Magic virtually surrounds us. And, my find at the local thrift store got me excited to share this secret. On the shelf sat two beautiful ceramic containers ($2.49 each) or crocks, more specifically, that nobody wanted or probably knew what to do with. But, I knew that with a little love, warmth and fresh air, these crocks would help make the perfect gift to a fellow sourdough bread lover.
Air is rich with fungi, or, more specifically wild yeast. The sourdough bread business has such a legacy in San Francisco because our area has an unusual bountiful supply of it. Yeast can also be found on grapes and other fruits – it’s that white, powdery stuff on the surface, and it’s perfectly natural. I’ve heard aspen trees also harbor wild yeast, though I have yet to experience that find (one day I will!). Different yeasts yield different flavors. And, once a starter is made and fed, it can last and be shared for many years.
Emily Buhler writes a great article with the best explanation about creating your own sourdough starter. And, of course, one does not need a serendipitous find at a thrift store to use. A glass container or jar will work just fine.
Now for a little history: The Klondike Gold Rush prospectors were known to sleep with their starters to keep the yeast warm and alive. In fact, experienced miners or those who survived a full winter were known as “sourdoughs,” apparently a term that has stayed on in Alaska referring to an old timer. The California Gold Rush prospectors had their sourdough starters, too. The bread was a main staple, so starters were highly coveted, protected and enjoyed.
I hope you love the bread as much as I do. However, if you find yourself sleeping with the sourdough starter, have a friend knock some good old fashion sense into you.