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Funky, fruity, starters.

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I made a starter a couple month ago that's pretty funky and fun.

I used equal parts organic whole wheat flour and organic rye flour. I made potato water for the liquid, and used wild organic red grapes to attract the yeast. Kept it out for 6 days, stirring once a day. After the grapes deflated (day six) I pulled them out, squeezed out there juice, and then feed it for three more days. Well the fruity funk filled my kitchen (much to the chagrin of my family, oh well) My first bread was silvertons Rosemary/Olive Boule.It came out beautiful, with a dense chewy crumb and a thin, crisp crust.My proceeding feedings have been with bread flour to optimize my options. I've made about 20 assorted loaves with it and am very happy with it. I have shared some with some of my students that are interested in sourdough breads. What are some of your funky, fun starters?
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #2 of 29
My lastest starter adventure was desem, a 100% whole wheat thing. You start it by burying a ball of dough in 10 lbs of whole wheat flour. I have come to the conclusion that having a variety of starters are fun, but their care and feeding can become all consuming. I now have 2, both white, one firm and one not so firm. I have done the grape thing and now have more fun playing with the resulting breads, rather than the starters themsleves, for now :-)
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
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"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
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post #3 of 29
Sourdough bread is not something I've done before, but watching Ms. Silverton on Julia, coupled with a generous fellow employee who gave me a large container of fresh red grapes, I tried it.

I weighed out double everything. 1 lb of grapes tied in a cheesecloth bag, crushed them with a meat pounder, 5 cups of bread flour, 5 cups of water. Covered it with saran wrap, and left it for 6 days in a 85 degree (+ or -) room. Stirred it several times during the 6 days. It smelled sour but intriguing. It appeared to have bubbles. On the 6th day, I let it rest covered in the refrigerator. I fed it 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of water each day for 3 consequtive days, letting it set out uncovered for 3-4 hours before putting it back in the fridge. Followed her recipe to the letter.

Tried to make one/half of her bread recipe omitting the olives as we couldn't find any firm ones. I didn't want to waste the olives anyway, until I was sure about the technique of making this style of bread in this fashion.

The first try ended up a disaster. It took all night to rise just a little. Threw it out. Re-read the recipe, did a search on CT, and this time I added a TBSP of active yeast. Let it just begin to rise (2-3 hours). Covered it and put it in the fridge for 4 hours. Took it out and let it warm to room temperature for about 3-4 hours. I had put it on a floured clean cloth in a metal bowl approximately 10" diameter. It rose a little.

I put it on a peel, into a 500 degree oven with a pizza stone already heated up. Immediately turned the oven down to 450 (just as she says to do), and spritzed the oven every 3 minutes for the first 15 minutes, and then let it go for another 30 minutes (just as she said). I had sliced it 1/2" down the middle end to end, and slightly spread the split apart before putting it into the oven. It rose a bit more while baking. Ended up about the diameter of the pan in which it had sat, and about 3" high in the middle.

It browned nicely, took it out, and let it cool on an unused cast iron gas burner. Sliced it. It had a crispy crust, but there were no big air holes in the bread itself. It was the consistency of any regular white bread I've made in the past. It tasted ok with sweet butter, but I thought I remembered her bread on TV was full of large holes, and looked really much different than what I ended up with.

Any thoughts?

Tx,
doc
post #4 of 29
Hi Doc,

Welcome to the world of wild yeast! THe most challenging part is often getting the starter up and running. Once it's alive and well, the starter is pretty hard to kill.

I noticed a couple of things in your description that seem to be at odds with Silverton's book, Breads From the La Brea Bakery.

She starts with 1 pound of grapes, 2 pounds of water (4 cups) and 1 pound, 3 oz.(3 3/4 cups) of bread flour. After the intial mix it sits for 3 days. On the 4th day she gives it a snack, 8 oz. of water and 4 oz. of bread flour. The culture then sits on its own for 5 days at room temp, 70º-75º. On the 10th day the regular feedings begin. She uses a 3 times a day schedule that's a little impractical. I adjusted to twice a day. The important thing is to make sure that you double the amount of starter you begin with. If you are feeding 1 LB of starter, add 8 oz. of water and 8 oz. of flour for example. If you don't double the starter you risk having the starter run out of available food. THis will kill, or greatly weaken you starter.

