Homestead Diary: The Heritage Apple Project

Over the last few years I have been building a generous collection of foraged apple seeds. I have a tradition of sprouting these seeds as early as New Year’s as a totally gratuitous mid-winter gardening activity. The first couple of years I only collected a handful of varieties, but over this last summer my little experiment turned into a full-on project. Here I’ll share the findings I’ve gathered on the topic of actually sprouting the apple seeds and the exciting (or disappointing) results I’ve gotten.

Over the last few years I have been building a generous collection of foraged apple seeds. I have a tradition of sprouting these seeds as early as New Year’s as a totally gratuitous mid-winter gardening activity. The first couple of years I only collected a handful of varieties, but over this last summer my little experiment turned into a full-on project. Here I’ll share the findings I’ve gathered on the topic of actually sprouting the apple seeds and the exciting (or disappointing) results I’ve gotten.

First of all, if you’re here to tell me what a waste it is to start an apple tree from seed, you may kindly take your leave. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life! But in all seriousness, this has been surprisingly enjoyable little hobby that gives me something gardening-related to look forward to after the mania of the holidays is over and the relative boredom of the dead of winter creeps in – along with the sub-zero temperatures.

However, there are some things that should be noted about the particular type of apples I look for as sprouting material and why it’s different than those viral videos you see about propagating a supermarket apple, which I would never do for numerous reasons.

Apples often don’t come true to type via seed

Image courtesy of ResearchGate

Generally speaking, most apples won’t come true to seed. That means anything you get from the supermarket won’t grow into the same type of apple that it came from. Now why would that be?

Most commercial fruit, even if it’s from a local farmer’s market, will be from cultivars (or varieties) that are hybridized for production or disease resistance, among other things. This doesn’t mean that they’re GMO, but what it does mean is that any offspring from that fruit will likely revert to its original parentage and not be a viable seedling; that or it won’t produce desirable fruit. And given that it can take up to 7 years for an apple tree grown from seed to start producing it’s probably a good idea to choose types that will be as advertised! Surprisingly enough, more than 17,000 varieties of apples have been grown in the US, although less than 3,000 of them still exist today.

Apples have been part of the human experience since the beginning of human history. Apples have been found as a part of the diet of early humans in anthropological research and recorded in the story of Adam & Eve. Greek and Roman mythology refer to apples as symbols of love and beauty. And when the Romans conquered England about the first century B.C.E., they brought apples with them.

In the 1600s, apples made their way to North America, too. Crabapples preceded European colonists to America, but the fruit was not very edible. The Massachusetts Bay Colony requested seeds and cuttings from England, which were brought over on subsequent voyages to Boston. Other Europeans brought apple stock to Virginia and the Southwest, and a Massachusetts man, John Chapman, became famous for planting trees throughout Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. You might know him by his nickname, “Johnny Appleseed.”

As the United States and Canada were settled, nearly every farm grew some apples. Although some of these apples were very good for eating and cooking, most of the early varieties would be considered poor quality today. Often, they were used for cider, and the ground-up apples were fed to livestock.

The Vermont Tree Grower’s Association,

Apples in the State of Idaho

Apples have a very rich history here in my own state of Idaho. In the late 1800s, Idaho pioneered the production and preservation of apple varieties imported from the Eastern territories. The first commercial orchard of the Northwest was opened in modern-day Lewiston, Idaho in 1863 at a respectable size of 15 acres, and produced pears as well as apples which were sold to nearby workers in mining camps. The town was to become known as Lewiston Orchards and remained a top agricultural center for many decades, until fruit production moved further downstate. It remains a focus of Idaho’s economy even today: apples are the state’s top fruit export.

It could easily be said that every farm and homestead in the 19th and 20th century grew some kind of apples. This elusive and somewhat mysterious local lore has inspired many to dive deeper into the discovery and preservation of antique or historic varieties, and groups such as the Idaho State Horticultural Society and the Idaho Apple Commission have made it their duty to manage and preserve the culture of apples in our great state. There are many other smaller projects, like the orchard at the Sandpoint Organic Agricultural Center, among others, that focus on gathering details on historical varieties and cultivating them for the public’s enjoyment.

