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I would like to always have my own culture of yeast (sourdough starter) in my fridge at home. Does anyone know how to grow yeast and keep it alive?

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Most bakers refer to this as a starter and it is extremely easy to keep up. You will need a plastic bag or a jar to keep it in, a cup of warm water, and some flour. You can either grow some wild yeast or add a particular strain to the growth solution depending what you are trying to do with the yeast. Once you do that, just leave it someplace warm but not over 100 degree F. Then once a day, you feed the yeast by removing half and adding back a half cup of flour and a half cup of water. Once it starts foaming remove to the fridge and remember to feed once a week. It will be with you for the rest of the your time on earth.

Also, that half you take out when you feed it? Makes a great gift to other baking or cooking friends. Also, if you devolop a dark smelly liquid, just stir it back in, it is normal and nothing to worry about.

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Hey sarge. I just happened to read this closer. I don't think "dark smelly liquid" is normal. Smelly liquid, yes. However, it should be a murky light color, the color of dough more or less. If you have something green, red, or brown - you've got something besides yeast and their friendly bacteria buddies growing. –  hobodave Sep 14 '10 at 8:26
    
I'm specifically talking about a discharge that is dark brown/amber. It often develops around day two or three, and will be clearer and not as bubbly as the rest of liquid in the container. It is a waste product of the yeast and doesn't add to the flavor but removing it is also a waste of time. The thing is, with a wild culture, yeasts are great competitors and will destroy other bacterial growth trying to take advantage of it's growth medium. Basically, I have always just mixed everything back in, and don't worry about it, unless you get that skunk beer flavor, then it's time to start over –  sarge_smith Sep 14 '10 at 14:51
    
@hobodave Although I might worry if I got green or red, anything that could be poured out of a beer bottle in color is safe to mix back in. –  sarge_smith Sep 14 '10 at 14:53
    
I recommend grabbing a copy of Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day" from your local library. Very informative, and has recipes for starting your own "mother" starter, also numerous recipes for use with the sourdough. –  Juju Sep 15 '10 at 0:15

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