It’s been a slow cheese week, but my sourdough culture is doing very nicely. I fed it yesterday and it really expanded like never before. Maybe it’s because the spring/summer has finally arrived in NYC and there’s enough heat in my apartment to actually pump up the yeast. It’s either that or my culture is finally mature.
Bread is such a fundamental part of our diet — it’s just flour, water, and yeast but it takes so many shapes, forms, and tastes. What I like about making and using my sourdough culture is that I literally pulled the leavening agent, the “magic” of the bread, the yeast out of thin air and slowly matured it until it was fully ready to make great bread.
When you’re used to buying yeast in the grocery store, you never realize that yeast and bacteria are in the air all around us all the time. People first learned how to use yeasts and bacteria for food by deducing that there must be some agent in the air that that naturally turned grapes into wine, milk into cheese, and made flour and water rise.
From a site I checked out:
Yeasts can be considered man’s oldest industrial microorganism. It’s likely that man used yeast before the development of a written language. Hieroglyphics suggest that that ancient Egyptians were using yeast and the process of fermentation to produce alcoholic beverages and to leaven bread over 5,000 years ago. The biochemical process of fermentation that is responsible for these actions was not understood and undoubtedly looked upon by early man as a mysterious and even magical phenomenon.
Yeast is so ubiquitous and so useful. There’s even a book about Yeast on Amazon.com Check it out if you are especially interested 🙂 The yeast we are most familiar with in the Us is Fleishman’s. Maximillian and Charles Fleishman started the company in 1868 and began producing cakes of dried yeast for commercial purposes. Read More… Way to go Charles and Max.
One last factoid – it’s estimated that only 1% of yeasts have been identified by scientists. Two questions: How do they know something like that? And, Is someone looking for more?
Next, I am going to make some good rye sourdough bread and will hopefully use my starter more and more…