In this is a step by step guide, I’m showing you how to make sourdough starter from scratch. All you need is 2 easy ingredients and anyone can harness the power of natural yeast and cultivate sourdough starter!
Like all ferments, sourdough bread making requires you to harness the cultivation of natural yeast. There is natural yeast on grains and in the air!
Sourdough starter is made by Cultivating LIVING yeast that’s all around us!
First, let me show you how to establish and maintain a healthy starter with only 2 ingredients, flour and water. Sourdough starter can be used to make a variety of breads… I’ll show you how!
Sourdough starter can be cultivated and maintained forever. Families pass down their sourdough starters from one generation to the next.
Once you feel the magic of sourdough bread making, you’ll want to try new recipes with it! You’ll be able to use your starter to create the breads of your dreams!
Commercial Yeast VS Wild Yeast
Yeast is a fungus to make bread rise and get fluffy. The difference in the yeast that you buy at the store, and the yeast that you can harness and cultivate around us, is it’s purity.
“Pure” yeast was made commercially available in the 1870’s and is only a few selected strains of yeast. Wild yeast in grain, and all around you the air, is biodiverse with several strains and other microorganisms.
How To Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch:
First things first… Let’s make sourdough starter! Sourdough starters are easy to make. It’s as simple as mixing equal amounts of water and flour in a bowl and leaving it on the kitchen counter for a few days.
The work is the maintenance of your starter. Sourdough starter requires regular feeding to develop and live.
Everyday stir into your starter a couple tablespoons of fresh flour and fresh water. Then, stir the mixture several times a day as you pass by. This is the process I use:
Step By Step Instructions To Make Sourdough Starter
- In a small glass bowl mix, 1 cup of unchlorinated water with 1 cup of any type of flour. TIP: Use cooled off potato water instead of tap water (water used to boil potatoes in) is full of nutrients that natural yeasts love and will help your starter to thrive!
- Cover your bowl with a thin cloth (like cheesecloth) that will allow air to circulate but will also keep flies out.
- Store your bowl in a room temp area of your kitchen with good airflow. (If you have granite counters, store your starter bowl on top of another washcloth. Granite seems to keep it too cold.)
- Stir your mixture a few times each day to mix the yeasts that are developing and stimulate the process.
- Everyday add 1/2 cup fresh non chlorinated water and 1/2 cup fresh flour, and mix vigorously.
- After 3-5 days, you will see small air bubbles at the top of your mixture (that aren’t caused by your mixing). This is how you can tell that your starter is coming to life!
- Continue this process till your sourdough starter becomes frothy. (As pictured in the 3rd glass cup pictured above!)
***After you’ve grown a thick bubbly starter, it’s ready to use – I’ll show you how! Make sure to SAVE A LITTLE of the starter when using it. Mix the saved starter with the same amount of flour and water that you removed to make bread, and maintain it for the next time you make bread!***
Test To See If Your Sourdough Starter is Active
If you haven’t used your sourdough starter in a while, or if you left it on the counter and forgot to feed it… You may be wondering if your starter is still alive!
To test your starter, just put 1/2 a cup of sourdough starter in a cup and stir in 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder. If it starts rising and becomes frothy and airy… It is alive and well! If the starter does not react within 5 minutes, you should start a new batch!
How To Maintain & Store Your Starter!
Sourdough starter can live forever if you maintain it. If you plan on using it daily, you can store it on your kitchen counter as before, with regular feeding of water and flour.
If you don’t plan on using it as frequently, STORE IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR. Store your starter in the refrigerator to slow yeast activity, and you’ll only need to feed and water it 1ce a week.
Take your sourdough starter out of the refrigerator the day before you plan on using it. Put your starter on your kitchen counter and feed it. If you do this the day before using it, your starter yeasts will be active and ready to work.
If you forget to feed and water your starter it will go acidic. You will see a watery substance on the top of your starter. You can save your starter up to a point. To revive your starter, first pour watery substance off, then feed and water it.
If neglected sourdough starter first goes acidic, and then it goes rancid. If this happens, you’ll have to start over. Your sourdough starter will last forever however, if it’s fed & maintained!
What Kinds Of Flour Can You Use In Sourdough Starter?
- Wheat Flour
- White Flour
- Rice Flour
- Rye Flour
- Einkorn Flour
What If Your First 1 Batch Of Bread Isn’t Fluffy
If you start making sourdough bread before your starter is fully ready… The loaf will be dense and heavy. DON’T STOP!
Your sourdough starter will be better every day! Keep it on the counter, and continue to feed it! You will notice it become frothier, and each loaf will get better every time!
What To Do With Sourdough Starter: Sourdough Bread & Pancakes
Fresh sourdough breads and pancakes are soooo much better than plain yeast or baking powder breads and pancakes! The sourdough gives your breads a depth of flavor and satisfaction you can’t get anywhere else.
Your active starter can be used to make all kinds of bread, except the commercially produced kind in grocery stores.
It’s funny how bread is synonymous with spiritual & physical sustenance! For example, Jesus is the “bread of life”. We call money “dough”… And then there’s the nick name for cute butts, “buns”.
Bread is more than just food… It represents LIFE and the WORK of civilizations…
In the Genesis 3:19 Adam was told, “by the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread all the days of thy life.” Bread represents hard work: The work of farmers who grow the wheat or gain, those that work to ensure sources of water, and the work of those hands that knead, form and bake bread.
After you’ve got your sourdough starter going, learn how to make sourdough breads and pancakes that you are going to LOVE!