Make your own Sourdough Starter!
Be sure you can commit to these 3 important considerations before starting:
- Sourdough starter at room temperature must be fed no less than twice a day. If you feed it less than twice a day, it will lose vitality and eventually become useless and die. Can be refrigerated and fed monthly.
- Each feeding of the starter should be enough to double its size.
- Each feeding should be equal amounts of water and flour, by weight. You can use about 2 parts of water to 3 parts of flour by volume as an approximation.
What you’ll need:
FLOUR. Start with organic, stone-ground, whole wheat or rye flour. Get a sack if you’re serious about this, it will save $$ in the long run. You will need less than a cup to start.
WATER. Warm tap water is fine, filtered is best. Bottled if you insist. Don’t use distilled water or water treated with a reverse osmosis filter as those waters are lacking in minerals that your starter needs.
CONTAINER. Small mixing bowl or measuring cup that will hold between 2 to 4 cups Glass, ceramic, plastic or stainless steel – one you can cover with cling wrap.
COVER. This is to keep the starter from drying out and free of unwanted visitors. SaranWrap, QuickCovers or even disposable shower caps work
TEMP. Try to stay within the 65 to 85F range (18 to 30C), definitely under 90F (35C).
HOME. Find a location that will keep your starter at the above temp range. This home should be safe from being knocked over, but also well in view so that you will remember!
Here we go!
TIME TO MAKE YOUR STARTER!
Mix 1/4 cup water with 1/2 cup whole grain flour (mixture will be thick).
CULTIVATE. Wait about 12 hrs. Take off plastic wrap and get a good look and smell. Very likely, there are already bubbles in the starter. If not, stir vigorously, cover and let it sit for another 12 hrs or so. Then check and stir again. If you don’t see bubbles in two days, pitch the flour and water and start over.*
Once you see bubbles, feed another 1/4 cup water and then 1/2 cup flour. Stir. Scrape down the sides of the container to help prevent possible mold.
Bubbling should continue until the next feeding 12 hrs later.
*If this process fails twice, try another brand flour or rye, if you haven’t already. Bottled water may also help.
FEED. Discard half the starter* and feed as before. We are looking to doubling the size of the starter with each feeding and feeding equal amounts of flour and water by weight. If you don’t discard you will have more starter than you could ever use or need.
Feed regularly every 12 hrs or so (at least twice daily). When the starter is active and bubbling reliably, switch to unbleached all-purpose flour flour. This will probably be around your 4th to 6th feeding. It will make the starter thinner in consistency. This is fine. Your goal is a starter that will rise to double its size after feeding. When you feed the starter, it will rise. It can take 3 to 6 hours to reach its peak. When the starter is at least a week old and doubling in size after a feeding, it is ready to be used to make bread.
*No waste here! Once starter really gets going in a wk or so, discarded portion can and should be used in pancakes, muffins, etc., given away or refrigerated for later!
TIME TO BAKE! Remember: if starter can’t double its own size, it can’t raise your bread. After removing a portion for use in a recipe, replenish your starter by feeding, covering and returning to it home.
STORE. If you won’t be using the starter for several days, feed the starter and then put the starter into a quart canning jar, taking care not to fill the container more than half full. Put the jar’s lid on loosely to allow any gas the starter produces to escape. Then put the jar into the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. The starter can be kept in the refrigerator for at least a month between feedings. If you are going to use the starter in the next day or two, just leave it out and feed it every 12 hours or so.
TRADITIONAL SOURDOUGH LOAF (Based on Sally Fallon’s recipe)
Yield: 1 med loaf
2 cups Starter
3 cups Whole Wheat Spelt, or Kamut Flour (freshly ground if possible)
2 teaspoons Coarse Sea Salt
1/3 cup cold water
Using a wooden spoon, mix starter, salt and more than half of your water in a medium bowl, until salt dissolves. Slowly mix in flour. It will be easier to mix with your hand towards the end. Add remaining water if dough become too thick. Should be soft and easy to work. Knead by pulling and folding over in the bowl for 10-15 mins, you can also use your food processor’s kneading blade.
Without pressing down, cut and shape loaf into the desired shape or place in greased pan. Cut a few slits in the top of the dough, cover and let rise 4-12 hrs (until it doubles in size). For holey bread, punch down dough once it’s doubled and let double again. Bake at 350 for about an hr. Cool before slicing. Will keep 1 wk without refrigeration.
SOURDOUGH BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
Yield: 6 muffins
1 cup Starter (good use for discarded portion!)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 egg, or substitute flax egg and/or 1 banana
1/4 cup oil (coconut is a favorite)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar or fructose (2 Tablespoons if using banana)
1/2 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 425F. Combine dry ingredients in small bowl. Stir in blueberries. Combine wet ingredients in medium bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet ones. Mix quickly and spoon into 6 muffin cup. Bake for about 20 minutes.