volunteer sourdough starter

grain for volunteer sourdough starter

This is the start of something beautiful -- the pursuit of a dream. It's going to take a little discipline, patience and understanding, but I think I'm ready for that. The goal: a sourdough starter derived from the grains of wheat, cultivated and raised on nothing but that whole wheat grain and fed nothing else. I am anticipating some organisms will not do so well and in their failure to thrive become superseded eventually replaced by those organisms that do, and in this manner develop a stupendous culture that can do the heavy lifting required of whole wheat loaves.

Of course once it comes time to make dough for bread a percentage of refined flour will most likely be added for the actual loaves, that percentage, whatever I decide on, will be like sugar candy to these brutish gladiator microorganisms, they'll go nuts feasting on it and by so doing be even more fierce than any other comparable culture around.

But that sponge or dough will not be added back into the culture which will remain pure and unadulterated by any slacker organisms that might develop during the period of ease in metabolizing that easier, more accessible refined flour, candy, in its near sugarness compared with whole-grain wheat.

That's my theory.

The difficult part will be keeping the culture pure and separate from weakening influences. That's going to take some discipline. God, I hate that word (shine your shoes, iron your pants, line up your buttons with your fly, make sure your collar is straight, tuck in your shirt, clean your face, do you homework, get good grades, graduate, do your exercises, get to work on time, blah blah blah). I have a tendency to forget and to slide and I must not do that. I must keep it of primary importance that the culture be maintained active and separate from all other non-sturdy influences, except for that portion that goes on to be baked, which is more akin to granting one final break-loose anything goes get totally bombed party. This is more easily written down and committed to than it is to actually perform. Like I said, I tend to be neglectful. It also means I must always have whole grain around that I can mill right here, and that too I tend to neglect.

Oh well. If I fail somewhere along the line, I can always start over. It's not like these things are going anywhere.

I'm starting out with a mere two tablespoons of grain because I'll be feeding it in increments that double its volume with each feeding, I'll check at 12 hours but the target for the first feeding is 24 hours. I'll just have to see how this goes. I do not want the whole feeding it double thing to get out of hand within the first few days, so I'm starting out small. They are microorganisms, after all.

I milled that first two tablespoons in the coffee grinder just to show it can be done. I think even that isn't necessary because the organisms are on the surface of the grain. All that need be done really, I think, is to moisten the grain to activate them and to help provide access to the inside of the grain for them, but I believe milling the grain hastens and eases that access a little. I could have used flour that I already milled from this grain, but this way is more fun.

I intend to post again on this, fail or succeed, right through to baking bread from this culture and I'll refer back to this post in summary. For convenience I intend to compress these images as a reminder, hopefully they will not become wearisome to see.

milled whole wheat grain for volunteer starter

milled whole wheat grain for volunteer starter

milled wheat grain mixed with water for sourdough starter

milled wheat grain and water for sourdough starter put in a jar

jar of milled whole wheat grain for sourdough starter and water placed on stove

The towel covers the burner with the chimney from the oven. The heated air is channeled by the towel over to the jar with the ground wheat grain and water slurry. I'll check it occasionally to make sure it's about the right temperature and for appearances, but I'll hold off worrying about it for 24 hours. It should take about that long to start noticeably multiplying.

Update: experiment continues here.


Carl said...

I am very interested on how this will pan out. Are you using the same technique for elaborating a culture (from your previous entry)?

Chip Ahoy said...

No, Carl. This is not exactly the same way, it's a little simpler. The previous one, I think, was Denver sourdough. In that case I made a slurry from flour and water and left the bowl covered with an upside down strainer on the balcony for a few days. This was winter so the slurry kept nearly freezing so I kept bring it in to warm up then put it back out again. After a few days I was confident the airborne organisms were sufficient in number to overcome the organisms that were already on the flour I used for the slurry and would use to feed the culture. If not overcome them at least outnumber them. The result was a culture fairly unique to Denver.

But I'm afraid that culture might be wearing out due to neglect, so who knows what's in there now. The good thing about it is, I don't really have to worry about protecting it because whatever gets in by accident most likely originated from around here anyway.

At to the culture on the wheat grain, I have no idea where the wheat came from. I can assume with some confidence probably from Nebraska. It's high protein grain and I know a guy who has a wheat farm that grows high protein winter wheat on some 2,000 acres. But actually, it could be from anywhere.

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