The most sourful time of the year.

So, this morning, I staggered out of bed, down the hall to the kitchen… where Mount St. Sourdough Starter had erupted during the night. As far as I can tell, while I was asleep, the (now dormant and innocent-looking) starter foamed up, overflowed its crock, and hardened into a 1/4″ crust in the recesses of the stovetop, which I found myself chipping off with a kid’s plastic IKEA knife, before I could even make coffee. Before. Coffee. If that’s not in the Geneva Convention, it should be.

I wish I could say this is the first time a sourdough starter had turned on me. Last year, after a number of pretty good loaves, I was starting to run low on yeast. It was getting towards the end of baking season and I knew I’d be moving before fall, so rather than buy a new batch of yeast, I took what I had left and made it into a sourdough starter.

I fed it, stirred it, kept it warm, talked to it — it got more attention than the cat. And after a week of this coddling, I was ready to make some bread. I opened the cabinet, to retrieve the bowl of starter from the high, warm shelf it was on… and it sprang out of the cabinet of its own accord, ricocheted off every possible edge and corner on the way down, spraying its sour yeasty glue all over my kitchen. My cookbooks bear crusty scars to this day.

The question now is: why does sourdough starter hate me? Is it compelled, somewhere in its yeasty mitochondria, to make my kitchen an unholy mess, never to become a nice loaf of bread?

The epilogue to this tale is: I stirred in the liquid on top (called hooch — seriously, look it up), decanted what was left into a clean container, and it’s now sitting on the counter (far from any source of heat) until I can figure out what to do with it, assuming it doesn’t achieve sentience and try to commit suicide again, rather than be baked by me.

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2 thoughts on “The most sourful time of the year.

  1. Are you sure you didn’t make “dour”-dough starter by mistake, instead of sourdough? That might explain the starter’s penchant for self sacrifice.

    Yes, I realize how geeky a phrase “dour-dough” is.


  2. I’m just impressed you have sourdough starter. I volunteered at the James Beard House for an event and remember the chef and his wife talking about how their 11-year-old starter was almost more important than their children!

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