How to Grow Your Own SCOBY | Kombucha

I went to an itty bitty VERY Baptist college when I first ventured into kombucha. Did I mention it was small and Baptist? If you know anything about the Baptist faith, because yes it is it’s own religion entirely, you know that they’re tee-totaler’s. I, however, was the ugly duckling of campus as a reformed Presbyterian; man oh man did my theology professors love me. Not. We were required to live on campus all four years which included, for many of us, our twenty-first year of life. I was a good little Presbyterian and obeyed their rules. I didn’t bring or hide alcohol in my townhome……like the majority of my Baptist counterparts. I swear there was enough booze hidden in most peoples homes to pickle the entire campus. But I digress. When I first ventured into my home fermentation journey, I started with Kombucha and naturally wanted to grow my own SCOBY. Bottled kombucha at Whole Paycheck was just that, my whole paycheck; so brewing my own appealed to me to save a lot of money as well. My very Baptist, very prudish roommates were convinced I was brewing satan’s liquor in our kitchen as I found out by being informed, mid class, that apartment life was in the middle of raiding my home on the hunt for this home brewed booze. Needless to say, they found nothing and soon were educated that the round, rubbery, slimy, disk thing sitting in a jar on the counter was nothing more than tea, sugar, and water. No alcohol content is present at the end of kombucha fermenting, or most lacto fermented beverages for that matter. Definitely one of my fondest memories from my college experience. It’ll make a great story for the kids one day. The time when mom was raided by apartment life and campus police for having………tea.

For those of you who aren’t submersed into the world of fermentation, SCOBY stand for: Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s a pretty generic term for the powerhouse that is a SCOBY. When I dove head first into the home fermentation world there wasn’t much on the internet at the time, especially about growing your own SCOBY. If anything, there were more words of caution that growing your own was nigh impossible and you might as well buy one on the internet or get one from a friend if they happened to have extras. It was a little mysterious as to how SCOBY’s came about exactly, kind of like kefir grains. Needless to say, I ignored the nay sayers and took a giant leap of fermentation faith. I formulated this recipe entirely on my own with a little college ingenuity thinking this must be how it worked. So I bought a bottle of plain kombucha that had a decent amount of yeast on the bottle, brought it home, and put on my thinking cap.

After having done this a few different times in my life, I can attest that you don’t need a plain kombucha flavor to make this successful. If you have some that does happened to be second fermented with a different flavor, it will work just as well and it won’t make your batches from here on out that same flavor. I will caution you not to use any flavors that might have straight up pureed fruit in them, like the GT Mystic Mango; that might not yield the best of results. I probably also wouldn’t use any of the chlorophyll ones either, unless you want a green SCOBY ha.

These are the only things you need to grow your own SCOBY for home kombucha brew.

Ingredients:

1 Bottle of kombucha with a decent amount of yeast at the bottom (plain if you have it but any other clear flavors will work)

1 Bag of plain black tea and plain green tea (no earl grey, the oils will mess up the SCOBY formation)

1 C filtered water (Chlorine free if you can and not tap)

1/4 C Organic sugar

1 Wide mouth quart mason jar

Directions:

  • Bring the water to a boil

  • Pour into the quart mason jar, careful not to shatter the glass, and dissolve the sugar into the hot water

  • Add the two tea bags and let the tea mixture sit out till room temp. I mean it when I say room temp. Let it sit all day if you have too.

  • Once the tea is room temp add the bottom half of your kombucha (roughly 8oz) to the jar and mix it a round a bit.

  • Cover the jar with cheese cloth, a dishtowel, or coffee filter and secure.

  • Let it sit out and grow.

It’s really is as simple as that. I’ve never had a failure in ten years of growing my own SCOBY’s and brewing my own kombucha. Ideally you’ll only have to do this once, but I’ve had to grow a few new ones over the years with moves or long breaks in brewing (although you can absolutely store them to use later). You’ll want to let it get about 1.5-2” in thickness before you take it out and move it into a larger vessel for brewing. And it will duplicate pretty much every time you brew a batch of kombucha. Before long you’ll have more SCOBY’s than you know what to do with and then I’ll teach ya’ll have to make dog treats with your hotel of SCOBY’s.

It will take about two weeks for it to grow. Sometimes less, depending on how much natural yeast is in the air of your home. Once it’s strong and fully grown it will be ready for it’s first feeding. I do this by simply making a normal gallon of kombucha brew tea and sticking the new SCOBY in that tea mixture. You can drink what brews or pitch it and drink the next batch, totally up to you. I usually drink the first batch as it’s never not been strong normal komobucha for me.

