Monday, November 11, 2013

Make your very own artisanal bread! Easy sourdough starter, and it's halal!

I love sourdough but I have always been a bit skidish of making my own starter.
I finally got up the guts to do it and the outcome was PERFECT!

Meet Nettie ( yes I named it) my very own starter~

She's at her height of perfection. I can taste the change in the bread she makes as she has aged. The first loaf i made was good, with an ever so light sour taste but 5 loaves latter the taste has transformed into a rich, smooth sourness that I love about a good sourdough bread.
It can take what feels like forever to make a loaf, but it is worth every second!
You could just buy a starter off line, but why? It's so easy to do yourself and there's a sense of accomplishment that comes with it.

You can make your starter one of 2 ways. With wild local yeast or with the store bought yeast. I decided to do wild.

what you will need~

A large glass or plastic bowl. ( never use metal! it reacts with the starter)
a rubber band that will fit around the bowl
cheese cloth ( I used an old clean think scarf)
1/2 a cup of white all purpose flour
1/2 cup  filtered water ( bottled)

Make sure everything is CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN... like really clean! You going to be fermenting the flour. You don't want anything funky getting into your starter. 
Mix the flour and water together. Once its well mixed cover it with the cheese cloth and use the rubber band to keep it on tight. I set mine on the counter near my open kitchen window. You are "catching" wild yeast that is naturally floating around in the air.
This is why not all sourdoughs taste the same. different wild yeasts give their own flavors to your bread. Your bread will be one of a kind!

Now, every day you will add equal amounts flour and water to the starter ( I never measured exactly but 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons water roughly) This is called "feeding" Your starter is alive! Because it's alive it will eventually start producing gas so it's important to never tightly cover it because it WILL explode.
When you feed your starter be sure to whip it up and aerate it. You want to make sure you catch lots of wild yeast. 
Within 5-8 days ( sometimes long or shorter there's no set time frame for mother nature to do her thing so be patient) you will start to notice little bubbles forming. This means you have successfully caught and are now growing your own wild yeast ( YEY!)

Keep feeding your starter for a few more days before using it, wait for it to have a nice sour smell. At no point should it ever have a rotten smell or turn colors. If you get black spots, a pink or orange color or a funky smell, your starter has become contaminated and needs to be trashed.
I keep my starter on my kitchen counter all the time, but I have 3 cups frozen just in case it ever turns bad on me.
As long as you feed it, it can stay at room temp. If you don;t plan on using your starter to cook with often, refrigerate it. Refrigerated starter only needs to be fed once a week. If you are not using it often you will also have to remove an equal amount of starter as you are feeding once a week, so if you are feed a total of 4 teaspoons then first remove 4 teaspoons.
You may notice the starter will separate and there be a yellowish liquid on top. This is called hooch and is a normal part of starter, just stir it back in and everything will be fine.

Now to the halal subject.

Sourdough starter produces alcohol, that's what the "hooch" is however, this is not produced for the purpose of  intoxication 
 and the baking process cooks off the alcohol.  So is Sourdough halal? YES! It is. Here is a fatwa concerning it from a reputable source.

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