Friendship Bread = Brewing Tradition

squared-circle-sourdough-starter-7045Friday my friend Dan brought me over a bag of goop. This bag of goop also happens to be a starter for friendship bread. When Dan gave me my starter I got really excited. Now Dan is used to some of the strange things I do and say, so when I told him that starters like these were related to ancient brewing and baking he just kinda nodded. I’m not sure he was really interested. But I then proceeded to launch into an explanation anyway, which I will write out now. If history doesn’t interest you then sorry.

Starters aren’t something you see in baking nowadays, and even though they’re used in brewing starters aren’t passed around much anymore. There was a time though when a starter was a valuable asset. Back in the days before smack packs and dry yeast starters are what kept strains of yeast isolated and pure. If your particular strain died then you had to go back to another brewer or baker who used the same strain. This is part of the reason why yeasts used to be regional, and why they gave regional beers such unique flavors.

When the United States was colonized the natural wild yeasts here were used almost exclusively in brewing and baking. This made starters important to early settlers, both for maintaining yeasts brought from Europe, and capturing and cultivating wild strains. In fact, until 1867 there was no commercialy available yeast. Prior to Fleischmann making commercial yeast normal people purchased their yeast by either a starter purchased at a brewery, or a chunk of dough purchased from a bakery.

from theweeklybrew

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2 Responses to “Friendship Bread = Brewing Tradition”

  1. Deanna says:

    When we were in San Francisco we visited the Boudin Bakery and they still have some of the mother dough from way back when.

  2. Kiley Breitling says:

    You know, this reminded me that my wife’ great grandmother had a “starter” for sour dough pancakes. It is ANCIENT! It kinda grossed me out when I learned about it but now I get it and it’s way cool. Old and traditional lost arts. Kinda like the Jedi but not as cool. She wielded a spatula instead of a sword! Ha! Her dad has it know and I’m thinking we need to get some of it.

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