Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Name That Culture

Pete lives in our refrigerator. Pete came here almost 20 years ago, but I'm sure he's much older than that. As a newlywed, and new to the neighborhood, I frequently saw an elderly neighbor walking her dogs past our house, so introduced myself. She lived in the house down the street with a wonderful garden. Her husband did the gardening, she did the cooking, and although now long retired, used to run a local catering business. We became good friends. She could see me out in my garden from her kitchen window, and when I'd come in for a break and the phone would ring, I could bet it would be Mae.

But I was talking about Pete, wasn't I? As a newlywed, my husband used to reminisce about the wonderful sourdough waffles his grandma used to make, asking if maybe I could learn to make them. His grandma was long gone, and his mom didn't bother with sourdough anymore either. But I happened to mention it one day while over visiting with Mae. She pulled out her jar of starter out of her refrigerator then and there, filled up a pint jar, and gave it to me along with instructions and a couple of recipes (I've also found Adventures in Sourdough Cooking & Baking, by Charles Wilford, a great resource for additional recipes). I have no idea how long she'd kept that starter going, but I'm betting it was decades. She also told me that, since the starter needs to be cared for and fed regularly, I should also give it a name just like any other house pet.

And so, Sourdough Pete came to live with us. What got me to thinking about all this, however, was that last night I realized I have another culture living here now that needs to be fed and cared for. There's a gallon jug of apple cider fermenting away on my kitchen counter, destined for my vinegar jar up in the cupboard. And it's the mother of vinegar I got last fall that will make it happen. I've heard about the folklore saying to name your sourdough starter, but never anything about vinegar mother. But I figure it's the same principle, and I certainly don't want to discriminate. So I've decided to name my vinegar mother Jolene, and hope she'll have a long and happy life here with us too.

9 comments:

Annodear said...

Jolene is a nice name. Any particular reason why you chose it? Always reminds me of that Dolly Parton song :-)

Sadge said...

The name reasoning went something like this:
Mother of vinegar; mother, mama; YoMama; JoMama (almost stopped there, but I used to work with a waitress, named JoAnne, that everyone called JoMama, and I didn't want to think about her living in my cupboard); to Jolene. I don't know any Jolene's but that song does/did go through my head.

Annodear said...

Oh! Well of course then :-D

angela said...

That is so cute. I have never heard about naming your started. Now that is a very good incentive to start one of my own.
I love to "mother" and look after things.

Anonymous said...

That's a nice name! I started this week with sourdough but it don't rising. (65 gr. flour, 150 cc buttermilk 20 Celsius, 1 teaspoon honing, and wait 12 hours by 17 Celsius)And nothing happend.
Can you tell me what's wrong?
Bye-bye!Margriet.

Sadge said...

Hi, Margriet: Your starter sounds too cold, especially since it's just getting started. The culture will be most active around 29C. Can you find a warmer spot for it while you're first getting it going?

Francesca said...

I didn't know a sourdough starter could live that long! I'll really have to give it (another) try in the summer, though I'm not sure we ever get 29C in the house. I very much like the tradition of naming your edible house guests, after all, they'll be with you for a long time!

Anonymous said...

Oh, the cold! I had read it on internet but I'll try it more warmer. Maybe in a thermosbottle? It's frosty -12 C outdoor, so the temperature indoor is not continous.
So sorry for my language, I take a course for. Thank you for advice! You have a gorgeous blog. (I read to my children the hole story of "the little house on the prairie!) I like true stories to.Have a good day, byebye! Margriet

notesfromthefrugaltrenches said...

This is fascinating, I know nothing about sourdough or sourdough starters!