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Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better For You – And How To Start One

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How To Start A Sourdough Starter

There are three main ways to start a sourdough starter. Borrow, buy or trap.

Borrow

My favorite method of acquiring sourdough is definitely from a friend. If you can find someone with a healthy, active sourdough starter who is willing to part with some then you can be baking as soon as the next day! Sourdough is a joyful and loving hobby and most sourdough bakers will be happy to share that passion with a beginner.

Buy

You can also purchase a dried starter from many different sources. My first starter was originally given to me as a gift from my husband before we were married. Little did he know how important that gift would be to our health! There are some really awesome choices for sourdough starter on the market and I will list a few below that I personally trust.


Trap

If you want to get super authentic you can start your own starter by trapping wild yeast off of wheat flour, fruits, herbs or vegetables.

To start a starter with flour you will want to use organic, freshly milled flour if that is available. Four that still has some of the hull with help you start a vigorous starter quickly.

Organic whole wheat or rye flour is a good choice for starting a vigorous starter. Rye flour tends to have plenty of wild yeast and bacteria and (in my case) makes a sweet smelling ferment.

Again, any organic flour will work, but those that are milled with the hull start sourdough cultures quickly.

 

A seven day old rye starter made with freshly milled organic flour.

A seven day old rye starter made with freshly milled organic flour.

Sourdough starter that is active and fresh makes wonderful artisan bread!

Homemade Sourdough Starter

Yield: 1 sourdough starter baby
Prep Time: 14 days
Total Time: 14 days

Easy instructions for trapping your own wild yeast and bacteria strains to make a 100% hydration sourdough starter. This process takes fourteen days to complete so plan accordingly. You will end up with a sourdough starter that can be used for baking breads, cakes, tortillas and more!

Ingredients

Instructions

Day 1

Mix 100g of flour (2/3c) and 100g (1/4c) of water into a paste. Store it in a clean locking lid jar with the rubber seal removed. Keep your jar in a draft-free place at room temperature. This is the beginning of your starter!

Day 2 -7, feed your starter once a day.

Remove 100g of starter (half) from the jar and replace it with 50g (1/3c) of flour and 50g (1/4) of water. Stir well and store it at room temperature.

  1. By day seven you should be seeing some signs of activity. The starter should be bubbling, smell fermented (slightly sweet, sour, or alcoholic). You may even see it rise after feeding. 
  2. If there is mold, off color, off smell and little to no activity do not continue the feedings and please see my troubleshooting guide in the body of this article.

Day 8-14, feed your starter twice a day.

  1. Morning: Remove 100g of starter (half) from the jar and replace it with 50g (1/3c) of flour and 50g (1/4) of water. Stir well and store it at room temperature.
  2. Evening: Remove 100g of starter (half) from the jar and replace it with 50g (1/3c) of flour and 50g (1/4c) of water. Stir well and store it at room temperature.

Day 15, your starter should be ready to bake with!

    Notes

    • Some people have found that their starter is ready to bake with by day 7. I add an extra 7 days of double feedings to insure that the starter is powerful, active and ready for all the baking projects! 
    • Keep in mind, Sourdough is as unique as you are. Results may vary!
    • To build your starter up prior to baking just add a larger amount of flour and water to the last feeding. If you need 250g of starter, add at least 125g each flour and water!
    • All cups and spoons measurements are approximate, please weight your ingredients for accuracy!

    Gluten Free Sourdough Guides

    Whole New Mom – Super Easy Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

    Fermenting For Foodies – Gluten Free Sourdough Starter 

    Page Guide

    Page 1. Intro
    Page 2. What Is Sourdough?
    Page 3. Bread Terminology
    Page 4. Why Eat Sourdough?
    Page 5. Tools
    Page 6. Starter Recipe
    Page 7. Fresh Starter vs. Discard
    Page 8. Starter Hydration & Feeding
    Page 9. Favorite Recipes
    Page 10. Troubleshooting Sourdough
    Page 11.  Starter Insurance Policy
    Page 12. Using Stale Bread
    Page 13. Recipes You Don’t Want To Miss
     
    Once you try this easy sourdough pie crust you will never go back. Fermented grains and real butter make this recipe a nourishing tradition.
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    Sweet And Buttery Sourdough Pie Crust - Traditionally Fermented For A Nourished Diet
    Freshly fired, golden brown and crispy Parmesan and sourdough crusted chicken strips.
    Next
    Parmesan And Sourdough Crusted Chicken Strips - Fried in Traditional Fat

    Lori Rickert

    Monday 18th of January 2021

    Hi Courtney, can you tell me how big of a jar you recommend to keep your starter in? I also wonder how much starter you keep "going" in the jar?

    I am looking forward to trying some of your recipes.

    Butter For All

    Tuesday 19th of January 2021

    Hi Lori!

    I like a large 2qt.jar for my starter because I tend to keep 300-500 grams on hand. The reason I keep so much is I like to make a batch of crackers or pancakes or waffles with my discard before feeding the starter to get it ready for baking!

    Hope you enjoy the recipes :)

    Courtney

    Susan

    Thursday 7th of January 2021

    Thank you for sharing

    Butter For All

    Saturday 9th of January 2021

    Hi Susan!

    It is truly my pleasure!

    Ashleigh

    Sunday 27th of December 2020

    Hello! I’m just starting out with experimenting with sourdough baking. I’m interested in making my own starter from scratch. What would you recommend using— Jovial Organic Whole Wheat Einkorn Flour or Jovial Organic All-Purpose Einkorn Flour?

    Butter For All

    Tuesday 29th of December 2020

    Hi Ashleigh!

    Congratulations! It's a wonderful journey!

    Either of those flours will work. But I'd probably use a combo of the two. It's nice to have some bran from the whole wheat in there to help establish the yeast and bacteria culture.

    Let me know how it goes!

    Courtney

    Amparo

    Monday 14th of December 2020

    I am going to try mixing my starter with your instructions hopefully I end with a stronger starter. Mine is kind of liquid I bake with it but it does not rise so high 😬

    Butter For All

    Thursday 17th of December 2020

    Hi Amparo!

    Usually keeping a thicker starter will really help with that. I wish you the best of luck!

    Courtney

    Maggie

    Sunday 13th of December 2020

    I made the pumpkin dinner rolls. They have a sour taste. Is this the taste they should have?

    Butter For All

    Thursday 17th of December 2020

    Hi Maggie,

    Usually a slightly sour flavor is kind of expected with sourdough, but if you find that it is more sour than you like you can work on your starter, and or, shorten the fermentation time. A starter that sours quickly has a proliferation of bacteria and the yeast need to be encouraged to perform. To do so, feed your starter every 12 hours for several days until the starter is rising in the jar in 4-6 hours and smells less sour. If you use a sour starter, the resulting bread will be more sour. For reference, my experience with this recipe is a very sweet earth flavor, not a noticeably sour one.

    Hope this helps!

    Courtney

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