How to Make a Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

Making bread has become all the rage while we are going through a “shelter at home” due to the Coronavirus that is spreading all around the world. If you go into any market in my town there is no flour left and most of the loaves of bread are off the shelves. So I am assuming people are at home making bread. Right before our shelter I decided to invest in a bread maker. I have to say I am getting a bit obsessed with making warm loaves of daily bread for my family.

The one type of bread that seems that everyone in my family likes is Sourdough Bread. Sourdough bread is different than other types because it made with the living culture of wild yeast. The process of making a sourdough starter takes about 7 days and that is what is added to make the bread sourdough. Here are directions to make a sourdough starter that you can make in your home as you stay safe and healthy at home.

Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Water

Equipment

  • 2 quart glass container
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing Spoon
  • Clean kitchen towel

Directions:

Day 1: Make the Initial Starter

  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
  • Measure the flour and water, and combine them in a 2-quart glass jar. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with a clean kitchen towel secured with a rubber band.
  • Place the container somewhere with a consistent room temperature out of sunlight of and let sit for 24 hours.

Day 2: Feed the Starter

  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
  • Take a look at the starter. You may see a few small bubbles here and there. This is good! The bubbles mean that wild yeast have started activating. They will eat the sugars in the the flour and release carbon dioxide (the bubbles) and alcohol. They will also increase the acidity of the mixture, which helps fend off any bad bacterias. At this point, the starter should smell fresh, mildly sweet, and yeasty.
  • If you don’t see any bubbles yet, don’t panic — depending on the conditions in your kitchen, the average room temperature, and other factors, your starter might just be slow to get going.
  • Measure the flour and water for today, and add them to the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with the plastic wrap or kitchen towel secured again. Let sit for another 24 hours.

Day 3: Feed the Starter

  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
  • Check your starter. By now, the surface of your starter should look dotted with bubbles and your starter should look visibly larger in volume. If you stir the starter, it will still feel thick and batter-like, but you’ll hear bubbles popping. It should also start smelling a little sour and musty. Again, if your starter doesn’t look quite like mine in the photo, don’t worry. Give it a few more days. My starter happened to be particularly vigorous!
  • Measure the flour and water for today, and add them to the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with the plastic wrap or kitchen towel secured again. Let sit for 24 hours.

Day 4: Feed the Starter

  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
  • Check your starter. By now, the starter should be looking very bubbly with large and small bubbles, and it will have doubled in volume. If you stir the starter, it will feel looser than yesterday and honeycombed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent. You can taste a little too! It should taste sour and somewhat vinegary.
  • Measure the flour and water for today, and add them to the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter. It will look like a sticky, thick dough. Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container with the plastic wrap or kitchen towel secured again. Let sit for 24 hours.

Day 5: Starter is Ready to Use

  • Check your starter. It should have doubled in bulk since yesterday. By now, the starter should also be looking very bubbly — even frothy. If you stir the starter, it will feel looser than yesterday and be completely webbed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent. You can taste a little too! It should taste even more sour and vinegary.
  • If everything is looking, smelling, and tasting good, you can consider your starter ripe and ready to use!
  • If your starter isn’t ready continue to the steps above until it is.

Maintaining Your Starter

  • 4 ounces all-purpose flour (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 ounces water (1/2 cup)
  • Once your starter is ripe you no longer need to bulk it up. To maintain the starter, discard (or use) about half of the starter and then “feed” it with new flour and water: weigh the flour and water, and combine them in the container with the starter. Stir vigorously until combined into a smooth batter.
  • If you’re using the starter within the next few days, leave it out on the counter and continue discarding half and “feeding” it daily. If it will be longer before you use your starter, cover it tightly and place it in the fridge. Remember to take it out and feed it at least once a week — I also usually let the starter sit out overnight to give the yeast time to recuperate before putting it back in the fridge.

You can now add your sourdough starter to your bread ingredients and you will come out with yummy sourdough bread. You can always ask around as there are many people making their own sourdough starters and can share with you. However, if you can’t find one you see how easy it is to make your own. Many of us have some time now to experiment and learn to make our own food and beverages.

Here are some other ideas of things you can make:

Keep checking out my blog for new recipes that you can make at home while you are staying safe and healthy!!!

Be well everyone!

~ Alex

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