So you have been wanting to start making sourdough bread and all the fun recipes but have no idea where to start or what to do first. Let this post serve as your jumping off point as you start your sourdough journey.
Disclaimer: This is my personal experience with sourdough and I am sharing what has worked for me without issue for almost a year. If you are a more technical person and want to nerd out on the science and exactness of sourdough this may not be the post for you.
I’m more of a wing it and eyeball it kind of girl when it comes to the kitchen and that is no different with my sourdough starter.
How to Start a Sourdough Starter
Sourdough is exactly as is sounds a sour-dough. The sour taste comes from the fermentation of flour and water. It will take about a week or two for you to develop a mature bubbly starter. Below are the steps to take when creating a sourdough starter from scratch.
- Day 1: Mix equal parts flour to equal parts water (1 cup flour to 1 cup water) stir until well combined and let it sit on your kitchen counter for a full 24 hours. Using glass containers for sourdough starters is best because you don’t have those yucky plastic chemicals seeping into your starter.
- I use a mason jar with a wide lid with half a square of paper towel over the top. I keep a rubber band around the jar so I can measure any growth that has happened or is happening.
- Day 2: Discard (throw away) half the mixture and re feed your starter with that 1:1 ratio, stir vigorously, cover, and leave on the counter for another 24 hours. Repeat for days 3, 4, and 5.
- Days 6 and 7: Discard half the mixture as you have been but feed every 12 hours.
- On day 7, you should be seeing it bubble and double in size. That means that the flour and water have fermented and you have enough beneficial bacteria and yeast present to start making your sourdough bread.
A good way to test if your starter has matured is after you feed it and it starts to grow to take a little bit off the top and place it in some water to see if it floats. This is called a float test. This would mean your starter has peaked and is ready to use.
Troubleshooting Your Starter
The above is a general way to start sourdough and that is how I started mine except I really struggled to get my starter to become active. If you get to day 6 and 7 and aren’t seeing growth or bubbles in your starter you can troubleshoot with using a little less water at each feed to give the bacteria a little more flour to eat.
I also was using an all-purpose flour to feed my starter and switched to a bread flour which seemed to help a ton. My sister was a great resource for me when I was struggling to get my starter going. She would video call me and we would feed our starters together. She would send me videos of the consistency of her starter, which was great for a visual learner like me.
Another great resource is Lisa from The Farmhouse on Boone Blog and Youtube channel. She simplifies the process of sourdough and has a bunch of great discard recipes. She actual taught me a lot about sewing too!
Maintaining Your Starter
This has been the easiest part of having a sourdough starter. After I got mine bubbly and active, I have had very little if any problems with it. I bake with my starter weekly and store it in the fridge between uses.
Now if you plan on baking with your starter daily it is best to keep it on the counter. When you feed would depend on when you plan to use it. For instance the day I plan on making bread I will pull my starter out of the fridge right when I wake up which is usually around 5am. (Yes, I get up that early… when do you think I have time to work on this blog lol!)
I’ll let it acclimate to the temperature of the house (about an hour or so) then give it a good feed. Depending on how much starter is in my jar, depends on how much I feed it. I double the amount and it is typically three heaping spoonfuls of flour and a splash of water from my Alexapure water filter.
I will get it to the consistency of thick pancake batter and let it rise. This is where I love having a rubber band around my jar. I can easily check if my starter has grown at all and if it is ready to be used.
A huge reason I started on my sourdough journey is because I was sick of reading and looking for clean ingredients in store bought bread. I’ve actually made bread a few times before but having and maintaining a sourdough starter has been a great excuse to have fresh homemade bread every week. If you are seeking a new approach to wellness I suggest reading about the pro-metabolic approach. Linked all of my favorite resources in this post!