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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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Sourdough Hydration Explained

Sourdough hydration refers to the moisture content (by weight) of the starter or dough.

A 100% hydration starter is equal weights of flour and water.

A dough that is 75% hydration is very easy to handle and the basic ratio would look like this:

400 grams flour (100%), 300 grams water (75%).

Converting Your Pre-Existing Sourdough Starter To 100% Hydration for Ease of Use

A 100% hydration sourdough starter is quickly becoming my standard measurement. Once your starter is the exact hydration percentage you can feel very confident in the recipes provided here.

To convert your starter mix 100 grams of flour and 100 grams of water together into a thick paste. Add 20 grams of your sourdough starter and let it ferment. For future feedings always use equal weights of flour and water and you will keep your starter at 100% hydration.

Feeding Your Sourdough for Successful Baking

Learning how to feed your sourdough starter and understanding the optimal time to use it will ultimately make you a better baker. I wrote a post all about feeding sourdough starter. Find it here – How To Feed Your Sourdough Starter for Successful Baking

 

Helpful Conversions

I definitely recommend you use a scale for the accuracy of weighing ingredients. But if you don’t have access to a scale here are a few beginning conversions that can help get you started.

Graph showing gram to volume conversions.

 

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
 

Sarah

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hi Courtney!

I’m very new to the sourdough world and am doing some reading before I fully commit. With your starter recipe, what size of glass container do you use? Some have said it can more than double in size... I want to have a big enough jar but not too big... Also, would a plastics twist lid work? I’m thinking it would breathe very well?

Thanks for being such a thorough sourdough resource for this newbie!

Butter For All

Thursday 11th of August 2022

Hi Sarah!

Welcome! Typically I use a quart jar or larger. I like to have lots of starter on hand for many baking projects. But it really depends on how much you want to keep. You can always switch containers if you need to make more or less. You are right, a plastic screw on ball jar lid works great! I also like locking lid jars with the seal removed. You'll have to keep me posted on your progress!!

Happy Baking,

Courtney

Annie

Saturday 21st of May 2022

Hi Courtney! Thank you for explaining all this. Is there a place where I can just buy this same sourdough-type bread from instead of making it myself??? I get a very inflamed joint when I eat gluten-containing bread, so I'm hoping this sourdough will fix the problem.

Thank you, Annie

Butter For All

Friday 3rd of June 2022

Hi Annie!

Do you have any local sourdough bakeries? Many times store bought sourdough will be soured with vinegar. But a lot of traditional bakeries still produce long-fermented bread. I'm happy to help you locate something if you provide me with your location!

Courtney

Ellen

Friday 18th of February 2022

Hello again! Can purchased sprouted wheat (lindley mills) be used in 1. Starting a starter and/or 2. Feeding the starter.

Thank you.

I love your site! Ellen

Ellen

Monday 21st of February 2022

@Butter For All,

Hi Courtney! Thank you for your reply.

I completely understand what you are saying.

I have been very impressed with your quick responses.

Thank you!

Butter For All

Monday 21st of February 2022

Hi Ellen!

Thanks for the kind words!

So sprouted wheat can be used in the entire sourdough process BUT it doesn't make any gluten structure so the bread will be very dense. It is best to use a combination of bread flour and sprouted flour if you want the bread to rise and have the flavor of the whole wheat. Because it's rather expensive, I personally use sprouted wheat for quick bread, cookies, and pastry. Things where it wouldn't be appropriate or are too difficult to ferment. I let the fermentation process take care of the un-sprouted flour in my bread recipes. Hope that makes sense!

Hope you have a wonderful sourdough journey!

Courtney

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

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