Mmmmm…  making your own sourdough bread

Fresh sourdough bread!

I grew up and have lived in Northern California my entire life.  One of my favorite places to visit has always been San Francisco.  There are so many things to do there, but I never go to the “City by the Bay” without visiting the Boudin Bakery on Fisherman’s Wharf.  I shamelessly eat an entire sourdough “bowl” filled with clam chowder, then waddle on over to the store to buy a loaf (or two or three) to bring home.

I tried to make my own sourdough by catching the wild yeast in the air in a slurry of flour and water, but was never satisfied by the taste of the sourdough. It just wasn’t what I was used to. I do plan to try this again, however, because I found out that it wasn’t supposed to taste like the San Francisco Sourdough!  Each region around the world has it’s own “wild” yeast floating around, and each bread will taste different!  Some will taste more sour, while others will rise faster!  Then, I found out that you can actually buy the San Francisco Sourdough yeast and “grow your own”!

That’s exactly what I did.  I had previously bought my Kombucha starter through Cultures for Health and saw on their website that they had quite a few different fermented items for sale, including sourdough.  The company offers sixteen different sourdough yeast varieties, including ones for spelt, rye and brown rice.  But I was after my favorite, which is the San Francisco variety!

homemade sourdoughWhen I got the yeast packet, I decided to just dive right in and get the yeast activated.  It was simple enough – especially since I wasn’t having to “catch” a wild yeast – which made me feel a bit more confident.  I followed the instructions that came with the yeast packet.  I had to buy some water, because our tap water has both chlorine and fluoride (ick), which can kill the yeast.  Our well water on the future homestead is good and pure, without chemicals or excessive minerals, so I will bring home a gallon or two of that water the next time we go up.

One thing I have learned sohomemade sourdough bread far is that it’s a good idea (for me, at least) to write the time on your sourdough container.  That way, you won’t forget when you last fed your sourdough.  Also, beware!  This stuff is like Gorilla Glue!  Seriously!  Wipe up any spills immediately and wash off spoons and jar rims right away, otherwise you will have to soak and then scrub.  Also, a word to the wise – it doesn’t smell anything like you might expect!  That’s why I had thrown out my “wild” sourdough attempts – it really has a strange smell to it.  Not that real sweet “yeasty” smell that you get from the commercial homemade sourdough pizza recipeyeast packets we are all used to.  And it wasn’t really “sour” either, but more alcohol-ish, but not really like beer either.  I was worried that I had contaminated the sourdough with my kombucha.  Apparently, I hadn’t.  However, if you are fermenting several things at the same time (kombucha, apple cider vinegar, sourdough, even vegetable pickles), it’s wise to keep everything at least five feet apart!

Oh…  one more thing – these little yeasty beastys like to escape!  I put my quart jar of sourdough into our entertainment cabinet where it is always warm due to the electronics, then came back several hours later to find sourdough dribbling over the rim of the jar, down and over the shelf and then to the floor!  That’s when I went out and bought the half gallon size of jars.  😉sourdough bread recipes

Once I got the sourdough bubbling well, and had fed it four times, I was ready to make some bread!  I followed the simple sourdough recipe that Cultures for Health have on their website.  Word of warning:  the sourdough takes a LOT of kneading!  20 minutes!  The

homemade sourdough bread recipes

………………………….It’s Alive!!!

first time I did the kneading, my husband helped.  Now, I just turn on TV and mindlessly knead while watching!  Hey, don’t judge me – at least I’m multi-tasking!  Once kneaded, the bread must rise for 4-12 hours!  Yup, it takes a lot longer to raise sourdough than it does the “regular” kind of bread, but of course a lot depends on the air temperature.  When we have a fire going, it takes about 4-5 hours for the bread to rise.  But, in a cool kitchen (about 65 degrees) it may take overnight, or as long as 12 hours!  You just need to get used to your sourdough to figure out how it will work for you.

sourdough bread recipes

A nice warm fire helps the sourdough bread rise!

