Inconsistent Natural Leavening Refreshment? Weighty Matter, Hot Topic.
Hi Amy –
I’ve been trying to get the natural leavening started and am not having any luck. It’s been 36 hours and looks no different than when I started. The directions say to stir it every 12 hours. After the first 12 hours, it had grown about 50% and was quite springy in texture. After the next 12 hours, it had grown even less, and was no longer springy, just airy. After the last 12 hours, it hasn’t changed a bit and now smells sour. I live in Guam where it’s quite warm. Isn’t it supposed to rise? How do I know if it’s ready to use? What should I do now? Thanks, Sloan
There are two Natural Leavening refreshment issues I’d like to address here: hot climate and flour weight. The principles that we will discuss equally apply to activating dry Natural Leavening and refreshing wet Natural Leavening.
Natural Leavening is extremely temperature dependent. Leaven rises much quicker in a warm environment (over 78’F) and much slower in a cooler environment (under 68’F). It seems your Leavening may have reached it’s peak volume sometime between 12-24 hours, instead of the normal 36 hours. When your Natural Leavening has begun to deflate and smell a little sour, use it as the base for quick batters like pancakes, waffles, or crepes. Alternately, take a small amount of the deflated Natural Leavening and culture more flour in a batter bread recipe like muffins, biscuits, cornbread, or banana bread. I do not recommend using deflated Natural Leavening for rolled bread dough or loaf bread recipes.
Why didn’t your Natural Leavening refreshment double in volume? The answer may be in your choice of flour and the amount used. What type of flour did you use? If your flour is freshly ground or finely ground, it may have only looked like the right amount in your measuring cups. Fresh and fine grinds make fluffy flour. Using volume or cup measurements is unfortunately inconsistent. Sometimes flour is more settled and heavy, and so more flour gets into your cup measurement. Weighing your flour and water refreshment would make Natural Leavening easier.
When weighing your flour refreshments, this is what we have found works for a one quart jar:
- 7 ounces whole wheat flour to 9 ounces water.
- 8 ounces gluten free flour to 8 ounces water.
- 6 ounces barley, rye, or oat flour to 10 ounces water.
These flour and water weights are consistent as possible with volume measurements where we recommend 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour to 1 cup water. Flour is less dense than water, so the volume measurement for flour is more.
If you are interested in kitchen scales, read on.
Beyond a basic bowl and spoon, if we could only recommend one kitchen implement for Natural Leavening, it would be a kitchen scale. That’s right! My favorite tool is not my beloved mixer, rolling pin, chopper, blender, or even my measuring cups and spoons. The most helpful tool for Natural Leavening reproducibility is a simple kitchen scale. We’ve tested about eight different scales with Natural Leavening. We’ve listed many kitchen scales with good reviews here-just scroll down to view. Today we’ll tell you about what’s in our kitchen.
We really like using our KD 7000 Kitchen Scale for Natural Leavening. The splash guard, the back light, and the hold button are features I use all the time, but did not have with my last kitchen scale. I can tare the weight of my large mixing bowl and still see the scale’s display. It is cordless! The batteries seem to last a very long time – we still haven’t replaced ours with heavy usage over many months. Now $32 with price changing by the day.
The KD 8000 Baker’s Math Kitchen Scale is the same great stainless kitchen scale as the KD 7000 with some added features. It can weigh 8000 grams, hence it’s name, and figures a baker’s percentage. It has a 30-Year manufacturer’s warranty! Surprisingly, the KD 8000 is now $33 with free shipping.
Natural Leavening is important! You can master Natural Leavening! We can help.
Amy McClean, registered dietitian nutritionist, and Dr. Matthew McClean, “Dr. Dough” are the makers of Old World Natural Leavening. This pair has been researching and experimenting with Natural Leavening since 2006. Through their efforts numerous “health gurus” and hundreds, if not thousands, of other people now use Natural Leavening. At the time of this writing, all proceeds from the sale of Natural Leavening starters and classes have been put back into natural leavening research and education. McClean’s started naturalleavening.com, built an inspected kitchen to legally make starter and teach classes, and have funded natural leavening research.