How to Make Sourdough for Pizza – For (Nearly) Free!

If you’ve read about how using sourdough cultures can take your homemade pizza making to a whole new level, you’ve read right! If you haven’t read about it – keep reading! You will never, ever, EVER go back to making pizza with store bought, dried, packaged yeast. Whatever your pizza tasted like before sourdough, it will seem like cheezy cardboard after you’ve started using sourdough cultures.

Ok, enough about how much you’re going to love sourdough pizza dough (seriously though, you are going to love it). Let’s talk about how you can get your hands on some wonderful tasting, unique to your area, evny of all your friends sourdough starter!

To many people, sourdough seems imposing. Raising live bacteria cultures isn’t an everyday activity for most home cooks. Well I’m here to tell you: raising a sourdough culture from scratch is about the easiest thing you’ve ever done in the kitchen. The only thing it requires is a bit of patience and a bit of time. Below I have outlined the few steps you need to take in order to raise your own living sourdough culture. Enjoy!

Step 1: Mix 1 cup water with 1 cup all purpose flour in a container which has a lid. Glass is best (since you can see what’s going on inside) but anything with a lid will do. Squirt a quick squirt of lime juice, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar into the mixture and make sure it is well blended. We’ll get to the “why” later on.

Step 2: Leave it near an open window with the lid off for 24 hours.

Step 3: Pour out half of your mixture and add 1/2 cup each of AP flour and water.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you begin to see lots of bubbles and/or a nice little frothy top on your culture. Tada! You’ve got yourself a sourdough culture!

Step 5: Use to make way better pizzas than you ever would have before.

Once your culture is bubbly and frothing (activated) you can keep it in the fridge for up to six months without feeding it. When you want to use it, pull your culture out, give it some fresh bacteria food (equal parts flour and water) and let it sit out on the counter until it is bubbly again. Bubbles = ready to bake!

After a while in the fridge, you may start to see a greyish liquid form on top of your culture. This is called hooch and is a natural byproduct of yeast. You can either pour it off or stir it back in – either way works. I like to stir it back in because I feel like doing this keeps that sour flavor stronger than if I dump it off.

Ok, now for the whys. There are thousands of wild yeast floating around everywhere on earth. Whether you are in your kitchen, in your yard, or at the beach, chances are good that you are surrounded by wild yeast floating through the air. What we are doing by setting out some water and flour is giving these yeast a place to cultivate and grow. The yeast float on into your container and set up camp. The reason why you add a bit of acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) and the reason why this mixture never grows mold is rooted in the yeast as well. Sourdough yeast like a acidic environment. They thrive in it, in fact. So by making the mixture slightly acidic to begin with, you ensure that the yeast will begin to grow quickly. After the sourdough is going strong, the mixture is extremely acidic, and this acidity makes the mixture uninhabitable for most other microbes. The mixture protects itself!

The best part about this process is the fact that your culture is unique! Your sourdough will taste different from the San Fransisco sourdough at the store and different from the sourdough from the bakery down the street. You have atruly unique taste – and you can brag that your bread/pizza is a truly LOCAL taste. Enjoy!

-Ryan

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Awesome. How do you measure a liquid yeast for a recipe?

    • By liquid yeast, I am going to assume you mean sourdough starter? If so, the unfortunate answer is there is no real equivalent. Since dry yeast is almost entirely little, dried yeasties, and sourdough starter is in large part flour and water, one doesn’t convert very well into the other. My suggestion would be to start making your dough based on recipes which call for sourdough starter. This recipe, https://insearchoftheperfectpie.wordpress.com/2009/03/01/the-pizzetta-stone-translating-jeff-varasanos-technique/, is pretty awesome. If you follow the recipe as it is written, you’ll have an awesome thin crust dough on your hands. If you want a puffier, more chicago/california style crust, just add a bit more dried yeast and a bit less salt (salt inhibits the yeast’s growth).

      If you’re talking about ACTUAL liquid yeast, like the kind brewers use to brew beer, then I have no clue! But this link may be of use to you: http://chestofbooks.com/food/science/Experimental-Cookery/Bread.html


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