Monday, 13 April 2020

My patience is running out

No, not about being in lockdown - that is fine. What's not to like? We play cards with friends every day or so by FaceTime or WhatsApp; our supermarketing is done by our friend Wendy, and there is almost unlimited opportunity for blobbing and reading.

The busiest times of course are the afternoons when we need to watch the COVID-19 updates from Jacinda and/or Ashley Bloomfield or the Commissioner of Police or the CEO of Civil Defence or the Finance Minister, always followed by some good questioning and some crap questioning by the media reps.

For David in particular there is a clash at 1pm now because he likes to watch Rachel Maddow and that is when Jacinda is on ...

So, back to the topic: my patience is running out on developing a sourdough starter.

It is now 6 days since I faithfully followed Bernice's instructions and put the requisite flour and water in a  jar and squidged it around with my hands, covered it with a paper towel and left it on the bench. Each day I have checked it for bubble development, and there have been some, but never enough.

I consulted Bernice again, sending photos and asking questions. Ditch some of it and refresh it with more flour and water, she counselled, and be patient.

Instructions followed, hopes risen, but that's the only thing that rose - the sourdough starter has flatlined. Refresh again, stir again, wait again. Put a rubber band around the jar at the level it is when you have just refreshed it - mine was refreshed an hour ago and it is already a third bigger, she says. Well, bully for you, Bernice, mine is increasing marginally, if that. And it's probably just the bits on the side of jar using osmosis to settle next to friends.

It will be ready for use when a spoonful of it floats if dropped into lukewarm water, she says. Quite a few bubbles, so maybe it is ready, Nope, sank like a stone.

Yesterday I got another message from Bernice saying there is a woman on the radio who now has a baking blog, and her starter took 12 days to be ready for baking.

As I said to Bernice, I am going to have to give up soon, as my supply of white flour is going to run out - I only have about 15kg left!!

Bernice wanted to send me some of hers, but the post office is only delivering essential mail and I don't think a sourdough starter counts somehow!

I'll give it 12 days, just for the fun of it, but I have no expectation that it'll ever turn into a viable starter. Perhaps pessimism is the best response as I won't be disappointed ...

Update on Tuesday: Last night before coming to bed, I put an additional spoon of flour and water and stirred, as instructed. This morning, no growth, easter's promise has not been fulfilled, it has flatlined once more and there were absolutely no bubbles at all. So I emptied out a couple of spoonsful of it, put in a spoonful of flour and a spoonful of water, stirred and put the paper towel back over. No need to move the rubber band as no change ...



Bernice said...

Ahh, patience!! Scarce commodity these days. If you have whole meal or rye flour, try a bit of that rather than your previous baking flour....although flour seems to be back in the shops, add it to your next shopping list! Persevere xx

Pip and Mick said...

Can you get hold of some organic grapes or a red cabbage leaf? The white on them is natural yeast. I put a red cabbage leaf in my starter on day one, fed it twice then removed the leaf. The following day I thought we'd have to move out of the boat as it had grown so much.
Sadly I've had to change the type of flour I was using due to shortages and it hasn't liked the change. But I've got a red cabbage now, so hoping I can give it a boost. My starter is a gluten free one, so may act slightly differently. Good luck
Pip NB Oleanna

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Bernice, I will try rye flour tomorrow as I've already dosed it today. I think it may have died overnight, by the way - it had bubbles last night but this morning, nary a one.

Hi Pip, thanks for the tip - three weeks ago I had organic grapes from our own vine, but no more unfortunately. Would a green cabbage or swiss chard work?

If push comes to shove, I will just make bread the way I always have - with yeast. I still have some yeast left and have been buying bread (ciabatta) anyway. I just thought that if bread supplies got short and I couldn't buy more yeast (none in the supermarket at the moment) having a sourdough starter available would be useful. However it has turned into a test of my patience and an exercise in dealing with failure - pauvre moi, given neither of those are my best features :-(

Cheers and thanks, both, Mxx

Pip and Mick said...

I've heard of people using apple before. You want a fruit or veg which has a bit of white bloom on it. Grapes and red cabbage this is easy to see.
In England it's been hard to get yeast and bread flour for some time, we seem to have become a nation of bakers all of a sudden.

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Hi Pip,
I have a red cabbage being delivered over the weekend from the Saturday market stall holders we usually buy our fruit and vegetables from - I will use a leaf from that ...
I always buy flour in bulk as I tend to make our bread. And today I found an unopened full jar of yeast in the pantry!! Yay, so I now have at least 1.5 jars - should be plenty to last us!
Have you tried the little corner shops for flour? We have found here that it's often our small shops that have supplies.
Cheers, Marilyn