Sourdough starter is one of the oldest forms of leavening in the history of bread. It’s been used for centuries to rise dough, and I guarantee your great great grandmother probably used it. I keep a jar going at all times, and when I go overseas or on a long trip I usually put it in the refrigerator and it will keep for a month before needing fed again.
Sourdough is natural yeast that exists both in the air and on the flour itself. To harness that for use in baking, we create a slurry of flour and water where the yeast multiplies and becomes concentrated. This is the sourdough starter, and it can be used to make basically any dessert that requires leavening under the sun: pancakes, bread, rolls, those kinds of things.
Many people get a bit of starter to feed and grow from friends or family. Some go as far as purchasing from locals. I have always made my own, though. Making a starter is super easy! And the texture of sourdough is amazingly chewy yet soft. And the crust is to die for. So get your scale, sanitize a jar, and let’s get yeasty!
- 350g flour of choice (I use spelt, but I’ve made this with whole wheat and it works)
- 350g sanitized water (boiled, filtered, or distilled only! No tap water!)
- Sanitized jar (I use a french wire bail jar that has the rubber gasket removed)
- Kitchen scale (This is important for starter. I use it for all baking but you really need it for this.)
Add 50g of flour to the jar, measuring with a scale. Tare your scale out, and add 50g of water. Mix well, making sure air gets into the mixture, and let it sit overnight. The next day, feed the same amount, mixing well to incorporate air. Repeat this the next day, and by the third day you should begin seeing the yeast create air bubbles in the slurry. Keep feeding on the fourth and fifth days, when it will begin to become frothy. On day five, remove half of the starter (use it for pancakes or bread if you don’t want to waste it) and feed a full 100g of flour and water. Continue feeding 50g of flour and 50g of water every day to maintain the starter.
Yep! It’s really that easy! My starter is almost like another pet or livestock animal, and I faithfully feed it every day, sometimes twice if I feel like it needs a little more love. Starters can live indefinitely if properly cared for, years and years even. I plan on keeping this batch going well into our family’s future.
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