Chat Leftovers: Sourdough starter? Yes, you can.


If I can create this beautiful, bubbly starter, then anyone can. (Jane Touzalin/The Washington Post)

Welcome to Wednesday, which — as always — means a vibrant new infusion of Foodstuff, to wit:

The bittersweet second installment of Tamar Haspel’s venture into pig-raising, from field to slaughter.

Joe Yonan’s successful attempts to learn to love quinoa.

Tim Carman’s look at the world of Asian jerky — not much like the dried-meat snack that American cowboys tucked into their saddlebags.

For you cookbook fans, my quick take on a Lebanese cookbook just out, plus recipes to try.

And then there’s the piece de resistance: today’s Free Range chat, our weekly get-together to discuss all things culinary. At noon sharp, we’ll have quite a lineup of guests, including the aforementioned Tamar Haspel, quinoa expert Wendy Polisi and Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

So pull up a chair and start reading! And while you’re waiting for the chat to start, whet your appetite with this leftover question from last week’s chat:

I recently started baking and want to try to make sourdough bread, but I don’t want to spend as much on shipping as the starter costs, and I’m nervous to make my own for my first time. Do you have suggestions for local places that sell the starter?

Here’s what I recommend: DIY. I did it, and that means anyone can do it.

A blogpost I wrote several years ago chronicled my sourdough starter ad­ven­ture, in which I made my own, saw it fail and then made a second attempt that was a rousing success. My friend, it was EASY. So easy that when I wiped out the first time, it was no problem to launch another try. The hard part was worrying and watching to see if the starter would live and, later, if it would die. (It did; I turned out to be a neglectful parent.)

Maybe others will know a local source for the starter (and I hear you about the mailing costs) but I don’t. The major chain kitchen stores don’t seem to carry it. I’ve read that natural-food stores sometimes have it; you could try a few, though I called two with no luck.

But really, I think you should give DIY starter a shot. When that brew starts bubbling and foaming, I’m tellin’ ya, it’s a thrill! ­­

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