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Dehydrated Sourdough Flakes



Thank you for purchasing our starter, Negan! This is a dormant community of sourdough resident microbes, dehydrated from our homegrown sourdough starter naturally developed at the farm. All you need is water, flour, and 6 days to reactivate the starter that can last you a lifetime!




Starter Science

An established active sourdough starter (like Negan) is a colony of micro organisms (wild yeast and bacteria) that produce organic substances that help breads (and other baked goods) rise. These microbes convert simple sugars into carbon dioxide, ethanol, lactic and acetic acid. The acids give sourdough its unique ‘sour’ flavor.


Yeast is everywhere. The cultivation or ‘catching’ of wild yeast is a month long process of feeding and discarding; increasing the blend of beneficial bacteria and wild yeast.


It’s initially established by the wild yeast from the environment and flour - and it will change to reflect it’s new environment. It’s for this reason, each sourdough starter is unique and provides a different flavor profile.


Why Sourdough?

Sourdough is a naturally fermented food and acts as a prebiotic. Not to be confused with a probiotic - sourdough contains probiotic-like properties however, are cooked off during the baking process. The magic really happens earlier during the fermentation process. It contains gut-friendly lactobacillus bacteria that makes grains and proteins (like gluten and fiber) more digestible and increases bioavailability.


Storage

To store your dehydrated starter, store in a cool, dry, dark location to keep viable for 12 months.


To store an active sourdough starter, feed your starter, place in an airtight container, and store in the fridge. In the refrigerator, the fermentation process becomes much slower than if kept at room temperature. The food can typically last a couple of weeks - simply remove the starter from the fridge, discard, and refresh your starter with a maintenance feed. (See below for terminology)




Sourdough Terminology

Starter: A natural leavening agent composed of fermented flour and water that uses wild yeast and bacteria to make baked goods rise.

Feed: Replenishing your existing starter with fresh flour and water to maintain its vitality and activity.

Feeding Ratio: Ratio (referring to weight) of old sourdough starter: fresh flour: water

Ex. 1:1:1, 1:2:2, 1:3:3, etc. We prefer a 1:2:2 feeding ratio (25g starter: 50g flour: 50 filtered water)

Discard: Portion of sourdough starter that is removed before feeding in order to manage growth and refresh metabolic activities.

Peak: The point where the yeast population is at its highest, has fermented all its feed, most active, and best to bake with. Visible signs include bubbling, dome shape on top, doubled (even tripled) in volume.

Inactive: referring to a starter that does NOT have bubbles. This can be because 1- it was just recently fed and has not had enough time to ferment the recent feeding of flour and water, or 2- because it has gone too long after a feeding and has fallen back down and become runny. This is when it becomes discard.

Active: when a starter is full of bubbles and has the ability to leaven and ferment bread dough. Sometimes referred to as a levain (active starter)

Rise and Fall: refers to the peak and recession of starter in the jar. After its peak and yeast has eaten all available food, it will start to fall. You can see visible signs of smudging on the side of the jar. After it has fallen, it may take on an alcohol or acetone smell which means it is hungry and starts developing hooch.

Hooch: the grey liquid layer that forms on top of a neglected and/or hungry sourdough starter. It consists primarily of alcohol, indicating that the starter needs a refreshing. Hooch can be discarded or mixed with the existing starter.

Bulk Fermentation: the first rise of sourdough before the fermented dough is divided and shaped. During this time the yeast is inflating the dough with carbon dioxide and lactic acid bacteria is building flavor.

Coil Folds: a technique used to strengthen and develop the gluten network. To perform, place hands under the middle of the dough and stretch it upwards and then flap it over itself.

Stretch and Fold: a technique used to strengthen the gluten structure during fermentation. To perform, gently stretch one side of the dough, fold it into itself, and repeating the process rotation 90º after each fold.

Resting: refers to letting the dough rest between folding or shaping.

