There is a fair bit of variety of sourdough starter recipes. The first one we made used potato water – an unpeeled potato boiled until soft, then mashed into its own cooking water – as the liquid.
In essence, though, getting a new starter going is just flour and water, left to sit. Anything else is just bonus.
Of course, there are a few basic requirements that need to be followed.
So if you are not fortunate enough to be able to get some established sourdough starter from someone, here is what you need to start your own.
First up, is the container to keep it in. Glass, ceramic or plastic are okay. No metal. In fact, don’t even use metal utensils.
The container will need to be big enough to allow for expansion. After feeding, a starter can bubble up to double or triple in size, and you need room to add to it and stir, so keep that in mind.
You will need to be able to cover your container to keep the dust out, but still allow gasses to escape. Never tightly seal a sourdough container. It will explode. Your home will smell delicious, but it sucks to clean up. Just draping a clean towel over it is good enough.
I happen to have a ceramic canister with a lid that I am using right now. It’s a bit on the small side, so I will have to be careful when feeding it. I’ve used it before and had it overflow, so I’ve also got it on a plate, just in case.
A spot to keep it.
Your sourdough needs warmth, so a nice little kitchen corner out of the way, so it won’t get knocked over by accident, is good.
I don’t have anything like that, so mine is sitting prominently on the counter between our kitchen and dining room. Lol
It takes time for a sourdough to develop it’s flavours. While a new starter can be used after a few days, a healthy starter can be kept for generations, and it’s flavours will continue to develop over time.
But we want to use ours as soon as possible, so let’s get started on our starter!
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of yeast (optional)
Day one: Combine ingredients in a container thoroughly. Cover and set aside.
You can skip the yeast and rely in the wild yeasts that float around in our air, but that doesn’t always result in a good – or safe – sourdough. Just a few grains of yeast for bread baking is enough to get it going and you can be assured as to the safety.
If your sourdough ever starts to turn reddish, throw it away and start over.
The sugar is there to feed the yeast, and will not sweeten the starter.
This us what ours looks like, after sitting overnight.
Day two: Stir in 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour, with about a teaspoon of sugar. Set aside.
Day three: repeat day two.
(You may need to remove some starter first, to make room in your container).
After day three, you can start using your starter. It will be very mild in flavour.
Continue feeding daily for 7 days. After a week, your starter can be used regularly.
After every use, feed the starter again. Even if your recipe uses up all your starter, just the remainder on the side of your container will be enough to keep it going.
If you don’t use it often, feed it every few days.
If you don’t intend to use it for more than a week, it can be put in the fridge. The yeast will go dormant. Bring it back to room temperature before using. Do not freeze. That will kill the yeast.
I will post more tips and recipes as time goes on… and I unpack my cookbooks and notes!