Starting your own sourdough culture during lockdown is getting people through the trauma of the coronavirus crisis. It’s one of the most ancient and human pursuits there is, so of course, people are returning to a practice that for many reasons, we had generally lost n recent times.
With such an explosion in new sourdough cultures around the world, there is a lot more data to mine for the scientists who like to keep track of what kind of bacteria and microbes manifest in cultures and where.
You see, despite the fact that people have been making bread this way, the actual science of our daily bread remains somewhat mysterious. A couple of years ago the university launched the Global Sourdough Project, which studies hundreds of existing starters from all of over the world.
A project out of Rob Dunn’s lab at North Carolina State University is collecting sourdough starter data from home bakers, and you can join in.
The project is looking for sourdough makers, including beginners, to contribute. You will be guided through a “wild” sourdough starter using only water and flour following a ten-day protocol. If you are curious (and a little ambitious), you may be asked to make more than one starter using different flour types or using the same flour type but setting one outside and one inside your home.
Once you have made your starter you will observe it and record some observations about its aroma and how fast it rises.
The Sourdough Project began in 2017 when it collected over 500 samples of Sourdough starter from around the world and analysed it to see what microbes were present. They used the data to create an interactive sourdough map.
With a lot more data to be mined as a consequence of the coronavirus crisis and the newfound enthusiasm for sourdough, there is a lot more to learn about the mysterious process.