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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

    Sheena

    Tuesday 27th of October 2020

    Which is better, a dry starter or a live starter?

    Stacey

    Wednesday 14th of October 2020

    Okay, I have read and reread the recipe over and over and I think I just now figured out what I did. I used the entire amount of flour and water listed in the ingredients, instead of just the amount listed for day one. I guess I'll throw this out and start over. Ugh!🤦🏼

    Butter For All

    Thursday 15th of October 2020

    No worries! It happens to all of us! Just save 100g from the original amount and carry on. No harm, no foul. :)

    Stacey

    Tuesday 13th of October 2020

    Hi Courtney! I just "caught" my starter this morning. This is my first time giving sourdough a try, and I thought your website and posts we're very well written and easy to understand. I was surprised by how much flour and water it took. 1100 grams each is a lot! It is all so much thicker than I expected it to be. I hope it all turns out! I have a question: what do you do about feeding after day 15? I'm considering taking your class to learn more. Thank you for your helpful posts.

    Butter For All

    Thursday 15th of October 2020

    Hi Stacey!

    I'm so excited for you, The 1100g each is the total amount over two weeks. So just scale down and continue on :) The class is a great idea, you will get so much from it! Here is the link for Saturday's class. https://www.skillpop.com/classes/5145

    Hope to see you soon!

    Courtney

    Cecilia G Fowler

    Sunday 6th of September 2020

    New to this....

    Jill

    Tuesday 15th of September 2020

    @Butter For All, how do I find the starter class?

    Butter For All

    Monday 7th of September 2020

    Hi Cecilia,

    You should take my beginners class on September 18th!

    I wish you the best of luck!

    Courtney

    E.Lim

    Sunday 30th of August 2020

    Hi! I'm a newbie in sourdough and I really find this write up very interesting and helpful in my journey. Is it possible to get a copy of this article in PDF form? Thanks.

    Butter For All

    Tuesday 1st of September 2020

    Hi E!

    I don't have it in PDF at the moment, but you are not the first to ask so perhaps it's time for me to write a short ebook! If you join this class you will get a 30 page PDF with your purchase. That might be a good option for you until I have the time to put something together!

    Best,

    Courtney

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