Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cabin Baking: Refreshing Sourdough Starter

Another thing I found when I got to my float cabin after a four month absence was my sourdough starter. I was afraid it might be dead. But rather than add some commercial yeast, I took some advice that Sue G gave on my January 2 post. She uses natural yeast from the environment, flour and water. So while I was working in the garden, my starter was "working" on the front deck hopefully gathering spores.

I knew my starter also needed feeding. I usually use skim milk, flour and a bit of sugar. But there was no fresh milk at the cabin. I remembered reading another recipe that used potato water. So I got some of my potatoes out of storage, diced them up and put them on the woodstove. I strained the liquid and let it cool to lukewarm. I then mixed in approximately 3/4 cup potato water, 3/4 cup white flour and 1 tablespoon sugar.

When the sun went down, I put the starter next to the woodstove and left it there overnight to stay warm. I was careful to use non-reactive plastic utensils (glass and wood are also good choices). When I went to bed, there were only a few bubbles so I was doubtful it was going to work. My only recourse would be commercial yeast in the morning.

But when I got up, the starter was working like crazy. Way beyond what I had hoped for. The result was more starter than I could put back in my refrigerator container. So I had enough to take home to Jeanne as a thank you for her help while we were gone. -- Margy


  1. I am completely mystified about natural yeast spores from the environment on your deck, only moderately mystified about the potato water, and thoroughly impressed with your results!
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Well Kay, that's what they say and I guess it's true. There's more to the air than we can see for sure. I had so much I took some back to Bellingham for a present for my friend Jeanne. It continued to expand and blew the top off the jar enroute. Fortunately I had it quadruple bagged and there was still enough left for the surprise present. I only hope that it hasn't taken over the refrigerator at the cabin. Wayne just hates it when that happens. Especially when he has to clean it up. - Margy

  3. This is all so intriguing for someone who loves to cook, but has never taken the time to do any real baking..I love the idea of yeast bubbling merrily away beside the fire that was captured out of the air...sounds like magic! And I need to do some research on all of this.
    Thank you!

  4. Amazing! I love to make homemade "potato bread" and I would think the sourdough bread might now taste a bit like that! Yum...


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy