Sourdough Soliloquy

Starter recipe at bottom

There is something bubbling and smoldering on my kitchen table. Everyday I feed it and admire it and give thanks for it's fermenting existence. If I stop caring for it, it will turn to alcohol, then starve and die. This, of course, is a sourdough starter. My quest in breadmaking glory has brought me to this convened order of dough. It's finicky and a pain in the ass. Like your favorite household pet you have to be careful when you leave it alone, ask friends to watch over it when you're gone, and eventually, make it a part of your family.


It's roots are humble: water, sugar, and wholemeal flour. Waiting, looking for the local culture to activate it. Just the right conditions and it comes to life. However, the start is still infantile; it takes more care and more importantly, patience, before it can raise a loaf. It's attraction to bakers can be traced back to the start of bread. Instant yeast didn't exist to the Egyptians, but flour and water did. Since, we've done our best to understand and utilize the sourdough, the majestic centerpiece of bakeries worldwide. The San Francisco variety may first come to mind, but it is one of thousands. Each sourdough starter is a product of it's environment. You move the sourdough, you move some of the flavor and uniqueness too. Not totally dissimilar to ourselves, sourdough is a in no small part a product of it's environment and those who care for it. 


Sourdough's beauty lies in it's imperfection. You can see it in the shape of the loaf and the tiny bubbles on the crust. To me, these are the swelling waves in front of a surfer in the morning sun. I can feel something special happening. The crust, with the signature crunch yet soft and spongy inside. The acidic bite is there, letting you know it's not domesticated, but still affectionate to the right touch. To some, it's just another loaf of bread. Maybe it's my desire to use my hands beyond the strokes of a keyboard, but during my PhD my love for making bread has grown tremendously. There is something so basic about making a loaf: water, flour, salt.  Yet the flavor can be expansive and satisfying. It takes time to feel what dough should feel like; a developed intuition of touch


Sourdough starter recipe

Day 1:

Add equal parts 100% pineapple juice & water (~tablespoon each), leave covered at room temperature.

Day 2-3:

Add same amount of both

Day 4:

Check to see if bubbles start to form on the surface. Check two-four hours after feeding: has the starter grown?

Day 5-6:

Once the starter is active, remove half and add flour and water in equal proportions. The amount you add needs to be at least equal to the amount you removed (at this point probably 1/4-1/2 cup)

Day 6-infinity:

If kept at room temperature, feed every 12-16 hours as described above. Starter can also be kept in the fridge and fed every 5-7 days. The leftover 'unfed' starter can be used to make pizza, pancakes, muffins. Share with friends.