Where the old ways are new again!
Breads can be simple and unpretentious or rather complex and robust. Widely made from wheat but other grains like rye, spelt, buckwheat, and flax add characteristics lost in many of todays modern breads.
Today we use bread for sandwiches mainly and not really think much about it other than wheat or white. In years past, bread was made to be part of the meal, a way to add nutrition and bring a fullness to the table.
Sourdough has been used since times before Christ. It is fairly easy to reculture and can be passed from one generation to another, feeding families for many, many years. There are many different sourdough cultures, some are more sour than others. You can also make biscuits, muffins, pancakes, and even cinnamon rolls from sourdough!
Friendship and fruit breads are great for gift giving and snacking. Applesauce bread, banana bread, friendship breads, all bring a sweet warmth and are great with fresh butter spread on them.
Yeast breads are very tasty and easy to make as well. While you don't have to keep a mother culture alive like you do with sourdough, you have to watch temps so you don't kill the yeast! Yeast breads can be made from any grain but most often are made from wheat and other grains added.
Batter breads are generally heavy and are great with a meal serving gravy. They contain no yeast or sourdough. Some can be lightened up a bit by added wheat to the recipe if desired.
None of these breads contain preservatives or GMO products. Most breads will keep for a week but they should be refrigerated for optimal use. Breads will usually keep well in the freezer for about 6 months.
Below are listed the various cultures that are used. Each is unique and has its own personality.
Polish Farmstead culture--this has been around in a Polish family for many generations. It has never been exposed to modern wheats or GMO's. A bit of a wheaty flavor, great for grilled cheese. A bit more sour than the Polish Bakers.
Polish Bakers culture--this is also an older culture but this one has been used in an artisian bakery. It is lighter in flavor and texture, a good one to start with if you don't like "sour" sourdough. It has also never been exposed to modern wheats or GMO's.
New Zealand culture--fast to culture and mild in flavor. Makes a great sandwich loaf and kids love it!
Gold Rush culture--Good sourdough flavor without being overly sour. Good for French toast and grilled cheese. Circa 1859, Golden Colorado. Oral history traces this sourdough starter to Blackhawk, Colorado (Gregory Gulch) around 1859. It was shared among miners in the area and made its way to Golden, a major supply hub serving the area. This starter is rumored to have also played in part in making beer for the thirsty miners coming down into Golden for a break from gold mining. Was this the original culture used to start the Coors brewery some 15 years later? Who knows? It does, however, make a great lambic ale. With the advent of commercial yeast in teh 1920's, this starter drifted into obscurity and was soon forgotten. It's rather hard to find today but several families have kept it going.
Scandinavian Rye--this sourdough has been maintained with 100% rye flour. It originated from near the city of Aarhus (Denmark) in the Jutland region. The flavor can become very robust!
Black Death culture--This unique sourdough strain dates back to around 1633 in Oberammergau, Germany and at that time, they were experiencing The Black Death or Plague. This strain (like all others I have) as never had commercial yeast added to it. This is also the only historic sourdough starter from Germany.
Parisian--This starter has a very unique and interesting history. It was first started in 1856 in San Francisco, the Parisian is the second oldest bakery in the city. The Boudin Bakery was the first to open years earlier in 1849. Both made San Francisco sourdough bread which many think of as the gold standard for sourdough bread. While the Boudin lives on, sadly the Parisian is no more. After being bought by Interstate Bakeries (former owners of Wonder Bread and Hostess brands), it was slotted for closure after the company (Interstate) filed for bankruptcy in 2005. Unlike Hostess' Twinkies, the Parisian was not sold. It was simply "shuttered" and never reopened. San Francisco lost a part of its soul when it closed and caught many off guard. This starter is one of the more "sour" flavored starters I have. Makes a GREAT grilled cheese!
Country French--Not overly sour but a good old world type of flavor. Excellent French bread!
Genoa--From Northern Italy, this starter is mildly sour and makes a more dense loaf. Makes wonderful Focaccia breads! Very rustic.
Ischia--a Southern Italian sourdough culture, at least 200 years old. This is a slower culture making it perfect for ciabattas, country breads, and pizza crusts.
Naples--another culture from Southern Italy. Slightly sour with a bit if a buttery flavor. Pizza crust, ciabattas, and loaves are all delicious.
San Francisco culture--this one is sour! You better like sour sourdough to enjoy it! I like this one for the first 3 days, then it becomes too sour for me to enjoy as a sandwich bread. At that point I usually dry it in the oven and make bread crumbs for breading chicken or pork chops or make it into croutons. It makes an excellent grilled ham and cheese sandwich!
Spelt sourdough--Good old world flavor, nutty yet kids like it.