Happy end of 2020 from Twice as Tasty! Celebrating the end of this year seems more important than reveling in the start of a new one—the revels in many ways are still on hold. But January is still Sourdough Month here on the blog, and for the 4th year I’m giving away Twice as Tasty sourdough starter through January 31.
Over the last 4 years, I’ve had a 100% success rate with people receiving, waking up, and baking with their Twice As Tasty sourdough starter. When baking with sourdough became all the rage last spring, I reopened the 2020 giveaway and shared more starter than in all prior years. I hope to do the same again over the next month. Read on to get Twice as Tasty sourdough starter—or wake up your dormant one.
Have you always wanted to bake bread but never had the time? Or did a sourdough starter you tried to make from scratch lack oomph? Or did you toss an unused starter after it lurked in the back of your fridge? I have a solution to all of these problems: I’ll send you free sourdough starter through January 31, 2021. Request free starter here. I do ask for a payment of $5 to cover packaging and shipping costs. If the cost of shipping is a hardship for you at this time and would prevent you from requesting starter, just indicate this on the request form; I’m still happy to hook you up with free starter.
My original sourdough starter was a gift, and it’s been going strong since May 2014. It’s a 100% hydration, wheat-based starter (I feed it with primarily all-purpose flour and occasionally a little rye or whole wheat). I use it to make all of the sourdough recipes on the blog.
I’ve been gifting jars of bubbly starter to friends and workshop participants for years. In 2017, I began dehydrating my starter so that I could ship it anywhere in the world. I’ve long believed that everyone should have a sourdough starter in their kitchen. Homemade bread, particularly long-fermented sourdough, tops commercially processed products in texture, flavor, and even health. With more people than ever working from home with easy access to their kitchens, it’s no surprise that sourdough became a 2020 craze.
Building a Habit
I fear the 2020 sourdough craze may become a fad. Many people started their sourdough adventure by attempting to make a starter from scratch—not realizing that the process would take several weeks and plenty of flour before they could attempt a loaf of bread. Once they had active starter, many people were unsure of how to incorporate it into their lifestyle and ended up with baking burnout or forlorn starter guilt.
Sourdough should be none of these things. A mature live culture is incredibly resilient. It can adapt to your schedule, your household size, your climate, and more. There are many ways to handle a starter; you just need to find the one that works for you. I’ve maintained my starter for years for my household of 2, feeding it only when I bake. When we travel for months, it sits quietly in the fridge and readily wakes up when I return. I never discard starter; when it’s been dormant for weeks, I simply bake something that doesn’t need to rise as much as a bread loaf. I seek out and share sourdough recipes that are adaptable to my schedule: I never miss a powder day because of dough.
Mature starter is key to sourdough independence: Newly mixed flour and water need time to become a strong starter. If creating a starter from scratch satisfies your creativity, do so by all means: This video series may be a huge help. If all you want to do is bake, I’m happy to send my starter your way.
What if you did create starter, bake with it for a few weeks or months, and then shift it to the back of the fridge? Or what if I or someone else gave you starter that has become a fridge lurker? That jar probably looks scary—but it may not be a lost cause.
As I said, sourdough starter is a survivor. It can withstand neglect, overfeeding, underfeeding, and more. So look more closely at that forlorn starter in your fridge. Does it have pink or orange streaks or obvious, fuzzy mold? Those are the signs that you should toss your starter: unhealthy bacteria have moved in and taken hold. But if it has a firm cap, is sitting under a layer of dark liquid, or has dried out completely, your starter is still alive. It’s just hungry.
When I ignore my starter for a few weeks or months, it develops “hooch,” a dark liquid that pools on its surface. Hooch is just a sign that the starter has eaten through all of its food (flour) and needs a top up. When this happens, I just mix the liquid back in (capturing its supersour flavor), bring the starter to room temperature, and use it to make something like pancakes before feeding it and attempting anything that needs more rise power.
As an experiment, I neglected a small amount of my starter. I photographed it on occasion, sharing it on Instagram as #forlornsourdough. That was 2 years ago; since then, it’s sat in a pint Mason jar on the top shelf at the back of my fridge, covered with a paper coffee filter. I took it out today, and it’s the ugly starter you see here. But it isn’t dead. I’ll be waking it up this month; you can follow its progress on Instagram. Hopefully my ugly sourdough experiment will encourage you to reawaken yours. If you’re still uncertain, I’m happy to take a look: just share photos of your starter and tag @twiceastastyblog on Instagram or @twiceastasty on Facebook.
Twice as Tasty
Whether you’re new to sourdough baking or an old hand, I have plenty of recipes for you to try—and I’ll be sharing more this month. As you experiment with the recipes, or if you have questions about them before you get started, feel free to share your thoughts and queries in the post’s comments; I’m pretty good about responding. The new recipes this month will also encourage you to experiment: adding flavors to breads, adding starter to cookies, and baking sourdough crackers in assorted varieties. Happy 2021!
Need starter? The 4th Annual Sourdough Giveaway runs through January 31, 2021. Learn how to get your free sourdough starter here.