Shaping: Shaping takes the pre-shaped round and shapes it into a loaf. This step builds structure and surface tension which helps the loaf build height. Typical shapes are boules (round) and batards (oval).

Proofing: sometimes referred to as second rise after the dough is worked into its destined shape. During shaping, much of the air is knocked out and proofing allows the dough to expand again before baking.

Under- Proof: when the dough is under-proofed, the yeast has not generated enough gas to increase dough volume  which results in a dense and deformed loaf if baked. When poked, the indentation will quickly spring back (see poke test)

Over-Proof: when the dough has proofed and fermented too long, the air bubbles have popped and results in a flat loaf. When poked, the dough will leave an indent and not spring back (see poke test)

Poke Test: poking the dough when the dough is proofing, just before baking. To perform, flour finger and press an indentation into the dough. If it springs back quickly: under-proofed. If it springs back halfway: it’s ready for baking. If it doesn’t spring back: over-proofed.

Float Test: a test to determine a starter’s level of activity. To perform, take a small scoop of unstirred starter and drop into glass of water. If it floats, it is ready to bake with. If it sinks, it’s not ready and needs more time to ferment or needs a feeding.

Autolyse: a method of hydrating flour with water. This step helps strengthen and develop the gluten in the flour and the enzymes break down starches. Simply add the water and flour, mix, and let rest typically for 1 hour. A preferment or fermentolyse refers to adding the starter to the autolyse - resting before adding salt.

Scoring: making cuts in the dough to control where the dough will open or bloom.

Crumb: the crumb of sourdough is the internal texture and structure that reveals how well the dough has fermented. A good loaf should look evenly airy from end to end, which tells us that the dough was aerated throughout when baked.

Ear: refers to the protrusion that forms along the score lines on the surface of the bread during baking.

Belly: the rounded surface that opens up alongside the ear during baking.

Gluten: a protein found in wheat and related grains. When hydrated, gluten forms a network of elastic strands that gives dough its stretchiness and holds carbon dioxide during fermentation contributing to the structure and texture of baked goods.

Hydration: Hydration in bread baking is expressed as the percentage of each ingredient compared to the weight of the flour (known as bakers math). To calculate: water(g)/flour(g) x100 = hydration percentage


About Negan

Negan contains a dormant community of sourdough resident microbes, dehydrated from our homegrown sourdough starter naturally developed at the farm. Negan is maintained on a 1:2:2 ratio with a blend of *organic unbleached all purpose flour and organic dark rye flour and **filtered warm water. It is not necessary to continue this specific feeding blend of flours or ratio - I personally get the best baking results and prefer the consistency and fermenting time of the starter.


*Unbleached flour contains its naturally occurring nutrients that the yeast and bacteria feed on. Bleached flour has been stripped of all nutrients and enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals, that similar to our bodies, does not do much for. Flours such as rye, whole wheat, buckwheat, and einkorn have different flavor profiles, nutrients, and absorption rates. You’ll notice a very active starter with these flours as they simply have more food for the microbes to feed from.


**We use filtered water as tap water contains chlorine which is used to kill off bacteria that can potentially kill the microbes in the starter. Adding warm water adds a constant to the process and speeds up fermentation. 85-90º is our sweet spot for a consistent fermentation and proofing time. The colder the environment and temperature of starter=slower fermentation time and vice versa.



Our typical sourdough process looks like:

8pm: Feed Negan

50g starter

100g flour (80g unbleached all purpose + 20g rye)

100g filtered water (warmed to 90º)


5am: Active and Bubbly (perform float test)

Fermentolyse

6am Knead in salt

6:15am Stretch and Fold #1

6:30am Stretch and Fold #2

6:45am Stretch and Fold #3

7am Stretch and Fold #4 (add additives if using)

7:15am Bulk Ferment

3pm Final Shaping

*3:15pm Cold Ferment (refrigerator)

5am Preheat Oven and Score Dough

6am Bake

7am Done Baking/Cool

8am Ready…finally!