The Apple That Started It All

“Sheena’s Pippin,” until further identified

My interest was at first piqued by a tree owned by a good friend of mine who invited me to pick from it when we first moved onto our homestead. Being a generational naturalist I immediately noticed its unkempt, naturalized splendor, as well as one very important detail: the tree was grown completely on its own root-stock, ungrafted. This is pretty impressive and quite a curiosity in the scheme of orcharding things, so I took to the internet to try and identify it. There are many varieties common to the area that may have even been cultivated by the university itself, dating back to the 1960’s; this particular tree produces absolutely beautiful freckled fruit, streaked with red and accented by a sunny yellow blush. Knowing I would absolutely need to have my own, I saved some seeds and successfully sprouted about a dozen trees the following winter, two of which now reside at my parents’ home in the Clearwater River Valley.

My parents’ area is also rich in apple history, being nearby the valleys of Lewiston Orchards fame; and in their neighborhood there are many wild, ungrafted apple trees to be studied and propagated free of charge. We became so interested in all the varying types of apples in the area that I amassed a collection of seeds and kept detailed notes of each variety for future reference. After the first year, however, my success at actually sprouting the seeds was fleeting.

Gathering Apple Seeds

Removing apple seeds intact is an art form

To harvest apple seeds I will usually look for specimens that are as bug- and blemish-free as possible. This will ensure the highest amount of viable seed per apple. I then slice the meat away from the core, and usually taste-test it and take notes of its characteristics. Don’t forget to take pictures of each variety if at all possible! This will help a lot with identification in the future.

Using a sharp knife I will carefully score a circle around the waist of the apple core, which is all that is left after slicing away the usable fruit. Then, grasping either end in each hand, snap the core at the score mark, exposing the seeds within the woody part of the core. I carefully pluck these seeds out and place them on a labeled paper plate to dry out for a week or so, then into a plastic bag for storage. Discard any seeds that have holes in them or seem hollow; they probably are not viable. You can use the apple cores, peels and other cutoff for making apple cider vinegar, or compost the remaining waste.

Germinating Apple Seeds

The first year that I tried sprouting seeds I had great success. I just had the one variety from Sheena’s yard, and I put them into the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel, sealed in a baggie – and completely forgot about them. Three months later I spotted them in the fridge and not only had they stratified, they had germinated! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I put about a dozen sproutlings into cell trays and nursed them for months before they were about four inches tall. Unfortunately my cat had the great idea to take the tops off of nearly all of them; I sent the remaining survivors to live at my mom’s in relative safety. My two cats have a bad habit of damaging my seedlings and other plants, and to my bitter chagrin, I have none of these first flush of apple trees for myself.

The next year I tried winter sowing the seeds I had gathered in milk jugs and had very little success with this method. All the growing conditions seemed right but out of the 50 or so seeds I planted, 2 came up. These two seedlings are wintering over at my mom’s, buried in their pots waiting to be transplanted this year, their second summer.

So this year I did some more research and came up with the same methods that I had read about before: cold stratifying in the fridge with either damp paper towels or peat moss, then waiting for them to sprout in storage or planting them after a 4-6 week chilling period. I opted to try both and got some really interesting results. As of right now, six weeks after placing them in cold storage, none have sprouted. I pulled one package and did some testing and they did germinate after being removed from the refrigerator, so I pulled all of my paper towel specimens and planted them in a 200-cell 1020 plug tray to germinate. One variety that I had a good number of got split off from the group and were broadcast sown into a 4″ tray to germinate under light, with no heat. The remaining 200 seeds I planted I placed onto a heat mat to try and aid germination. Rather than covering them with soil I covered with vermiculite to see if they will retain moisture a little better. I still have some dried seeds of each variety but this will be the largest test run of this year’s seed stock.

Apple seeds will usually have a germination rate of about 30%, so while this may seem like more trees than anyone would know what to do with, I will be lucky to get 50 seedlings sprouted, and then they will have to survive many other obstacles beyond that, including hardening off, wintering over, and planting out, a two- to three-year process. I am hoping to have a good variety of about 20 trees planted around our property and hopefully have some to share with others. I will update this post at the beginning of summer with the results of the 2023 planting-out.

The particular varieties I have gathered won’t mean anything to you, unless you’d like to try sprouting some in which case I’d be happy to share. Here are the varieties I currently have in my collection.

Sheena’s Red Pippin: Sagle, ID. From a friend’s apple tree that I have picked from since 2018. Late summer/early fall apple; yellow with a deep red blush and striping when ripe; soft flesh suitable for fresh eating and applesauce; does not preserve well. Great potential for cider.

