By Evans Ousley
On February 20 the Green House held a sourdough starter workshop open to the whole campus community. Ansley McDurmon (C’16) and John mark Lampley (C’16) were the leaders of this fun get together. The materials needed to make a sourdough starter was all provided. “What is a sourdough starter?” you might be wondering. Some people prefer freshly baked bread over packaged bread that can be bought at the grocery store. Bread can be made from a starter, which is a mixture of flour and water combined in a jar or bowl that facilitates bread baking. When making a starter, an apple slice or another small piece of fruit is put into the flour-water mixture to allow fermentation to begin. After a few days, the mixture should begin to bubble which is when it is time to remove the fruit.
The most important part of maintaining a starter is adding wheat flour to the mixture once every couple of days which is called “feeding” the starter. Essentially, the starter is a living creature that requires almost as much responsibility as taking care of a pet, but in the end when your loaf of bread comes out of the oven it is worth the hard work. Once the starter has begun to bubble, you can begin to bake bread only by adding more flour and water without a need for packaged yeast. The active starter replaces yeast and creates pockets of air and flavor in the bread dough as well as giving texture to the bread. Once the dough is made, it needs to be kneaded for about five minutes before it rises for a few hours until it is ready to be put into the oven. The inhabitants of the Greenhouse are always hospitable, offering coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to all guests and providing a lively but relaxed atmosphere to spend a Friday afternoon.
Lampley interpreted the reason for this particular workshop as a way to make new friends and have fun with old ones saying, “When you have this hobby, you can give your hobby to other people”. Past Greenhouse events have included a beer bread workshop and a nature journaling workshop/ hangout extravaganza. Baking bread at home is cost efficient and cuts back on plastic consumption, which is something the residents of the Greenhouse are committed to in their day-to-day lives. Making the starter: Combine one part flour to two parts water in a glass jar. Add an apple or unwashed grape. Stir. Does your starter look viscous but will still move easily? If so, you’re doing it right! Maintaining the starter: Keep jar covered with a cloth. When bubbling begins (this will vary from several hours to several days, depending on the room temperature), remove cloth and feed every day for one week. After the first week, feed ever few days and keep in a cool place to store!