As an addition to this thread, I now have a healthy culture of the Ischia sourdough.
It's an Italian culture, and apparently "the one" for authentic Pizza Neapolitan. I got it from Sourdo.com when I was on holiday in the US as they either don't post cultures to the UK, or prices are prohibitive.
It's a very active culture with a fairly mild sourdough tang to it. Right now, it more than doubles within about 4 hours of feeding.
Anyway....available for cost of postage to anyone that's interested. PM me.
Afternoon ADM, I realise your post was some time ago and you haven't logged on for a while but if possible, have you got any Ischia left please?
With many thanks again to adm. My Ischia soutdough is up and running. Here are some tips from the Fabulous Baker Brothers on looking after your dough:
How to start a sourdough culture With regular care and some forward planning a sourdough culture can provide delicious bread and pancakes for decades Share Tweet this
Email Tom and Henry Herbert theguardian.com, Monday 20 February 2012 11.00 GMT
You can go so far as to name your sourdough. Photograph: Chris Terry Starting a sourdough culture
Find a suitable container to house your sourdough. A Kilner jar is good. Clean it well and weigh it while it's empty, noting the weight on an address tag or label. (This saves you having to empty it out to know how much you have left – it'll be worth it later.)
Weigh 75g organic wholemeal or dark rye or wholemeal spelt flour into the jar (any of these will work well), then weigh in 75g/ml warm water. Stir. Leave your jar in a prominent and warm place (its second home) in your kitchen, with the lid sealed.
Each day for a week, repeat the feeding process (75g flour and 75g water, as before), stirring vigorously with a clean finger or a fork to remove all floury lumps. After about 5 days you'll notice bubbles in the dough. Like the first windy smile of a baby, you know that soon enough it'll be laughing and telling jokes, and you're on your way to the most rewarding kind of baking.
You can use the culture at this stage, but it will be slow and weak. After the first week, you can start to keep the culture in the fridge (its first home), only removing it a day or so before use, to feed it back into full bubbly liveliness (75g flour and 75g water, as before). After a month, the dough will have matured and you'll be getting great flavour and rising performance from it.
It's quite laughable just how simple it can be to keep your sourdough in peak condition for really tasty loaves, if you feed it occasionally and mostly keep it in the fridge. Surplus sourdough can be used to flavour all manner of buns, cakes and pancakes.
If the sourdough is not performing well enough, try taking it out of the fridge a day before you want to use it, and giving it an extra feed. Remember that, as a living culture, it needs to be fed if it's not hibernating in the fridge (where it can survive for several months). It likes to be warm and aerated (stirred/whisked) occasionally.
If it dies ("de-natures" – you'll know because it will smell disgusting), bin it and start again. I'm custodian of our family sourdough that's been rising award-winning loaves at Hobbs House Bakery for more than 55 years. With a bit of good husbandry and some forward planning, yours could live just as long, or longer.
Feeding a sourdough culture
Know the weight of your container so you can weigh the sourdough without creating washing up. Ideally, you should always retain at least a quarter of your sourdough so you don't dilute its flavour and performance.
Feed your sourdough more if you wish to bake more loaves or create more sourdough culture to share. This will momentarily dilute the flavour.
Sourdough culture often separates after a day or two. Just stir the grey water back in when you feed it. Keep a small quantity of sourdough frozen in case of emergency, and if necessary defrost and follow the weekly plan.
Now you have a sourdough, you can name it. I found the anthropomorphising of my sourdough culture particularly helpful when I was about to leave it in the custody of an apprentice ("baldrick").
The culture was going through a particularly virile stage and had built up a head of steam when – KABOOOM! – it blew its lid off, taking out a bulb in the overhead ultraviolet insectocutor.
It had earned its moniker, the "Monster" (it's alive, it'll bite), and I was able to make it clear to baldrick that, like the sourdough, I'd explode and put his lights out if he didn't look after it and feed it while I was away.
Once you've established your sourdough, follow this plan to have a loaf of freshly baked bread every Saturday morning. Should you want to bake more loaves, just multiply the recipe in anticipation of your bake.
1. Start with 75g of sourdough remaining, having just mixed a batch of dough.
2. Feed the culture 75g flour and 75g cold water (it will now weigh 225g), and refrigerate.
3. On Friday morning, remove the sourdough from the fridge and feed it again with 75g flour and 75g warm water. It will now weigh 375g, the target weight for this process (300g for the recipe and 75g to keep). Leave it somewhere warm.
4. On Friday evening, weigh and mix the sourdough following the instructions on your sourdough loaf recipe. You will have 75g sourdough remaining.
5. Return to step 1.
Should your sourdough culture be lacklustre and sluggish, or if you're using it for the first time after an extended hibernation in the fridge, start the weekly revival process a day early and give an additional feed.
• These recipes are extracted from The Fabulous Baker Brothers by Tom and Henry Herbert
Afternoon Rocky, if ADM isn't around and if you may have some Ischia left, any chance please?