NATURAL BREAD STARTER (taken from class at the CIA with author, CAROL FIELD)


Starter here is made from a food that has affinity for the wild yeast in the air, organic raisins or grapes. If you live in a large city, pollution may destroy much of the natural yeast and you may need to add a pinch of active dry yeast to jump start your starter.


  • 2 cups organic raisins

  • 4 cups water, 75-80°F, or room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached All Purpose flour, preferably organically grown


Set the raisins in a bowl, cover with the water, press them with back of large spoon to release the sugars, and leave at room temperature uncovered until the water becomes frothy, about 3-4 days, although it can take longer. Do not worry if bits of mold begin to form. Drain the raisins, discard them, and measure ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of the soaking water. Pour into clean bowl; add flour and stir well. Cover with plastic or tea towel and leave it at room temp to bubble 4-6 hours.
Second day refresh the starter: Add 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon water, room temp; ½ cup unbleached all purpose flour. Mix and cover and leave out to bubble again another 4-6 hours—then refrigerate the starter another 24-72 hours.
Again refresh one final time by adding: ¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon room temp water and ½ cup plus 1 Tablespoon unbleached AP flour.  Let sit out 4-6 hours and refrigerate again.

To use: Take the required amount called for in the recipe, and replace the amount with 1/2 water and 1/2 organic flour; or refresh batch every 3-4 days, although it keeps for a week, becoming sourer as it sits. If you neglect it, the starter becomes slick, slimy and eventually dies. Do not use dead starter. Start over!


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