Everyone has time right now and is starting to play around in the kitchen. For those who were able to stress buy flour, creating a sourdough starter has become a popular option. There are thousands of tutorials on how to make and feed a sourdough starter. I originally made my starter 3 years ago. This is a super easy thing to make and use. A sourdough starter is a living yeast that is used to create beautiful sourdough breads, pancakes, cookies, muffins and a slew of other baked goods.
Your starter is made up of two parts: water and flour. The important thing to note about flour, all flour is not made equally. I feed my starter with a mix of 1-part bread flour and1-part whole wheat flour. I do this because it gives a complex food for the yeast to eat which then adds a complex note into whatever I’m making.
My flour mixture:
- 1 cup bread flour, unbleached
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
I use these flours because they’re what I have in the house. You can use all-purpose flour, but I find that it does not give the same fermentation that other flours give. My personal theory is that AP flour has had all the good things removed, that the yeast does not have anything to eat. Rye is a denser flour, so the yeast must work to eat it. If you do not have these flours in your house, just use what is on hand to make your starter.
But most importantly, please make sure that flour is unbleached. Sourdough starter and bleached flour are not a happy combination.
Most people do not have multiple kinds of flour in their houses. It is perfectly acceptable to just use straight bread flour for your starter. For this tutorial, I am going to use only bread flour.
In a plastic or glass jar (Chinese take out containers work lovely for this) mix:
- 50 g bread flour
- 50 g water
Clean the sides of the container so all starter is at the bottom. Using a rubber band, mark on your car where your starter settles to. You can also use a marker or piece of tape to make a mark. This is done so that you can see if it bubbles up and climbs up the jar.
I suggest 50 g of these because when starting your starter, you do not need a lot of starter. Once you start using it regularly you will figure out how much starter you will need to keep on hand and can make more.
Cover with a loose lid. If you tightly close the jar, the gases can build and explode. You do not want to become a hipster cautionary tale- save that for making kombucha. Leave on your counter in a warmer spot of your kitchen. If your kitchen is cold, fermentation will take longer.
I do not touch the starter on day 2 because so often nothing is happening on day 2. Let the process work and don’t bother it. Day 3 should see bubbles. If you do not see bubbles, that happens, but follow the steps below regardless.
Step 1: Discard 50 g of starter.
Step 2: Mix starter with 50 grams of water
Step 3: Mix with 50 grams of flour.
Step 4: Scrap down the sides and adjust base line marker.
Step 5: set aside.
If you notice, you now have a starter of 150 grams. That is fine.
You are going to repeat the process for days 3 and beyond. Discard down to 50 grounds and then feed with 50 grams of water and flour. Usually between days 3 and 4 you will start to see bubbles as your starter becomes alive. After a few days you will notice there is a sweet and tangy smell to the starter, that means it is fermenting and working.
Usually by day 6 or 7 you should be able to start playing around with sourdough bread recipes. Please remember, do not use all your starter when you make a recipe, otherwise you will have to do this all again.
Storage of Sourdough
If you choose to keep your sourdough on the counter, you will have to discard and feed daily. Technically if you are cooking with it daily, then the amount that you are pulling out of the starter is your discard.
Keeping your sourdough starter slows the fermentation. I cut my sourdough starter down to fit in an 8 oz mason jar when I move it to my fridge. It saves space and allows me to have a loose-fitting lid that is still closed. Feed your starter once every 2 weeks. When you are ready to start baking again, put it on your counter about 2-3 days before you intend to bake, feeding it daily.
Feed your starter, close the lid and put her away. This a perfect option for when your life is taking you on adventures away from your kitchen or baking is not in your immediate future. Just put it in the freezer and remember it when you have time. Move it to the fridge when you are ready to start working with it again to thaw it out.
If you are debating starting a starter, just go do it. It takes less than 5 minutes a day and in a week, you can start making all sorts of fun creations. Can’t wait to hear about your starters.
For more recipes about what to do with your starter, make sure to check out my recipe index.
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