Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Farm in a Jar: Soughdough Ranching

Here in suburbia the lot sizes are small, so today let's scale back our yield expectations. This week we'll grow our livestock in a jar with the hopes of producing a perfect loaf of sourdough bread. The story so far: We threw out that last batch of sourdough starter because it was a dud. It was such an early experiment we didn't even bother to tweet about it. Then we rolled up our sleeves and learned something interesting.

Failure is really the mother of discovery: Who knew that yeast is a single celled creature known as a eukaryote cell? When my daughter was studying cells a few years ago she and I struggled with that vocab term, but today what was once a stupid obteuse vocab word is a living concept (... in my world anyway, not hers).

Kidped has a great article about yeast and bread.

Anyway, the key to making your own sourdough starter lies in getting the environment in your Masons jar to a PH level of around 6. Into my jar I tossed
  • 1 handful of flour (whole wheat is reportedly rich in yeast spores, but I only had white)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 squeeze of fresh peach juice
  • 1 long dribble of carbonated passion fruit Juice Squeeze (the experts recommend 8 oz. pineapple juice but I didn't have any.)

Here's what active yeast cells look like when they are replicating (thanks Kidped).

Throughout the day I tossed in a table spoon of flour and a splash of water every now and then (now here's a recipe I can love... measurements for ADD people). It looks like the yeast cells have been replicating like mad because this morning we have a bubbly paste that smells like, well, like bread yeast. Do you think it's too soon to try a loaf of bread with it?

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