sour than I want.
But seriously, look at the activity in this start. This is a picture from day four after adding potato flour. Be sure and read Mondays post on this projects to help explain the process. I then took the leaf out and skimmed half the dough into the garbage so I had room to add more wheat flour and water. Also, I had dipped this portion out of the start and added more flour before I found throw out answer and it was a light cast so it might not of been there in the daylight. Also, the Internet said most of the time the good guys win and fight off the bad guys so we'll see what happens. This is just an experiment anyway. I plan on doing it all over again with organic vegetables next time. Though I have a fair amount of wheat that isn't organic. So the deal is I will see the color appears again. If so, that's okay, I learned a whole heaping bunch already and will start again with different water, non tap water, and with sterilized equipment too. Which is what I was suppose to do but you know how well I follow directions.
Heads up, I also found elsewhere that the quicky sourdough starts started from cultured yeast soon go sour as in BAD sour. So I'd recommend not heading in that direction. Not sure what they do to make their yeast but I'll look it up one of these days. Today I'm going to learn to use a skid steer to clean my yak shed so my plate is rather full of adventures already. I also have got to tell you about my Waltzing Matilda and her episode that had all the neighbors talking but that's going to be Friday's post.
Back to sourdough. Metal is a no, no since sourdoughs react to it. I prefer glass or crock. Not plastic for me as I'm concerned that the acids in the sourdough will eat some of the plastic and that will be passed on to me. Plastic has fake hormones and I already moan from a problem with those. Worse yet, I'm afraid it will eventually mess up my start. Some demand organic all the way but I don't always have the option. We are in the toolies and ordering can hurt the pocket book. Like I said in the beginning, I know this cabbage wasn't organic but I just wanted to experiment. So far it has been most interesting. And maybe I don't necessarily expect my first attempt to be a huge success. I had definite questions about this one since I didn't follow the rules very well. Okay, barely at all. I often fail in my first attempt but then I'm in with the best of them like Edison, Einstein and the like. They had many learning experiences too before success was reached. In my defense, my knowledge which is base on experience is far greater when I adventure off the beaten path and sometimes fail.
So come on, play along with me. Start a culture and see what cultivates. We can learn from each other.
As for the pine needles, Herdog. I found some awesome information that I've go to try but no, it didn't relate to sourdough. I'm thinking that is not the way to go. I do have an experiment to try first so next week a post on pine needles is on its way, maybe two as I have a bit more research I want to do. Also, I have cattails on the freezer waiting to be braided. Never done it but making natural cordage is on my list of to do's. Then I hope to spur my son onto working further in this area.