Recently, I have learned that baking sourdough bread is very similar to maintaining cell culture. Lately, the conversations I’ve been having with my dad remind me very much of the conversations I used to have when I was still actively maintaining a cell line in the lab.
This inspired me to take out my drawing notebook and fail at sketching this concept:
If you would like to start up your own sourdough bread culture, basically, you just take some flour (50 g, apparently rye works pretty well) and add the same amount of water and leave this on your kitchen counter. For a week or so, mix in a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of water. Over time, this mixture will become alive with a culture of bacteria (the good kind) and yeast (the good kind) that you can then use to bake bread.
Basically, if you take out some of this starter mixture for your bread, and supplement whatever you took out with new flour+water, you can keep this “culture” going in the fridge and bake bread until infinity. (For details, the internet has lots of examples of how to start up your own sourdough and subsequent bread recipes, for example, this one.)
A little bit like culturing cells in the incubator until infinity.
And if you mess up (like accidentally use all your starter), you can either start over or take some out of the freezer (if you’ve frozen some down at some point, obviously). For cells, you’d take some out of the -80C.
So you see, similarities are endless!
Whatever you do, don’t talk about your cells/yeast like it’s a pet. It weirds people out (trust me).
* The calculation bit is about things that are actually pretty simple but somehow are complicated to explain.Also, I should note that my dad isn’t really that bald, I just can’t draw hair (sorry!). Also, you’re supposed to tie up your hair when working with cell culture.
This is why I usually don’t draw stuff, people.