*Cold fermentation is not necessary if you want to bake right away. After bulk ferment, shape dough, place in a well floured banneton, cover, and let rise or proof for one more hour while the oven preheats. After an hour, score and bake.


Tools

  • Clean jar with lid (I love Weck and mason jars but any jar that allows starter to double in volume will do)

  • Marker or rubber band

  • Kitchen scale

  • Mixing spoon (I prefer wooden chopsticks)

  • Large bowl

  • Banneton basket or large bowl

  • Clean tea towel, bowl lid, or plastic wrap

  • Dutch oven with lid or oven safe baking dish

  • Bread lame or sharp knife



Rehydrating Negan

We recommend using half the package (5g) and storing the remaining 5g as back up.

Day 1:  5g sourdough flakes

           15g filtered water (90f)

In a clean jar, mix flakes and water, loosely cover, and soak for 2 hours.



10g flour

After 2 hours, add flour to jar and mix thoroughly. Loosely cover and sit on counter at room temperature overnight.



Day 2: 10g flour

             10g filtered water (90f)

To the existing starter (do not discard), add flour and water. Thoroughly mix, loosely cover and sit at room temperature overnight.






Day 3: 10g flour

             10g filtered water (90f)

You may see signs of yeast waking up - small bubbles forming on top and throughout starter.



Repeat day 2:

To the existing starter (do not discard), add flour and water. Thoroughly mix, loosely cover and sit at room temperature overnight. Using a marker or rubber band, mark the top of starter.





8am 10am


Day 4: 15g starter

             30g flour

             30g filtered water (90f)

Negan is bubbly, active, and has doubled in size.

10am - starter has risen & fell... ...but it is still awake and ready to eat


*Using a kitchen scale, measure out 15g of starter in a new jar and discard the rest. Add 30g of flour and 30g water to starter.



Thoroughly mix, loosely cover, remark starter line, and sit at room temperature overnight.

10am

















3pm



Day 5: 15g starter

             30g flour

             30 filtered water (90f)

Repeat day 4 to ensure your starter is ready. If there are little to no signs of activity, repeat discard and feeding until starter has doubled in size.


Discard all but 15g, add 30g water, and 30g flour. Mix, cover, mark, and leave at room temp.


10am (fed) 3pm (bubbly) 5pm (peak)


Take note on how long it takes your starter to reach peak activity to schedule your bake days in the future. Above, our starter was active and bubbly about 6 hours after it was fed.



Day 6: Ready! Time to name your starter (very important), perform a float test and get baking! **Use the remaining starter and continue a 1:2:2 ratio feeding to maintain.



Starter is floating and ready to bake with.



*If you would like to use the same jar, calculate discard by weighing the empty jar in grams. Subtract 15g of empty jar + starter, and discard the rest.


**It takes very little amount of existing starter to maintain an active starter colony. Just a tsp or less of starter left in a jar can be fed and multiplied - just be sure to keep a proper ratio of starter: flour: water (1:2:2)


**to build a starter in volume, simply omit discarding and feed desired ratio. You may want to increase volume if baking more than one loaf, a recipe calls for more starter, etc.


Baking with your Starter

It’s very important to note that each starter and loaf will be different due to several factors. For example, two loafs with the same recipe baked a day apart can need different proofing times due to the external weather. Common factors could include:

  • Ambient kitchen temperatures

  • Humidity

  • Outdoor weather (rain)

  • Fans, dehydrators, humidifiers, and/or heaters running

  • Number of people in the home

  • Specific oven and refrigerator temperatures, pre-heating times, etc

  • Baking vessels (cast iron, non-stick, ceramic, glass, etc)

  • Flour - flours (and brands) have different protein percentages and nutritional value which affects the hydration, proofing, and structure

  • Hydration percentage in recipe

  • Sourdough additives such as olives, cheese, sugar, herbs, chocolate, etc


Now that your starter is active, time to bake!



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