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article imageSourdough Starter: a 'living' food you will learn to love

By Claudio Buttice     Apr 7, 2016 in Food
Making a good sourdough starter it's just like creating life. The simplest, and probably oldest, bread-making method has became the latest trend in homemade food-making. In Sweden you can even hire a sitter to watch over your sourdough.
We live in a contradictory world. Although technology vastly improved our lives and made them more comfortable, we still keep looking towards tradition and to the older, more complicated ways to do things like they were somewhat better. We do not need to grow our vegetables and fruit or prepare our bread from scrap anymore, we just need to go to the nearest grocery to buy them, or we can just order them on the web. In a few years we can even be able to produce cultured meat, milk, and eggs in laboratories, with no animals involved. Yet, we still think that if we make our "artisanal food" by ourselves, it will look and taste better. And here we go, is the sourdough starter just the latest "weird food fashion", or is there much more than that?
Sourdough starter is a small living world on its own, where bacteria and yeasts thrive and multiply. It consists of water where flour is left to ferment, thanks to the activity of the lactobacilli and wild yeast that exist in the surrounding environment. Sourdough starter must be fed and watered like a pet: you add more flour, you add more water, and it keeps growing with no need for additional cultivated yeast. The dough will even react to external factors such as humidity and room temperature, and will grow accordingly. This technique was the traditional one used to make homemade bread for millennia, and is considered as a form of art by many people. Wild yeast lacks the strength to reproduce in a short timespan like commercial one does, but it adds a sour, pungent and unique taste to the bread that many find delicious.
Or maybe it's all about having a yeast pet in their homes. People keep feeding their yeast friend for years and learn to get emotionally attached to it, like the famous comedian Tom Papa who claimed that "it changes your life."
In Stockholm, Sweden, the art of artisanal breadmaking is so respected that you can even hire a babysitter to watch over your sourdough starter! A Stockholm bakery even offers an incredible deal. For just $3 a day, a sourdough "breeder" can send his beloved pet to them, and they will grab it at the Arlanda Airport to take care of it until the owner wants it back. Some sourdough starters can be left alive for years, as Joakim Blomquist, one of the bakery's owners explained. "We had one that was 20 years old. [...] You can see sometimes that the jar is really old."
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