I became interested in sourdough and set up my sourdough starter in 1975 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I dried it out and put it in suspended animation when I went to Ireland and Europe in the spring of 1976 for what turned out to be a year. I awakened it when I got home and have been keeping it going one way or the other (inert or active) ever since.

In the late 1970s, my friend Kate baked at Souen, a macrobiotic restaurant on the Upper West Side (relocated now to the East Village, south of Union Square). One morning I got a call from Kate. She was in a state.

“I’ve dropped our starter and it’s all full of glass!” she said. “Could we have some of yours?”

I don’t know of Souen is still making Ainslie sourdough, but for many years, they were.

Your Own Starter

Freshly ground flour is a help when you’re trying to attract wild yeasts, which is what a sourdough starter requires. The little hoodlums are in the air. We simply need to set up a food source and wait. They will refine themselves over time and become a population that thrives of bread flours, rather than say, grapes. Read the rest of this entry »