I started my Sourdough journey on January 31st this year and it has been so rewarding! Why did I start with one of the most difficult and time consuming breads you ask? Maybe I am a little crazy, but Sourdough is my favorite bread so I figured, why not start there?! It's true, I am no expert on the subject, but I want to share what I have learned and this simple recipe for Sourdough Starter so you all have what you need to succeed. Once you have an active starter, you can use it in all kinds of different recipes, and you can keep it alive literally forever if you maintain it properly.
I watched hours of YouTube videos before starting this, because I wanted to know what I was getting in to and although making sourdough is time consuming, it's actually pretty simple in the end. My family and I joke about the Sourdough Starter being our little bread baby, because it has to be fed to keep it alive, and I couldn't be more excited about this edition to our family.
Before we officially get started, there are a few important things you all need to know. You will need to use jars without sealing them, because when the flour and water starts to ferment, it creates gases and your jar will explode if it's sealed. Nobody wants a gooey kitchen bomb. Second, you shouldn't use metal to mix or measure during this process, because it will kill your starter. Third, whatever flour you use, needs to be unbleached. If you use bleached, the flour will not ferment properly.
To start, you will need these things...
- Glass or Ceramic Jar (preferably 2) I have been using Ball Mason Jars.
- Unbleached White Flour
- Unbleached Wheat Flour
- Something to stir the starter everyday. I have been using a small silicone spatula, so I can scrape the sides of the jar when I'm done.
- Measuring Utensils. 1/2 c , 1/3 cup , tablespoon
- OPTIONAL: Large airtight container for flour mixture.
The first thing I did to make my life easier, was mix together equal parts whole wheat flour and white flour, then whisked it up really well. This way, it was just ready for me to use every morning.
Now that we are set up for success, let's get to it. The starter is going to live on your counter for the first week, or until it is active.
- Day One: Mix 1/2 cup of the flour mixture with 1/3 cup room temperature water. Mix really well until there is no more dry flour in the jar and scrape down the sides of the jar. Loosely cover the jar and let sit at for 24 hours.
- Day Two: Stir your starter, cover loosely and let sit for another 24 hours. You probably wont notice much happening yet.
- Day Three AM: Transfer 3 tablespoons of starter into a clean jar and discard the rest. To the new jar, also add 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup room temp. water. Mix really well, until there is no dry flour and scrape down the edges. Cover jar loosely and let sit 12 hours.
- Day Three PM: Feed your starter with 2 tablespoons of flour and 1.5 tablespoons of room temp water. Mix well, cover loosely, let sit 12 hours.
- Day Four AM: On this morning, you will likely start to see some action in your jar. There should be bubbles starting to form, this means the flour is starting to ferment and create wild yeast. Transfer 3 tablespoons of starter into a clean jar and discard the rest, then add 1/2 cup flour and 1.5 cups of room temp water. Mix well, cover loosely, let sit 12 hours.
- Day Four PM: Feed your starter with 2 tablespoons of flour and 1.5 tablespoons of room temp water. Mix well, cover loosely, let sit 12 hours. You may start to notice your starter has risen during the day and fallen back down. This means the starter is getting more active.
Repeat these steps every day until you get to day 7. Depending on the temperature of your house, your starter should be ready on day 7. Our house was pretty chilly when I started mine, so it took about 9 days to get an active starter. Doing a "float test" will tell you if the Sourdough Starter is good to go. To do this, you will take a teaspoon of the starter 4-6 hours after feeding and dump in into a bowl with water. If the starter floats, that means it's active and you can add it to your preferred Sourdough recipe.
Note: If you are not comfortable throwing away your discard, you can use it to create another starter to give to a friend, or fry it in oil with seasoning on top and eat it for a little snack.
Now that you have an active starter, you can store it in the fridge. If you don't do a lot of baking, it can stay in the fridge and you only have to feed it once per week to keep it going. If you bake all the time, you can continue to feed everyday. Just remember, if you want to bake a loaf of bread or make english muffins, you will need to plan ahead. Feed the starter 4-6 hours before adding to dough and let sit at room temp, to ensure it's activated. I do the float test every time I bake to make sure it's ready.
Having an active starter on hand is so exciting, because now, any recipe that calls for Sourdough Starter you can make any time! Don't be discouraged by all the steps, this really only takes about 5 minutes per day and is totally worth the effort. We've only baked four loaves of bread so far, and they all turned out pretty good! I will be posting soon about our bread journey 🙂 Thank you for following along, and thanks for cooking with me.