Simple Sourdough Starter

If you are a fan of sourdough bread, you should consider developing your own homemade sourdough starter. Sourdough starters can be created in many ways - you can purchase a famous sourdough strain from an online retailer, or beg some sourdough starter from your artisan baking friend. But probably the easiest and most enjoyable way is to simply capture the wild yeast that you will find in your own home, and create your own sourdough starter from scratch.

It is not difficult at all to create your own sourdough starter. Here is the simplest recipe to create a homemade sourdough starter. All that you will need are the following:
  1. Flour - I prefer to use unbleached bread flour, but whole wheat flour, rye flour and just regular white flour can all be used. If possible, use organic flour, although in my experience this is not absolutely necessary.

  2. Water - Some people argue that you should not use chlorinated water for sourdough starters, but in my experience this has not been a problem. I use tap water if it is not too strong smelling, but if so, you might want to buy some bottled water or boil your water before using it in your sourdough starter.

  3. A Container for the Sourdough Starter - A wide mouth quart sized glass canning jar will do the trick, or any other similar sized class container.
Instructions for Creating Your Homemade Starter:

Day One:
Mix together in the glass container one cup of flour and one cup of lukewarm water. Place your soon-t0-be sourdough starter in a warm place in your house, preferably between 70-80 degrees (F). Lightly cover the jar with a damp towel.

Day Two: Do nothing

Day Three: Remove the towel and take a good look at the starter. With luck, you will notice it has some bubbles to it and a slightly sour scent that is not unpleasant. Stir your sourdough starter well using a wooden spoon. Then discard half of the sourdough starter, and then add half a cup of flour and half a cup of water to the glass jar and stir again. Cover your starter again with a damp towel.

Days Four through Seven: Repeat the process for day three. During this period of time you should notice that the sourdough starter is getting increasingly bubbly and starting to increase in volume. It may even start to bubble over your glass container - if so, discard up to half of the starter from the jar prior to adding a cup of flour and water.

You now have an active sourdough starter - congratulations!

Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter

After day seven your starter should be ready to use in making sourdough bread. If you are not going to use it immediately, you can now refrigerate your sourdough starter until you are ready to bake bread. Just place your starter in the fridge with a lid on the jar, and then feed it weekly. Each time you feed it, you should remove about half the starter from the jar and discard (or use in a sourdough recipe), add half a cup of flour and half a cup of water to the jar. Let the sourdough starter sit in a warm place for a couple of hours, and then return to the refrigerator again.

Photo by Belinda