Horse Apple: Kamiah, ID. From a horse pasture on Woodland Rd. Late fall/early winter apple; turns deep red and freckled when ripe; soft flesh suitable for fresh eating and applesauce. Will test potential for cider.

Pie Apple: Woodland, ID. Acquired during the 2022 Fall Festival apple pressing. Late summer/early fall apple; green with a red blush when fully ripe; firm flesh, tart and full of pectin. Great potential for baking, canning and preserving. Would store well.

Million Dollar Property Apple: Kamiah, ID. Taken from ground fall of a roadside apple tree outside of a ranch that was sold for nearly $1,000,000. Late fall/early winter apple; red when fully ripened; form flesh is scrisp and slightly tart; more like a crabapple. Very few seeds gathered.

Pink Lady: Woodland, ID. Collected during the 2022 Fall Festival apple pressing. Late summer/early fall; yellow with a pink blush, freckled when ripe; crisp, juicy, sweet table apple. Not sure of storage or cooking qualities. Few seeds collected.

Pond Apple: Kamiah, ID. Collected apples and seeds from this tree for two years – 2021 and 2022. Located near a public fishing pond, hence the name. Fall apple; somewhere between a Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, the flesh is slightly soft but still very crisp and juicy. Has amazing flavor. Best fresh pie apple I have foraged so far; yellow-green with a slight red blush and freckling when ripe; wouldn’t store well, but would be a good candidate for pressing.

Pappy Smith: Woodland, ID. Picked from Fred’s property during the Fall Festival of 2022; late summer,early fall apple; firm, tart, juicy green apple with lots of pectin, like a Granny Smith. Good for baking and storage.

Honeycrisp”: Woodland, ID. From Fred’s property, picked during the Fall Festival 2022. Late summer/early fall apple. He said they were a honeycrisp, and were of similar characteristics, although the tree was not grafted. Few seeds collected.

Green Apple: Possibly a duplicate of Pappy Smith; same characteristics, no red blush but could have been earlier in development. Acquired during the 2022 Fall Festival apple pressing.

Ott’s Basin Crabapple: Sagle, ID. Collected with owner’s permission from a roadside tree in my travels for raw milk. Green crabapple type with a red blush. Very tart and unpalatable but the tree wasn’t grafted or property cared for.

Cherry Lane Apple: Troy, ID. Collected from ground fall a roadside tree in a rural residential area between our house and Mom’s. Fall apple; eye-catching yellow apples almost overtaken by red blush; softer flesh, like a pippin, wouldn’t store well but would make great sauce and cider.

Celestial Apple: Kamiah, ID. Collected from a tree on public property that I used to pick from every year for Thanksgiving mulled cider, but was banished from picking by the neighbor for whatever reason after the fourth year. Late fall/early winter apple; a nice green apple with a red blush and smooth, shiny skin; good for cider and pies. Makes amazing canned pie filling.

Have you ever tried to start an apple tree from seed? Would you like to swap some seeds? Let me know in the comments!

Homestead Diary – My First Butchering Experience

I finally got the courage to cull my first hen after we adopted a few rescue chickens from a backyard chicken owner. They had been kept indoors pretty much all their lives and came to us with a number of problems, one of which being the dreaded egg-eating. This counterproductive problem got worse and worse until the straw that finally broke the camel’s back: I came into the coop to gather eggs one day and was literally fighting off hens hand-and-claw for the few precious eggs we were getting in the dead of winter. The one in particular that I could clearly identify was a hefty white hen, which I confirmed based on the egg yolk clearly covering her face and comb.

While I’ve been around home-grown meats pretty much all my life the closest I’ve personally come to butchering has been gutting fish. While this is great experience for a kid it didn’t prepare me much for culling my first chicken from our flock of free-range egg-layers! I had been very interested, especially since the onset of the “pandemic,” in butchering a chicken (or a few) just so I could gain the experience. I think for someone who lives the lifestyle that I do – country living, far away from town, fostering our food independence – it’s an important skill to practice even if you’re not trying to pack a freezer full of a year’s worth of poultry.

I finally got the courage to cull my first hen after we adopted a few rescue chickens from a backyard chicken owner. They had been kept indoors pretty much all their lives and came to us with a number of problems, one of which being the dreaded egg-eating. This counterproductive problem got worse and worse until the straw that finally broke the camel’s back: I came into the coop to gather eggs one day and was literally fighting off hens hand-and-claw for the few precious eggs we were getting in the dead of winter. The one in particular that I could clearly identify was a hefty white hen, which I confirmed based on the egg yolk clearly covering her face and comb.