Let me tell you, baking that first loaf of bread was pure torture. It smelled so good while it was baking (our mouths were watering and our tummies growling) that when it was done we couldn’t wait for it to cool down, like the instructions stated. We were like ravenous vultures tearing into the bread!  It was so good!  Not quite as sour as the San Francisco Sourdough that I’m used to, but very good just the same.  Apparently I need to let my sourdough “sour” a bit more to get that rich sour flavor, by feeding it one more time before I cook with it.  I have also read that as my sourdough “matures”, it will get more sour.  Also, I think the crumb is just a bit too fine, so perhaps this first batch didn’t rise enough or maybe the oven wasn’t hot enough.  These are all things I just need to learn with my sourdough!   I don’t mind practicing.  🙂

Of course, I couldn’t stop there.   The Cultures for Health website has oodles of recipes, so my next dish was pizza. homemade sourdough pizza recipe This was easier and faster than the bread because you don’t have to knead it so much or even let it rise for hours.  However, when I rolled it out on the cookie sheet, I thought I had it thin enough, but it was still just a bit too thick for our taste.  We don’t like doughy pizza dough, but are more partial to the thin crust types, so now I really roll it thin.  What is great with this recipe is that you actually cook the dough before you put the toppings on it, then finish it in the oven – which gave me a great idea!  I could make several pizza crusts, bake them, and then freeze for future meals!  One caveat, however, is that they take up a lot less room in the freezer if you make square or rectangle crusts, then stack one on top of the other!homemade sourdough pizza crust

What was next?  Crackers!  Bacon, Rosemary and Cracked Peppercorn Crackers!  These were really good.  Again, the recipe is on the website at Cultures for Health.  Luckily I have an old overgrown rosemary bush out back, so I was able to harvest my own rosemary – can’t get any fresher than that!  The bacon flavor comes from bacon grease, not the actual bacon, so if you want to make these crackers, save your bacon grease! These were really good with a little cream cheese spread on top.  Yum!  But, where the recipe says to roll very thinly, they mean it!  I really didn’t get mine thin enough the first time, and though they tasted great, the crackers just didn’t have any crunch. They are better when they crunch! sourdough crackers

Finally, I wanted to show you my Olive and Parmesan sourdough bread.  Well, I wanted to show you the bread, but before I could take a picture of the final product, it disappeared!  Yes, this one is that good. Here is another tip I would like to share with you:  don’t add the olives right away.  They get torn into quite a few small pieces while you knead the dough.  Knead the dough for a good five minutes first, before you add the olives.  You might also consider adding whole olives (the recipe calls for sliced), because even by adding them toward the end of the kneading, they still get torn into smaller pieces.Olive Parmesan Sourdough recipe

I hope you try making your own sourdough, if you haven’t yet!  There are tons of blogs and recipe websites out there with instructions on how to “capture” your own “wild” yeast.  Or you can do like I did and start with a proven source of sourdough yeast.  Either way, I am sure you won’t be sorry.

And for those of you that are gluten intolerant: apparently fermenting the wheat makes the gluten more tolerable!  There are those who cannot eat “regular” white bread, yet can eat sourdough bread.  Of course, if you truly have celiac disease, you want to be cautious, but read this article first – you may be surprised: Gluten Intolerance & Sourdough Bread from Livestrong.  

For my next batch of sourdough, I am going to make the smaller boule type sourdough shapes so that I can make a sourdough bowl and add some salmon chowder to it!    One recipe that I have been looking for (can’t find the original blog) is actually using stale sourdough (is there really such a thing?) to make stuffing.  I would also like to find a recipe for a french herbed sourdough using herbes de provence, but actually using the individual spices and not the herbes de provence already mixed together.  Do you have a favorite sourdough recipe?


I am linking to some of these blog parties – why don’t you join me!

Talented TuesdayWicked Awesome Wednesday;Whatever goes Wednesday;  Wined Down Wednesday; Project ParadeWake Up Wednesday; Fluster’s Creative Muster; Hump Day Happenings; Homestead Blog Hop; The Blogger’s Digest; Wow Us Wednesday; The HomeAcre Hop; Home and Garden Thursday; Create it Thursday;  Think Tank Thursday; Homemaking Party; Inspire or be Inspired; Inspiration Gallery; Pure Blog LoveFreedom Fridays; Friendship Friday; From The Farm Blog Hop; Friday Flash Blog Party; Weekend re-Treat; Family Fun Friday; Friday’s Five Features; Real Food Fridays; Anything Goes Linky; Show Off Friday; No Rules Weekend Party; Friday FavoritesSay G’Day SaturdaySuper Saturday; Simply Natural Saturdays; Strut Your Stuff Saturday; Saturday Sparks;  Show and Tell Saturday;  My Favorite Things;  Dare to Share; Scraptastic Saturday; Frugal Crafty Home; That DIY Party; Nifty Thrifty Sunday; DIY Sunday Showcase; Snickerdoodle Sunday;  Simple Life Sunday; Think Pink Sunday; Sunday Showcase


