Of all the topics on Twice as Tasty, it seems that people are most curious about sourdough. It was the focus of my first public workshop and will be the focus of blog posts every January and workshops every spring. It often comes up when I serve food at events locally, and it seems to be increasingly popular nationally.
All with good reason: A sourdough starter is an incredible creation. There are lots of reasons to love it, from health benefits to flavor. To me, one of the greatest things about a sourdough starter is that it wants to be loved—and has plenty of love to go around. That’s why I’m giving away sourdough starter this month and hope you’ll join me in this sourdough experiment.
The Twice as Tasty Starter
I was gifted my sourdough starter in May 2014. Although I’d long loved the taste of sourdough and enjoyed baking breads, I’d never had my own sourdough culture to play with. This one had been a bit neglected, so my first loaf out the oven door was a disappointment. A little research showed me I could easily wake it up, turning the excess starter into pancakes. They were some of the best pancakes I’d ever tasted, and I was hooked. I kept feeding my starter and tried some pita: a winner on the first attempt. Then I went back to bread and turned out two beautiful loaves. Now I’m learning how to convert my favorite cultivated yeast–based recipes into wild yeast creations, some of which I’ll be sharing next month.
When I first started blogging about sourdough, I recommended asking a friend for starter or buying it and advised against making your own from scratch. I’ve since heard many stories of people far more successful than I was in creating a starter from flour and water, and you’ll find a plethora of instructions online for doing so. But I’m still a fan of sharing established starters. It’s good for the starter, which wants to be fed and used. It’s good for you and your source, because chances are anyone who has a starter will happily give you tips and tricks on caring for and using it. And it’s a fabulous way to build a community of people interested in making real food.
Sharing a starter locally is easy: Bring the starter to room temperature, take out a portion, put it in a clean quart jar, and feed both batches as you would normally. Voilà—each person now has a starter. Sharing over distances in person is more challenging yet doable; I’ve been known to drive several hundred miles with a jar of sourdough starter for a friend, and I’ve flown small amounts across oceans before bulking it up to full size in its new home. But how do I deliver starter without a direct handoff? This is the experiment I’ll be trying this month.
The key technique in this project is drying the starter. I’ve taken some Twice as Tasty starter, dried it, and will package it for mailing. Once you receive the starter, you’ll follow my instructions for rehydrating it and, if all goes well, will soon have your own starter bubbling away on the kitchen counter.
Because sourdough is an old technique but you’re reading about this using new technology, this giveaway will meld the two:
- You subscribe to Twice as Tasty via email by clicking here. Once your subscription is confirmed, you should see a page with the Twice as Tasty mailing address. If not, please email me via the Contact Me page. If you are already a subscriber, you will find the address at the bottom of any newsletter.
- You send me an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope, not stuff about Seattle and Elvis) that will allow me to send about 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of dried starter to you. In the United States, this should be a standard envelope with a first-class stamp.
- I will send you a packet of dried starter in your provided envelope. I will email you to let you know the starter has been sent and give you a link to the rehydration instructions.
- You follow the instructions for rehydrating your starter. Once your starter is active, try some sourdough recipes on Twice as Tasty.
- You report back. Comment on this post and/or email me. I’d love your feedback, photos, and stories about your starter and first creations. Did you name your starter? Did you love a particular recipe? Is there a recipe you’d like to see on Twice as Tasty? Feel free to ask questions (such as, “Am I doing this right?”) via email or in the Twice as Tasty Facebook group.
- I will share your feedback in January, at the beginning of Sourdough Month on Twice as Tasty, and use your experience to decide on the next phase of the experiment.
Thanks for participating! With your help, we’ll have a new family of sourdough starters fermenting in many homes by the end of December.
Please note that this is an experiment. I have tested this process, but don’t be discouraged if your experience is different from mine—we’re all learning here! I welcome your feedback and questions. If you would rather receive fully active sourdough starter, contact me to schedule a Starting with Sourdough: Starter and Baking Basics or Grilled or Baked Sourdough Pizza workshop. Each sourdough workshop participant receives a jar of fully active sourdough starter to take home and use.
Twice as Tasty
Sourdough starter is my gift to you this holiday month. But last year’s Twice as Tasty holiday gift keeps on giving: get gift tags for your homemade goodies here.
Even if you followed my advice and prepared for the season, I’ll be tempting you with some new recipes this month. You’ve already seen my family’s favorite Christmas cookies; this year, I’ll be adding some easy cookies you can use to fill your dessert platter. I’ll also be sharing ideas for last-minute homemade treats that can round out your holiday gift-giving. Happy holidays!
Like what you’ve learned? To learn more in a Twice as Tasty workshop—in your own kitchen, among friends, and with my personal help—click here. If you’re not yet a Twice as Tasty subscriber, get this newsletter and weekly post notifications delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.