Kefir Whey Sourdough Starter

I began creating my own sourdough starters about a year ago, beginning with the following instructions and recipe from Abby’s “Rejoice in Life” kefir whey sourdough starter recipe. Since then, I’ve tried several others, but Abby’s is so simple, and successful, I keep going back to it as my primary starter. I’ve whittled down his instructions to a basic kefir whey starter, but he has many other options to explore at Rejoice In Life.

How To Make A Sourdough Bread Starter

Sourdough bread starters are quite easy to make. They consist of two groups of micro-organisms:

* Bacteria: Lactobacilli and other bacteria * Yeasts: Saccharomyces and other yeasts.

The bacteria create lactic acid and substances that provide flavour, while the yeasts create bubbles of carbon dioxide to make the bread rise. It is not unusual for the consortium of microflora in a sourdough starter to change depending upon the environment in which it is used. A San Francisco starter used on the Gold Coast of Australia may not get the same results as in its native town, San Francisco

To make a sourdough starter you need only four things:

1. A Container: Glass, Ceramic or Wooden.
A 250 ml jar with a plastic lid is suitable.

2. Flour.
Use either wholemeal spelt, rye or wheat flour. Make sure there are no raising agents in the flour. Rye is considered by some to be superior in making a sourdough starter because it contains all strains of lactic-acid bacteria, important for a healthy starter.

3. A Source of Bacteria And Yeasts
You can use any or all of the following sources of microorganisms.

* Kefir whey * Rejuvelac * Grapes or grape skins * Raisins, sultanas or currants * Wild organisms * Probiotic culture

Kefir whey is made by straining milk that has been cultured with real Kefir grains through unbleached linen. If you don’t have Kefir you may try yogurt, though yogurt does not contain the variety of microflora that real Kefir grains do.

4. Water
Use the best quality water you can find. tap water Filter your tap water if it contains fluoride and chlorine as these will neutralize the lactic-acid bacteria.

PROCEDURE

Add 1/4 cup of flour to a jar and mix in 1 tablespoon kefir whey

Then add enough water to make a thick paste.

Gently screw on a plastic lid or cover the jar with a cloth and leave on a bench top out of direct sunlight at about 25C.

Once a day for a week feed the culture with 2 teaspoons of flour and enough water to maintain a smooth paste.

The culture should begin its fermentation process within 1-3 days, recognisable by the yeasty aroma, bubbles and alcoholic smell.

The type of flour used will also support a distinctive consortium of microflora. Experiment with rye, spelt, wheat and so on.

Store the culture in the refrigerator when not in use. Two days before use, remove the culture from the fridge, discard most of it, then feed it a with a quarter of cup of flour and enough water to maintain the consistency and incubate at 25 C. After 24 hours it should be ready to use.

PROBLEMS

1. The starter loses its activity and does not make the bread rise as much as it used to. How to regenerate the starter?

If you do not use the sourdough starter for a few days then the level of alcohol’s will rise until they eventually kill of most off the micro-organisms. Without yeasts your bread will not rise.

The solution is to mix 1 teaspoon of starter with 1/2 of cup of flour and enough water to make a smooth paste. Leave it for 4-5 hours or until the culture has doubled in size then refrigerate the starter to slow down the fermentation process. The next time you take the starter from the refrigerator it will be more active. Leave it for 6 – 8 hours to ferment then take one teaspoon and add it to 1/2 cup of flour plus some water, leave to ferment for 4-5 hours then feed it another 1/2 cup of flour. By feeding the starter increasingly larger quantities of flour at regular intervals you increase the activity of the yeasts which should make your bread rise better.

MEASUREMENTS
1 teaspoon = 5 ml / 5 gm. 1 tablespoon = 15 ml / 15 gm. 15 tablespoons = 1 cup / 225 ml. 1 cup = 8 fluid oz / 225 ml. 1 US gallon = 3.6 litres. 1 lb = 16 oz / 454 gm. Temperature 20C = 68F. Conversion from Fahrenheit to Celsius: °C = (°F – 32) / 1.8. Conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit: °F = °C × 1.8 + 32

Used in the following recipe:

Sourdough English Muffin