Sourdough Revival

 


I have seen a lot of folks looking for sourdough starter cultures in the last while and I decided to post about how to revive a dried culture here as I have been mailing out some to folks who do not have one to start with – these directions will come in handy.

If you’re looking for a kombucha, ginger beer or sourdough starter ~ I could be your guy. Send me an email or post a comment on this blog and I’ll be more the happy to help you out.

What you have to know is that reviving a dried sourdough starter can be a pretty bulletproof and simple task – most of the time. Like all cultures that go dormant however, you do not know if they are “alive” again until you go through the process to wake them up. Some have gone to sleep forever and you need to start all over again. No big deal – just let me know and I can ship you out another.

Day 1 Instructions: 

Soak 1 tsp. dried starter in 1 Tbs. lukewarm purified or spring water for a few minutes to soften

Stir in 1 Tbsp. all-purpose or bread flour (orgainc), cover loosely with a tightly woven cloth or Abeego wax/cloth wrap and let sit at 20 degrees (plus) for 24 hours. If you stir the mixture a couple of times during the 24 hours you will aerate and push the process along a little further.

Day 2: 

Stir in 1 Tbsp. of flour and 1 tsp. of purified water and let it sit as in day 1. Bubbling should start within 48 to 72 hours of this process. If not, your culture might be stagnant. Try again.

Day 3: 

Add 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup of water to activate culture.  Build the starter one or two times per day until you have what you will need for baking – remembering you will need to keep some to set aside for future batches. Equal amounts (by weight) of flour and water usually give you the best culture consistency for baking.

Aftercare: 

Your starter can be stored in the fridge with a loose fitting lid or Abeego. You can then feed it once weekly to keep it alive. You may also go the route of drying your culture out on a silpat if you feel that you are done with baking.

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Garlic-y Sauerkraut

Crocks are a delight

Crocks are a delight

 

Another recipe to address eating in-season. Cabbage, carrots, garlic and some spices are all you need to start playing with fermentation! Luckily if you’re North of the 49th, these ingredients are available to you at any time.

You may NOT have a crock but do not fear, if you have some glass vessels you can start out fermenting in smaller batches to see how much you enjoy it and how much you will be consuming before you put out the cash for a crock.

Please do not use metal or plastic – ever.

My suggestion is to check second hand shops and online bargains like Kijiji or Craigslist instead of buying new. This way you can up-cycle and save cash.

This is a larger batch recipe, halve or quarter depending on your brewing vessel. Note: your cabbage volume will decrease by about half by the time you’re ready to ferment.

Ingredients: 

3 heads cabbage

5 large carrots

6 large cloves garlic

2 tbsp celery seed

1/4 cup vinegar (if needed)

1/4 cup water (if needed)

1/4 cup salt (or to taste)

 

Method: 

Slice up veggies thinly as shown below.

In-season goodness

In-season goodness

Next, start massaging your salt (slowly) into the veggies to pull the water out of the cabbage and carrots. This will take some time if you do not have some sort of a tamper to do this for you. Squeeze and squeeze and squeeze until you start to see a lot of water appearing.

Taste a little bit of the mixture to see how salty it is while you are adding salt slowly. Remember, your fermentation process will not remove all salt SO if you over salt, add more veggies.

Wet & ready

Wet & ready

You should start to notice that when you push down on the veggies your water starts to come up over the top of them. This is great. You will need to keep the ferment covered in water for the duration of its souring.

You will need to add some water/vinegar mixture to add more water if you cannot draw enough from your vegetables.

Secret ingredient

Secret ingredient

My secret ingredient is celery seed. I add this at the very end and stir throughout the mixture.

Once your mix is covered with liquid, place a loose towel over the opening of your vessel to allow air to access your new batch of ferment. I like to secure this with an elastic band.

You will need to check on this daily to ensure mold does not appear. Unlike Kombucha, you can scrape mold off of the top of a kraut ferment. Like Kombucha, the length of fermentation is all up to your own personal taste AND the time of year.

The warmer your kitchen the quicker your ferment. Taste in about 2-3 days to see your progress. Allow the ferment to continue until you have the desired level of sourness you like. After this, place a lid on your kraut and refrigerate to stop the fermentation process. Hit up my Kombucha post for fermenting tips.

Remember, you can start to make ferments your own. Add nettle for food medicine, hot peppers for spicy kraut, use purple cabbage for more colour or just stay straight up plain with green cabbage.

Your kraut is resting nicely and soon you will be able to use this delicious food to balance your gut, clear your skin and bring shine to your hair!

Sleeping & souring

Sleeping & souring

Doing the booch.

Kombucha, a piece of cake!

