Sunday, October 7, 2007

Hold That Hooch!

You know, I don't believe it ever occurred to me there might come a day when I would actually be showing, with button-busting pride, a photograph of ... bubbles?

Well, gee, it only seems fair. This is, after all, the first time I've ever tried to stalk and capture the wily wild yeasty beasty and, lo! There is the bubbly evidence, in front of my astonished eyeballs, on Day Two of the starter's existence. This is the traditional starter, you might recall, and this is what it looked like just before I added today's serving of flour and water. I keep climbing up on the step stool so I can check it again -- and again -- and it's still bubbling. What an eager little feller.

The pineapple starter doesn't seem to be doing much of anything, except smelling good. It's probably dreaming of balmy tropic breezes and not paying attention. Maybe I should play Don Ho's "Tiny Bubbles," just as a suggestion. Do you remember how that goes? "Tiny bubbles in the wine ..." Very appropriate, that wine reference, since what we've got here is a bio-distillery of sorts.

Neat segue into the promised subject of hooch, eh?

Hooch, you will remember, is that liquid that floats on top of the starter and smells alcoholic -- because it is. The little yeast fellers and the little lactobacilli fellers have a team thing going in there. Together, they feast on the flour and produce a lot of carbon dioxide and alcohol. The more hooch that appears, the less food there is for the beasties.

Apparently there are those who are willing to drink this particular beverage when there isn't any properly distilled stuff left in the popskull jug and the white lightnin' jar is empty. I was going to taste the hooch on my domestic starter this morning, just to see what it was like, but I forgot. Guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow and try to remember before feeding time so I can report to you. You are dying to know, aren't you? Of course you are.

What is interesting to me is that the hooch can be used for other things as well as bread. For instance, there is one fellow really into fermenting pickles and hot sauce and he uses sourdough hooch in the process. In fact he makes his sourdough starter with the liquid/flour ratio just backward from what it would be for bread because he wants it strictly for the hooch.

Another possible use of hooch is, at this point, still a mystery to me. In Alaska they have something they call Sourdough Sauce. My understanding is that it's supposed to be sweet and tangy -- or maybe it's sweet and spicy. One of the railroad menus features a wild game dinner with the meat braised in sourdough sauce. But do you think I can find a recipe or even a pitiful clue as to what it is? Nooooooo. But you would think it's the hooch they're using, wouldn't you? Makes sense to me.

I don't know whether I can attribute this to the hooch or not but one web page, in discussing the long history of sourdough, mentioned it has been used to help heal burns and wounds. Hey! I sat right up when I read that because, as it happens, I burned the ring finger on my left hand today. Nothing serious, not even a blister -- just one of those burns that annoy you with a low-grade, persistent pissant pain. Well! I went right to the jar of domestic starter and dipped my forefinger into the top froth -- where the hooch begins to build -- and dabbed a bit of it right onto the burn.

Shazzam! It immediately cooled the heat. As it dried, it formed a thin skin over my finger and now, an hour later, the pain is still simply gone. Don't know if I'd want to do that with a serious burn but it's sure handy for the dinky annoying one. You may file that under Possibly Useful Trivia.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to take my lovely hula hands and go shake the daylights out of the pineapple starter again.


John Bailey said...

Lawks! Some folks'll drink anything!

Mage And George said...

It took me a minute. I sat here staring at those bubbles thinking that they looked awfully familiar. Such friendly looking beasties. Then I figured it out.

bonnie said...

Man I wonder how that stuff is on ant bites? Guess I may just have to start my own batch. :-)

Go over and take a look see at my new walking place since I don't have Annie's garden to sit in. :-)

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