If you want to find all of my favorite jars and other brewing equipment (although you probably already have everything you need in your kitchen) check our my “favorites” tab and find everything there!

Alrighty ya’ll, this is part one! So go grow some SCOBY’s and check back here for a post on how to brew your first batch of kombucha! After that we’ll talk all about second fermentation and different flavors!

Tell me if you’ve done this before and how it’s worked out for you; if you’ve done anything different etc! And let me know if you’re just jumping into the world of home brewing and taking a stab at growing your own SCOBY! I promise it really is this simple!

Enjoy, friends

~ Hippie Hayden

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Kneading and baking bread is a holy experience. I have a habit of listening to my favorite podcasts, music, or poetry reading while I mix, knead, and bake my weekly bread, that in itself is a holy rhythm, a liturgy if you will. I’m making a few extra loaves this week to bring to friends and stocking the freezer with pre-made goodies to enjoy during the week, like cinnamon rolls and english muffins. My starter died when we went out of town for a few days and I completely forget to feed it and stash it in the fridge. Since then I’ve been patiently feeding and building it up, making it nice and strong so it could rise bread loaves well. Yesterday something told me it was ready, so I put down my work and resumed my favorite habit. I know some people don’t like the act of kneading bread, that I simply don’t understand and don’t identify with. It bring me so much peace. I hope that you can find the same kind of solace and refreshment from something as simple as bread making that I do.

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This is not a fancy artisan loaf recipe. This is a simple, country honey whole wheat sandwich bread loaf. It does look simple, but the flavor, if allowed to develop, is out of this world. I like to let mine rise for about 24 hours, sometimes a little less, so the sourdough flavor is bold. If you don’t like a borderline San Franciscan sourdough flavor, you can let it sour/rise for only 12 hours, or until it’s a height you like.

The flours I work with are all non gmo, organic heirloom varieties, freshly milled the day I’m going to use it using a nutrimill. This guarantees you’re getting the most nutrition possible out of your grains. I prefer spelt, einkorn, farro, and kamut. You can look in the “shopping guide” tab and find where I like to buy grains in bulk.

Also, if you’re not someone who enjoys kneading bread by hand, or certain physical limitations make that difficult I highly recommend this mixer specifically for bread kneading. It’s a huge time saver for those who don’t like kneading by hand or who need to save some time cranking out a few more loaves of bread for bigger families etc.

Ingredients:

2C 12 hour sourdough starter (12 hour meaning fed and doubled before pouring off)

1C Water

1/4C Honey

1/4C Butter

1T Salt

6C Flour (I do 2C Whole Grain and 4C unbleached)

Directions:

  • Mix starter, water, salt, and honey together

  • *Add your whole grain flour to the liquid and butter and mix thoroughly

  • Add two more cups of flour, mix well

  • Turn the sticky ball out on to a well floured surface and knead remaining two cups of flour or until it reaches the right texture. (not too sticky and not too firm)

  • Knead for roughly 10 minutes

  • Let the dough rest for 30 minutes and check after to see if it needs more flour

  • Add more flour if necessary and knead or

  • Divide the dough in half, knead each half and form into into loaf sizes

  • Grease your hands with butter and the loaves slightly so they don’t dry out while rising

  • Put into load pans that are greased and floured

  • Let the loaves rise till doubled in size covered with a damp cloth (12-24 hours, remember sourdough bread is a much slower rise than commercial yeast bread)

  • After rising, dust with flour is desired and score (I also score the top otherwise the sides will crack and that’s just not pretty)

  • In a 400 degree oven, bake the loaves for 40 minutes or until the top is a decent shade of light to medium brown.

* Start with four cups of flour and evaluate how much the dough needs from there. Baking is finicky and changes with the weather. Some days you may use all six cups or more, some you may use less. Your hands will tell you what is right!

Simple enough, right? We absolutely love this recipe. Anytime I have fresh hot loaves out of the oven we can’t hardly wait to slice into it before it’s properly cooled. More often than not half a loaf is gone in a matter minute, as well as a decent amount of good butter!

These loaves make great gifts to bring with you to friends homes for dinner or to accompany a simple bowl of good soup. It also makes a mean grilled cheese and toast for any meal of the day! In fact, I’m going to go slice off a hunk now and slather it with good butter.

Enjoy friends,

~Hippie Hayden

Sourdough Starter Pancakes

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One of the gifts of having a sourdough starter is sourdough pancakes. It’s a great way to use up the waste that is starter pour off and they’re absolutely delectable! It’s also a great way to get comfortable using your starter before you dive into other sourdough products and baked goods; especially the first few months where you building it up to be strong enough for bread. My husband asks for them just about every morning in his pre coffee stupor. They’re easy and versatile, not to mention actually healthy and full of protein and fiber! As long as you’ve got an active sourdough starter sitting out on your counter that needs to be fed soon, you can make pancakes! 

 

 

Batter Ingredients:

1C sourdough starter  

1 egg

1/2t of baking soda

1 Rounded T of fat (I use coconut oil, sour cream, lard, bacon fat, tallow, whatever is on hand)  

1T sweetener (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar)  

1 pinch of salt  

Splash of vanilla

Extra fat for frying the pancakes in and topping of choice  

*this recipe is easily doubled or tripled  

 

 

Directions: 

• Heat, on medium,  a well seasoned cast iron with frying fat of choice.

• While the pan is heating up, pour off 1-2 cups of sourdough starter (depending on how many pancakes you’re making)  

• Add all the ingredients to the start except for the baking soda.  

• Once the pan is heating well and the batter mixed up, add the baking soda to the batter. Make sure you use a big enough bowl or measuring cup because the batter will about double once you add the baking soda 

• Only mix the baking soda in enough to incorporate. 

•  Pour pancakes onto the frying pan and flip once the edges are cooked and top is bubbly.

•Serve with butter and pure maple syrup or other toppings of choice. We like berry compote in the summer with whipped cream.  

 

You can make so many variations on the recipe can be made! As long as you stick to the basic batter recipe it can be livened up many ways! Cinnamon roll pancakes, blueberry pancakes, pumpkin spice pancakes, gingerbread pancakes, the list goes on!  

 

Variations

 

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Ingredients: 

Original pancake batter recipe (made with sour cream as the fat) 

1/4 C Powdered sugar

1-2t Milk

1T Cinnamon  

 

Directions: 

• Make sourdough pancake batter as normal  

• Mix together cinnamon, sugar, and milk until a decently thick but pourable frosting is made

• While the pancakes are cooking on the frying pan swirl the cinnamon sugar icing into the pancake and flip once ready.

I serve these with only a pat of good pasture butter on top. Saves you from using your expensive pure organic maple syrup some mornings!  

 

 

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients: 

Original pancake batter recipe  

1/2 C pumpkin  

1/2t Pumpkin pie spice  

1T Brown sugar  

 

Directions: 

• Make sourdough starter pancake batter as normal 

• Add pumpkin, spices and sugar

• Make pancakes as normal

• Serve with whipped cream  

 

Ginger Bread Pancakes  

Ingredients:

Original pancake batter recipe 

1T Unsulfured blackstrap molasses  

1/2t Ground ginger

1/4t Cloves

1/4t Cinnamon  

1/4t Nutmeg 

1/8t Pumpkin pie spice  

2T Brown sugar or coconut sugar  

 

Directions: 

• Make sourdough pancake batter as normak

• Add molasses, spices, and sweetener of choice  

• Make pancakes as normal  

• Serve with whipped cream, maple syrup butter, or fermented applesauce! 

 

 

Berry Compote:

Ingredients:   

1C Frozen mixed organic berries  

1T Fresh lemon juice  

1t Sweetener if needed (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar etc) 

 

Directions:

• Heat the berries in a small saucepan on medium low with lemon juice until soft

• Mash the berries or blend and add sweetener if using. 

• While still hot pour onto fresh pancakes and serve  

 

 

As you you can see, we love pancakes in this house! I make many variations on them a few times a week and serve with all the other usual breakfast fair; eggs, sausage, fermented sides, and lots of hot coffee. Breakfast is our favorite! 

 

Tell me what what your favorite flavors of pancakes are! I love trying new things! Enjoy these recipes y’all! 

 

~ Hippie Hayden  

 

Simple Sauerkraut

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I think sauerkraut is one of the more difficult ferments (great way to start off a recipe eh?) and that’s saying a lot because overall, fermenting veggies or fruits is nothing more than salt, water, whey (if you want) and the veggie or fruit in question. If you want to get real fancy you can season your ferment with different spices making it extra tasty. But, today I’m keeping it simple. Sauerkraut is nothing more than shredded cabbage and salt. That’s it. It’s incredibly cheap and incredibly effective. I find myself dipping into this exact jar a few times a day with meals or as a quick snack while I do things like plan recipes and write for the website. I’m not going to dive into a full blown lecture on why homemade ferments need to find a place in you and your families life, just know that they absolutely do and your digestive system will be the better for it.

Two ingredients, that’s it:

1 head of cabbage

1-2 T of salt

Equipment:

1 relatively airtight container (glass or pottery only, no metal or plastic)

Some sort of weight to ensure the cabbage stays submerged under it’s liquid (you can buy a pickle puck on amazon, or use a shot glass, disinfected rocks etc.)

A large bowl to squeeze the cabbage in

1 ferment mallet (optional, I use my hands)

Directions:

  1. Shred the cabbage fine. Either with a knife, a mandolin, or food processor. I like mine pretty fine and shredded. *Save the outer layer leaves of the cabbage for the very end, set aside.

  2. Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and add 1T of salt. Mix it up a bit and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to get a little soft before you start the pounding process.

  3. After the cabbage has sat out, begin pounding or squeezing extracting as much of the cabbage’s natural liquid as possible. This part can take some considerable time.

  4. Once your cabbage has been worked down and is roughly 1/3 it’s original volume you can begin packing it into your container for fermentation.

  5. Pack into your container of choice in layers pounding down the layers as you go making sure there are no air bubbles.

  6. Once your container is completely packed, top it off with any excess cabbage liquid and get the outer layer leaves of the cabbage you set aside in the beginning

  7. Take the outer cabbage leaves and use them to “tuck down” the packed cabbage as a sort of extra security that it stays submerged below it’s liquid.

  8. Once your cabbage leaves are in place securely, you can grab your weight of choice and place on top to keep your hard work submerged completely while it ferments.

  9. Depending on the container you’ve chosen to ferment with you’ll want to close it somewhat or at least cover the top of your container with secured cheese cloth, a coffee filter, or a hand towel etc The jar I have pictured is perfect for the amount I ferment since it’s just the two of us at home. It fits one head of cabbage snuggly with all the excess cabbage liquid and a shot glass which I shut the lid on top of after taking the rubbing ring off so it’s not completely air tight. I don’t recommend closing anything completely lest it explode in the fermentation process. This is where a super duper fermentation crock comes in handy.

  10. Once your relatively sure that your cabbage will stay completely submerged place it on a tray or in a bowl while it sits to ferment. Depending on how packed your jar is, most likely some liquid will overflow out. It is quite the mess to wake up too, especially if you use purple cabbage, like me, which has an affinity for staining anything it so much as thinks about touching. So do yourself a favor and make sure it’s in some kind of vessel to catch liquid spillage.

  11. Now you wait. Sauerkraut takes a bit longer to ferment if you want it to really develop that signature sauerkraut flavor, witch I do. In total I probably let mine sit out for two ish weeks. That’s all it took for this amount of cabbage to get the really pungent flavor I was going for. Technically veggies don’t need more than about 4-5 days, at the absolute max, to ferment completely. It does depend on a few thing much like sourdough starter. The temp of your kitchen, how much you’re fermenting etc.

  12. Once it’s at the flavor and fermentation stage you prefer, it’s ready to move to long term storage. A fridge, cellar, or basement will do just fine. It will keep indefinitely as long as no mold appears. (mold is fuzzy, grey scum is not mold and can be scraped off the top and discarded)

TROUBLESHOOTING

The only thing that can make your sauerkraut fail is if the presence of oxygen gets into the actual ferment itself. That doesn’t mean that your ferment needs a lid, or needs to be in a airtight container. The only part that needs to be in an “anaerobic” environment is what all resides under the liquid, the actual sauerkraut. That’s the way it is with any ferment. What can end up spoiling your ferment is if there are too many air bubbles that didn’t get let out during the packing process, cabbage rises to the top of the liquid it should be submerged under, or any other way oxygen could possibly get into your ferment. There is a possibility that you could pack the kraut too tight, it expands, and then spoils because it’s no longer under liquid. So keep your eye on it the first few hours/days of fermentation to make sure you did the job just right. I like to leave a decent amount of head-space in my jars to account for the pack settling/shifting once I put it up to ferment. I also mess with it a few times to make sure it stays under it’s liquid. (can you tell I’m paranoid about my kraut staying under it’s liquid lol)

If you see anything floating on top it’s fine so long as it isn’t fuzzy. Grey scum is totally normal with kraut. Just scrape it off the top, discard, and continue on your merry way. But if you see fuzz, pitch it.

If you’re fermenting more than one thing in your kitchen/home, make sure your ferments aren’t fermenting congregated in the same space. This can actually cause them to spoil and/or mold. So if you come over to my home at a time where I’m fermenting multiple things, you may see beet kvass in the living room, sauerkraut in the kitchen, kombucha in my office, and ginger carrots in the bedroom. It doesn’t need to be that extreme, you can usually get away with just putting them in separate places about the kitchen, I just prefer to remain captain of “team no chances.” So different rooms they go.

It really is simple. Yes, sauerkraut is the more testy of home fermented foods, but it only has two technical ingredients. So doable, and so economical! There are many things that can be done to spice it up and make it a little more pizazzy, if you so desire. I really do like the old world flavor of just salt and cabbage sauerkraut, but I do have a few fun sauerkraut recipes to share with ya’ll here in the near future. For now, go grab the well intended cabbage you bought that’s somewhere deep in your crisper, good quality salt, and a crock. Master this basic and the possibilities are truly endless!

* If you would like to see all of my fermenting favorites, including fermenting crocks, weights, jars, and my favorite books on fermentation, check out the favorites tab in the website navigation bar. *

Enjoy, friends!

~Hippie Hayden

Quiche Hayden Lorraine

Quiche reminds me of my dad’s side of the family. Growing up, whenever I would visit, I could guarantee quiche would be on the menu for breakfast at least once while I was there. It wasn’t something we ever ate at home, so that’s always been my association. I hadn’t thought much about quiche until recently when Eliot and I went to Whole Foods for breakfast one morning and they had some sliced up ready to go at the breakfast bar. It was great, but I knew I could do it better! I planned to put it on my list of meals to choose from, forgot, and then remembered as we walked through Trader Joe’s and saw a frozen one. So I grabbed all the ingredients to make a fresh one instead and it’s just delightful!

Ingredients

- for the quiche

5 Eggs

3/4 C Raw Whole Milk

3/4 C Raw Cream

1/2 C Shredded Grueye

1/2 C Shredded Swiss

1/2 A regular sized bag of spinach

1/2 A sweet onion chopped

1/2 A package of bacon chopped

1T Flour (to coat the cheese shreds in so they don’t sink to the bottom of the quiche)

2t Seasoning blend (click for seasoning salt recipe)

1t good salt (check kit or shopping guide for salt suggestions)

- for the crust

2C Flour

1t salt

1T sugar

1 1/2 C fat (all butter, all tallow or 1/2 butter and tallow)

1C Fresh sourdough starter approx.

a pie tin, rolling pin, and pie weights of your choice.

or…..buy a ready made crust, I won’t judge.

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First things first, that sourdough crust. If you’re going to go the sourdough crust route you need to plan this about 8-12 hours in advance, more if you’re like me and want to serve it cold the next day instead. Do people really enjoy a hot quiche? If you do, that’s kosher, but I prefer mine the next day after chilling overnight in the icebox. If you’re really prepared you can prep this dough a day in advance and after the 7 hour souring period pop it in the fridge till you’re ready to roll it out and pre-bake.

Sourdough Pie Crust Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the fat using a pastry cutter or your fingertips. The dough will eventually look like it has “peas” in it.

  2. Gradually pour the starter in, a little bit at a time, until it just comes together. Depending on the humidity and the water content of your fat this may be less or more than 1 cup.

  3. Once dough barely comes together gather it up in the bowl into a cohesive mass and cover it with plastic wrap or a plate. Leave it in a warm place for at least 7 hours to culture.

  4. After the seven hours is up, or when you are ready to use your pie crust, transfer it to a freezer or refrigerator. This is crucial, as having cold fat in the dough will aid in creating a flaky pie crust.

  5. Once the crust is very cold you can remove it, roll it out, and bake it into a pie with your favorite fillings…in this case quiche lorraine fillings.

For this quiche recipe specifically you will want to pre-bake the crust with pie weights in place on 400 for 6-8 minutes, or until slightly golden. If you don’t use pie weights it will shrink down and bubble up huge in the center…..not that I would know from experience. After you take the crust out turn the oven down to 375.

Quiche Instructions

While your crust is pre-baking…..

  1. Chop 1/2 sweet onion and 1/2 a package of bacon and saute to your liking.

  2. Once the bacon and onion are cooked through, add 1/2 a regular sized package of spinach to the saute pan just till it wilts down but maintains it’s vibrant green color.

  3. Toss the 1C total of cheese in a bowl with the 1T of flour to coat.

  4. In a separate bowl whisk together the 5 eggs, cream, milk, and seasonings.

  5. Now, what you do next is entirely up to you. If I’m really winning at life I’ve pre-cooked the bacon, onion, and spinach and set it off to the side to cool or even put it in the fridge to use the next day when I’m finally making the quiche. If you haven’t had time to let it cool, add those three things to the pre-baked pie crust first, add half the cheese, pour the egg mixture over next, and then finish with the rest of the cheese.

  6. If you’re winning and you allowed the bacon, onion, and spinach to cool you can mix that and the cheese in with the egg mixture and pour all together into the crust. Either way, it turns out just as tasty.

  7. Put the quiche in the oven at 375 and allow to bake for 30-45 minutes or till the top is golden brown and your house smells absolutely delightful. I usually decide when something is ready by sight, smell, and touch.

My oven is gas and so ancient it doesn’t have temperatures on the dials. So food is a wild game of russian roulette in this house that I haven’t lost at yet! But I’m sure the time is coming when I’ll completely dry out a cake, or scorch a good piece of meat.

This was so wonderful the next morning! I toasted it in the oven for a few minutes, and served with a big mug of apple cider topped with fresh whipped cream. Such a great way to start a chilly fall day of work from home ya’ll! I hope you enjoy. If you try it out, leave me a comment and tell me how you like it or how you mixed it up, I’d love to hear!

Have a lovely weekend,

Hippie Hayden

Sourdough Starter 101

Traditional sourdough. Like bone broth, this is another topic that I could geek out on and write about for days. But for now, I’m going to give ya’ll the basic, easily understandable info you need to get your own sourdough starter going at home so you too can soon have fresh bread wafting through your home on a Monday morning. It’s easily one of my favorite simple pleasures, and makes you feel like the richest human in the world. Once you’ve got the hang of keeping your starter alive and well fed the possibilities are endless. From Boules to pie crusts, english muffins to cinnamon rolls. You can make the bread products in your life so much more nutritious by fermenting the dough properly via a starter. But like I said, I’ll save the smarty pants details for another post. Today, let’s get you a starter goin’!

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You only need two ingredients to start your sourdough starter. Flour and water. Preferable a whole grain flour as the bacteria feeds more effectively on the bran and filtered, spring, or well water; no tap. The chlorine in tap water will kill the good bacteria and the starter will never take off. If you want to do things the Hippie Hayden way, make sure you’re using a good flour that is from grains you have no doubt are non gmo and organic. If you need grain suggestions head over to the shopping guide or my “favorites” tab. Einkorn, spelt, rye,kamut, or whole wheat flour are great options. I like a blend, but for now choose one and you can mess around with ratios of multiple flours once you’ve got the hang of things.

FEED

The first day or feeding of your starter - mix together 3/8th a cup of flour and 1/4 a cup of water. Stir well so your flour is fully hydrated, scrape the edges of your container (a mason jar works perfect for this), and cover the top with a cloth and secure. I use coffee filters and a rubber band since things can get messy and you’ll soon find out that the flour and water paste sticks to everything like rubber cement.

Let that “feed” for 12 hours

By now you might be seeing some “action” brewing in your starter; a few or many bubbles, and a sour or musty smell. This is absolutely normal after the first few feedings. But don’t get too excited yet.

FEED 2

Add the same amount of flour and water (3/8th c flour to 1/4 c flour) to the starter in the jar, cover/secure, and allow to “feed” for twelve more hours.

FEED 3

Before feeding the same amounts, discard half the starter that you’ve built up thus far. Because it’s not an active starter yet I pitch it. There isn’t any use for it but it needs to be discarded anyway to continue building a high amount of good bacteria in your starter so it becomes a strong form of yeast to bake with in the future.

After you discard half, add the same ratios of water and flour to the remaining starter, stir well so all the flour is hydrated, scrape down the side, cover/secure

Usually anywhere between feed 2-5 you’ll hit a dead zone. When starting a new starter mine usually hits around feed 3-4; everything largely depends on the temperature of your kitchen and the presence, or lack there of, of wild yeast and bacteria. Don’t think you’ve messed it all up! So many people start to throw in the towel at this point. The starter looks dead, smells rotten, and you think you’ve haven’t got a taupe thumb (like a green thumb, but for baking….I made that up entirely). Keep going, things get better!

From this point, your feeding routine will be the same.

  1. Discard half of your existing starter

  2. Add 3/8 c flour and 1/4 c water

  3. Stir well till flour, existing starter, and water are fully incorporated and hydrated.

  4. Scrape down the sides and cover your container

  5. Wait 12/24 hours till your next feeding

Somewhere between day 7-9 you should see a miraculous change take place. Your starter will start to double in size after feedings and it now smells of lucious sourdough. I say “should” because everyone’s kitchen is different and that can make all the difference in a starter. If a person underestimates the heat of their kitchen a starter will require more feedings as the bacteria feeds more rapidly on the natural yeast and sugars in the grain. If you kitchen is on the colder side (especially with winter on our heels) your starter might need less feedings and simply has too much food.

