Harvesting Wild Yeast for Sourdough Bread

Well this whole virus thing has really taken off, has it not?  I don't know where YOU live, but my town is under "shelter-at-home" orders.  We can't gather together more than 10 people in a location.  We are not supposed to travel unless it is absolutely necessary to our health and well-being.

Of course, Matt still has to go to work, since he is in health care...and to be honest, while I am a little nervous about his potential for exposure (and subsequently ours, and more importantly, the grandparents), I am really grateful right now that we chose jobs in health care and education.

My heart hurts for people who are not as fortunate and are really suffering from all of the closures and shut downs.  😢

There is so much to think about when we are remembering the burdens this causes.  Mine are minute...so I'll be a trooper and not complain.  I mean...I'm currently being paid to work from home, alongside my children...so that's actually a bit of a dream come true.  (We'll see my stance at the end of this coming week.  😂)

Anyway, here is a helpful chart posted by KMBC, to help us understand exactly what the stay-home order means.  Because...I've never experienced THIS before.

We will do what we can to adapt.  I will choose to accept what I cannot control and do the best with what I can.  I will pray...LOTS!  And we will get through it together.  💕

One thing I hope changes soon is the lack of supply.  However, I anticipate that will only get MORE challenging as the weeks of shutdown go by.  There is not much I can do about toilet paper.  (Sigh.)   And who thinks a 1 gallon of milk limit for a family of 6 is going to work?  Can we get a family size adjustment on the limits???? 

Anyway...we will manage.  But...when I couldn't get yeast the other day, I got creative.  I am not panicking, but I've always been the kind of person who needed to know I could figure things out if the system fell apart.  And, right now, the system is kind of falling apart. 

So, I thought I remembered reading something about harvesting wild yeast in the past.  And I knew there was a thing such as bread starters.  (You know...those Amish Friendship Bread "gifts" that spread and multiplied in the past and wreaked their own stress and panic in their wake?)  

So I looked up harvesting yeast and bread starters, and found a GREAT recipe for sourdough.

I carefully followed the instructions to create my starter.  It's pretty simple.  Flour naturally has yeast on it.  So, adding equal parts of water and flour together, and keeping them in the proper environment, for the proper amount of time, allows the existing yeast to multiply enough to give rise to your bread.

I was extra careful with this, since it was my first time.  I wanted to leave little room for failure and disappointment.  So, I got out the kitchen scales, I used a wooden spoon 🤷‍♀️, I used unbleached flour (which I happened to have as a gift from a neighbor), and I used purified water.

I set the covered mixture out on top of my refrigerator (as suggested), and the next day, things looked promising:

There are multiple days involved in creating a sourdough starter.  Though, each day requires minimal work.  (I had to set a calendar reminder, because 🤦‍♀️ #ineedhelp.)  And each day, it continued to progress, until day 5, when I and my recipe pronounced my sourdough starter "ready to use." 

Oh, the disappointment when I discovered I had to wait another day to make and rest the leaven.  And really, all that meant was taking a little tiny bit of my starter and adding more flour and water and letting that, too, sit over night.

But the next day...the next day I got to start the dough!

And it was an intense process!  It involved lots of little steps throughout the day and lots of waiting in between.

No worries, since I am pretty much mandated to be stuck at home for the next month.  I have time.  We worked on things in between each step, and man was I so excited as we were getting to the final phase.

And then...I got to the part (at about 5 pm) where the recipe instructed me to let it rest one last time...for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).  Boy was I upset, because I am not about to be baking bread at 9 pm.  We went with the overnight method. 

I couldn't sleep past 4 am this morning (and, if you know me, you know...😱).  I had to keep myself quietly entertained until a decent hour, but at the first signs of stirring, I got that oven heated up to 500 degrees (oh my!!) and popped those little loaves right in.

Again, I followed the instructions very carefully, and
I am sooo pleased with the results!

Not a bad lunch for being on lock down!  We made a salad and had some olive oil with balsamic vinegar for dipping the bread.  It was excellent.  And I made it all from scratch.  No commercial yeast.  No milk.  Just flour, (I've got my eye on acorns, just in case the wheat flour runs short...I've heard a little something about acorn flour  😂🤓) water, and salt.

I kept the starter.  I'm going to do my best to keep it alive.  And who knows, maybe the O'Hara family will be blessed with a couple of loaves a week.  We will see how things go, once we start back up tomorrow!

I hope you all are coping well through this crazy.  It's hard not knowing, because I am not ALWAYS fortunate to get feedback.  And I do care soooo very, very much.  💕  We are doing lots of things to distract and entertain.  I am getting as much sunshine as possible and making sure I walk (outside whenever possible, but I'm also fortunate to have a treadmill at home).  I am staying calm, and my kids all seem to be handling it really well.  I try to keep things normal (I mean...OUR "normal") and focused.  We come up with ways to learn, be productive, engage, entertain and treat ourselves through each moment of the day.  And I think we can make it...🎶

Love and prayers for peace and stability.  We will get through this!  Amen.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NASB)

"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline."