The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

where to get sourdough starter

southbound's picture
southbound

where to get sourdough starter

Where can I get sourdough starter in the Utah valley? I am just passing thru and would like to take some back to Alberta with me. Thanks.

happycat's picture
happycat

What do you see as the value of buying it?

It's made from yeast on grain, so you can make it yourself in a week from any grain or whole meal flours.

mariana's picture
mariana

They bake great sourdough, San-Francisco style, and give baking classes. Give them a call, I am sure they will share a small piece of sd starter with you.

Kooky's picture
Kooky

I stuck freshly milled grains in a sanitized jar with water and they made a vigorous starter the same day using whatever bacteria was in the air, on my hands, and on the grains…

I tended/left it for 10 days to be safe of course but still, you can get your own wild fermented, personal starter right away. 

I’ll be honest, I purchased a starter online when I first got started (ahem) and while it worked, it’s like buying canned air. Use any flour you want, rye is preferable, organic even better, for the little pet. 

happycat's picture
happycat

Bacteria do go nuts early but they aren't the starter

yeast is a fungus and as the colony of yeast grows throuh feeding and discarding, it changes the conditions of the starter to reduce unwanted bacteria while allowing lactobacillus (the sour flavour).

Kooky's picture
Kooky

Yes you're right, I naturally knew not to use it until the equilibrium developed but I didn't know how to word it. I have fermented so many things I just didn't know what bacteria exactly would be on a well sanitized fresh starter. After soap, my hands would've only had good bacteria. Distilled water... Organic fresh flour has a boat load of nutrients compared to store bought, same reason my first freshly milled breads would overproof in 30 minutes...

I sure do love lactobacillus. Currently trying to source koji spores.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

When you don't have an in-person mentor, starting your own starter appears daunting.

Not the least reason is because there is so much conflicting advice in books and on line.

Also, fermentation scares most modern people. Leaving "wet food", essentially a "batter," on the counter for days at a time has people thinking they are going to get sick.

Granted, many different ways work, BUT most instructions are lacking in understandable "if-then-else" instructions/flowcharts for when your starter attempt doesn't behave exactly like the instructor's.

Most newbies think of recipes in terms of fixed times. So, the whole thing of "wait for your starter to do X, and then you do Y, but if it doesn't do X, then you do Z" is a whole new way of thinking about a recipe.  It's scary, because it's new/different.

For the raw beginner with no in-person mentor.... It is much easier, less daunting, less frustrating, and quicker to get a dried starter culture rehydrated and blossoming into a ready-to-bake-with starter than to "start from scratch."

After I reconstituted a dried starter, baked successful loaves, dried my own starter, and reconstituted my own dried starter, and read scores of posts with questions from newbies and answers from the good TFLers,  THEN I felt comfortable creating a starter from scratch.

And it was only Debra Wink and PHAZ who put things into the right words that my autistic-spectrum brain could finally comprehend.

--

I think it's okay to give a link to the Pineapple juice #2 post, but if someone wants to beg/borrow/buy a starter, that's fine too.

Kooky's picture
Kooky

I don't think any response was unreasonable... as I said I purchased a starter from the internet when I began... Cultures for Health specifically, they have a number of sourdough starters.

Strangely enough, the steps for "a starter from scratch" and a "dry starter" were identical, having done both. 10 days of feeding / discarding.

 

OP are you asking about Utah for a specific strain? As in some sort of wheat "terroir"?

happycat's picture
happycat

Dude, I know you really want to be helpful.

I have no idea why a personal mentor is necessary for making a starter. For me it was as simple as using dark rye flour and a strict ratio. There's nothing wrong with my saying so on a forum.

People can make up their own minds. The more options they have, the more they can choose based on their subjective needs rather than ignorance (or the bias of someone controlling their information). 

I prefer to see people have agency. That means the knowledge and experience necessary to make, sustain, tweak and maintain things that suit their own needs... not needlessly replicating or buying someone else's preference.

You do you, I do me. The reader chooses what they prefer. That's the open marketplace of ideas. 

