How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter is a step-by-step simple guide on how you can create your very own starter at home with just flour and water.
My sourdough starter is one of my secret weapons in the kitchen. It has the ability to create all sorts of bread, baked goods, pancakes, waffles, and we even use ours to make from scratch donuts! I often wonder where this magic concoction has been all of my cooking life. It wasn’t until I solely began cooking from scratch that I actually read about what one was. Since that point, I have reached for it countless times in my kitchen and rely on it for most of our baking needs.
Sourdough is literally what the name implies. It is dough that is soured by the fermentation process. This simple process of fermentation captures the wild yeast that is in your environment thereby creating an alive food that will then become a leavening ingredient for any baked good you would like to make.
This is the very same method I used to make my own personal sourdough starter that I use weekly. I have been asked so much about all the things I can bake in my kitchen using my starter that I wanted to share how easy it is to make one for yourself. I have several recipes that I share on the blog that utilizes a sourdough starter. A few favorites are my Sourdough Maple Glazed Donuts, Sourdough Focaccia Bread, and of course, my Sourdough Artisan Loaf.
You can find the entire page of sourdough recipes here.
What You Will Need To Make A Sourdough Starter
Add one cup of flour and one cup of water to a glass bowl. Make sure to mix and get all the little bits of flour off the walls of the bowl so it is completely incorporated. Place a tea towel over the mixture and let it sit on your countertop for 24 hours.
Discard half of the mixture. Then repeat the process of adding one cup of filtered water and one cup of flour to the mixture. Make sure to completely combine them. Allow it to sit out on the counter for another 24 hours.
You will repeat the same steps as on Day Two. Discarding half, add 1 cup of filtered water and 1 cup of flour.
Day Four & Five:
Repeat the same steps as on days two and three. By day four you may have bubbles forming, if you don’t see those bubbles just yet, check it on day five.
Day Six & Day Seven:
By this time you should be seeing those beautiful bubbles in your starter. There may be even a sour-like smell. This is normal. On these two days, you are gonna feed your starter twice instead of just the once.
By day 8 your starter should be ready to test. A good sourdough starter is bubbly and doubles after you feed it.
Storing Your Sourdough Starter:
Unless you are going to use your starter every day and feed it every day, you should keep your starter in a glass container with a lid (I use a half-gallon mason jar with a plastic lid). Keeping your starter in the fridge will put a pause on the fermentation process and allow your starter to rest when not in use.
Feeding your Sourdough Starter:
Feeding your starter is super easy. You simply take the starter out of the fridge and add about a cup or so of flour and 1/2 cup (120g) or so of filtered water to it. It is not an exact measurement needed here. I never measure anymore. Once you understand the process it will be super easy to maintain. After feeding the starter, allow it to sit out on the counter for a minimum of 4 hours before placing it back in the fridge so it can ferment a bit before resting again. Do the same if you are wanting to use your starter as you will need an active “fed” starter to use in your sourdough recipe.
Tips for How to Make a Sourdough Starter
- It is a good idea to feed your starter once a week or so if keeping it in the fridge. I have waited a few weeks and my starter was fine but as a general rule, it should be fed every now and again to keep it happy.
- Always use a glass container and wooden spoon to keep any other bacteria from interfering with your starter.
- When left on the counter after feeding, make sure to not tighten the lid allowing for air flow.
- Use filtered or natural water when adding to your starter. Chlorine can interfere with the wild yeast in your starter.
FAQ for How to Make a Sourdough Starter
Why use a sourdough starter?
The process of using a starter breaks down the phytic acid that is present in grains and makes them easier for your body to digest. Simply put they are a healthier way to eat grains. Plus, I think it adds a depth of flavor with it being sourdough that you cannot get by using store-bought yeast. But aside from the health and taste benefits. Which are equally important factors. There is something special about embracing an old way of doing something and doing it even if just for the novelty of it.
What is a sourdough starter?
To simply put it, it is a natural process that allows you to capture the wild yeast that is in your environment through this fermentation process. You can use a starter in place of anything you would use yeast for. Pancakes, bread, cinnamon rolls, waffles, donuts, etc.
How do I know my starter is ready to be used?
After feeding it and allowing it to sit at room temperature for a minimum of 4 hours; you will know your starter is active and ready for use when you see the bubbles. An active and ready-to-use starter is nice and bubbly (see photo above).
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