I would also keep the starter out of the fridge until it is quite strong, about 2-3 weeks into the process. In the early stages of development the wild yeasties need all the help they can get. A warm environment (75º +/-) helps.

Until your starter is really healthy it wil be tough to bake bread with it, as you found out. I would focus on the starter first and not worry about the breads it will soon produce. In my head the goal is the starter, not the process you follow to get to the starter. I ran a side by side "race", Silverton's grape starter and Peter Reinhart's starter from his book Crust and crumb. Reinhart's method does not involve grapes and takes on 5 days, versus Silverton's 2 weeks. In the end, both methods produced healthy active starters that were remarkably similar. I'm a follower of the path of least resistance:)

I have posted the Reinhart method on my site if you want to take a look at it. His commentary is very helpful.

Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb Starter Commentary
Peter Reinhart's Crust & Crumb Starter Formula
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
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"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #5 of 29
KyleW,
Hey Thanks, man! I downloaded two recipes from the internet that claimed they were Nancy's recipe.

http://www.recipesource.com/baked-go...0/rec0061.html


The link above is the one that said it was lifted directly from Julia's Master Chef book based on her appearance on the show. It looks like when I thought I was doubling her recipe, I actually was following more closely her recipe that you took from her book.

So, I have this really large glass jar in the fridge with the starter I made. Is it salvageable? I still have a couple pounds of the same red grapes still in the fridge? Squeeze them and put the juice in the starter maybe?

Your guidance is most appreciated here!

doc
post #6 of 29
I looked at the recipe on the site you referrenced and it's a variation on her theme. I don't have that Julia book so I can't verify it. Anyway, One thing the recipe did say was that the starter, after Day 6, was weak and needs to be fed. It doesn't tell you how to feed it :)

I would weigh out 8 ounces of what's in your jar. To it i would add 4 ounces of water and 4 ounces of bread flour. Give it a really good stir, cover it and let it sit at room temp. you should start to see signs of life after a few hours. At about 10-12 hours it should have doubled in volume. Add 8 ounces each flour and water, stir it, cover it and let it sit for 8-12 hours. It should double faster now. At about 8 hours, assuming it has doubled, weigh out 8 ounces. Add 4 ounces each of flour and water..... Eventually it will triple in 6-8 hours and you're ready to rock and roll!
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #7 of 29
Thanks Again KyleW.

Suffer me to ask a couple questions:

1. From the original jar I weigh out 8 oz. What do I do with what's left in the original jar? Is there any way to salvage it or is there no reason to try to salvage it?

2. To this new jar with the 8oz, I add 4 oz water/4 oz flour, wait 10-12 hours, and then add 8oz water/8oz flour. Wait another 8 hours. Weigh out 8 oz from this new jar into a second new jar. What do I do with the rest of the 1st new jar contents? (same as the remaining contents of my original jar?)

3. To this newest 2nd 8oz jar I add 4 oz water/4 oz flour, wait 6-8 hours, and then use from that to make my sourdough bread. I assume this last jar is the one to which I continue leaving it in the fridge and feeding it once every 6 months? (or more often assuming I make sourdough bread more often).

Thanks again for your patience and advice!

doc
post #8 of 29
What do I do with what's left in the original jar?

Toss it. You will need to get comfortable with this concept. Because you double it each time you feed it, if you don't get rid of half every so often it will take over your house. In the beginning it's important to work with fairly large quantities. Once the culture is mature you can work with much smaller amounts. I store 2-4 oz. in my fridge.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #9 of 29
KyleW,
Thank you kindly for your help.

Surely you will be recompensed in heaven for your kindness today~! :)

doc
post #10 of 29
Hi KyleW,
I took the 8oz of my original starter, mixed in the 4oz each water/flour, stirred it up good, covered it and left it on the kitchen table for 12 hours.

This morning, there were just a few bubbles on the surface covering about 1/2 the diameter of the Pyrex 2 Qt glass they're in, but no doubling in size. So I mixed in the 8oz of water and flour this morning anyway, stirred it up again, and will see what it looks like tonight when I get home from work.

In the meantime, I restarted a new batch of starter last night according to the directions you gave me from Silverton's book this time. I still had over a 1b. of the same grapes left that have been in the fridge, but sitting out on the table for the last two days. Hopefully, they've picked up some more yeast.

Stirred that bottle full this morning, and it had a few more bubbles in it than the Pyrex jar did.

