Sourdough Part 1: A Starter

Sourdough Starter

I haven’t purchased a loaf of bread in years and I have been making my own with a sourdough starter that I decided to create and maintain. Overall it’s criminally easy and the products that you can make from a sourdough starter are infinitely better in taste and health.

But first you must cultivate a starter (which is much easier than it sounds). Just mix water and flour. Seriously. To take from Sandor Ellix Katz and his book “The Art of Fermentation”

“…mix a small amount of flour and water in a bowl, a little more flour than water, and stir until smooth. Add a little more water or flour as necessary to obtain a batter that is liquid and pourable, yet thick enough to cling to the spoon.”

You’ll need:

  • A container
  • Flour
  • Water
  • (Optional) Kitchen Scale
  1. Take your container and put 50g (1/3 C.) of flour and water into it. Mix.
  2. Cover your container with a towel and let rest 24 hours.
  3. Repeat these steps for four-five days adding more flour and water. The mixture can be moved into a bigger container if you put in something too small.

At the end you should have a mixture which is bubbling slowly and ready to use. Voila! You have a sourdough starter. You can maintain this culture for a long time and it is fairly simple to keep. The starter is pretty resilient so you don’t have to worry too much but there are some simple rules.

  • Feed it once a day if it is out on the counter in room temperature (maybe more if you are in a very warm area)
  • Feed it once a week if you are keeping it in the fridge. Take it out and let it warm up before feeding. Feed and let it sit for an hour or two before putting it back into the fridge.

Your starter is like a city and there are a lot of bacterial citizens who live there. But, the bigger your city, the more food it needs. I prefer to take my starter out of the fridge for the week, use some to make leavens for the bread that week, then feed. But what you do is ultimately up to you. What I said about it being resilient is also true. We took a trip to eastern Europe for 20 days and I completely forgot about my starter in the fridge. I didn’t feed it before we left and it definitely wasn’t going to be fed while we were gone. But after 24-ish days of neglect I fed it and it was fine. So don’t fret if you are late or early. Bacteria has been around a lot longer than humans and will outlive us as well. Your starter can handle a little neglect better than your children. Probably because there isn’t a bacteria jail.

TO FEED: Generally when you feed it you should discard half of your starter and feed it with 100g each of flour/water and mix.

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