I think I worried more about my new Sourdough Starter this week than I ever worried about any of my babies when they came home from the hospital. I was lucky, baby-wise – from the moment they put that first newborn in my arms, I was in my element and everything came pretty naturally. On the other hand, my brand spanking new Sourdough starter is something entirely foreign to me and caused me to spend hours this week fretting irrationally about its health and future development. I did, however, identify a few similarities between the two; the biggest one being that the little critters are a lot more resilient and forgiving than we give them credit for sometimes, and more often than not they thrive, in spite of our inexperience. Here’s how my first week went:
Day 1 – As Caleb’s book instructed, I soaked my starter flakes in a tablespoon of water for a few hours. And nothing happened. I mean nothing! The flakes got a little soggy, but there was none of the breaking down I was told to look for, and certainly not any “milky water.” Just shrimp color flakes. At this point, I decided they looked too lonely at the bottom of that big jar anyway, so I moved them into a cozy little bowl (it’s about four inches in diameter). Then I waited for another few hours, probably six or eight total. Still nothing but soggy flakes. So I took my finger and kind of smooshed them onto the side of the bowl to break them up some, and went on to the next step, which was to add flour. (I used all-purpose flour.) Having had plenty of time to consider what to do next, I took the advice of Paul from Yumarama, who commented on last week’s post, saying,
“I’d suggest in your case with the very small amount of flakes to start pretty small in the wetting and feeding quantities. You don’t want to overwhelm the reduced number of yeasty critters right at the start.”
Well, I had already added a tablespoon of water and didn’t want to take any out for fear of taking some of the cultures of too, so I left the water alone and just added one teaspoon of flour, which still seemed like a lot for my little less-than-half-teaspoon of starter flakes. Then I covered it loosely with plastic wrap and set it on my counter. Here’s what it looked like:
Day 2 – No changes. None.
Day 3 – Still no changes. I start to get a little worried. Maybe I put in too much flour. Maybe there’s too much water. Maybe I should have put it in the fridge. Maybe it needs to be warmer. Even though there is a ton of flour in there, I sense that I need to feed it, so a put in another 1/4 teaspoon of flour.
Day 4 – No changes, except I am worrying more.
Day 5 – I “think” there is something happening! Just maybe. No visible changes yet, but it just feels different.
Day 6 – Yay! I can see tiny little bubbles!!! I think it is possible I have not killed it! I am so excited!!! I am supposed to feed it every 3-4 days, so I add another 1/2 teaspoon of flour, but no extra water.
Day 7 – More bubbles! And even more exciting, my little bowl of starter is starting to smell like sourdough!! Oh, I am so exited!