I’ve recently gotten into all things fermented around here–no, I won’t be offering any homebrew anytime soon (though a friend of ours does!) but I have been experimenting with sourdough starters, kefir and I’m playing with the idea of making my own hot sauce and other delicious goodies.
That being said, making a sourdough starter using just flour and water is a whole lot of art + science + luck. I started my first starter (ha) just before Thanksgiving. My plan was to have a loaf of sourdough bread ready for the big day. After reading (and reading…and reading…and reading…) about a bazillion forum posts, I put my flour and water together and stirred. And then I waited.
The next day, I fed the starter twice as suggested. I kept following this pattern day after day until I thought I might be starting to get somewhere interesting.
Immediately following “interesting” came a “What the heck” moment….I walked into the kitchen to feed the starter and it smelled like literal and actual vomit. Or maybe dirty socks. I’m not sure which. I was horrified and a little concerned and a little dismayed. What had I done?
I threw some flour in there anyway, stirred it up and left to run errands.
And this is where we have the first of many instances of “local business to the rescue”. I’m standing in line at a small cafe/grocer grabbing some last minute items and on a whim I asked the lady behind the counter if she was a baker. She was. So I told her my sourdough woes.
Much to my excitement, I got more helpful tips and advice for what to do with my stinky sock starter in that 3 minute conversation than I had from any of the online forums. It was amazing.
Could this have happened at some big box chain? maybe but it’s not likely. Better yet, I was able to go back home, apply my newly found advice, salvage the starter and bake a decent-ish (little flat but not bad) loaf of sourdough and then go back and tell her about it.
I know it’s a small anecdote but when you’re trying to impress guests and not give everyone some form of botulism, it’s nice to know that there is still a community out there of real people who are willing to stop what they’re doing and take the time to help you out. I was just in there buying a coffee and some tomatoes and it turned into a really cool little moment of information sharing.