Sourdough starter is about as simple as it comes! Learn to enjoy the simple things!
Back to Basics
It's a breath of fresh air to make something remarkable out of 2 common ingredients. water + flour = a bubbly mix of yeast laden bread starter.
Is Making Sourdough Starter hard?
Nope, not at all, you just have to remember to feed your new little pet for a few days and then, you can keep this puppy as long as you want!
How long will the sourdough starter last and how do I store it?
Some cultures keep bread starter for generations! There are ways to dry it, store it, keep it in the fridge and bring it out for a recipe periodically or simply keep it on your counter if your going to be doing a bunch of sourdough baking!
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Why should I make sourdough?
Sourdough is considered a fermented food. Similar to other fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, and kombucha, sourdough bread is fermented by using lactobacillus cultures (a probiotic aka bacteria that benefits your gut). Read more of the science here!
Are you ready?
Here's the just.
TO BEGIN YOUR STARTER
- 1 cup whole-grain flour
- ½ cup cool water
TO FEED YOUR STARTER
- 1 cup whole-grain flour
- ½ cup cool water (if your house is warm), or lukewarm water (if your house is cool)
I found it easier to print out these instructions and tape them to my cupboard as I prepared this starter
Combine the flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this. Make sure the container is large enough to hold your starter as it grows; at least 1-quart capacity.
Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there's no dry flour anywhere. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See "tips," below, for advice about growing starters in a cold house.
You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (4 ounces, about ½ cup), and add to the remainder 1 cup flour, and ½ cup cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (if it's cold).
Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
By the third day, you'll likely see some activity — bubbling; a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It's now time to begin two feedings daily, as evenly spaced as your schedule allows. For each feeding, keep 1 cup of starter. Discard any remaining starter. Or you can use this otherwise discarded starter to make pretzels! (See below to how to sign up for my FREE EBook of 5 Tasty Sourdough Starter Recipes)
Add 1 cup (4 ounces) flour, and ½ cup water to the 4 ounces starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.
Keep 1 cup of Starter and add 1 cup of flour and ½ c of water, stir vigorously. Do this twice in the day. Approximately 12 hours apart.
Keep 1 cup of starter, and discard any remaining starter. Add 1 cup of flour and ½ c of water, stir vigorously. Do this twice in the day. Approximately 12 hours apart.
By the end of day #5, the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You'll see lots of bubbles. If your starter hasn't risen much and isn't showing lots of bubbles, repeat discarding and feeding every 12 hours on day 6, and day 7, if necessary — as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter.
Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Discard all but 1 cup). Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface. Hate discarding so much starter? Share a cup with a friend so they can start their very own sourdough starter!
Remove however much starter you need for your recipe — typically no more than 2 cups. If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of starter, give it a couple of feedings without discarding, until you've made enough for your recipe plus 4 ounces to keep and feed again.
Transfer the remaining 1 cup of starter to its permanent home: a jar, or whatever you'd like to store it in long-term. Feed this reserved starter with 1 cup of flour and ½ cup water, and let it rest at room temperature for several hours, to get going, before covering it. If you're storing starter in a screw-top jar, screw the top on loosely rather than airtight.
Store starter in the refrigerator, and feed it regularly; I recommend feeding it with 1 cup flour and ½ cup water once a week.
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Should you use bottled water?
Unless your tap water is so heavily treated that you can smell the chemicals, there's no need to use bottled water; tap water is fine.
Why does this starter begin with whole-grain flour?
Because the wild yeast that gives sourdough starter its life is more likely to be found in the flora- and fauna-rich environment of a whole-grain flour than in all-purpose flour.
A note about room temperature
the colder the environment, the more slowly your starter will grow. If the normal temperature in your home is below 68°F, we suggest finding a smaller, warmer spot to develop your starter. For instance, try setting the starter atop your water heater, refrigerator, or another appliance that might generate ambient heat. I use my turned-off oven — with the light turned on.
Why do you need to discard half the starter?
It seems so wasteful... But unless you discard starter at some point, eventually you'll end up with a very large container of starter. Also, keeping the volume down offers the yeast more food to eat each time you feed it; it's not fighting with quite so many other little yeast cells to get enough to eat. You don't have to actually discard it if you don't want to, either; you can give it to a friend, or use it to bake. Find a delectable pretzel recipe in my FREE Ebook! Sign up to receive my FREE Ebook with "5 Tasty Sourdough Recipes"!
Sign up HERE to receive a FREE ebook with 5 of our family's favorite sourdough recipes using your new sourdough starter!
Do you already have an established sourdough starter? What's your favorite recipe? Comment below!
As always, feel free to share this post with your friends, if you think they might also be interested in making sourdough starter!