Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sourdough Bread And Beach Plum Jelly

How has your summer been so far? Busy? Hectic? Fun? The feeling you want to do so many things and not enough time to do them? That's about how my summer has been so far.

Something I wanted to accomplish for a long time was to make sourdough bread from scratch, without using store bought yeast, making my own "starter" by mixing just flour and water and allow the bacteria that's in the air to ferment the dough. This was how things were done years ago.

The process took time and patience, but seven days later I had a lovely sourdough starter that I was able to make 3 loaves of sourdough bread, and it was not only delicious but very nutritious.
A good sourdough starter can last for years, even decades, with the
proper loving care! Sourdoughs were originally produced by wild yeasts. The starter (or sometimes called a sponge) is a flour and water mixture that contains the yeast used to rise the bread. You can buy dried versions and then activate them or you can make your own, catching the wild yeasts indigenous to your area.

If you would like to try your hand at making sourdough bread you need to start with a sourdough starter. Instructions below:

Things You'll Need
Refrigerator room

Step 1
Mix one cup room temperature water with one cup flour in a bowl. You can use all purpose flour, wheat, rye--anything your heart desires. Loosely cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.

Step 2
Let that mixture sit at room temperature for 24-48 hours. You should see bubbles starting to form.

Step 3
After you have bubbles in your starter, discard half of it and add another cup of water and another cup of flour. Mix this thoroughly, and put the starter in the fridge.

Step 4
Two days after you refrigerate your starter, discard half, and mix in another cup of flour and water each.

Step 5
Two days later, check your starter. It should have risen in the refrigerator. If it has doubled, it's ready to use. If it hasn't risen, give it more time.

Step 6
After your starter has matured, feed it about once a week by discarding half and mixing in a cup of flour and a cup of water. Kept on a regular feeding schedule, your starter will last indefinitely. To keep it replenished, you should feed it after you use a portion of it to make bread (with the cup of water, cup of flour mixture).

The Recipe:
3 1/2 cups rye, kamut, spelt, or whole wheat flour, which ever you prefer
3 cups rye flour
1 quart sourdough starter
3 cups filtered water
1 1/2 Tbsp salt

1. Mix all together, with a heavy duty wooden spoon 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Pour the dough evenly into 3 well greased bread pans.
3. Place the bread pans aside on a counter for at least 7 hours, covered loosely with a dish towel.
4. Once they have risen sufficiently, basically double in size and close to the top of the bread
pan, they are ready to be baked. The longer they stay out the more sour the taste, which I personally like.
5. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour

This simple basic sourdough bread is very tasty and nutritious. Especially toasted with butter and my homemade Beach Plum Jelly.Beach Plum Jelly is the taste of summer.

For the past 3 years we could not find many beach plums, but this year they were abundant.

This elusive, bittersweet, stubbornly hardy fruit is worth the while. Make no mistake: with their piquant zest, their edgy bitterness, like authentic British marmalades, beach plum jellies, jams, syrup, may become an acquired taste for you too. For true aficionados, the ravishing products of the prepared native fruit are addictive.

The beach plum is a low-growing fruiting shrub or small tree native along the sandy dunes of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts all the way up to Newfoundland. It is most common on Cape Cod where beach plum has become a cottage commercial venture for Beach Plum Jams and Jellies. They bear over a period of about a month in late summer, their fruit ripening at graduated intervals on each individual shrub, so they must be harvested by hand in small batches
After spending about an hour picking these berries on a beautiful summer day at Short Beach, Russell and I managed to collect quite a few berries and preserved enough jelly to last us for a while, well into the late winter, early spring.

We especially enjoy eating our Beach Plum Jelly during the winter months reminiscing summer's activity, and days at the beach. The sun, sand and surf, the wind gently blowing, sea gulls flying and calling out a plaintive cry; the signs of summer slowly nearing it's end as we quickly gather our precious berries, a gift, that helps us reflect back to our creator and the summer past.

Recipe for Beach Plum Jam

2 quarts beach plum

2 1/2 cups water

3 1/2 cups sugar

Pit and cook beach plums in water about 15 minutes

Add sugar and bring to a hearty boil until thickens

Pour into sterilized jelly jars and process in a canner for 10 minutes

I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog on some of my summer activity. Maybe you will be inspired to try and make sourdough bread, and beach plum jelly, it will add another adventure to your life, and you really haven't lived until you try it!

This is Raven-as the crow flies


  1. Hi Janice, I found your recipe very interesting. I remember years ago, we passed around bread starter and everyone was making the bread. Bev

  2. P.S. I copied your recipe,only thing is right now I'm not eating bread. But one day I will make it. Bev