The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Blame it on the pink slime....

whoops's picture

Blame it on the pink slime....

Hi to everyone here. I am newish to bread baking-well, ok, really, I am just plain new. I guess the banana breads and the stollen once yearly do not really count is bread baking experience , or at least, not much. Anyway, I have started on a plan of NOT purchasing any bread for my family and providing  all by what I bake, as close to 100% organically as possible. And it all started because of pink slime.  Yes, I know pink slime is related to ground beef, not bread but let me explain: I was trying to find ground beef without pink slime, which led me to information on organic beef, which led me to grass fed beef, which led me to organic, pasture raised meats of all types, which led me to looking into CSA for meats, which then led me to CSA's for produce. At which point, my sister was attempting to see if removing preservatives and processed foods from her diet would relieve some of her fibromyalgia symptoms which made me look for organic breads which caused a great sticker shock (as did all of the pasture raised meats and organic produce, but I sucked it up and went for it anyway) at which point I said, I bet I could make bread much cheaper! I mean, how hard can it be to make bread? I have gotten pretty darn good at the stollen at Christmas, even feeling confident enough to tweak the recipes more to our taste....Well, I found a great recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread ( I am now making 3-6 loaves a week, as my once skeptical family has taken to DEVOURING it much quicker than they ever ate the store bought bread. The Grandkids even eat the crust now!)and started recalling the sour dough bread my mom made many many moons ago that was so delish! So, how hard could making sourdough bread be? My mom did it, and she didn't even , nor could she ever make a stollen! So, on line I went to recall how to make a starter. I breezed through the tutorials and got starter going. Then I thought, ooohhhh wouldn't it be great if I could recreate the great hearty Bauernbrot I recalled from my years living in Germany as a child? Well, not so much luck with sourdough or Rye bread. I mean, they taste ok, but they look terrible and are awfully dense. Learned a lot of things looking over this site and the forums the last couple days, looking forward to actually making a sourdough that RISES (oh, yeah, it might help if I had made sure the starter was active and warm, huh? And read the directions completely- and not kneaded when it said to let it rest....)

So, if it were not for the pink slime in the news, most likely I would have went on my merry way buying store bought bread and non organic foods...but what a whole new way of thinking and eating it has opened up for me (and my family as a side effect!) Looking forward to learning new things and trying some of the wonderful recipes you have shared!


Olof's picture

Welcome. Good for you. I've made yeasted bread for 25 years but when I began using sourdough 3 months ago my bread experience entered a whole new dimension. I agree, it's so much about technique and understanding all the variables. I wouldn't say it's difficult to make good SD bread but is has a learning curve. The pink slime gave you the SD bug, in my case it as influenza! I started browsing online for SD info, made my starter in early March and by now my breads are great. Still a lot to learn and master.

MangoChutney's picture

Welcome to the sourdough lifestyle!  Well, that's really too dramatic, because I'm sure there are a wide variety of people baking sourdough, for completely different reasons, but we have two things in common.  We have control of our supply of leavening, and our leavening makes healthier bread than we could make otherwise.  I got into it because I was tired of having to buy yeast at the store, that I sometimes let expire in between fits of baking, or that went bad when the refrigerator broke down or the power went out, or that got soaked by liquids in mysterious refrigerator disasters.  The nice thing about my sourdough culture is that, even if I somehow managed to kill it off, in a month's time I could grow a perfectly good new one just from flour and water.  The ironic thing is that I have enjoyed my sourdough bread-baking so much that it has become a regular event and dried commercial yeast would no longer be in danger of expiring without my noticing it.  But I still prefer sourdough now, for both the health nut and the control freak reasons.

One thing that I found out eventually is that there really is no such thing as a special recipe for sourdough.  Oh, there are recipes that have been formulated just for that leavening, but any recipe can be used provided that you adjust the liquid content and understand the rising capacity of your starter.  Some sources said that 100% whole grain breads were not suitable for sourdough, but that is all that I make now.

ssorllih's picture

I had an old friend (born in the year 1903) who told me of his mother's bread making on a ranch in Colorado when he was still a boy. Flour was brought home in barrels from a mill in town. Starter was used and replenished everyday. Each night she would cook an extra potato and mash it and save it till morning when she was going to make bread. She would use her starter and replenish it with the mashed potato. If ever a starter was lost then someone was sent to a neighbor for some to get a new batch started. Most of the holdings were quarter sections or 160 acres, a mile deep and a quarter mile wide, so the neighbor was not just across the street.

