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Sep 28, 2006 04:31 PM

West Coast Sourdough

I live in Whistler, just a "liitle bit" north of San Francisco.
I want to capture a Mountain Sour Dough Starter.
Some starter recipes call for yeast added to the sponge then alllow it to go sour.
I've one that calls for milk and to let it get sour before adding the flour.
Another calls for potatoes boiled into a paste then mixed with flour & sugar.
Some say I should cover the bowl when putting it out for yeast capture. Other say don't.
None say whether or not I should take it in at night, but that's a moot point already decided by our local black bear population.
Can I request a concensus? Any elegant, simple but effective Sour Dough recipes would be appreciated.

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  1. I don't have it here at work (since I usually don't do a lot of baking here, snirk snirk), but I use Nancy Silverton's starter made with organic grapes. It's wonderful wonderful. I'll post when I get home if you're interested.

    Whistler, eh? Are we talking another country Whistler? Wowie zowie.

    1. Most of the ROC (rest of Canada) disdainfully view both Whistler and Toronto as entities unto themselves and are suspicious as to just how much in Canada we really are.
      I would love to get a grape starter recipe as there's this little winery in the next Valley....

      1 Reply
      1. re: Da_Cook

        This seems to be one of those things people either swear by or swear at. Seems a bit tedious, too. But it makes enough starter for the whole village of Whistler! Check chowhound history for a number of threads on sourdough.

        You might look at this site. It's more rough and ready. Sounds like Whistler to me.

      2. Tedious? The original prep just takes a very short time. The minding tasks are short as well. It does take a long time to prep but it's certainly not hard work - you just have to remember to feed, etc.

        The first time I made bread (actually focaccia) from Silverton's recipe, it was amazing.

        It was also fun to see the development of the starter.

        1. From what I understand about this but you can start a starter any way you choose. Unless you continually add yeast from a region other than the one you live in, eventually, your starter will be native to your area. Period.
          The local yeast and bacteria will take up a home in your starter and reproduce in their own image. Eventually the original starter (If you live in Whistler and bought a San Fran starter lets say) will decrease in percentage.


          2 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            I understand this, also, from posting the question a while ago. Which means that if Da Cook makes Silverton's starter from Whistler grapes and the yeast that floats by in Whistler, it's not Silverton's starter at all. It's just Silverton's method. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

            1. re: Davwud

              "Unless you continually add yeast from a region other than the one you live in, eventually, your starter will be native to your area."

              Absolutely! What I would do is use any starter recipe you're happy with and incubate it in a bread maker. Pull off some dough each time before you bake to use in your next sponge. You'll have Whistler sourdough, but you can supplement the tang with ascorbic acid.

              Meanwhile, I have to say how much I *love* Whistler. I have very happy memories of a First Night we spent there when our kids were small. The last time I was up there I already didn't recognize it anymore! I hope you guys survive the Olympics and can still have something of the "village" thing left.

            2. Go to Nancy Silverton's book and she describes in excellent detail how to make the sourdough starter; or, for the original like the Acme Bakery that made sourdough for Chez Panisse, read the Chez Panisse cookbook by Paul Bertolli. Buy your flour from King Arthur or Red Mill, the extra hard high protein flour, and use it. No yeast, no potatoes; if organic grapes do it for you, use them; you may also want to try just the plainest ingredients and capture whatever is wild yeast in your area. I've made perfectly wonderful sourdough starter here in Southern California, and in Pennsylvania, so don't get too hung up on location. Let us know how the bread turns out.