Kombucha, a piece of cake!

 

I brew this stuff so often I’m actually surprised that I’ve NEVER blogged a reliable recipe before now. However, I’m pretty stoked to get this recipe in when the right lighting is used and I had such an anomaly of a mother to show you all!

The snow was falling outside and I wanted to buy myself a little time before heading out to plow our 130 foot long driveway in the minus temperatures. I figured I would do a little spot on Fermentation because I don’t find a lot of people talking about it, and I find the process rewarding and meditative.

In order to start a brew you are going to need a SCOBY or a mother. A SCOBY is a symbiotic culture of bacterial yeast. You cannot find these just anywhere and much like a sourdough starter, you need to either have one gifted to you or find your own.

If you’re looking for a free mother, I have lots, just drop me a line. To find your own, I suggest picking up a couple of bottles of store-bought bottled Kombucha and using any of the remnants inside the bottle to inoculate your first batch. You can test your store-bought booch for potency by removing the lid, placing on a light cloth and allowing it to sit on your counter top for a week or so. You should find that a bottle-sized SCOBY will begin to appear on the top. If not, you have no live bacteria – try again.

Kombucha (and Kraut) are the two greatest sources of beneficial bacteria for the human gut. Yogurt and any other pasteurized (heated) commercial products claiming to be loaded with probiotics are, well, frauds. Besides, all Yogurt is is cholesterol and diabetes in a jar with little-to-no bacteria left after heat pasteurization. Beware false claims.

To start this process first find yourself a very large glass or crock-ware vessel. Do not use metal or plastic ever. The vessel you choose should be able to hold at least 5 litres of liquid.

Ingredients:

2 cups Kombucha for inoculating

Kombucha mother/SCOBY

4 litres of water – 2 boiled & 2 cold

2 cups sugar (kombucha loves cheap horrible refined sugar the best, but I use organic sugars)

5 bags of tea (green, white, black work the best – you cannot use tea with essential oils such as Earl Grey as this will mould in your brew and you will have to toss everything out. Unlike sauerkraut, Kombucha mold cannot be skimmed off of the top. )

Flavouring: berries, herbs, fresh juices, vanilla beans. These can be frozen or fresh!

 

Method:

Bring 2L of water, sugar and teabags to boil on the stove top. Allow to sit and cool for an hour or so.

Remove tea bags.

Place boiled water and cold water in your brewing vessel.

**It is imperative you ensure your brew is cool enough to inoculate! If too hot, your mother will melt!

Inoculate with starter reserves and mother.

Brewing begins.

Brewing begins.

Cover loosely with a tea towel and wait approximately 5 days to taste. On days 3 & 4 you should notice a skin starting to form on the top of your vessel. This is a new mother and it is perfectly fine! If you notice no change (ie: no new mother) wait 2 more days. If still nothing, you need to start over, your SCOBY was dead!

If you DO see changes and no mold by day 5, have a taste, if it’s to your liking now you can add your flavouring but first, we separate out at least 2 cups of tea and at least one active mother to store in a small glass vessel until our next brew.

Flavouring should be done in separate batches without mothers to avoid tainting with flavour if at all possible.

Some sink, some float.

Some sink, some float.

Tips:

Some mothers sink, some float – that’s fine and dandy.

You can brew until you like the flavour. The longer, the stronger/more sour.

Try all types of teas with caffeine for different flavours. Booch lives on sugar and caffeine so it can’t be brewed with herbals.

If you brew too long, you’ll have vinegar, but it’s great for salad dressings!

Brewing times shorten in the summer and are longer in the winter OR are shorter when the brew stays warmer as a rule. Sometimes I place my vessel on a heat register to keep the brew warm in winter.

Keep bottled brew in the fridge or it could explode. Collect old bottles with toppers (like Grolsch beer) to bottle individual brews.

Note your brew times and flavour combos for reliable brewing every time.

Pickled carrot and daikon

 

Pickled radish & carrot

Pickled radish & carrot

This recipe is a good one for keeping some of this yummy deliciousness around all year. The end product should store well for a year or so in a closed mason jar in your fridge. You can use this for soups, salads and dressings to zip it up a notch.

I have used this in my Bahn Mi recipe as well as hot and sour soup and asian salads.

Ingredients:

5 carrots

1 large daikon

1.5 cups white vinegar

2 tbsp agave nectar

1 cup warm water

Method:

Julienne or grate carrot and daikon into bowl. Mix in all wet ingredients and let stand at least one hour before use.

Sourdough bread & starter

header image

Bread is something that I find hard to leave behind. Of course not all breads, just the delicious, tasty, homemade goodness without preservatives and warm out of the oven.