DON’T STRESS. You will be able to tell pretty easily whether your starter needs more or less feedings. It’s a lot simpler than it seems. People have been making starters longer than we’ve been using commercial yeast and somehow bread have survived in our society. If grandma’s in the 15th century could figure it out, so can you. Tap into the ancestral wisdom. You’ll be glad you did!

STORING YOUR STARTER

I do not recommend moving your starter into cold storage until it’s 3-6 months old. The longer the better. But a lot of you won’t be using it every day, or maybe you will! If you’re not, you will soon want to not feed your child, I mean starter, every day. I happen to love the routine of feeding my start each day. No matter what goes on that day I know I will need to feed my start when I get up and again right before I go to bed. It’s a reassuring little rhythm. But if you won’t be using it in some form or fashion on a regular basis, moving it to the fridge is a great way to keep it alive but less needy.

Once you’re past the 3-6 month mark and confident in the strength of your starter. Give it one last feeding and move it to the fridge after 1-2 hours post feeding. Most people like to keep their fridge stored feeder toward the front or on the side of the fridge since it’s a little warmer there than toward the back where it could potentially freeze. Make sure you put an airtight lid on it when moving it to the fridge, instead of just covering the top with towel, cheese cloth, or coffee filter for room temp feedings. Every time you want to use it from the fridge you will need to pull it out and build it back up to full strength 1-2 days before you are going to use it, and then feed it 1-2 hours before returning to the fridge.

Some also dehydrate their starters for long-term storage or if they are retiring a starter they would still like to keep around. You can do this by spreading the starter out on a silpat on top of a baking sheet and setting it in an oven with just the light on till it is completely dried out, or in an actual dehydrator. Once it’s completely dried out you can store in an airtight container till you wish to revive it again.

TROUBLE SHOOTING

I’m convinced that sourdough starters can sense nervous energy. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked too who have told me about how incredibly difficult and temperamental the sourdough starter process was. It’s never likely the starter, and always the human that goes into the process with a heap of self doubt who practically have doomed the project to ruin before they begin. So take a deep breath, and follow the directions. Use a little intuition when necessary depending on your own environment and the signs your seeing. And for the love of all things holy don’t do any of those gimmicky tricks all over the internet. Like stirring your start with grape leaves or using kombucha as the liquid instead. Just….no. Flour, water, and time. That’s it, that’s always been it and it always will be.

- Hooch. Hooch is when there is a grey sort of liquid that forms over the top of your starter. The start is probably lifeless too. Maybe a few bubbles here and there but definitely not rising and falling after every feeding. It also might smell like alcohol or acetone. That’s because it is alcohol. No. Don’t drink it. If your starter has hooch you could be doing one of two things. You’re adding too much water to your starter and not following the proper ratio’s so it’s fermenting way too fast and going far past yeast stage and entering alcohol stage, or your kitchen is on the warm side so it’s just plain fermenting faster and needs closer timed feedings. Hooch does NOT mean your starter is dead and should be tossed. Simply pour off the hooch, and resume feedings as normal with the necessary adjustments to prevent hooch from there on out.

- Mold. Mold is the only reason a starter is actually ever declared dead. You don’t want to bring that back anyway even if you could. It’s now been inoculated with mold spores that are potentially dangerous for you and your families health. Pitch it and start a new one. Do learn the difference between fermenting “scum” and actual mold. Mold more often than not is fuzzy and/or smells absolutely off. When it doubt, throw it out!

Once your successful start has doubled in size after 5 consecutive feedings, you’re ready to go! There are so many things you can do with it, the possibilities are practically endless. Sourdough starter pancakes, cinnamon rolls, breads, tortillas, pie crusts, english muffins, pizza crusts. I use my starter every day for all sorts of treats, pancakes more than anything as my husband requests that just about every morning - recipe to come.

I hope that de-mystifies some of the sourdough starter process for you! For me, learning by doing was the easiest way to full understand what to do and what not to do, so jump right on in and remember to breathe…..the starter can smell fear. ;)

~ Hippie Hayden

Bone Broth Basics

Oh bone broth. It’s come such a long way in just the past five years. I remember almost eight years ago cooking big pots of bone broth regularly in college; while everyone else was popping toaster strudels in their toasters and hot pockets in their science ovens (microwaves). I was the odd ball obsessed with health via nutrition. So you could regularly find a pot of broth simmering on my stove and multiple ferments around the house doing their thing.

