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When finished, salt rising bread is a delicious dense bread, with a flat top and a marvelous flavor, unmatched by any other bread!  Salt rising bread is best when eaten as toast. It is also quite delicious when warm, just out of the oven. In the past, it was often served with homemade apple butter or preserves. Two modern day ways of serving salt rising bread are as grilled cheese sandwiches and as stuffing for turkey or chicken.

When our grandmothers and great grandmas were making salt rising bread, it was simple to set the starter in a warm place overnight. Many had wood-burning cookstoves which held heat the whole night through. Often, women would set their jar or crock of starter over the hot water reservoir located in their wood-burning cookstove, where the embers of the previous day's fire would hold just the right amount of heat in the water for the starter to foam during the night. Other times, they would set their starter above the stove in the warming cupboards, which were also heated from the fire of the cookstove.


Nowadays, most kitchens, of course, do not have wood-burning cookstoves in them, nor do most homes have gas pilot lights on gas ranges or gas hot water heaters (a place where just a few years ago women might have set their rising overnight). Therefore, some modern ways of keeping starters warm overnight include the following: setting the starter, covered, on top of a crock pot filled half full with water and kept at a low temperature; wrapping the starter in an electric heating pad or setting it, wrapped in a towel, on top of a heating pad which is set on medium; or wrapping the starter in a heavy towel and placing it on a warming tray that is set on the medium temperature. Some bakers also have success when they put their starter in their oven with the light kept on overnight.

Putting the starter in a warm place: All of the old recipes say, "Set the starter in a warm place overnight." A warning -- this sounds very easy! It is not so simple! However, this step is, in fact, the key to having success making salt rising bread! You must keep and maintain the temperature of your starter at an even, warm temperature (between 90 - 110 degrees F) for 8-16 hours or the starter will not "work."


Beware!  Most commercial bakeries, as well as some home bakers, add yeast to their starters, in order to accelerate the fermentation process and to ensure success of their salt rising bread. This results in a very different, inauthentic salt rising bread loaf, which is lighter and resembles traditional yeast bread.