After over a week of feeding, discarding, feeding, discarding...we have success! In the beginning, we started out with 4 sourdough starters.
White, wheat, rye and a San Fransisco dehydrated starter.
Here are my impressions on each:
San Fransisco Dehydrated starter: I used unbleached, unbromated flour, and pure spring water in the white San Fransisco sourdough starter. It took several days before any real life/bubbles became apparent. By the 7th day, it was proofing and crowning. The smell of the white sourdough was not as pleasant as that of the other starters. It was almost a sour, milky smell, but at least I knew that we had caught the wild yeast that we were striving for.
Wheat: I used Organic Prairie Gold Hard White Wheat flour and pure spring water for the wheat starter. I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the wheat sourdough took off! In the first 24 hours, bubbles were apparent and by the 5th day, it was proofing and crowning beautifully. The smell was almost sweet and though it had a mild tang to it, it wasn't the really strong sourdough I had made in the past.
Rye: I used fresh milled, Organic Rye flour and pure spring water for the starter. My grain mill was running a bit ragged and the rye flour ended up a bit more course than I had planned. The course flour made for a more dense starter and one that was harder to see the action in. I added an extra tablespoon or so of water and the difference was immediate. The extra water made it thin enough to see the bubbles and action going on in the jar. By the 5th day, the rye starter was crowning and proofing beautifully. It smelled smell was also sweet with a very mild tang.
White: I used the unbleached, unbromated white flour and pure spring water for this starter. It was almost identical to the "San Fransisco" sourdough starter. It took several days to show strong life and the smell was the same sour, milky scent. I ended up dumping this starter on day 5. It didn't make sense for me to spend the time or money (in flour/water) on a starter that was identical to the San Fransisco starter.
So now there were three...
I waited until day 10 to bake with my sourdoughs as I wanted to make sure they were all as strong and hearty as possible. I ended up with a big baking day and here is how it all turned out :)
We started the day with pancakes made from the wheat sourdough....
The sourdough and baking soda just bubbled like mad! Here's the batter...
The batter in the skillet...
And the finished product...They were delicious, nutrient rich, and easy to make. Complete score and one for the books...our family cookbook that is!
Then I made some wheat, sourdough pizza dough for that evenings dinner...sorry, I forgot the pictures... Another score! Delicious, easy to make, and ultimately more digestible. Another one for the books..
Then I made one loaf of bread from each of the sourdough starters, using the same exact recipe so I could judge them all fairly.
Here are the results...
The white San Fransisco was a disappointment and was scheduled for destruction almost immediately. The flavor was...okay, but the dough didn't rise sufficiently and there were no benefits to keeping a white sourdough kicking around.
The wheat rose beautifully, the flavor was rich, and the crumb beautiful! There was no real "sour" flavor. It was so delicious that when I left it on the counter to cool (after my husband had cut into it for it's taste test) our labrador Daisy, ate the entire loaf! (UUUGGHHHH, remind me again WHY I love animals??) It was frustrating, but I was happy that we were at least able to cut into the bread and taste it first. :P
The rye also rose beautifully, and had a beautiful crumb. The flavor was also rich and yummy.
So then there were two...sourdough starters that is. After much discussion, we decided to keep going with the wheat and to end the rye (At the moment I have quite a bit of the organic, hard white wheat that has already been milled and needs to be used.)
On this baking day, I also made some cinnamon rolls and English muffins out of whole wheat.
They both came out beautifully and were delicious!