The ever trending sourdough starter! A sourdough starter is a fermented mixture of flour and water that creates a wild yeast to use in a variety of different recipes. You feed it flour and water daily until it becomes “active”, meaning becoming very bubbly and rising double in size after feeding. From there you can bake with it and even share some starter with friends or family and pass it down for generations!
- Food scale– using a food scale to measure your flour and water will give you the most accurate results and a greater chance of success
- glass jars- I love Weck jars
- wooden spoon
- Organic unbleached all purpose flour or unbleached bread flour
- Filtered water (refrigerator water works fine)
Beginning Your Sourdough Starter
Day 1: Add 50g of water and 50g of flour to a clean and dry glass jar. Stir together with a wooden or plastic spoon. Let sit with a lid on, but not tight, for 24 hours in a warm (not too hot) place. I usually just set the metal lid on top of the jar, but don’t put the ring on. This allows it to be closed but oxygen can still get in the jar. The mixture will be very thick, thicker than pancake batter.
Day 2: Do nothing. Start smelling your starter every once in a while. It will go from smelling like raw flour to smelling like yeast.
Day 3: Spoon half of the mixture into a clean jar (this prevents mold). This is what is called discard. Once your starter is established, you can cook with the discard too! Add 50g of water and 50g of flour to the mixture and stir until well combined. (I like to stir mine with the handle of a wooden spoon to reach down in the jar well!) Replace lid and let sit for 24 hours. Over the next 24 hours the smell will really start changing. It will start smelling a little bit “funky” and not really like yeast.
Day 4: Repeat day 3. This is around the time that your starter could be going dormant and it will look like nothing is happening. This is normal, keep going! It will start smelling VERY funky for a few days.
Day 5-10: Repeat day 3. Sometime within days 5-10 it may become active, or it may take longer. Mine took closer to 14-15 days to become active. You know it’s active when it doubles in size within a couple hours of feeding it and it will be SUPER bubbly. To test if it’s active, when it’s risen and at its peak (3-4 hours after feeding) spoon a little bit into a bowl of water. If it floats, it’s active, if it sinks, you’re not quite there yet. Continue this process on until you have an established starter!
- Be patient! I almost threw mine out the DAY BEFORE it started rising and became active! Just keep waiting and be patient! Remember, it’s normal for it to go dormant for a few days.
- When your starter is established it’s pretty hard to kill it. Unless you’re going to be baking with it often (several times a week) I recommend to keep it in the fridge, which slows the fermentation process. All you need to do is get it out of the fridge a couple days before you’re ready to bake again and feed it and it should bubble right up again!
- Once your starter is established, save your discard in a jar in the fridge! There’s all sorts of yummy recipes you can make with it. I’ll be sharing some in the next couple months!
- Name your starter! It’s so fun to announce, “I’m going to go feed Mildred!” 😆
- Have fun! It’s a slow but fun process and so rewarding baking your first loaves of bread! Enjoy it!
Here’s the perfect beginner recipe for Sour Artisan Bread! Put that new starter to use!