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Grain Elevator Notebook — Ingredients RSS

2019 GOOD FOOD AWARD Winner!

More than five years ago, I sold my first sourdough at the local farmer’s market. It was thrilling and suddenly I became a professional food producer. My customers put their trust in me as I take on the great responsibility providing nourishment to them. Making the right decisions that are nutritious, sustainable, affordable, and above all, taste great, is the hardest thing I have ever done. The fact that you buy buy products again and again is a great reward, but now I have a medal that I can wear around my neck! Earlier this year I submitted my entry for my Sweet Potato Stout Craft Beer Crackers. The first phase consists of a blind tasting. They receive thousands of...

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An Open Letter to Jennifer at Carolina Ground

I want tot thank you for all you have done to make great flour from Southern farms available to bakers like me. Since opening my bread bakery early last year I have become aware of just what an enormous undertaking this is. Here I am in a state dominated by agriculture where one would expect to find a wealth of local grains perfect for the artisan baker. Instead, I discovered a vast gulf between what is produced for industry and what is available to the small business or individual. Sure we have some amazing produce available at our Community Market, but a small to medium-sized bakery falls into a middle zone. The volume of wheat required is much greater than what could be planted...

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True Southern Culture: Starkville Sourdough

There is a website out there that will sell you sourdough starter culture from exotic places all over the world. This concept has lead to many heated debates in the bread making community about whether this is even possible or if the minute you expose your exotic mother to the air in your kitchen it will become contaminated with local species of yeast and bacteria resulting in exactly what you would have it you had simply started a culture on your own. It seems that all of this arguing could very easily be settled by a microbiologist, but maybe it is more fun to let it remain a mystery. It reminds me of when I was a kid at a...

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What's so great about wild yeast?

It never ceases to amaze me that so many varieties of bread are the result of just four simple ingredients. Combine the first three, flour, water, and salt, and the result is a hard tasteless cracker, the kind sailors used to gnaw on. Once we invite yeast into the mix, however, the magic starts to happen. Yeast is a single-celled organism in the kingdom Fungi. That means it is neither a plant, nor an animal. It can be found on grains and fruits, such as grapes, as a white dusty film.  In order to survive and reproduce, yeast requires moisture, oxygen, warm temperature, and food.  Yeast feeds on sugars in a process called fermentation. The chemical equation is as follows:...

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What is "Artisan" Bread?

"Artisan" has become an all-too-common term when describing bread. You find it everywhere from the names of small specialty bakeries to the buns surrounding  fast food products. The meaning is diluted. I try to find more specific words to differentiate between my hand-made bread and what you find in the supermarket, but there are times when "artisan" is the most efficient word to convey this idea, and before I can edit myself, I hear the a-word slip out of my mouth. Well, if I am going to use the word, let me take a moment to explain what I mean when I say it. Merriam-Webster defines "artisan" as "one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities using...

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