Abe's picture
Abe

I've made many starters. The difference between the first and second was immense. Success in baking as a whole is the sum of small changes adjusting to variables. When one makes a starter the first time there's no reference to help make these adjustments. But after the first success one can make judgement calls like keeping it warmer, more or less water, holding off on a feed or feeding sooner etc. As Mini once said making a starter the first time is like being in a pitch black room trying to find the door. Of course one can follow a recipe and it might work first time no problem but thats not always the case and without the knowledge to make these adjustments it can be frustrating. That's what we're all here for. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

@southbound:  Welcome to TFL !  Glad you found us.

By Utah Valley, I assume you mean Utah County, Utah.  IE, Provo and surrounds.

At least 3/4ths of that county is LDS/Mormon, so you could ask practically any adult female, and if she's LDS, she'll know someone from her ward (congregation) who bakes sourdough, and might hook you up to get a dollop of wet starter, and maybe add flour to make a stiff/drier starter to last a few days before you get home.  Or, they might already have fully dehydrated starter that can be reconstituted when you get back home.

---

Mariana gave a good reference, too.

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If you are LDS, you probably know how to hook up with a local congregation.

If not, most chapels have people there tues/wed/thurs evenings, and you could waltz right in and just ask. They are a friendly people, eager to be of service.

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If you don't find any in time before you leave, there are at least three Canadian TFL users who might send you some dried starter:

Alberta: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/shegar

Thunder Bay: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/danni3ll3

Toronto: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/benito

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Good luck and bon appétit.

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Happy to send you some dried starter as well...just reach out if interested!

ninofiol's picture
ninofiol

southbound  specifically wrote that he/she was passing through Utah and wanted some local starter to take home. 

naturaleigh's picture
naturaleigh

Hey Ninofiol...I did read the question but was piggybacking on idaveindy's comment directly above ^^:

"If you don't find any in time before you leave, there are at least three Canadian TFL users who might send you some dried starter:

Alberta: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/shegar

Thunder Bay: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/danni3ll3

Toronto: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/user/benito"

 

Just trying to be helpful...not sure why that pushed any buttons for you.

ninofiol's picture
ninofiol

LOL, no buttons pushed, naturaleigh I was just trying to state that the OP wanted some local (Utah) starter while they were passing through there. I didn't think they wanted instructions of how to make one. It's all good !

southbound's picture
southbound

Thank you very much to all who replied. Much appreciated. Now that i am retired I can try doing different stuff. 

 

troglodyte's picture
troglodyte

I am new here and do not have much experience compared with others here. When I was given a sourdough starter a long time ago, I was taught that different sourdoughs have different "pedigrees" (my term) and different properties. 

By "pedigrees", I mean that they may have a long and storied history, like the sourdoughs that the famous San Francisco bakeries use. My first two starters came from my uncle. The first was "75 years old from Alaska" and the second was "135 years old from Utah". He thought that the Utah starter had superior flavor and it was more active, so it replaced the Alaskan starter in both our kitchens.

By "properties", I mean that different starters behave differently when used. Some are very active, while others are slow and steady. They also differ in flavor. Different sourdough starters will yield different flavors in your breads. 

Sourdough is more than a simple culture of wild yeast. It is a complex soup of yeast and bacteria that work together. The yeast and bacteria in your starter interact with the bacteria in your local environment. Your starter will diverge from the original source and evolve with its own properties that reflect the environment of your kitchen and the local bacteria in your air. 

I think that the OP wanted to get a sourdough starter with good properties (flavor, activity) and a good "pedigree" (a long history, perhaps?) from Utah. As it evolves in Alberta, it won't be the same as the original source starter in Utah, but it will probably be delicious nonetheless. Different doesn't mean bad, it means different.

My uncle has been gone a long time. Sadly, I neglected the "135 years old from Utah" starter that he had given me and it died. I wanted a tried and tested starter with a "pedigree" rather than making my own from scratch. The properties and flavor of a made-from-scratch sourdough starter can be unpredictable, so I got Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail sourdough starter for free by mail instead of starting my own. I have been using Carl's sourdough starter for over a decade. You can buy well-established sourdough starters from other sources for a price, or you can get Carl's starter for yourself at no charge. Volunteers share it by mail; just send them a stamped envelope. See:

http://www.carlsfriends.net

(Note: There are people here at The Fresh Loaf who are true experts about all of this. I am not one of them, but I hope you get the idea.)