Sourdough – rye especially – is one of my absolute weaknesses. I’ve even joined a grain share recently to get the BEST local, organic, pesticide free and heritage grains possible. Bring on the bread and buns!!

In order to make a sourdough loaf, you need to have a sourdough starter. There is a time commitment with anything you ferment – and THIS is fermentation. Same as Kombucha or Ginger Beer or Sauerkraut, just a little different end product.

You need to commit at least 5 days to this process, so if you cannot mind your starter for this amount of time, do NOT start this recipe. Pick a time during a staycation or a week when you are not rushing around getting life in order. Your project WILL fail, I speak from experience. You also need to ensure that your home has a consistent temperature. Wild yeasts LOVE warm and are way more active when they are kept that way.

If you are ready to embark, here we go!

Starter ingredients & method:

So easy the kids can do it!

So easy the kids can do it!

Day 1: Make the Initial Starter

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

Combine flour and water in a deep metal bowl/container. Stir until mixed and thick/rubbery. Scrape all excess down sides of bowl & cover loosely with a cloth/cheesecloth. Place container somewhere that is at least 20 degrees consistently. I like to store mine in my pantry on a shelf with the door closed.

24 hours later (Day 2): 

Just under 1 cup all-purpose flour
Just over 1/2 cup water (non-chlorinated/spring/filtered if possible)

You may see some bubbles today – Yay! If not, do not worry.

Repeat day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 3): .

 

bubbly

Still no bubbles? That’s ok. Lots of bubbles? Yay – you have some active yeast baby!! Carbon dioxide and alcohol are working their magic. Can you smell the sour?

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 4): .

You should be bubbling by now. If not – see troubleshooting below. If so – we are nearly at the finish line and ready to start making bread.

Repeat instructions for day one NOW. 

24 hours later (Day 5): 

If you are bubbled up, vinegary smelling and thinned out, you are ready. If you see no bubbles by now you can continue the process for 1-2 more days. If no bubbles appear you will need to start over. Make sure you have a COZY spot for your yeast to thrive.

LETS MAKE BREAD!

bread

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

Starter Maintenance tips: 

It’s ok to scrape off mold in sourdough as in kraut – but NOT with kombucha. Use your discretion if you see mold on your starter.

If you are intending on keeping a regular ritual of bread making you will need to maintain your starter. Daily,discard half and feed your starter as you would on day one.If you are not using the starter every couple of days, cover it tightly and place it in the fridge.

A pinch of commercial bread yeast can kickstart “weak” starters. Try this if you are having any day 3 inactivity.

Take your starter out for 24 hours weekly, feed as in day one at least once per week. Yeast needs time to reactivate – don’t smother your starter with cold!!

Thicken your starter by adding enough flour to make it nearly “unstirable” or dry 2 cups of your starter out on a very low setting in your dehydrator, crumble and place in an airtight mason jar. To reactivate, add crumbles to 1/4 cup of warm water and stir. Begin feeding as you would from the beginning. This is called inoculating your starter. Sourdough “chips” will store for at least 3-4 months.

Your starter gets liquidy if left too long between food or if you used too little flour to water. Pour off excess water or add small amounts of extra flour.

 

Lets make some bread and break some bread!

Recipe by thekitchn.com

I have to say that this ISN’T the best recipe out there however, it is a great starter recipe. The last batch of starter I made I used this recipe with and the results are in the pics above. I wanted to roll out something easy and approachable for any of you newbies. This site also has some good beginner breakdowns for folding and kneading bread.

I hand mix and knead all of my breads which is sort of an art form really. You have to open up and free yourself from the fear that you will screw up your bread – you will. Keep staying lighthearted and playful and soon you will be able to start getting adventurous with your breads. This means….stay tuned for some interesting NEW recipes with some of the crazy flours I’m ordering in.

Ingredients/method and tips: 

1 1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry baking yeast
2 cups starter
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon natural unbleached salt

Combine the water and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Give the yeast a few minutes to dissolve completely. Stir in the sourdough starter until the starter is mostly dissolved.

Add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, and stir to make a shaggy dough. With the dough hook attachment and your mixer on low speed, knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time as needed if the dough becomes sticky like bubble gum, but try to avoid adding too much. The dough is finished kneading when it comes together into a smooth ball that’s slightly tacky to the touch and holds a ball-shape in your hand.

Clean out the mixing bowl, film it with a little oil, and return the dough to the bowl. Turn it a few times to coat with oil, then cover. Let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Once risen, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide it in two. Shape each half into rough balls and let them rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two  loaf pans.

divided loaves

 Transfer the loaves to the loaf pans and cover loosely. Let the loaves rise until they’re starting to puff over the rim of the pan, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Slash the top of the loaves a few time with a serrated knife or baking lame, and slide them immediately into the oven.