Bone broth is the new black. Entire food carts and popup shops are devoted to the healing liquid, Gwyneth Paltrow touts it’s divinity, and grandma’s everywhere are shaking their rolling pins saying “I told you so!” There’s a lot I could say about it, but I will save that for a more '“scienc-y” post getting into the nitty gritty of why it’s so good for you and why you should make this on a weekly basis to stock up….get it. For now, here are the bare bone (I’m killin’ myself) recipes any real food, slow food, wapf-er should have down pat!

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CHICKEN STOCK

1 whole free-range chicken or 2 to 3 pounds of bony chicken parts, such as necks, backs, breastbones and wings*
gizzards from one chicken (optional)
2-4 chicken feet (optional)
4 quarts cold filtered water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley

*Note: Farm-raised, free-range chickens give the best results. Many battery-raised chickens will not produce stock that gels.

If you are using a whole chicken, cut off the wings and remove the neck, fat glands and the gizzards from the cavity. Cut chicken parts into several pieces. (If you are using a whole chicken, remove the neck and wings and cut them into several pieces.) Place chicken or chicken pieces in a large stainless steel pot with water, vinegar and all vegetables except parsley. Let stand 30 minutes to 1 hour. Bring to a boil, and remove scum that rises to the top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 10 minutes before finishing the stock, add parsley. This will impart additional mineral ions to the broth.

Remove whole chicken or pieces with a slotted spoon. If you are using a whole chicken, let cool and remove chicken meat from the carcass. Reserve for other uses, such as chicken salads, enchiladas, sandwiches or curries. Strain the stock into a large bowl and reserve in your refrigerator until the fat rises to the top and congeals. Skim off this fat and reserve the stock in covered containers in your refrigerator or freezer.

BEEF STOCK

about 4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones
1 calves foot, cut into pieces (optional)
3 pounds meaty rib or neck bones
4 or more quarts cold filtered water
1/2 cup vinegar
3 onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
several sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together
1 teaspoon dried green peppercorns, crushed
l bunch parsley

Place the knuckle and marrow bones and optional calves foot in a very large pot with vinegar and cover with water. Let stand for one hour. Meanwhile, place the meaty bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees in the oven. When well browned, add to the pot along with the vegetables. Pour the fat out of the roasting pan, add cold water to the pan, set over a high flame and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen up coagulated juices. Add this liquid to the pot. Add additional water, if necessary, to cover the bones; but the liquid should come no higher than within one inch of the rim of the pot, as the volume expands slightly during cooking. Bring to a boil. A large amount of scum will come to the top, and it is important to remove this with a spoon. After you have skimmed, reduce heat and add the thyme and crushed peppercorns.

Simmer stock for at least 12 and as long as 72 hours. Just before finishing, add the parsley and simmer another 10 minutes. You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelatinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.

Remove bones with tongs or a slotted spoon. Strain the stock into a large bowl. Let cool in the refrigerator and remove the congealed fat that rises to the top. Transfer to smaller containers and to the freezer for long-term storage.

FISH STOCK

3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
several sprigs fresh thyme
several sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/4 cup vinegar
about 3 quarts cold filtered water

Ideally, fish stock is made from the bones of sole or turbot. In Europe, you can buy these fish on the bone. The fish monger skins and filets the fish for you, giving you the filets for your evening meal and the bones for making the stock and final sauce. Unfortunately, in America sole arrives at the fish market pre-boned. But snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work equally well; and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body—these are especially rich in iodine and fat-soluble vitamins. Classic cooking texts advise against using oily fish such as salmon for making broth, probably because highly unsaturated fish oils become rancid during the long cooking process.

Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Add the vegetables and cook very gently, about 1/2 hour, until they are soft. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish carcasses and cover with cold, filtered water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum and impurities as they rise to the top. Tie herbs together and add to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove carcasses with tongs or a slotted spoon and strain the liquid into pint-sized storage containers for refrigerator or freezer. Chill well in the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat before transferring to the freezer for long-term storage

The variations of broths/stocks you can come up with are truly endless. As we enter cold and flu “season” I begin to fortify my broths with extra, herbs, and other nutritious goodies to add extra minerals and vitamins that will keep us well and our guts happy all winter long! (More on that later) For now, go find you some bone and get crackin’!

- Hippie Hayden

*Check out the “Shopping Guide” tab to find a proper meat and/or bone supplier near you. Don’t use just any ‘ole bones. Make sure they come from the real deal and not feed lot cattle.