Maybe I need to get new grapes?! My old starter went down the drain, what was leftover, but it sure did smell good!

doc
post #11 of 29
Usually bubbles = life! I admire your sticktuitiveness, starting another batch from scratch :) If there is life in your first batch it may be a slow process getting it up to speed. Are there any tiny bubbles in the body of the starter or just the froth on the top? The watch word here is patience. Nothing about sourdough happens quickly:)

The reality of wild yeast is that most of the cells you will cultivate come from the flour you add, rather than the air or the grapes. The grape skins do carry some wild yeast and the sugar from the grapes provides a great food source in the beginning. In Peter Reinhart's last bread book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice, his starter recipe contains flour and water period. I can attest that it works very nicely.

There are about 4,568 roads that lead to sourdough. The key is finding the one that works for you:)
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #12 of 29
KyleW,
Likewise Dude! I also appreciate your "sticktuitiveness" in continuing to help me tackle this. I'm not one to accept defeat. Failure only teaches us things. I love to learn. Therefore, I shall overcome! My reward will be eating the resultant sourdough bread as well as learning a new technique. :)

Re: your comment about the flour being the "real" source of the yeast. My wife buys these 25 lb bags of flour from Sam's Club. Very cheap, like only about $4. But, it is bleached flour. Could it be, that being "bleached", any naturally occuring yeast in that flour was killed? Could that be the real source of my problem here? They don't sell "unbleached" flour or I would only be buying that.

I also found out that when I received the grapes, oh some 3-4 weeks ago, my wife immediately rinsed them off before putting them in the fridge. We had them for at least 2 weeks before I tried making the first batch of starter.

Based on what you said earlier, the grapes greater contribution to the starter is the fructose they provide as food, rather than the yeast on their skins. Therefore, am I correct in assuming that having rinsed them should not be much of a contributor to the problem?

Thanks again for your time and consideration in helping me on this!

doc
post #13 of 29
Bleached Flour = Satan!

You are indeed tying one if not both of your hands behind your back, using bleached flour and washed grapes:) I would do one of two things; 1) go buy some unbleached bread flour and some organic red grapes 2) go buy a copy of THe Bread Baker's Apprentice and screw the grapes!

In the mean time, keep feeding what you have. You got nothing to lose at this point:)
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #14 of 29
KyleW,
Someone else I work with has offered me a coupla lbs. of concord grapes.

Will those work instead of Red Grapes? They're from his backyard orchard vines.

Thanks again,
doc
post #15 of 29
THey should be fine.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #16 of 29
After I asked the question about the concord grapes I started wondering if the reason one always seems to see Red Grapes specified is that the concord grapes might leach out too much purple color, thus coloring the resultant bread.

In that vein, I'm surprised that white grapes aren't specified since they are used to make white wine.

Anyway, I don't mind eating purple bread, and then I will report back and we'll all know!

tx,
doc
post #17 of 29
How did it turn out, Doc?
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Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
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post #18 of 29
Hi Mezzaluna!

Good to hear from you again! Ah, I just got the concord grapes today. Wife is out getting some unbleached flour, and I've thrown out all the starters that I tried with the rinsed red grapes and bleached flour. So, I will make the bread in approximately 1-2 weeks from now, and will report back!

doc
post #19 of 29
Well, it's day 4 and I'm a little worried. I put 1 lb 2oz of beautiful concord grapes which were devined and never rinsed into a cheesecloth tied sack, squished them with a meat pounder, and put them in the flour/water slurry (4 cups water (Everpure filtered water - no chlorine) and 1 lb 3 oz of organic unbleached flour) on Saturday morning.

Stirred it up real good, covered it with Saran wrap, and kept it in a room that is pretty constant 74 -76 F. I've shaken the jar daily.

There appears to be little or no activity. With the bleached flour/rinsed red grapes, by this point there was at least bubbles on the surface.

These grapes were far juicier than the red grapes. The flour/water mixture has a slight purple hue.

This is becoming quite challenging!

doc
post #20 of 29
Little activity is normal for this point in the Sliverton process. At this stage mine looked pretty gnarly.

http://www.kyleskitchen.net/day_5.htm
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #21 of 29
KyleW,

Let's see now. I'm on day 7. When should I remove the bag of grapes?

tx,
doc
post #22 of 29
I suppose it depends on the level of activity. Silverton leaves it in until day 10. If your culture is really active you would probably be safe taking it out and beginning regular feedings.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #23 of 29
Probably should leave it in. There appears little or no activity of any sort. During the course of a day, it separates into the flour slurry on the bottom of the glass jar, and the highly purple liquid on top.

