Let me introduce you to Peta, my sourdough starter.
Yup…for the rest of this post I will talk about my starter like “he” is actually alive…welcome to the weird world of the sourdough starter community. 😬
He rises all of my homemade baked goods.
Warning: There will be no fancy weights or sciency lingo here. My brain just can’t handle that. This is what has worked for me for the past couple of years. However, if you need that there are plenty of tutorials out there geared towards you.
What is sourdough starter?
A sourdough starter is a way of collecting wild yeast, that is naturally occurring in your environment and on the grains themselves, to rise baked goods through a fermentation process.
I won’t linger too long on this since I am neither a doctor nor nutritionist. But here are my thoughts, and I highly recommend you researching this topic on your own.
Starters haven been used to raise bread products for centuries. It wasn’t until 1857 that a scientist discovered that there was a way of isolating yeast. Now we have yeast packets.
When you use a sourdough starter to raise your bread items you help make the bread easier to digest, increases the nutrient levels, and lowers the gluten content.
Simple Way To Create a Sourdough Starter
I have seen this done many different ways, with weird ingredients and scales. But I have accidentally killed many starters in the beginning of my sourdough journey….Which means I’ve had to start a few as well. I have done this many-many different ways, but this is my tried and true method.
Water (Filtered or non chlorinated water)
Flour (Non bleached flour- I use unbleached all purpose)
A Glass Container (it is recommended not to use stainless steal or plastic)
In a glass container mix together 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Allow to sit on your counter, unsealed (maybe covered with a tea towel).
After 12 hours discard half of the flour and water mixture. To the remaining half still in your glass container, stir in 1 cup of four and 1 cup of water.
Repeat step 2 for five to six days. (Discarding half and feeding every 12 hours)
On day six or seven, switch to discarding half and feeding 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour every 24 hours. (You should be seeing small bubbles forming throughout by now. See image below)
Continue step six until your sourdough starter doubles in size.
Once your sourdough starter doubles in size it is ready to use in making baking products. Now – there is a learning curve to baking with a sourdough starter. Be patient and have fun!
**I like to keep my starter on the thicker side. About as thick as pancake batter, so I tend to use more flour than water. But the instructions above are a good jumping off point. As you get used to your starter, you’ll find a consistency that you like best.
How to take care of a sourdough starter?
The picture above is my bubbly sourdough starter that is ready for use. I know it is healthy because it doubles in size and not only has bubbles on the top but bubbles throughout. See image below.
There are two places that your starter will live: on your counter and in your fridge.
When it lives on your counter:
You will need to “feed” your starter (yes – like a pet) once or twice a day, depending on the temperature of your house. The hotter the environment is the more frequently you will need to feed your starter.
“Feeding it” just means you mix your starter with flour and water. Roughly, it’s equal parts flour, water, and starter. (1:1:1) The specific amounts of flour and water depend on how much starter you want to keep.
For example: If you have 1.5 cups of sourdough starter you will need to mix in approximately 1.5 cups of flour and 1.5 cups of water. (Personally I tend to lean towards more flour than water, I like my sourdough starter to be thick)
To feed it daily:
Add equal parts flour and water. (Remember the 1:1:1 ratio)
Stir until everything is well mixed together then loosely cover with a towel, or lid. (it is important that it isn’t sealed, air must be able to get to it.)
Let sit on your counter for 12-24 hours. The length of time will really depend on the temperature of your house is.
It should double in size and be full of bubbles. Then it’s ready to use!
After you use the starter, 24 hours, or when all the bubbles disappear and it no longer has doubled in size, you will need to feed it again.
If you have used the starter. You will need to feed it equal(ish) parts flour and water. (1:1:1)
If you have not used the starter, you will have surplus of not happy starter then needs to be fed. So, to not have gallons of starter, you can discard a portion of the starter to have a smaller amount of starter in your container. Then you will feed equal(ish) parts flour and water. (1:1:1)
In Your Fridge:
If you are not using your starter for a period of time, it is possible to give it a rest. You can rest by feeding your starter as usual, then 10-15 hours later placing it covered in the refrigerator. This slows down the fermentation process while you’re not using it, so you don’t have to discard and feed every single day. For best results, only leave it in the fridge for 6-8 days before pulling it out and feeding it.
If it has been 6-8 days, and you still don’t need to use it:
Pull it out of the fridge and allow it to sit out for about an hour, to get to room temperature.
Then discard half of the starter and feed the starter as usual. (1:1:1)
Let it sit on the counter 12-24 hours
Repeat steps 2 & 3 until the starter is happy and doubling in size before putting it back in the fridge.
Stressed Out Starter:
In the beginning of my sourdough journey my poor starter was stressed out more times than I’d like to admit. I would forget to feed it one or two nights, and it would go 48 hours, instead of 12-24 hours like it should…
If you do this, you’ll notice it’s not happy or “stressed out”, but you can always fix it.
You can tell when it’s stressed out because it’s no longer doubling in size, it’s bubbling less, or maybe not bubbling at all. Once you’ve had a happy and healthy starter, it is easy to tell when it’s not feeling so good. Don’t panic.
How I help my stressed out starter:
Discard a good amount of the starter, or until there is a cup or so left.
Feed the starter equal amounts of water and flour. (1:1:1) Leaning towards more flour than water.
Let it sit for 12 hours.
Repeat the directions above, every 12 hours, until it looks happy again.
This post could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. If you need more help trouble shooting your starter you can always ask me or even give it a google, there is tons of boards out there on sourdough starters. But I really hope you give this a try, it’s really not as hard as it seems.
Thanks for taking time out of your day to hang out here!