Needless to say my rage overcame my trepidation and I planned to make chicken stock that very night. When I actually hiked down to the chicken pen and swiped her out of the coop that evening, however, I was overcome with a sort of sadness that often accompanies taking a life for food consumption. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have these feelings of remorse when butchering; in fact I think it’s healthy to have a real connection with the animals you raise for your family’s sustenance. I wasn’t dissuaded by these emotions however especially considering these troubling hens are defeating the purpose of keeping them in the first place, which is egg production.

I take great solace in knowing that the animal products I buy or harvest are from creatures who lived a good life and were lovingly cared for. To foster a connection to your food is to understand the modern economy of food production and why it’s important to be personally involved in your own food chain, as our ancestors have been until very recently in human history.

Ultimately I chose to dislocate the neck of this particular hen mostly because of her ample size. I knew after extending her neck with my dominant hand, holding her body with my left hand, that I may not be able to do the job properly if I attempted to do so manually. Given that this was after dark and I was holding her close to my body she was very calm, and so I implemented a technique I had seen a very thoughtful and considerate person carry out in a YouTube video I watched prior to the undertaking: I tilted her forward, slipped her head under a fallen branch, anchored the wood with my foot and pulled on her feet until the head was dislocated from the neck. This may seem like a gruesome description but it was very gentle and minimally invasive; far superior to bleeding out a chicken by the neck, in my opinion. I might feel differently if I had a whole flock to dispatch but this was an isolated case and I also wasn’t interested in making a bloody mess during the winter, a season of peak predator activity in our area.

There was a tremendous amount of flapping (an unconscious, postmortem result of the nervous system discharging any residual energy) and then it was over: I had my first ever farm-fresh product to stuff in the stew pot. This was the easiest part of the job, believe it or not. Dressing a whole chicken by hand is a much bigger undertaking that you’d think!

I have to say that the plucking was probably the worst part of the whole ordeal. It was very tedious to do by hand and even if we did have a chicken plucker I probably wouldn’t have set it up just for one bird. Before I went out to cull the hen I had gotten my canning pot up to 150° on the stove, ready for scalding, which I did immediately upon reentering the house. It took two or three dunks to loosen the flight feathers so I could proceed with the tedious job of disrobing the bird. I found that keeping one side of the sink plugged with a trickle of cold water running worked best for rinsing the feathers from my dominant hand. When I was finished I just scooped them out into the compost.

My #1 tip for first-time hen butchering is YouTube. I watched countless videos detailing the entire act in gory detail, an unpleasant but necessary preparation for the task at hand. There are so many little things to pay attention to from start to finish that it can be quite daunting when you actually have the bird in hand. I periodically referred to a particular video during the process because I wanted to do the best job possible of removing the entrails and avoid contaminating the meat. Overall it went very well and I was quickly chopping vegetables to nest into my Instant Pot along with the chicken.

I’m not sure if this is typical of an older laying hen but I noticed both when I was dressing the carcass and after cooking it down that it was excessively fatty. There was a copious amount of fat underneath the skin as well as surrounding the organs, and this was all floating in a half-inch thick layer after the stock was done. I scooped most of it out to keep for the dogs along with the skin and some of the less desirable pieces of meat. After stripping and shredding all the good meat from the bones I strained the stock, squeezed the remaining juices from the vegetables using cheesecloth, and put everything in the fridge to wait for dinner the next night. To see what I included in the soup base see my recipe Whole Chicken Stock.

Using my Rotisserie Chicken Noodle recipe I prepped the stew just like any other. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the final product especially considering how old and fatty the chicken ended up being. While the meat wasn’t the most tender it had good flavor and thanks to the Instant Pot, it was absolutely as delicious as it was possibly going to get. Overall I’m very happy with the result and the experience I gained in the process.

One thing I found very surprising was how quickly the soup spoiled, but this was to be expected given that the only preservative of any kind was a few teaspoons of salt which was mostly for flavor. After dinner I had immediately packed a thermos of soup and placed it in the fridge for my husband to take to work the next day. He happened to take a working lunch that day and wasn’t able to reheat and enjoy the soup, so nearly 16 hours after he had first removed the thermos from the fridge and tossed it in his lunchbox he opened it back up to finish it for dinner. Unfortunately for him it had literally begun to sour and had a terribly unpleasant odor and taste. Now if this had been a can of Campbell’s Chunky it probably would have been fine, and I wouldn’t have given a second thought to reheating that type of product at the end of the day. This was a valuable demonstration of the perish-ability of whole foods and the quality of the standard American’s diet nowadays.

