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Caring for your Sourdough (Part Two)

Okay, fine… you’ve got this new sourdough culture that you feel responsible for, and want us to be more specific in how to tend for it on a regular basis. If you haven’t already, make sure you read Part One first–it’ll make everything make more sense.

How to care for your Culture

Assuming you got your culture from us, it should be teeming with life. You’ll need to find it a bigger home (a 1L–or larger–canning jar or some other clean, non-porous container). Scoop or pour it from the jar we gave you into its new home.

It’ll be ready for a meal, so give it 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water and stir to combine. Ideally, the water should be room temperature bottled water or tap water that’s been let to sit in the air for an hour or two, to evaporate the chlorine before you add it (if you live in a place with chlorinated water). 24 hours later, pour out everything but about 1/2 cup of culture and add 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water

Repeat this daily for the next couple of days and before long you’ll notice that a few hours after you add the flour and water, the culture will bubble and rise up in the container. Once you see that happen, you can start to use the culture (or more accurately, the discarded part) in your baking. The way to know for sure is to do the “float test”. To test the culture, place a teaspoon of it (just from the top, don’t stir it down) in a glass full of water, it should hopefully float. If it does, you can make bread. Right away!

It doesn’t need to be actively frothy to be useful, but you know it’s at the peak of its activity when it passes the float test.

If you get tired of trying to keep up with your culture, you can always slow it down by putting it in the fridge–once it’s cold, it only needs to be fed once a week, not once a day (or more).

Next, in Part Three of this sourdough primer, we’ll give you a recipe or two to start with.

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