I shake it daily, and apparently I'm not supposed to start feeding it regularly until day 10.

The room varies from 70-75 now that cooler weather is setting into Minnesota.

When I take off the lid, it smells very grape juicy, with no hint of sourness yet.

No froth that I can detect. The saran wrap this morning was just ever so slightly puffed out a little. So at least some modicum of CO2 generation must be taking place, I'm hoping.

Thanks again for sticking with me through this process, KyleW!

doc
post #24 of 29
It's now day 11, and I fed the starter just unbleached flour (8oz) last night, because there already is so much water/juice in the jar I didn't think it needed more moisture.

Looked this morning, and there was a few bubbles on the surface, but not very many.

doc
post #25 of 29
Well, I'm twenty days into this concord grape starter, and I think this weekend, I'm gonna dump the whole thing out the back yard.

The only reason it's "grown" is because I keep putting more unbleached flour into it, and water. Water is from the tap, but goes through an Everpure filter system (not reverse-osmosis).

The gallon glass jar is almost full now with a lightly purple thickish mush. I could count any bubbles on one hand.

I really hate to give up, but I don't see much reason to continue with this experiment.

If ya gots any ideas, speak up now! :)

doc
post #26 of 29
I haven't forsaken you :) I did go back to work and have been adjusting to life w/job.

I'm with you. I'm not one to bail out on things but you reach a point....

Also, I'm not a big fan of the whole grape thing either. You just don;t need to mess with them. Peter Reinhart's formula for Crust & Crumb is much more manageable and you can be baking bread in a week.

Here it is: Crust & Crumb Starter
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #27 of 29
KyleW,
Thanks for your last post and the link. After about 6 weeks and two attempts to do the grape thing, I think your signature line is very relevant. A very thin line between hobby and mental illness, and to put more energy into this would be "crossing the line!" :)

So, we'll try crust and crumb starter next.

You're in NYC? I haven't been there since the '80's, but often think about the 400 Club (i think it was called) near the Holiday Inn on what was it 57th street? They had the best dxxx pastrami sandwiches I've ever eaten to this day!

Had a booth at Columbus Center in the National Fashion and Boutique Show several times.

sorry, am rambling,

thanks again,
doc
post #28 of 29
I'll have to look for the 400 Club. The Colliseum, at Columbus Circle, doesn't exist any more. It has been replaced by a monster complex of stores, restaurants, offices and apartments. Lots of top chefs have places there and the biggest Williams-Sonoma I've ever seen is there too. The enitre "basement" is a WholeFoods store. It's the most amazing supermarket I've ever seen.
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
"At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals." D. Barry
Reply
post #29 of 29
This reply is going to be really off-topic, but I hope the group will tolerate this excursion!

Man, I'm sitting here totally knocked out to think that all that was isn't there anymore. Sounds like a dynamite "mall".

But everytime I think of NYC, I think of 4 things:

1. The 400 club pastrami sandwiches
2. The National Fashion and Boutique Show in Columbus Center
3. The High Times Party I got invited to
4. The fact that I stood in the window of the observation floor of the World Trade Center looking down on the black granite (?) fountain that looked about the size of a half-dollar from that way up high. One time I was there, some guy walked a tightrope stretched between the two WTC's. You're standing in that window looking down through clouds and at the other WTC, and thinking "How could anyone possibly think of walking across a rope between the two buildings without a balancing bar?!?!?" "or a parachute!"

One other time I was there, some guy had some kind of patented thermos bottle stoppers on his hands and feet, and crawled up the side of one of the WTC's! Ah man, my stomach leaves me just thinking about it.

One other time I was out there, some guy hang-glided off the top of one of the WTC's. It seemed everytime I got out that way, something spectacular happened!

And now I think, where I stood is thin air right now. I won't go further with the other thoughts I have about this all, but offer my condolences to all of NYC for the tragedy that occurred there.

On a lighter side, I have a cousin who is head of the Drama research department of the big library in Manhattan. His name is Rod, and if you ever run into him, say "Hey" for me!

doc
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