The point I am getting to is ; Has anyone heard of using a potato based leaven? What I have told is the limit  of what I know of this method.

wally's picture

Many sourdough starter recipes call for using water that potatoes have been boiled in.  I suspect it's the sugar content in the water that provides additional food for wild yeast.  Certainly bread doughs profit from a small addition of cooked potato - it makes for a more tender crumb and longer keeping qualities.  So I can see incorporating a cooked potato along with flour and water when replenishing a starter.


jaywillie's picture

Pink slime led to me learn about and start grinding my own beef. Now I know exactly what cuts of beef are in the burgers I serve to my family. I'm just getting started, but the first few batches have been terrific, a great improvement over grocery store ground beef and even better than my previous favorite ground beef from a high-end butcher. I grind it using the meat grinder attachment for my KA mixer. And of course, my homemade burgers are served on homemade buns!

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

Get some beef fat from the butcher and render it. (He uses it whole; I prefer to render it. Up to you).

Then make this burger. #burgertoendallburgers

21 Burger
John Greeley, Executive Chef of 21 Club
Yield: 4 burgers


1 pound chuck (cut into cubes)

1 pound top round (cut into cubes)

1/2 cup beef fat (cleaned and cut into cubes)

1/2 cup onion (minced)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (to infuse oil)

1 tablespoon pickling spice

1 tablespoon black tellicherry pepper (fresh ground)

1 pinch cayenne (optional)

1/2 egg (lightly beaten)

2 tablespoons duck or pork fat (rendered and melted to room temp)


1. In bowl over ice (to keep meat from turning brown), blend all ingredients by hand.

2. Run through meat grinder twice. (OK to also blend by hand.)

3. Form into 12-ounce meat balls, then form into burgers with small pie tin.

4. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to set.

5. Brush burger with oil, clean and oil grill, and cook on moderate heat.

6. Do not press down on burgers while cooking or overcook.

jaywillie's picture

I'm working on having my ground beef have only beef. I've been through an "additive" stage, and I've become a purist. (Not a snob -- I don't know enough to be a snob!) I'm using a recipe (the blue label burger, from, as developed by Kenji Lopez-Alt (who used to work for Cooks Illustrated and came up with the vodka pie crust recipe and is putting the same test and retest effort into perfecting a hamburger, as well as other foods) []. I'm also using some input from the black label burger mix as made by La Frieda Meats for Minetta Tavern in New York. That's possibly the most famous -- or infamous -- restaurant burger out there these days -- $26 each! 

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)

I rather objected to the pickling spice, but once I tried it, I was hooked (mostly because I like the pickle flavour, but not what a hot burger does to a pickle: slimy!)

But do try the animal fats at least once. Makes a world of difference.

Thanks for link to Serious Eats. Will have a look.

Is Levine still reporting on his diet that's 3 years in the running and going nowhere? ;D

jaywillie's picture

In the recipe I'm using, the fat comes mainly from short ribs. Lots of fat there. I have seen other recipes with the added suet, and will definitely try it at some point.

ssorllih's picture

Anyone who has ever picked the crispy bits of salt and pepper fat from a fresh from the oven beef roast KNOWS where the best taste is located. The same holds true for other roasted meat as well. Fat free freshly ground beef is steak tartare. If you grill, it you ruin it.

G-man's picture

When I make hamburgers I tend to use high fat meats. About 30% or higher, if I can't reach it with beef alone I'll throw in some fat back. I know it's right by the consistency and how well it sticks together.

But I do have to offer a differing approach when it comes to lean ground meats. If I'm not making burgers, I throw beef heart into my ground beef, which is incredibly lean and has a very strong beef flavor. Then I use it in any recipes that call from ground meat.

I love steak tartare, don't get me wrong, but one can only eat so much raw meat.

And why stop at steak tartare? Carpaccio is another way to go that's equally amazing.

thomaschacon's picture
thomaschacon (not verified)