Sourdough Bootcamp Day Two
Updated: May 21
Enjoy Day Two: a quiet day of observation and stirring as the starter develops
Sourdough starter Day Two--a few bubbles visible on the surface
Today is another day of simply observing, and occasionally giving your starter a stir, let’s say 4 to 5 times. (Do make sure that your hands and your spoon are squeaky clean.)
How does your starter look today? How does it smell?
Mine is sort of oatmeal-coloured, and there are a few small bubbles visible on top, though not through the side of the container.
Starter Day Two closeup
The smell is just slightly tangy.
The texture is less pasty, more watery than yesterday.
When I lift the starter from the container with a spoon, a thick gluey strand stretches between bowl and spoon.
Evidence of gluten development in the starter: a long gluey strand
What’s happening here?
A couple of things—a bit of gluten development, hence the gluey strand.
The other thing that’s happening is fermentation.
By mixing flour and water, we’ve created a medium in which yeasts and bacteria, naturally present in the flour and in the atmosphere of the average kitchen, develop a symbiotic culture. Here’s a nice, concise explanation:
“The yeast provides the lactobacilli with alcohol for nourishment, while the bacteria provide the yeast with a slightly acidic pH which they thrive in. The bacteria ferment sugars that the yeast can't metabolize, but the bacteria's by-products can be metabolized by the yeast, which produces carbon dioxide gas which leavens the bread. It also produces alcohol, which the bacteria feed off of. Sourdough bread has a sour taste because of the lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli.”
So that’s what we’re up to in these early days, facilitating the growth of that symbiotic culture.
Please don’t worry if your starter is not behaving exactly like mine. There are many variables—the temperature of your home, the flour you used, how much you bake in your kitchen generally.
(Joy of Cooking tells us that the more you bake, the more wild yeasts are present in the kitchen.All that flour and dough=wild yeast escapees.)
Just observe, stir, and be patient.
And enjoy these days of quiet observation and stirring, because soon we’re going to be doing a lot of baking.