Making Sourdough starter is more like a mini science project, than a recipe. It takes lots of patience and attention, and sometimes trial and error. But in the end you will have something that you’ve created, out of two simple ingredients, flour and water. Make that three ingredients, time. Having more patience than me, this became my husband’s project. Be prepared for this culture club to come to life between day 6 to day 8, sometimes even up to 10 days. The humidity, weather, and ambient conditions will definitely affect the fermentation process. The microbes that develop in sourdough are Saccharomyces diarensis, S. exiguus, or Candida milleri, while the bacterial organism is usually a strain of Lactobacillus, which is a common strain of bacteria commonly found all around us. This is the same bacteria that turns milk into yogurt. This becomes a live organism that kept properly can last many many years and some folks and bakers have handed it down through generations.
At one point past the 6th day, I began to get discouraged after constant feedings. I realized my error was that I wasn’t discarding enough of the starter. I know it seemed crazy to me too that I had to throw out so much, leaving only 4 oz in the container before feeding again. But, once I did this, within 3 to 4 hours later it had risen to its bubbly, fizzy goodness. Eureka! The next day we started the next quest of making the best artisan sourdough bread we have eaten. I kid you not, other than the time involved, it was quite simple and well worth all of the effort.
On Day 1 – You will need to start with a whole wheat flour or whole rye (pumpernickel) flour will do also. Reason being, you need a flour that is higher in protein. A white flour will not do to get the process going.
Take 1 cup of whole wheat flour and pour into a non reactive bowl. We used glass, however stainless steel or ceramic will do as well.
Add ½ cup cool water to bowl.
Stir well making sure to incorporate all the dry flour. Those are the hands of my little helper.
This is what it looks like once it’s well mixed.
Cover loosely and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Hopefully your “room temperature” is at least 70°F – 80° F. If your home is cooler than 70°F, you’ll need to improvise and find a warm spot for your starter, like near the stove or near a water heater.
On Day 2 – You must throw out half of the amount in the container. You will most likely not see much growth or bubbling.
Feeding Time – You will feed with 1/2 – 2/3 cup of room temperature water. I used flat bottled water. Do not use tap water because, I am told that most tap water contains too much chlorine to allow the yeast to grow. If you don’t have access to bottled water you can boil your tap water and let it cool first. Should be good to go.
Then add one cup of flour to the starter. Combine these ingredients together and cover (allowing some air) and leave it alone. You can switch to all purpose flour at this stage, and for all future feedings. Repeat feeding on day 3 & day 4 as shown above. On Day 5, however you must discard all but 4 oz of starter before feeding. I know, it sounds crazy, just do it. At this stage we started seeing some bubbling. Also the aroma was acidic and yeasty, kind of nutty but ours hadn’t doubled in size.
This is what our starter looked like by day 6. It was bubbly but not fully transformed. I continued with the regular daily feeding schedule as should you until the starter is active. For me this was 3 more days. I began to get discouraged and called a baker friend who informed me that I wasn’t throwing out enough starter. This meant that the new fuel wasn’t enough for the starter to go crazy.
I then transferred my starter to another container to experiment.
I switched to regular organic unbleached flour and added the 4 oz of flour, and ½ cup of water for feeding.
Within a few hours it happened. This starter took off. Now it has a fluffy spongy texture. It more than doubled in size. It smelled wonderful. It was alive! Now I would be diligent and from this point forward (while in baking mode), I fed the starter twice a day. Yes, throwing out all but 4 oz each time.
To ease my guilt, I created two containers with the starter and fed them both, one in the morning and one in the evening. We even named our original starter “Ziggy”. I have no idea why.
I even placed a third, smaller container of starter in the refrigerator to store for long term. They suggest that you feed your starter, place in the refrigerator and then when you are ready to use it, take it out 3 to 4 hours before using and let it come to room temperature, then feed it. This is me feeding it prior to putting it away. Look at how thick it is, as the spoon stands up in the starter.
Now, for the reason we made this starter. Behold.
Recipe and method coming soon.
|Sourdough Starter|| |
- To Begin your Starter:
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup non-chlorinated water
- To Feed your Starter:
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup non-chlorinated water
- Day 1 - Take 1 cup of whole wheat flour and pour into a non reactive bowl. Add ½ cup cool water to bowl. Stir well making sure to incorporate all the dry flour.
- Cover loosely and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Hopefully your "room temperature" is at least 70°F - 80° F. If your home is cooler than 70°F, you'll need to improvise and find a warm spot for your starter, like near the stove or near a water heater.
- Day 2 through Day 5 - Discard half of the starter in the container and feed as follows.
- Feed with ½ - ⅔ cup of room temperature water. Add one cup of flour to the starter. Combine these ingredients together and cover (allowing some air) and leave it alone. You can switch to all purpose flour at this stage, and for all future feedings.
- On Day 5 - Discard all but 4 oz (1/2 cup) of starter before feeding again.
- Check for bubbling activity and volume growth from this point forward. Continue feeding once a day until it happens. Once you see activity in your starter you will feed twice a day, morning and evening.
- To store for long term, feed and place the starter in the refrigerator, covered and feed only once a week. When ready to use, take the container out, let come to room temperature, feed it and once its re-activated, it's ready for use.