Sourdough Home

“Carefully managed starters can last indefinitely, but keeping up with one is a good bit of work. Kinda like having a pet that you raise and feed and take care of and then…bake and eat.”

— Alton Brown

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2020-02-15 An Update From Mike's (more or less) Weekly Baking Tips

I suspect more than a few people have signed up this year and have been wondering, "Is there REALLY a newsletter?" And that longer term subscribers are wondering if I died or something.

Well, to start with, there really IS a newsletter. And what happened falls under the "or something" heading. Sadly, we haven't sent a copy out since late November or early December, 2019. The reason is simple... I spent most of December and early January either in the hospital or recovering. It wasn't anything terribly serious, by which I mean the things that happened were pretty routine and aren't the sort of thing that cause long term life changes or leave one fighting for one's life. I am profoundly grateful that this happened in the 21st century - the outcome would not have been so happy 50 or 100 years ago. I am also profoundly grateful we have good insurance. What happened was one darn thing after another. As my doctor said, "You've been through a lot." Roger that good buddy! However, I am very much back on my feet - I'll be going the the gym for the first time in two months in a little bit.

{We pause working on the newsletter for a quick trip to the gym.}

The gym trip was great, although I wasn't performing at the level I had at been two months ago. Still, I'll get back there!

There are two reasons I mentioned my hospitalization. One is to explain my absence from your in-tray. And the other is to announce a project.

Somewhere in January, Beth, my long suffering wife, sweetly asked me if I'd left some starter in the proofer on the counter in the kitchen. I admitted I had, that I'd planned on baking some sourdough early in December, and things had kind of spun out of control.

"Yeah", she told me, "I was wondering what that awful smell was in the kitchen and finally found it." The proofer wasn't on, but the starter was still at room temperature. Just in case I really wanted some of that nasty stuff, Beth saved some in a small jelly jar and pitched the rest. It's been in the fridge for about 2 more weeks.

And this means we can try the "can it be revived" experiment that so many bakers perform on an ongoing basis. From where I sit, it's not an experiment unless you are changing only one variable. As luck would have it, I have a container of my regular starter in the fridge. It has been refrigerated for about 3 months. I can usually revive it in about 3 days.

So, I'll try to revive both, taking pictures, and see what happens. Will both revive? Will they still look, smell and work the same?

The last time we covered this ground, I commented I liked to feed my starter twice a day when it was at room temperature, and to feed it for three days after taking it out of the fridge. One person (sorry, I lost your email in the shuffle) told me I had a spoiled fussy starter. We'll see. Sometimes we don't see how strong something is until we push it.

I'll take pictures at each feeding and let you know what happens in the next newsletter. If they perk up enough, I'll bake some bread and share pictures of that.

Until next time, may your dough always rise, no matter how badly you abused your starter.
-Mike

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