How To Make Your Own Sourdough Starter
- Fill a clean cup with one cup of flour and 1/2 cup water. Whole wheat flour helps your starter mature faster, due to the added nutrients, but white flour can also be used.
2. Cover the cup with wrap or foil. Don’t cover too tightly, your organisms to be able to enter your starter, to give it flavor.
3. Wait 24 hours. Discard half of your mixture, then add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Mix.
4. Cover, then repeat step 3 every 24 hours.
5. When your starter doubles in size between feedings, and is nice and bubbly, it is ready to bake with! This can take anywhere from a week to two weeks. Be patient. Once you’ve got it going, you’re gold.
- Use warm water in your starter, but make sure it is not boiling hot. Yeast starts to die at temps of around 120 degrees. The warm water helps increase yeast growth.
2. Keep the starter in a warm place. Starter grows much faster at warmer temps. Sometimes, when I want to rush a starter, I turn my oven to about 100 degrees, turn it off, and stick my starter inside when I go to work. Ovens are natural insulators, and will stay toasty for a long time.
3. If you want a more sour sourdough, feed your starter less often. Eventually, after being starved, starter generates a top layer of liquid that smells a little funky and adds sourness. I usually pour most of it off, and mix a little in to enhance the sour flavor. Sounds gross, but there it is. However, do NOT do this too often, as your starter will slow it’s growth when starved, and it will take a while to get it back to baking levels.
4. It will be tempting to start baking with your starter before it is ready, which will result in flat hard bread. If you MUST use it before its time, mix some starter with your dough, let it sit overnight in the fridge to add flavor, take it out and let the dough warm for an hour, then add a few teaspoons of quick rise yeast to let the dough rise. This adds some sourdough flavor, but allows the quick rise yeast to make your dough fluffy.
However, do not let the dough with the sourdough starter sit too long in a warm place. You don’t want it to over ferment and turn weird and gross, which it will if you stick it in your house and leave it for a day.
5. Insurance. Keep a portion of your starter in the fridge, and feed once a week. That way, if something nasty lands in your main starter, and it turns funky, you don’t have to start from scratch. If you need to use your fridge starter, take it out and place it somewhere warm, then feed it until it doubles in size over the course of a day, usually three or four days after fridge removal.
6. Lastly, keep the place where you keep your starter clean. Replace the cup every now and then. Crusty starter bits can turn the whole thing nasty after a while.
Making a sourdough starter is less intimidating than cooking blogs make it seem. And once you get it going, it’s easy to maintain.
The best part? The longer you keep your starter, the more dynamic the flavor gets. Share a portion of your starter with friends, or pack it full of flour and ship it to family.
Become the bread god you were born to be.