Starters have been the secret to maintaining depth of flavor and perfect texture for hundreds of years. A starter is usually a small quantity of dough saved from a former batch, added to the beginning of a new batch of bread. The starter brings a variety of complex flavors to your bread in a short amount of time, eliminating the necessity to let the whole loaf ferment for days. This is useful if you are using a modern bread machine that makes quick work of a once time consuming process. A highly valued starter can remain in one family for generations and several are still in existence from the 1800s; they are often referred to as a Mother Starter. If you treat your starter well, it requires about as much attention as a house plant, it can last for years, heightening in flavor and bringing a truly individual quality to all of your breads.