“A Yeast Infection”

“A Yeast Infection”

Yep, there’s one at my house right now.

On Monday, the 4th of July, I started my first wild yeast culture. I’ve been meaning to for a long while, I had most of the stuff, even went through the task of finding a suitable house for it.

It’s a fairly simple process, as far as I can tell, it’s an equal amount of flour and water and time… and some effort. In terms of “equal amount” you have to go by weight, since flours weigh differently the world over and they settle in the cups differently. The website I used suggested 4oz flour with 4oz water (chlorine-free [bottled water]).

I didn’t weigh out anything and I started with 1 cup of whole rye flour in a big, not huge, stainless steel bowl. I also “Justin Lehman’d” it up by food processing a large granny smith apple and a small Fuji apple and then shoving the bits through a wire-strainer to get the juice. The two apples only net me about half of a cup of juice, so I added half a cup of water. So a 1c flour to 1c liquid.

Mix thoroughly, cover loosely, forget!

Well, it should have been that easy, but since I didn’t weigh anything, the website (http://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2012/04/05/creating-your-own-sourdough-starter-the-path-to-great-bread/) recipe kept me wondering. I had the loose consistency I wanted. But I couldn’t let it go, so I added another cup of rye flour. (4oz of water is half a cup, and 4oz of flour is about 1c, so I thought it was an easy 2flour-to-1liquid ratio. Nope!)

The sugars in the apple juice invite the wild yeast from all over Springfield, or at least those vacationing near my house. The whole rye flour is super-full of crap for them to eat and as the juice “spoils,” I even get a bit of fermentation to flavor. But that granny smith smells great. It reminds me of so much whiskey.

It wasn’t wet enough, though, and after a few more hours of looking at it (too early for any real activity), I added in some more distilled water to get the loose batter-like texture. So, in the end, 2c of rye flour, 2c of liquid, ½ c of that being fresh-squeezed apple juice (2/3 of that being granny smith, 1/3 Fuji) and then I forgot it until the next morning. I mean, I was going to have to leave it alone anyway, it’s all a matter of time.

And voila! The looser mix let all kinds of stuff happen overnight! The granny smith apple smell was pretty faded and some pungency took hold. And bubbles! The very proof of life!

As per instructions, I scooped away half the starter and then fed it with 1c of AP flour (unbleached!) and ½ c distilled water. In continuing with the strange fermenting fruit theme, I casually dropped a bruised, slightly bleeding strawberry in it.

Haha, the dough rose to overtake it! Like the blob. (It didn’t happen fast.) And today, when doing the “care and feeding” I noticed that the strawberry smell was pretty noticeable even among the new super-pungency.

The “easy-digestibility” of the AP flour saw a huge rise in activity (it was also much warmer outside) and the starter probably doubled in amount. It shrank over the day, of course. Today, I scooped away half of it (it’s sticky, living stuff) and added half a cup of whole wheat flour and half a cup of distilled water to try and control the size a bit.

Whoo and does it smell sour! It’s sour, but not bad or funky. I’d like to think that if I smelled “decay” or something bad, I wouldn’t find it palatable. But, this stinkiness was, in every way, what I always hoped to have in my cinnamon rolls, so I’m super-excited for next week when the culture is ready.

I purposely abused the strawberry when mixing in the new flour so that it might leak a little more juice into the starter. Sugars, you know.

Tomorrow, I might replace it. I expected it to be mostly devoured when I went to fish it out today, but it was still mostly whole. But then, these are tiny creatures I’m trying to collect.

With today’s scooped starter, I added (unmeasured amounts) of whole wheat flour and AP flour, salt, and a little milk and oil to help bring it into a dough of some kind. I shaped it into balls for a slow, low bake time (250F, probably). They’re resting now, it’ll be interesting to see if they rise at all. I don’t expect much, it’s a three-day old culture, but it’s a good way to test where it might be. And what does it taste like!? I’m almost mad with the question!

Depending on what the strawberry looks/feels like tomorrow, I may replace it with a new one. The addition of these extra sugars may allow the “souring” to happen faster, so I’ll have to watch it. With my nose.

By appearances, it looks like a bubbling mass of tan sludge. It’s awesome.

And today, in the writing foray, Bana talks to Nitham. I have to find a way to simply tell Nitham’s story (so far). Being too wordy I’m working on, but that’s it’s own madness. I’ve already written most of it, or all, really, just no lead-in or activity during talking.

Those things will take away from the actual lines, so I have to see how much can be lost while the meaning stays. Plus, the theme, always the theme. It would be a great time for a “wise person’s” advice to show how things are important. And then onward to action, and just as importantly… how to write it!

-j.

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