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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. Flour that still has some of the hull will 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 faster.

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
     

    Ila Kaiser

    Sunday 5th of December 2021

    I am diabetic and wondering how to calculate the carbs and fiber for the sourdough breads. Can you help?

    Butter For All

    Sunday 12th of December 2021

    Hi Ila,

    So, unfortunately there is no definite way to calculate carbs for sourdough. The longer the bread ferments, the less carbs it has. As the yeast and bacteria eat up sugars the bread gets more sour. So a really sour sourdough, that has been fermented for 24+ hours will be the best for you. I would personally eat a small amount and then test blood sugar to see how the long-fermented bread affects you.

    I hope this is a little help! Take good care!

    Courtney

    Donna

    Monday 15th of November 2021

    I’m on day 5 of my rye starter. Day 2 it almost doubled in size! Day 3 almost no activity. Day 4 it hasn’t risen but I can see a few bubbles! Is this normal? Should I continue to do the daily feedings or is this batch a lost cause? Thanks

    Butter For All

    Monday 22nd of November 2021

    Hi Donna!

    Don't toss it! This is totally normal. At first the yeast go crazy, then they mellow out as the bacteria get going, over the next few weeks they will balance out and harmonize into a lovely starter! Hope I caught this comment in time!

    Best,

    Courtney

    Jill

    Monday 21st of June 2021

    Hi, I’ve made your Soft and Sweet Sourdough Milk Bread and can never seem to get a good rise out of it. I’m thinking it’s my proofing length but also how I fold my dough. Could you tell me your method of folding before the first rise? So far I’ve attempted a coil fold, but don’t think it’s working…

    Thanks!!

    Jill

    Butter For All

    Thursday 24th of June 2021

    Hey Jill,

    I typically do stretch and fold in the bowl. I just find that to be my preferred way to develop gluten. You can see me demo it in this video. https://youtu.be/aqYctt7W_N4 It is a different recipe but pretty much the same technique.

    Hope this helps!

    Courtney

    Mia

    Friday 26th of March 2021

    I’m on day 3 and I started with wheat flour. Can I change to All Purpose Flour starting day 4?

    Butter For All

    Monday 29th of March 2021

    Hi Mia,

    Yes, you should be fine, the yeast should already be present from the outside husk of the WW flour. Just keep feeding it!

    Rashmi Ingle

    Wednesday 24th of March 2021

    I live in Switzerland and want to start sourdough. Since the temperatures here are colder, do I need to take extra care to make sure the starter grows well?

    Butter For All

    Wednesday 24th of March 2021

    Hi Rashmi,

    That's a great question. I would probably try to keep the starter in a warm area of your kitchen, but you shouldn't need to do a lot of extra babying. Yeast can be trained to perform at cooler temperatures just by feeding the starter and keeping it in the climate you are in, and you want your starter to rise in your cooler temps anyway. I would just use (at least part) a local organic flour to try to capture some of your local yeast strains, they will already be suited for your climate. Once the starter is established in your climate is should work well no matter the flour.

    Hope that helps!

    Courtney

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