I made a major discovery last Fall that I have been meaning to share.
When talking to people about sourdough starter or natural yeast, the question of ordering dehydrated flakes online comes up. Some have ordered and tried to reconstitute only to end up frustrated. My own mom tried a couple of different starter flakes that weren’t very great. When I was finally able to take her some of my starter, she was amazed by the difference between them. Some people just cannot get it going not matter what they try.
I was visiting with my sister at her home last Fall and she was asking me about her starter and how sour it was. It was definitely significantly more sour than mine (which hers came from). She explained that she had dehydrated a bunch right when she got the starter and that this particular one came from those flakes. I couldn’t figure it out.
Why had so many people had this same issue?
As we drove away from her house I kept thinking about it. Hours later into our trip, IT HIT ME. It all came together in my mind.
Here is what I discovered:
When natural yeast/sourdough starters are exposed to warmer temperatures, they ferment and grow much more rapidly. That is why I keep my starter in the fridge – – to retain its mild flavor and slow down the process so that I don’t have to feed it every day. When dehydrating flakes, you are exposing them to A LOT of low heat. You have to leave them under heat for hours and hours to remove all of the moisture. SO, you are essentially souring your starter by quite a bit as you dehydrate it! WHAT! That may not be cool to anyone else, but for me, it was a major light- bulb moment.
Suddenly, it made sense why so many people struggled to get these starters up and going, and once they were going, why they were so sour! AND it thrilled me to know that what I was doing (freeze drying my starter) was preventing this problem because it retains the properties of the original food during the process, and there is no heat involved (hence the “freeze” part).
I love natural yeast. It has become something of a passion of mine. I love learning more about it and helping others learn as well. I am grateful that you have allowed me to inundate you all with my bread and starter rantings! Having been using natural yeast for about 4 years now, I can say it didn’t come easily. I wasn’t turning out beautiful loaves of perfectly raised bread the first week . . . or month . . . or several months. It is a skill that must be learned and practiced. It is an entire new way of making bread and it’s ALIVE — it’s finicky.
I am thankful to those of you who are sticking with it, who are e-mailing me with your frustrations and your successes, and who are trying to add something healthy and amazing to your lives. Thank you for letting me be a part of that. You don’t know how much it means to me – this is like my baby!
For those asking and wondering, I am planning on more classes. I know there is a lot of interest in Southern Alberta and I will actually be up there soon. It may be last minute, but I plan on putting a class together while I am there. I also have some other things I am putting together online that will make me more accessible for those wanting to learn more!