Friday, January 8, 2010

Sourdough Starter, Take Two

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a smell is priceless.

I made a new sourdough starter yesterday by combining one cup spelt flour, one cup buckwheat flour, and two cups leftover, warm oatmeal water. Then I set the jar above the woodstove in the hopes that the warmth would help the yeasts become quickly active on these cold winter days. It worked!

Somewhere around 2am, I woke up to go to the bathroom and couldn't help but notice a subtly pervasive smell of vomit everywhere I went. I checked the bottoms of my shoes. I checked a trash can. I watched carefully for cat vomit as I walked back from the bathroom. I worried briefly about my roommates, but it sounded like they were sound asleep, and vomiting illness are rather loud. I went back to sleep.

In the morning, my roommates found the smell too. They looked all over, briefly worried that I had gotten sick in the middle of the night, and then discovered the jar. I wasn't far behind. The sourdough starter had become madly successful, and its success had gone to its head.

Full of bubbles, with a round, cemented crust in the top cheesecloth, it had clearly vomited about a quarter cup of its contents down onto the mantle and the wood stove below. My roommate later found this cracker-like substance behind the stove--->

After much laughter, drama, and debate, I decided I was determined to save it. I reasoned that when I made Katz's Millet Porridge it smelled exactly like vomit, so this must be a good sign of active yeasts. I added about two and a half tablespoons of buckwheat flour and gave it a vigorous stir. Then I washed the cheesecloth and set up shop in a cooler location. I will stir frequently today, add more flour tonight, and see if it is salvageable. If not, I will compost it because I think it's unreasonable to ask other people to live with my mad science experiments for too terribly long!


  1. LOVE it! Keep us posted. If it works I Might try it :-)

  2. This post made me laugh out loud for real. I like y'all's pragmatism in searching for the source. I am always reassured by the recognizable rotten-ness of my wheat sourdought starter and I applaud you for venturing into crazy other sourdough territory.

  3. Yeah....I have to start again from square one...I made bread with this, and it was tasty, nourishing, and had the consistency of a soft rock.


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