October marks the 42nd anniversary of our sourdough starter!
October marks the 42nd anniversary of our sourdough starter. The microbes that are the living soul of the starter, were captured in a couple of Italian bread dough pieces that I left out to ferment to the point of disintegration. The resulting liquid, acidified by the first fermentation, was covered lightly with a waxed paper and left to stand on a warm shelf near the massive hearth oven of The Elm Street Bakery in Cortland, NY. The bakery had been a bread bakery that had been built and operated since 1938 by the Italian immigrant Tucci Family. I believe that the wooden floors and walls of the space were filled the microbes and spirit of the doughs and loaves that were made there over the decades. Like the walls of a cheese cave. Within a week some of those wild yeasts and bacteria took up residence in the slurry and started a second fermentation. When we baked bread and broke it open to sample, a heavenly aroma of well baked bread with a sour undertone filled the air. We went on with the starter; baking many thousands of breads in the big oven.
I have made other starters at other times and other places but none have matched the flavor and character of this one. I have used it and rebuilt it countless times for what is now 42 years. We use it in almost every raised dough we make here at Red Fire North. Sometimes with bakers yeast, sometimes on its own. Because the starter is a very low pH tolerant mix of microbes, it's performance is often times unpredictable. I feel like a shepard hoping that the whole process ends up in the place I hoped it might but not really having full control of the wonderful little beasts that I work with to make food for you.
Happy Birthday Starter!
-Paul, owner and baker of RFN
Posted: to General News on Sun, Oct 3, 2021
Updated: Sun, Oct 3, 2021