Unfortunately, as I found out the next day, I was correct in assuming she was not the only hen who was predating our egg supply. We still have at least one hen who is eating eggs that I will need to butcher very soon. Because I was very focused on the task at hand I wasn’t able to get any pictures or video this time but I definitely will be sure to update this post when I find out who the remaining culprits are.

Is there something you’ve wanted to try on the homestead but have been dragging your feet about? I’d love to know what skills you want to practice. Leave me a comment below!

Homestead Diary – My First Loaves of Sourdough

This post – the first of what I hope to compile as a series of notes on culinary experimentation – covers my sourdough journey thus far. While I’m still in the beginning phases of sourdough bread making I’ve fed (and killed) many starters, and I’m finally getting the hang of using ferments in my cooking. I’ve learned a lot over the past month of regular baking so while I think these notes may be helpful for another struggling home baker, they’ll be useful for me to look back on in the future anyway.

In my opinion the hardest part of sourdough baking is feeding the starter. I recently revived a culture that I had been feeding irregularly before my son was born, and after tucking it away in the freezer for the past 2 years I’m amazed it came back to life. After a few days of regular feedings it has amazing activity! One of the things that helped me immensely when mixing my first batch was reading other people’s accounts of sourdough experimentation. I have baked three loaves (and had one fail to rise) so I wanted to share the experimentation I did over the past few batches.

Part I – The Culture

I believe my biggest obstacle to creating a successful sourdough starter was the feeding schedule and regularity. Not only was it hard for me to keep up with maintaining a daily (or twice daily) feeding, I am certain that I was feeding my starter too early in its fermentation cycle, and effectively starving it until I gave up on its lifeless form.

The turning point for me was to pay attention to my starter and feed it according to its physical characteristics rather than a set schedule. While a starter in most people’s homes will be ready to feed in 8-12 hours, I find that mine hasn’t doubled and fallen before 12-16 hours have passed since the last feeding. My gut tells me this is probably directly related to the temperature of our home (which is cooler than not during the winter months, when I bake the most bread) as well as the relative humidity. It should have at least doubled in size, should be frothy and might be creased from foaming activity, and have a pleasant sour smell. Don’t wait too long to feed it after it starts to fall back or it can throw off the balance of bacteria and yeast in the culture!

Another factor in my starter failures (and finally, success) was the use of rye flour in my early fermentation. I’ve heard plenty of people say to start with regular unbleached flour but I never had any luck starting out with anything but rye. Rye flour naturally has more yeast present in the grain and I think it gave me the head start I needed to get the fermentation going. I haven’t tried whole wheat yet, and now that I’ve got an established starter I may not need to. I’m not sure if this may be related to the temperature issue in our house – it makes sense that maybe a stronger source of yeast would be needed to establish fermentation in a less than perfect environment. Now that I’ve got that good, strong yeast and bacteria in sync I feed my starter with unbleached all-purpose flour.

So after researching what a mature starter should look like, I adjusted my schedule based solely on the appearance of my starter and thereafter have had great success. One of the reasons I think this was my biggest hindrance is the past week that I’ve spent at my mom’s. Since they have central heat and air their home is much more regulated than ours, which is heated with a wood burning stove. I brought my active starter with me for this most recent visit and while it did take a day to recover from travel, it was ripe within about 6 hours after feeding most days. It was really interesting to see this difference since nothing else about my starter has changed – it’s in the same container, being fed the same flour and at the same hydration.

A few months ago I also started my first batch of kombucha and the things I’ve learned in my research about fermenting the drink also solved a few problems I was having with my sourdough starter, which is basically a SCOBY so it may have very similar characteristics. When I was trying to establish a dry sourdough starter from scratch following Shaye Elliot’s recipe I was having terrible issues with mold developing on my dough ball within 12 hours of mixing it up. My research has lead me to believe that like my kombucha (the first batch of which developed a horrifying layer of mold while I was trying to establish a hotel) if I left the jar of starter in the kitchen, far away from the wood stove, it was too cold and irregular in temperature for the good bacteria to prevail over the bad bacteria that causes fungal growth.

