I could have named this post 'WHAT A RELIEF!', because that's exactly what I felt this morning when I came downstairs and took a peek at the jars I've been using to cultivate my rye and wheat starters.
For those of you wondering what I'm talking about, we have already been through some preparation, and then some mixing together of flour and water (high tech, or what?), and finally a couple of days of waiting impatiently for exciting stuff to happen.
However, since I've started this, I've found that (unbelievably) some of you are following along and trying to cultivate your own starter, or two. That's great - but - I began to experience a creeping sense of dread. I have done this before and have two happy and mature starters of my own, but I began to worry and fuss like an expectant nanny-goat.
'What if my attempt doesn't work out.'
'Why didn't I do all this weeks ago, and post the results afterwards, rather than going through the process NOW, just like some of you, and wondering if it will go wrong?'
'If it fails, should I (a) come clean and admit it, or (b) swipe some of my mature starters from their pots and spike the 'new' ones into action?'
Anyway, my starters are now showing small signs of life, so the panic was unnecessary.
Here they are:
Personality traits: Bubbly under a calm surface, quick to react, energetic
Body type/physical features: voluminous and substantial
Signature fragrance: honey meets beer meets fusty old cupboard
|There are many small bubbles under the surface, and the mixture seems to have 'grown' in volume. It looks a bit like chocolate mousse.|
|There are only one or two bubbles to be seen on top - the activity is going on under the surface. It smells slightly sweet and a little bit sour.|
And Mrs. Wheat:
Personality traits: Foamy on the surface, but with a slightly split personality
Body type/physical features: thin and pale - looks like she needs a good feed
Signature fragrance: yeasty with a hint of sour milk
|You can see that the mixture has split - there is a yellowy watery layer sitting on top of the main layer of mixture- this is fine, and can just be stirred in. There are only a few small bubbles under the surface.|
|There is a foamy layer above the watery layer, containing many small bubbles - a sign of activity! It smells quite sour, but sickly and yeasty too.|
So, what if yours doesn't look like mine? And what now?
I'll take those questions separately.
What if your Mr. Rye or Mrs. Wheat isn't showing their unique personality yet?
If your starter isn't showing the exciting and unmistakeable signs of life - the bubbles and the sour or slightly sweet smell - then please don't panic. It may take a little longer. Why would it take longer? Well that's a whole other story, but it could be to do with the exact type or age of the flour you've used, it could be that my kitchen is slightly warmer than yours, and so my beasties are multiplying more quickly then yours, or a whole host of other factors. Every starter is different - that's why it's so exciting! Don't be discouraged!! Bear with it, follow the instructions below, and in another few days you will know whether it is definitely a no-show (unlikely if you followed the rules in this post) or whether it is alive and kicking.
Well we're going to 'feed' our little monsters, and see what happens then. Never a dull moment around here!
First 'feeding' for the rye starter:
1 tbsp rye flour
1 tbsp water
Add the flour and water and stir it really well. The mixture will be little thicker than before. Let it stand out overnight.
First 'feeding' for the wheat starter:
1 tbsp wheat flour
1/2 tbsp water
Again, add the flour and water and stir the mixture really well. It will be thicker than before. Let it stand out overnight.
Pleeeease let me know if you're following along! I'd be interested to know if your starter is showing signs of life yet. In fact if you are following, and you fancy emailing me with a photo of your new sourdough pet, I will feature it on here. Promise.
Finally, if you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask me. I'm definitely not the world's expert, but if I don't know the answer I will do my best to find out. You can email me from my blogger dashboard, or just post your question in the comments section below. If the answer might be relevant to many people I'll post the reply here on my blog.
I'll be back tomorrow with what to do next, and to answer any questions you have. Sleep tight - and mind the bugs don't bite!
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