Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sourdough and Pickles!

And a little of my philosophy. :)
But first the sourdough!
A week ago a good friend gave me an Alaskan starter that had been in her family for awhile (she claims it is 100 yrs old!) and I decided after reading a lot about souring grains to make them more digestible that I would try my hand at a slow rise sourdough. (I used the recipe found here. Good instructions, but I should have written it down. I forgot to add the extra water)

It was like having another kid to feed! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner it got a scoop of all-purpose flour (AP flour worriers wait for the philosophy part) and a little water.
Then another day of feeding every 3 hours! Then adding fat, flour, water (if you read it right : P), and kneading.
Bread today right? Nope :) In the fridge it goes to digest some more gluten all sorts of other good, sour stuff. FOR 24 HOURS. At least it doesn't need a babysitter.
Take that chilled puppy out and knead again then rise (sounds more like it!) and bake.

Here is the glorious bread:

Yes it was dryer and therefore had a thicker crust then it should have, but it was still crazy tasty!
The Nugget loved gnawing the crusts with her apple too.

(next time I'll take pics of the whole process and more of the Nugget)

Next on the agenda - Pickles!

OMG! I love pickles with an unhealthy love. Now I have yet to try a fermented pickle and these are a quick brine ones, but one day I will!

I had the brine recipe just thrown together from tidbits I found online and random spices :) My hubby calls that "Fringe" cooking. I'll put the recipe at the bottom along with my version of the sourdough, but first look at these bad boys! (the cukes came from someone at church, don't know who - just on a table saying free cukes for pickles.) 

I didn't have canning lids so I used some parchment paper I had : P. My life is improv.

I think I've died and gone to heaven!

Couldn't wait the few days that it takes for them to get all the flavor. Still better then store bought!

A quick thought on my philosophy and then recipes!

(A FYI - This blog is my journy to eating and living a more healthy and traditional way, even if it is a little "crunchy")

I live in the real world. I work on-call (way less then part-time), and my husband has his own (barely getting by) business. I eat fast food (less then a year ago though), watch TV and surf the Internet.

I am also not dead or have a body rotting disease and my daughter and husband love me.

I can only do what I can with what I have and what I know. 

If you are reading this and think that I'm some lady with a ton of time on her hands and a lot 'o' bucks, think again. I had to wake up at 5am to have that bread ready today and those cukes were FREE!

Of course I would like to have whole wheat that I could sprout then dry and grind. Of course I'd like to have had fermented pickles. I would also like to have Alice from the Brady Bunch.

But you know what? The long slow rise that my sourdough had made that bread so much better for me and my family. And I KNOW exactly what was in my pickles.

If you are afraid to change remember this - even if you can only do one thing and even only just today, you are still doing something better and it will affect you. Do not get discouraged - I promise you I used to be a freaking perfectionist and wouldn't do anything unless I could do it full force. But now I know that just leads to burn out and loss of progress. Remember you are not behind and that you can do it!

Ok recipes:

Refrigerator Pickles

2 lbs pickling cucumbers (I'm not sure if you can use other types, but I would try)
Brine: For every quart of water - 3/4c vinegar and 1/4c salt (I had distilled white vinegar and kosher salt)
I did 2 quarts of water, so - 1 1/2c vinegar and 1/2c salt
Spices (I just threw in a small hand full minced garlic, 1t whole caraway seeds and 1T dried dill)

Put the brine and spices in a pot and set to boil. Clean the cukes and jars you plan to use. (I should have sterilized mine but oh well : P) Packed the cukes in the jars and pour the boiling hot brine over the pickles. Cover and put in the refrigerator. Full flavor in a few days but I wont tell if you have one once its chilled!

Slow-Rise Sourdough Bread

From: I would really stress you to go to the site and read the whole page!
Makes one small loaf.

4 cups wholemeal flour. (1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.)
1/2 cup of sourdough starter.
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
25 grams of lard, beef fat or butter.
2 cups water.

Sourdough Starter
Feed-up a sourdough starter 3 times a day with a little flour, for one day prior to using it.

Make the Sponge
Mix with a wooden spoon in a glass bowl 1/2 cup flour with the starter, then mix in enough water to make a thick soupy batter. This is called the sponge. Cover the bowl and leave in a warm place (28C) for about 4-5 hours to prove. The starter should double in size. If you use a glass bowl you will be able to see the formation of gas bubbles in the gluten. (1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.)

Mix in another half cup of flour with the sponge and put aside to prove for another 3 hours, then add another 1/2 cup of flour and leave for another 3 hours. (1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.)

 Feeding the sponge every 3-5 hours will increase the activity of the yeasts. The fermentation times will be dependent upon the temperature of the sponge and the microflora in your starter culture. If you need to add additional water then do so, but be careful not to make it too wet.

Make the Dough
When the sponge is ready dissolve the salt in 1/2 cup of water (I missed this part) and add it to the sponge, then mix in the fat. Then add the final amount of flour called for in the recipe, in this case 2 1/2 cups.
(1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 + 2 1/2 cups.) (Give yourself a pat on the back too)

If your initial sponge was about the 'correct' consistency (determined by trial and error) you should only need to add a little water to form a dough. (But if you do add water use cold water) Mix the dough in the bowl with your finger tips, (it should be soft and fluffy) then tip it out onto the bench top. Knead the dough until it becomes silky, carefully adding teaspoons of cold water as you go, until you have a soft resilient dough. Note it is preferable to have the dough wetter rather than drier. Depending upon the type of flour, the correct moisture content is usually arrived at (for spelt and wheat flour) when the dough just sticks to the bench top and your hands. The less gluten the more the dough will stick. After you have kneaded the dough for 5 minutes transfer it to a glass bowl, put the bowl inside a plastic bag and refrigerate for 12-72 hours.

(Artisan bakeries sometimes have a retardation refrigerator set at 15C. Since I work from home I use my kitchen refrigerator which runs at 3-5C. At this temperature, I can leave the dough in the refrigerator for days without it rising, but the lactobacilli still seem to do their job. Generally I leave the dough in a refrigerator for 15-24 hours.) <--- This is from the website

When you are ready to use the dough, unwrap it and leave on a bench top for about 5 minutes to warm. Knead for about 5 minutes, adding teaspoons of water as required until the dough softens and has a silky texture.

Shape the dough and put into a greased and floured baking tin or pyrex dish, cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place (28-32C) until it doubles in size (about 3 1/2 - 4 hours). Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes or until it is nicely browned and a skewer comes out clean. Once the bread is cooked, tip it out of the tin and turn upside down on a wire rack to cool. When properly cooked fresh bread has a hollow sound when tapped with the fingers.


  1. The bread looks tasty. Way to go. Wow! Those pickles looked really good! Can't wait to read more!

    1. :) lol I just finished one of the quarts of pickles today! Hubby's mom came over and I gave her one to try and she loved it! :)

  2. I used to have an "Alice", but she got married and moved away. ;)