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36 thoughts on “Sourdough

  1. WOW! Excellent post! For years I made wonderful “Door Stops” when baking bread! I too loved the S.F sour dough breads. In High School I was in the Opera Club and went down monthly during the opera season. I hauled a lot of bread! I’m old school love to eat it with room temp. sliced Monterey Jack cheese with some good ground mustard and hard salami. Yum! ( a bit of fresh fruit to call it a healthy meal!) My old neighbor (WW2 Vet) had a very old culture and would invite me over for sour dough pancakes from time to time. I have since moved to Washington State and Seattle area bakeries make a very good Sour Dough. I’ve noticed it’s sharper up here and I’m told the “fog” here and in the Bay Area has something to do with it, along with the temperatures. We are very close but a few degrees cooler (slows the yeast action). To assist in the rising you might want to make a “bread rising box”. Use a heating pad and place a metal grate (the kind you set out to cool pans on) over that. Oil the top so it doesn’t dry out and cover with the box and wait about 1 hour. I remember my grandma and mother had a special flour drawer that had a sifter built in the top and they always talked about how the flour had to be fresh and sifted. Another old family friend actually baked bread with a wood fired stove, that was the very best bread I ever tasted!

    • I have heard you can bake sourdough on a wood fired stove in a double dutch oven! I would love to try that some day. The bread rising box sounds like a great idea – thanks! It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing how my sourdough matures and the flavor changes. Hopefully it will be a bit more sour, because that’s what we like! Thanks for stopping by, Sheri! I hope your new year is full of health and happiness!

  2. Your post simply made me drool! Your sourdough bread turned out amazing! I too purchased a culture from Cultured Living, and have had a lot of “adventures” as well with the sourdough! (you can check out my blog post Sourdough Adventures) lol. I have made the crackers too, and really love them. I have found they are sooo good with tuna salad – yum! Another trick I’ve learned with sourdough is to put the sourdough in my oven with the oven light on. That provides just enough heat to help the sourdough to rise, and it is draft free. I also like the above commenter’s idea as well to use a bread raising box. I often make the sourdough pancakes for breakfast and they are a family favorite.

    • Hello! Nice to hear from you again! The oven light idea also sounds like a good one! I will be checking out your post – sounds like a good one! 🙂 Sourdough pancakes sound delicious, so I will have to put this recipe on my to-do list! Thanks!

    • The Someday Crafts Linky Party is one of the best! I’m glad your daughter likes sourdough because it’s really fun to nurture your own yeast strain. I need to name mine (it’s alive, afterall), but haven’t come up with a good name for it yet! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. G’day! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
    This is the very first thing I am doing in 2015! Howzat! Lol! I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet, it is only 7:30am, and it’s already hot outside:P
    I have been doing sourdough for a couple of years now with my original batch (well, it wouldn’t be the original now….but you know what I mean) and I have to say, my sourdough doesn’t have much rise, but it has a lovely flavour 🙂
    I had wild yeast once described to me as bacteria floating in the air, which is true and a big DUH, but then they went on to say that if you have a scrupulously clean house, garinteed there would still be a lot of your skin cells in the air, so the sour dough would be mostly eat…you!
    (Which is weird, but cool)

    • Haha! Weird, but cool – yes! I hope you have a wonderful New Year, with good health, happiness and blessings for you and your entire family!

    • I have become hooked on this sourdough, so breadmaking is becoming a regular thing in this household! Thanks for hosting the Hump Day Happenings. I always find something inspirational, new recipes or great decorating hints at your party! Thanks!

  4. perfect timing. My milk kefir cultures arrived two days ago from the very same place. Kefir is fermenting as we speak. Fermentation, cultures, probiotics, and enzymes are the focus for us in the 2015. I will be writing a lot about it in the coming months. Happy New Year. Thanks for sharing your post.

