Sunday, November 6, 2011


I am not sure exactly how we did it, but we created a monster. Not just your fly-by-night everyday creature, but a truly horrible monster whose mere proximity leaves a rank taste in the back of your throat which cannot easily be removed.

It all started so simply, as stories like this often do, with a desire for fresh Sourdough bread. Last winter, having left our own carefully tended batch in the fridge at home, we looked locally for another strain to raise as our own. We finally located some, and brought it back. Fed lovingly on a weekly basis with premium organic whole wheat flour (despite avoiding wheat, we have not yet tried growing Sourdough on other grains). We baked we buttered, we loved our bread.

Eventually spring came, and is often the case when the house warms up, the Sourdough was left in its cool room to think about itself. We have neglected our strains before, with no ill outcomes, as even if the top turns black you simply scrape it
off and feed it once more and the culture returns to its former tasty glory. There was something different about this strain though.

Through the summer we occasionally started to get a whiff of something...dead. It is an unmistakable odor that weaves into your taste buds like few others. Once you have smelled death and its sister decay, you never forget it. We suspected a mouse perished in my mother-in-laws sewing room. Coincidentally the same room the Sourdough lived in. A month passed, and the scent not only lingered, but grew. After several months we had silently hoped the poor dead little thing had dedicated, as the smell was a little less obvious.

Alas, such was not the case. As the weather started cooling again, thoughts and cravings returned to our beloved Sourdough, and with it the nagging guilt that it had been abandoned for too long. My beloved husband, keeper of the cultures, took it upon himself to perform his ritual resuscitation of the Sourdough. He was unprepared for what greeted him upon opening the lid.

Actually, we were all unprepared for the overwhelming blow to our noses. He almost ran through the house with containers of cultures gone horribly, horribly wrong to remove them from the living areas. It took over three days for the smell of decay to finally start to abate from the sewing room. For another week, the containers of our new chemical weapon sat and thought about itself outside near the trash can. Not a soul wanted to deal with its disposal.

Eventually, my dearest spouse nerve himself up to the task and cleaned the bowls out into the garbage. After bringing the bowls back inside, he rinsed then heavily bleached them. Finally, they took a spin in the dishwasher, for their final triumphant return to daily use.

Except, something was still wrong. As the dishwasher worked, I still had that lingering scent in the back of my throat. Upon opening the machine, all I smelled was death. We ran the machine again. Still smelled like death. The scent seems to have permeated the plastic of the bowls now, so they sit outside while we decide what to do about them. We both hate the idea of tossing the bowls, as they could be useful.

Catfish bait? Something to pack in your luggage to dissuade the TSA to poke about in your undies? The possibilities are endless.


  1. LOL! That does not sound like fun! Fish bait or to keep insects away are my best guesses. Other than that, I don't know. Good luck.

  2. You have patience I must say because the bowls would have been tossed but I find the idea of putting it in your luggage to dissuade the agents as funny!

  3. This is one of the funniest and most horrifying posts I've read this year! I can't imagine how awful the smell must have been if even sanitation workers wouldn't dispose of it. :O

    And...any plans on what to do when the craving for fresh sourdough bread hits again?

  4. Thanks so much, it was truly a horrifying experience! We are actually still looking for a good, proven sourdough so if anyone knows of one to share I would love to have it.

    And my apologies for the late comments. I have been trying to fix my comments for days and haven't been able to respond. I finally had to switch browsers just to respond here!


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