Due to shortages in bread, sourdough starters are trending all over the internet. But how does it work? Here’s the science paired with a sourdough recipe roundup!
So you have a sourdough starter, whether gifted by a friend or started fresh, and now you’ve mastered the art of either baking up a storm and feeding it every day, or have put it to rest in the fridge only baking and feeding once as week. But what exactly is going on in that frothy jar?
Sourdough starters are actually a technique that is centuries old developed for preserving and storing yeast for long periods of time , back when you couldn’t just go to the store and buy a packet (not unlike the current times with empty grocery shelves). That sour flavor was just a happy side effect of the process.
Where does the yeast come from if you don’t use a packet? There is wild, non-harmful yeast that exists in flour! Both wild and commercial bakers yeasts break down the complex starches of flour into sugar which it can then feed on during fermentation, giving off alcohol and carbon dioxide (what makes the bread rise) .
But that’s not the only microorganism working hard in your starter. In fact, Lactobacillus outnumbers the yeast and it also feeds on sugar to make lactic acids and acetic acid. It’s these two byproducts that actually give the sourdough its flavor .
These two microorganisms can grow very well together, tolerating each others alcohol and acid production, which would be undesireable to many other microorganisms . But sometimes you can get invading species which usually present themselves as green or pink/orange streaks of color. Sorry to say but if you see that, throw it out!
Assuming your microorganisms remain living in harmony, it’s time to get baking! While most recipes will call for “fed” starters (discard, feed, and let sit at least overnight to 24 hours) there are many ways to reduce waste and turn that discard into something tasty too!
Honestly, you could make most things with unfed/discard starters. Fed will give you a more vigorous rise while unfed will require more time to rise. Usually I try to use fed for bread specific things like loaves and rolls and use unfed for things that don’t really need the yeast such as waffles and pancakes. Check out the list below for some of my recipes along with others from fellow bloggers!
Seven years ago: Review: Classic Snacks Made From Scratch
Eight years ago: Carrot Cake Waffles
Nine years ago: Chocolate Cookies ‘n’ Creme Cookies
BREAD, ROLLS, BUNS
- Cranberry Pumpkin Sourdough Bread
- Garlic Butter Sourdough Buns (can use discard)
- Rustic Sourdough Bread
- Sourdough Biscuits (discard)
- Sourdough Cheddar & Herb Biscuits (discard)
- Sourdough Demi Baguettes
- Sourdough English Muffins (pictured)
- Sourdough Focaccia
- Sourdough Popovers
- Sourdough Rolls
- Cecamariti Pasta (can use discard)
- Sourdough Focaccia Pizza
- Sourdough Pizza Crust (discard) (pictured)
- Chocolate Chocolate Chip Sourdough Banana Bread
- Overnight Sourdough Pancakes (discard)
- Rosemary Sea Salt Sourdough Bagels
- Sourdough Banana Nut Bread (discard) (pictured)
- Sourdough Blueberry Muffins
- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls (can use discard)
- Sourdough Pancakes (discard)
- Sourdough Pretzel Bagels
- Sourdough Waffles (can use discard)
- Sourdough Brownies (can use discard)
- Sourdough Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (can use discard) (pictured)