For a crispier crust, spritz the inside of the oven with water using a water spritzer before closing the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 400°F. Continue baking for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are deep golden brown and the loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. (Total baking time is 35 to 40 minutes.)

Shake the loaves out of the loaf pans and let them cool completely on a cooling rack.

Sasha, what do you eat?

There have been quite a few people lately who have asked what I eat. I’m not sure where that question comes from. Surely I hope it isn’t to achieve some physical representation of my shape – lets face it, we are all different. If we weren’t I’d be at “As Seen on TV” buying a thigh master and becoming Suzanne Somers.

So, now that we’ve cleared that up a titch, let’s throw in a caveat: I AM NOT A FOOD ELITIST. What does this mean? I observe certain dietary practices for my own personal reasons. I do not expect that it would be my way or the proverbial highway for everyone else -that’s insane. What I do know, from experience and education, I share. That’s it.

There’s no Goosey/Gander B.S. here. 

So, in an effort to stop running off at the mouth…here’s what I ate for dinner last night: 

Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes), red potato, carrot, brussel sprouts, garlic, leek and some olive oil. All baked at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. I *nearly* ate all of this until I had to stop myself with about a handful left. I love food.

AAAAAnnnndd…here’s what I had for lunch today:

Homemade sourdough bread, homemade kraut, red leaf lettuce salad with tomato and avocado. Homemade dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tamari, nutritional yeast.
So that’s it, that’s typical, and that’s what I find tastes AMAZING. Most of you know I make my own granola. So I had that with Almond milk and a banana this morning. I usually snack on homemade (dehydrated) kale chips, and drink about 1/2 a litre of homemade kombucha daily. 
Am I vitamin or mineral deficient? Nope. Do I have to mind this regularly – yep. Any more questions, hit me up at: humblerootswellness@gmail.com 
Happy eating loves. 
Sasha

Fermentation – Why you need to get into it!




As I am turning a new leaf here in Calgary, I feel the need to bring some of my most “basic” nutritional classes to the masses. My favourite? Fermentation. From Kombucha to Pickles, Kimchi to Root Beer…this ancient tradition is the stuff healthy guts, skin and hair were made up of. 

Why you ask? Well heres a few cents and a closer look into fermentation and it’s benefits.

Fermenting means converting a food’s carbohydrates to alcohol (not the kind that gets you drunk). Examples include kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchee, vinegar, tempeh, miso, yogurt, kefir and pickles.
Fermented foods are rich in enzymes, which help speed up digestion and absorption in our system. They are also rich in good bacteria, specifically lactobacillus acidophilus, which is a beneficial flora found in the gut. Consuming the healthy bacteria found in fermented foods restores and balances the flora in your gut leading to better vitamin and nutrient absorption. Another plus is that fermented foods have a long shelf life, without containing harmful preservatives.


1. Kombucha (also known as mushroom tea, kvass, etc) is a fermented drink made from tea, sugar, live bacteria and yeast. It’s readily available at health food stores and even some grocery stores but at astronomical prices that I just cannot agree with. Benefits include improvement in digestion and liver function, as well as stimulation of the immune system. Kombucha does not have a high salt or sugar content and can be enjoyed daily.
2. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage. It’s typically made with just two ingredients: salt and cabbage. Korea has a version of sauerkraut called kimchee, which is fermented spiced cabbage. Sauerkraut and kimchee contain beneficial bacteria that help with the digestive process and are a great way to naturally cure yeast infections. There’s also research linking kimchee with high antibiotic potency and longevity. 
3. Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soybeans that is a great source of manganese and zinc — two important mineral antioxidants. Miso contains healthy bacteria that supports intestinal microflora, the amino acid tryptophan which is important for sleep and is a great source of dietary fibre. During the soybean fermentation process, grains like barley, rice, or buckwheat may be added to achieve a certain flavour, but in most cases soybeans serve as the basis. Miso soup is also often prescribed to patients undergoing chemotherapy as it’s believed by some to aid in absorption of essential nutrients. Miso can be used to add flavour to soups, sauces, marinades, salad dressings or vegetables dishes, but is high in salt so use cautiously.
4. Coconut kefir (similar to milk kefir without the dairy) is fermented coconut milk. It contains a host of probiotic cultures that support your intestinal system that are not found in yogurt. Coconut kefir helps to minimize sugar cravings and, because it’s not made from animal milk, people with lactose intolerance can partake minus the nasty side effects. Enjoy it on its own or in a smoothie or make it into a dip similarly to how you’d use yogurt.