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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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The Difference Between Active Sourdough Starter and Discard

In my recipes I use the term “active sourdough starter” to indicate a starter that is at its peak fermentation. This is the best time to use the starter for baking breads and in recipes that will undergo further fermentation. The starter is active, has doubled or peaked, and is ready for more fermenting.

But I also use “discard” in many of my recipes! Sourdough discard is fully fermented and therefore it is extremely digestible. It has usually spent some time in the refrigerator so it will be deflated, thicker, and more sour. Some people choose to throw discard out before refreshing their starter but I choose to use this extra fermented flour in some of my recipes. Discard is my solution to having wheat flour baked goods that don’t need any extra fermentation time or those that will be fermenting for a very long time. If you are baking often enough, then discard doesn’t really need to be discarded! Waste not, want not!

How to measure your sourdough starter for consistency in a recipe.

Always stir your sourdough starter down to release trapped gas!

Here is why:

One cup of active, bubbly, 100% hydration sourdough starter weighs approximately 165 grams.

One cup of flat, fully fermented, 100% hydration sourdough starter weighs approximately 250 grams. 

This is a noticeable difference and the reason why all sourdough recipes should use a common hydration percentage, be stirred down before measuring, and be weighed for accuracy.

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

 

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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