How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter
Back in the olden days, most bread was made using a sourdough starter. This starter was a mix of flour and water that was left out to ferment. The fermentation process created wild yeast which gave the bread a more complex flavor. These days, you can purchase a sourdough starter at your local bakery or online. But why spend money when you can easily create your own? Here’s how:
What is a sourdough starter
Sourdough starters are 100% natural, wild yeast, and bacteria that create an amazing flavor in your bread. Instead of using active dry yeast like other recipes do (and risking frustratingly low rise), you use a souring agent called “levain”. Along with leavening the dough to give it its signature shape; this starter also brings depth-driven flavors such as salt or pepper notes when combined correctly!
Humans have been using starters for millennia-and there’s no reason you can’t too! The process is as old as bread itself. For 5,000 years we’ve mixed flour and water to make a sourdough starter; now it’s your turn at mixing up this ancient tradition by giving them the best life possible: making sure they get fed with love every day (or whenever).
The ingredients you’ll need to make your own sourdough starter
The starter recipe is so easy! All you need to make it at home are some whole wheat flour and all-purpose flours, filtered water that’s been heated just until it reaches room temperature. And this is important because otherwise, your culture will die off quickly.
Let’s not forget the kitchen scale for measuring precisely how much liquid goes into each pot or jar when making sourdough cultures like this one.
And lastly but definitely not least important – a covered storage container of sorts where you can put away those precious starters once they’re done proving themselves.
The best thing about making sourdough bread is that it doesn’t require any special tools other than what you can find around the house already- so don’t worry if it’s not perfect on day one; just keep cooking until they are perfected.
How to mix and feed your starter for the first few weeks
You’re about to embark on a delicious and slightly addictive journey. Here’s what you need to know about mixing and feeding your starter for the first few weeks.
The first thing you need for this recipe is some flour, water (or milk), and yeast.
To make the dough just combine all of those ingredients in a mixing bowl until they blend smoothly together without any dry spots left behind!
Add 100 grams (g) whole wheat or rye flour and water to a clean container. Then, tare so the scale reads “0” before adding in some more ingredients!
Covering it tightly with plastic wrap will keep them safe while letting out enough moisture from within that if needed can easily rise up through its own accord once again after 24 hours have passed by giving us enough time before we add more sugar or other toppings.
You’re on day two! Now, you may see some bubbles and activity in your starter or not. In both cases, just discard 100g so that we can focus our attention on what’s happening inside a beautiful mix of flours with all different types like wheat or rye blends for instance will be ready after 24 hours (or less).
Now you are left with 100g in the container (100g starter plus the weight of your specific container).
Add 100g water and stir to break up the starter.
Add 100g flour (whole wheat or rye preferred again) and stir thoroughly until no dry spots remain. Cover the container loosely again and set it in your warm place for 24 hours.
Starting your starter twice a day is the key to success! Maybe you will see an initial surge in activity on the first and second days.
It’s possible that your starter may die down or it could continue to ramp up slowly.
As you can see here at first glance these instructions look pretty straightforward but there are actually some tricky parts that need attention if we’re going to want this recipe to work properly so let me break them down.
First, discard 200 g which is just about 1 cup. It must be left around 100g into the container.
Now you need to add 100g water and stir.
Break up the starter, add flour (100g) and stir again until no dry spots remain.
Now it’s time to cover it with a cloth and put it in a warm place and leave it for another 12 hours. That will keep your cultures happy while they develop into adulthood!
After 12 hours, repeat the feeding process described above.
In the next few days proceed to feed your starter. All you need to do is just repeat the process from Day 3.
By now, your starter should be active and growing nicely.
You may see very little activity for a few days, but be prepared as it ramps up slowly every day!
Check your starter height to see if it is ready to bake. If it consistently rises 2-3 times higher than normal within 4 to 8 hours of feeding, then it is ready for backing!
Sometimes this process could take up to 14 days or more depending on what kind of flour and environment conditions. Patience would be the key here.
If you want to know if your starter is doubling, triple or even more then use a rubber band on the outside of the container as an easy way for monitoring growth. Check back regularly over the course of a 4-8 hour period and watch how high up its peak gets!
After the starter reaches its peak, it will fall back down to reveal beautiful streaks on either side.
You can successfully bake with your new-found skills.
Troubleshooting tips in case your starter doesn’t seem to be working right
By Day 4 or 5 most starters will start bubbling slightly with rise and fall happening inside their container.
They may even smell like vinegar because those are naturally occurring acids released by bacteria at work.
If you notice your starter isn’t showing any signs of activity during the first few days, this is normal.
If it shows a lot more than usual in one day but then dies down for several following afterwards:
- Wild yeast is a bit more delicate than commercial baker’s yeast and needs special care.
- The key to making sure your starter continues to thrive, however you can help it along with some kindness!
- Make certain that all ingredients used are unbleached – bleached flour has been stripped of its natural enzymes
- Keep the starter on warm place but not too hot during winter months when temperatures dip below -5C
- If you’re seeing no activity, giving your starter some whole wheat or rye flour can really help boost the wild yeast’s population
- Keep it out of direct sunlight. UV rays and heat will kill off any bacteria in there.
- Continue feeding your starter as normal – just make sure you are following the instructions and the recipe above.
The best way to store your sourdough starter so that it lasts for months or even years
If you are taking a break from baking sourdough bread, it’s important to learn how to store your starter properly so that when returned back into the kitchen again there will be no need for concern. The right storage methods can keep starters thriving and ready at all times!
The first way to store starter is in the refrigerator. If you will not be using it for a while, then put it at – 4 degrees Celsius or below and let sit out until needed. Sometimes this is called refreshing.
The second option would be either to entail freezing sourdough starters or to keep it dried and stored in the kitchen/freezer cabinet.
In general though I would recommend keeping it somewhere cool where its temperature won’t fluctuate too much and avoid direct light because this can cause bacteria growth which will ruin an otherwise healthy culture.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know about sourdough starters, from ingredients and mixing methods to storage and troubleshooting. Are you excited to get started? We sure are. It’s definitely not as difficult as it may seem, and the end result is a delicious loaf of bread that’s perfect for any occasion. And once you’ve got your starter all set up, feel free to experiment with different flavors and recipes. The possibilities are endless. Let us know how your sourdough starter turns out in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Happy baking!
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