    • I have a few posts about probiotics and fermenting lined up also, including kombucha and apple cider vinegar! I wish I had known about the benefits of fermented foods years ago, but the more I learn, the less it seems I know! The fun is in the learning and the experimenting! Have a wonderful New Year, Sally, and I will watch out for your future posts!

    • Thanks for the invite to your party, Nicole – see you there! You are so right about sourdough being versatile! I can’t believe all the recipes available – from breads and “quick breads” to desserts, crackers and even pancakes! Yum! Have a great New year!

  5. Thank you so much for attending week 15 of #PureBlogLove and linking your fantastic blog post. This is a wonderful post! I can’t wait to see what you have in store for our party next week Thursday 8 PM EST- Sundays at midnight. Your post has been added to the #PureBlogLove Pinterest board for all to see 🙂 Have a great day!

  6. I grew up in the Bay Area and while I love living in Idaho now, there are so many things I miss. The City, Half Moon Bay and good sourdough are only two. We can’t find good sourdough here, so we occasionally have it shipped directly from Boudin Bakery. But, shipping costs are as much as the bread! I love the idea of getting a good San Francisco starter and doing my own. Brilliant idea!

    • Oh my, you would really have to love San Francisco Sourdough to have it shipped! I hope you do like I did and get the culture for yourself – you certainly won’t regret it! Thanks for stopping by today, Holly!

  7. we are such fans of fresh bread here and aren’t real picky – hot and fresh disappears fast! Not sure what a cool time is or stale left overs lol. Sour dough is a fav for sure so can’t wait to grow my own! I so love reading your posts, glad to see you all are doing so well! Have a super fantastic and exciting 2015!!

    • Seriously – grow your own is right! The sourdough starter goes from 1 cup to overflowing a quart jar in just a few short hours! It’s truly amazing, and I love it. I hope 2015 is a great year for you two and your families also!

  8. Wow that sound so healthy and delicious. Sourdough bread does have so many health benefits as do all fermented foods. If your going to eat bread I feel this is the best and healthiest bread you can find. Thanks so much for sharing on Real Food Fridays.

  9. Wow, your sourdough adventures look delicious! I was born and raised in Calif also and have to say that Boudin Bakery is still in my heart (maybe Ghiradelli’s too!)… Hopefully soon I will get to some starter!

    • Oh my, don’t get me started on Ghirardelli’s! Mmmmmm… chocolate! I remember visiting the wharf when I was a teenager, and the two main places I always had to go to was Boudin and Ghirardelli’s! I really hope you try out the sourdough starter, it’s a lot of fun!

  10. Oh…the pizza and crackers look like they should be shared. Too far I’m so far away! Rosemary and tomato crackers (toss some dried tomato chips/powder in–yum–have you tried that?
    Your talent is endless 🙂 .

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  12. Hi Vickie,
    Just a note to let you know that I have chosen your post as one of my features for this weeks Real Food Fridays blog hop that goes live tonight @ 7pm EST. Looking forward to seeing your great post for this week Have a healthy happy week.

    • Thank you, Marla! I am truly honored that you liked my post on sourdough. I am looking forward to the party, though I don’t have a food post to add this week. See you soon!

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  15. I think I would like your slightly less sour bread. I’m not crazy about sourdough bread unless it is only mildly sour, then I really love it! You are amazingly patient when it comes to baking breads. I love homemade bread, but the work that goes into it keeps me from making it very often. I will have to check out that website. Those crackers sound really good too. Thank you for sharing at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Happy New Year!

    Blessings, Deborah

    • Happy Saturday to you, Deborah! The sourdough is a bit of work, but honestly I think it’s worth it! In fact, I have a whole bunch “brewing” on my counter right now, as I am getting ready for an epic sourdough pizza and waffle making day! Actually, I am going to make a few pizza crusts – no toppings – then freeze them, and then I am going to make a whole bunch of sourdough waffles and freeze them! If I have any sourdough left over, I will make muffins. I love doing the sourdough like this – just once or twice a month – and my sourdough starter doesn’t seem to mind living in my refrigerator in-between sessions!