The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The BlackBerry Starter

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phaz's picture
phaz

The BlackBerry Starter

 just looking for knowledge from those who have experience with starters created from fruit.  already have a well established starter,but when poking around the garden the other day I came upon some BlackBerry bushes in 1 corner of the property. I've heard of starters created using say wild cherries and raisins, so when I noticed the bluish grey coating on the berries, I picked a few and tossed in an old jelly jar with a splash of water, semi heaping teaspoon of white flour, and a semi heaping teaspoon of whole grain rye and mixed. 2nd day it had doubled in height. 3rd morning it had fallen, so I removed about half and feed as above. this morning, 4th day, it had tripled in height, almost filling the jar. lots of bubbles big and small, and no strange odors, actually smells nice, like strong blackberries. the plan is to keep the feeding up for a few more days, removing half, till whatever is left of the berries is about gone, then try a loaf. advice and suggestions always appreciated! thanx in advance!

Fatmat's picture
Fatmat

I recently made some elderflower champagne using a traditional recipe. This turned out to be a very quick and easy way to get a viable and active starter, with minimal effort/input. I know that this isn't quite a fruit based starter, but it is similar.  I'm sure that there would be no need to make the quantity that I have suggested below, if you were just making a starter, but I have given the full recipe because the champagne is lovely in it's own right. 

The recipe for one gallon of champagne is as follows (I have given the recipe in imperial measurements, not metric, as this is an old, traditional recipe):-

  • 1 gallon (imperial) of boiled and cooled water,
  • 1lb sugar,
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon,
  • Four or five large, unwashed, fresh, elderflower heads picked on a sunny day,
  • A generous grind of black pepper.

Using scrupulously clean utensils and containers, dissolve the sugar in the water, stir in all of the ingredients. Leave, loosely covered, in a large container for six days, strain and bottle in strong, swing top beer bottles. Leave in a cool place for at least two weeks. Chill and serve. 

To make a sourdough starter from this, mix equal weights of this liquor on day six with flour (eg 200g elderflower liquor, 200g flour) . Leave for 24 hours at room temperature and you should have a very busy and active starter which can be used straight away. 

The amount of time it takes to get an active liquor will vary according to local conditions and may vary between 4 and 8 days. This is a judgement call for you to make. 

I'm pretty sure that this method could be adapted for a whole range of different untreated fruits and flowers, much in the same way as traditional brewed sodas, beers and wines were made brewers yeast became the norm. 

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

wouldn't have put any flour in it, you would have had a great yeast water - now it is ruined:-)

Fatmat's picture
Fatmat

yeast water?

 

phaz's picture
phaz

Thought about that, but was going more along the lines of a traditional sourdough starter. how do you maintain the yeast water? I think my next project is yeast water!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

is that you will never ever get any sour out of this natural yeast culture.   Si it is great to use where you don't want or need a sour taste.  It is also very good at replacing commercial yeast where ever it is used and it really opens up the crumb of heavy bread that usually are dense.  It is as easy to keep as SD and as hard to kill. 

To maintain my current apple and cherry YW, I just take 3 t of the YW and 6 pieces of the old fruit, dice a half of peeled apple and de-seed 8 cherries and cut them in half add to the3 T of YW and fillt eh 14 oz jar 3/4 full,  add a T of honey and 1./2 tsp of sugar.  Shake it up really good and let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours and shake it every half hour,  When it starts to hiss at you from the lid after you shake it. then it is ready for the fridge again for storage,

phaz's picture
phaz

yeah, that's why I went with flour, to get some lab action going and a little tang. I hear yeast water can raise the dead, must be powerful stuff. I'd be more than happy to substitute for commercial yeast, which gets used less and less now. time to pick a few more blackberries and give it a go!

Fatmat's picture
Fatmat

So, would I be right in thinking that LABs aren't a serious problem for home brewers? Assuming that LABs know that they shouldn't colonise weak brews, does this also mean that they know that they shouldn't colonise weak brews that have had flour added to them?

phaz's picture
phaz

it worked. first loaf from the BlackBerry starter was a success, from the standpoint of the starter. I got tied up for a few hrs and dough was a bit over done before it went in the oven. no doubt the young starter had something to do with that too. then got tied up again and baked for longer than usual! a bit flat and crusty, but good flavor and a nice tang. an interesting note - my flour and water starter took a week to get good yeast activity. just the opposite with the bb starter. yeast was there, and active, on the second day. the sour from the labs didn't start to show till day 5 or 6.