I really would like to decrease the hydration of my starter so that I can keep it in the fridge as Shaye does and refresh it only as needed, and I’m much more confident now that I have a raging culture to begin that process.

Part II – The Dough

Now that I’ve got a nice bubbly starter going I could hardly wait until baking day! After doing a ton of searching online I determined it’s not necessary to create a sponge prior to mixing your dough. A sponge is a mixture of starter, flour and water to kind of test your levain, similar to proving your commercial yeast in warm water. It requires a good strong sourdough starter to go straight to mixing but I prefer to do it this way. You combine all the ingredients and bring the dough together until it’s just combined, then begin the process of stretching and folding. This reminds me of lamination in pastry dough; you’re folding the dough over itself to create pockets of air and lengthen the strands of gluten in the flour. This gives your finished loaf lots of loft and that quintessential holey crumb. This doesn’t require flouring a surface and kneading the dough, which is the messiest part of bread baking. I love leaving the dough in the mixing bowl until it’s ready for its bulk proof!

Settling on a ratio of hydration I thought would be a good starting point – about 60% – I put together my first loaf of bread using my homemade starter. It had about 1/5 whole wheat flour in this bake which I discovered I don’t like as much as an entirely all-purpose recipe. What I discovered with this first bake is that many recipes I consulted would be far too dry for my liking. I’ve heard that baking at higher elevations can require more flour and I’ve had varying experiences with this phenomenon; with our house being just shy of 3,000ft there is a requirement for more flour to water ratio in any recipe I use. However, I have found that a hydration level of about 80% produces the best results in my kitchen. This is a bit messy to deal with when stretching but using wet hands while folding will help with sticking. It’s worth the trouble to get that perfect airy texture!

Keeping this in mind I made up my second loaf a few days later which turned out perfectly. It had a ridiculous amount of oven spring and delectable texture. The crust was very good, although it was slightly toasty on top while I was still working out the baking times and temp for my oven. Since I’ve worked out these

The third was equally as good but definitely had some different results after baking.

Part III – The Bake

The first loaf I made was terribly baked. It was burnt on the top and raw in the very middle, an indication that it was baked too hot and fast. The recipe I had referenced said to preheat the dutch oven to 500 degrees which in hindsight seems far too high. I’ve decreased my preheat to 450, set the loaf into the hot dutch oven and put the lid on for the first 30 minute bake; then decrease the oven temperature to 425 and remove the lid for the final 10 minute bake; and finally turn off the oven completely and let it finish to the desired doneness in the residual heat. I am using an electric oven so this may be a factor in my final baking times.

The second loaf I made turned out much better, although the top was still a little toasty. This is when I decided after some research to turn the oven off until it finished baking. I like a crusty bread but not rock-hard. Using rice flour also decreased the amount of browning on both the top and bottom, a result I was happy with if not just for aesthetic reasons. This is also why I choose to use white corn meal for my baking – to me it just looks nicer.

Part IV – Inclusions

While I’m not one to add a bunch of extras like olives or dried fruit to my sourdough I was really looking forward to making a wheat berry sourdough similar to a whole grain variety we used to buy when we lived in the Bay Area. It was the best of both my favorite breads: the perfect texture and flavor of sourdough but with the chewy bits from a whole wheat loaf. To my standard recipe (which I’ll share on the blog in a later post) I added 80g of whole wheat berries which I had chopped up a bit in a bullet blender. I like when the pieces are broken up a bit and not so in-your-face. I also decreased the hydration of the dough slightly, although after seeing much less oven spring I would either let it rise for longer or decrease the hydration even further for the next bake. Aside from being a little stout this load turned out amazingly. It had fabulous crumb just like its predecessors and overall was exactly what I had been aiming for! I can’t wait to bake it again and share the recipe. I sliced some of this loaf up for oil & vinegar and it was to die for!

Next I’ll be tackling sourdough sandwich rounds baked in the vintage Pyrex Bake-A-Round that my grandmother gave me, as well as an artisan loaf of rustic rosemary olive oil sourdough.

One thing I think will take a while to get the hang of is scoring. This is the process of cutting the top of your risen bread with an extremely sharp knife just before it goes into the oven. This is for two purposes: decorative, of course; as well as what’s called expansion scoring, the act of controlling the way the bread grows and expands throughout the bake. It’s almost a science and I’m sure will take some practice to master beautiful breadmaking. Meanwhile, we will enjoy what I’m proud to say has been a delicious endeavor!