Make a Sourdough Starter for SHTF Situations
All you need to start a good culture for sourdough bread is water and flour. This combination, when mixed, attracts microorganisms in the air that are all around us. These microorganisms ultimately grow and form the base yeast that is essential for leavening bread. The good news is that this culture is very easy to make. The bad news is that it takes some patience and monitoring to ensure that it is grown properly. However, once you have a good starter batch, you can keep remnants to make successive loaves from now until the end of time.
1 two quart glass or plastic container
A Mixing spoon
A lid for the container or some cling wrap
The First Day
Mix 4 ounces of water with ¾ cup, plus two additional tablespoons of flour into your container. Mix until the batter becomes very thick and gooey. Place the cover on the container and set on your counter or table in an area where the temperature is consistently 70-75 degrees for 24 hours.
The Second Day
You will notice that the mixture is starting to bubble and ferment after the first 24 hours. This is an indication that your newly-created batch of yeast is growing. Remove the cover and stir for a few minutes to agitate the mixture and accelerate the growth of more yeast. It’s important to stir because the microorganisms do not have the capability to move on their own. Instead, they consume what is nearby. Mixing makes sure that they have enough to “eat” and multiply. Cover and let set for an additional 24 hours in the same controlled temperature conditions.
The Third Day
Remove the cover and you will see more bubbles as the fermentation process intensifies. Add four more ounces of both flour and water into the mix and stir again. Keep stirring until the mixture takes on the consistency of a smooth batter. Cover and store for another 24 hours.
The Fourth Day
Remove the cover and you will notice that the mixture has nearly doubled in size. You will also notice that it smells very bad. This is typical of fermenting yeast, and it is a good thing. Add another four ounces of flour and water and stir again as you did in the previous step. Cover and let set for an additional 24 hours.
The Fifth Day
The fermentation process with the starter mixture should be complete today. However, this can vary depending on the atmospheric conditions in the room as well as a host of other factors. The best way to tell if it is ready is to fill a small glass with cool water and take a small dollop of the mixture and plop it in. If it floats then it is ready. If it sinks, stir in four more ounces of flour and water, cover and let the mixture rest for another 24 hours or so.
Finishing and Storing the Starter
The starter is ready for immediate use once it is finished fermenting. If you plan on using it right away, use half for the batch you will make now. Add more flour and water to the remaining batch and repeat the previous steps in order to keep a steady supply on hand for continual use. If you are not planning on baking sourdough bread in the near future, place the starter mix into an airtight container and secure the lid and refrigerate. Keep adding some flour and water about once a week, stir and cover again until you are ready to use the starter.
Try this out for yourself and see how easy it is to maintain your own supply of starter instead of going to the store every time you want to bake a loaf of bread. This mix can be used for a wide-range of sourdough recipes, and it’s a perfect way to ensure that you will always be able to make bread even if you find yourself in an off-the-grid situation and don’t have access to supplies at a supermarket.