The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough in South America

Yo's picture
Yo

Sourdough in South America

I have been making sourdough bread & pizza in Canada for about a year with fairly good success. I am now in Ecuador for 6 months and have been trying to make a starter for about a month now with no success. I realized their flour is not the best for a starter so it's probably why there is not a lot of activity in the starter. Lots of bubbles but does not rise much. Their flour is fortified and bleached. They have rice flour that is raw but it is from white rice flour. Do you think it could be possible to make a starter from white rice flour?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

...but does not rise much."

Hmmmm. What happens if you thicken it up with more flour than water to make a soft dough?  See if you can trap some of the gas bubbles.  If the starter is too thin, gas bubbles will rise and pop on the surface instead of rising.

 What kind and brand is the flour?  Any info?   Can it be you have a gluten free flour or starch?  It can still develop into a starter growing yeast but not rising much. 

Yo's picture
Yo

I've veen trying for a month now. I tried making it thicker but still did not manage to make the starter rise more than a quarter inch. In Bahia they only have bleached and fortified wheat flour. They also have white rice flour that does not seem too processed. I have still 5 months to try to find a solution, but I am too far from the bigger cities to rely on outside flour. I wanted to make bread and pizza regularly like I used to make in Canada. Still trying to find an answer... Thank you 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

They probably have whole wheat flour if you are in one of the major cities such as Quito, Cuenca, Guayaquil, or Machala.  It will be labeled "harina de trigo entero" or "harina de trigo integral."  At a minimum, Quito and Guayaquil  should have whole wheat flour in the major supermarkets. Whole wheat usually is the best source for the yeast and LAB.

White rice flour likely will not have enough naturally occuring yeast and LAB to get anything started.  Brown rice flour might.  Quinoa flour might.   If you have access to a coffee grinder, you could make small amounts of brown rice flour or quinoa flour from the grain/seed.

Raisins, grapes, berries, and other fruit might be sources to get the little beasties from regardless of the type of flour used. 

if you use tap water, just be sure to boil it, and then let it sit out so chlorine and fluorine evaporate out, in case there is any of those in it.

If you've  got 5 months left of your 6 month stint, it might just be easier to use commercial instant dry or commercial active dry yeast. Long rise times means you could get by with 1/4 tsp per loaf.

No matter where you are in Ecuador, commercial bakeries and one-man (home based) bakeries abound, or at least they did 35 years ago. ;-)   If they use sourdough or natural leaven, someone might share a part of their starter.

Buena suerte, y buen provecho.

Yo's picture
Yo

Thank you for your answer. They have quinoa so I might try to make some flour and try that solution. I think there is no gluten also in quinoa. 

My husband has gluten sensitivity and that is the reason I started the sourdough. He does not have any problem with sourdough and also it is a better health option for everybody.

I am quite,far from Quito and Cuenca so I can't rely on them for a few breads per week and pizza ounce a week. But I will experiment with quinoa flour.

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in the local market?  Cabbage and salt is all you need plus a non-reactive bowl or jar.  They might be a good source of yeast and LAB's.  Make raw Sauerkraut first and after it has fermented (about two weeks at 75°F) use it to leaven  a starter.  Then feed and maintain it as you normally do. You also get a sauerkraut loaded with B and C vitamins.   Also check the local fermented foods available in the market or offered by friends.  Might be able to jump start a starter with a little bit.

Do you know your altitude?

the recipe from Linda Ziedrich (Joy of Pickling) uses 3 tablespoons salt for every 5 lbs of cabbage.  Might want to reduce that recipe. The salt will pull water from the fresh cabbage to soon submerge the weighted down compacted shredded cabbage.  Fermentation is complete when bubbles stop rising to the surface for two consecutive days.  Remove any skim that should form on the surface.  Save a few large leaves to cover kraut before weighing down with a clean rock or plate. Cover loosely.

starvingviolist's picture
starvingviolist

If you try feeding twice a day, keeping only 5 grams each time and feeding it 20 g flour and 20 g, that might work. Also what is the room temperature like there? If your starter can't digest the flour in the starter, it won't be able to function in the dough either.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

The nearest big city to Bahia is Portoviejo, and the next nearest is Manta.  Each of which are over 200,000 population.

If you or any friends make a day-trip there for shopping, that would be a place to look for whole wheat flour and unbleached flour.   Bigger stores will be searchable on the web, so even if they don't have a web site, you could call and ask about what flours they have.

I see your quest as two fold: a) finding something that is a natural source of  LAB and yeast, and 2) something proper to feed it with.

Sources: fruits: apples, raisins/grapes.   let us know how quinoa works as a LAB/yeast source.  Whole wheat flour, if avaialble in Portoviejo or Manta.

Feeding it: White rice flour could proabably feed it, at least partially, though whole wheat flour would be ideal.  what you feed it can also have an effect on which strains of LAB/yeast become dominant.  we naturally want strains and characteristics  that prefer wheat-flour.

for partial feeding or "boosting" you could add a little Cerelac. Cerelac is (or at least was) in stores even in small towns. It's dry baby food that you prepare with water. Just a bit.  It has sugars, refined wheat, milk, and added vitamins.  But it's pre-cooked/sterilized, so it can't be a source of LAB and yeast, but it would feed them.

Just a teensy bit of powdered non-fat mlk could help too.  Don't use the Nido that is dried whole milk, as I don't think the milk-fat would be good for a starter.   Perhaps use a teensy bit of just plain brown sugar, as brown sugar has minerals that might help the yeast.