Making your own sourdough starter may sound like a daunting task, but it’s surprisingly easy and rewarding. With just flour, water, and a little patience, you can create a lively culture that will bring delicious tang and depth to your baked goods. If you are looking for quick and easy recipes to make with sourdough, check out this recipe for simple sourdough bread.

A mason jar filled with sourdough starer.

A Simple Guide to Homemade Sourdough

You don’t need fancy ingredients or equipment to begin your sourdough journey. All you need is a jar (preferably made of glass), flour, and water. Use purified water to avoid chlorine that might inhibit the growth of wild yeast. In a jar, combine equal parts of flour and water. Stir well, cover loosely, and let it sit in a warm spot, ideally around 70°F. Over the next few days, you’ll notice bubbles forming as the natural yeasts in the environment begin to ferment the mixture. This bubbling indicates that your sourdough starter is alive and active.

Feeding Your Starter

Feeding your sourdough starter is crucial for its health and vitality. After 24 hours, discard half of the starter and add fresh flour and water in equal amounts. Stir well and let it sit for another day. Continue this process daily, discarding and feeding, until your starter is consistently bubbly and doubles in size within 8 hours of feeding.

Storing Your Starter

Once your sourdough starter is established, you can move it to the refrigerator for long-term storage. Feed it once a week to keep it active. When you’re ready to bake, take it out of the fridge 24 hours before you plan to use it, feed it, and allow it to come to room temperature.

A loaf of bread in a dutch oven made with sourdough starter.

Using Discard

Don’t let the discarded portion of your sourdough starter go to waste. Numerous recipes utilize this excess starter, from pancakes and English muffins to crackers and even chocolate chip cookies. Get creative and explore the versatility of sourdough discard in your baking endeavors.

A mason jar filled with sourdough starer.

Sourdough Starter

Prep Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 6 days
Total Time 6 days 8 minutes
Making your own sourdough starter may sound like a daunting task, but it’s surprisingly easy and rewarding.

Equipment

  • 1 glass mason jar (approximately 32 ounces)
  • 1 paper towel
  • 1 rubber band

Ingredients

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼-⅓ cup water, ideally at 75°F

Instructions

Starting the Process:

  • Begin by adding ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water to the jar. Add up to an additional ¼ cup of flour to achieve a pancake batter-like consistency.

The First Feeding:

  • Stir the mixture thoroughly, then cover it with a paper towel and secure it with a rubber band. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. It’s best to place it in a somewhat warm area of your home, as very cool rooms can slow down the fermentation process.
  • After 24 hours, check the mixture for bubbles. If bubbles are present, add ½ cup of all-purpose flour and ¼-⅓ cup of water. (again aiming for pancake batter-like consistency). If no bubbles are visible, simply stir the mixture and let it sit for another 24 hours.

The Second Feeding:

  • Once again, check for bubbles. If bubbles have formed, remove half of the starter and discard it (You can also start a second starter with the discard, or use it in baked goods). Then add ½ cup of flour and ¼-⅓ cup of water to the remaining starter, stirring thoroughly. Let it sit for another 24 hours.

The Third Feeding:

  • Repeat the process of removing half of the starter and feeding it with ½ cup of flour and ¼ cup of water. Stir well and let it sit for another 24 hours.

Additional Feedings:

  • On days 4, 5, and 6, you can choose to feed the starter twice a day if desired, depending on your baking plans.
  • Continue this feeding routine until the starter consistently bubbles and doubles in size within 8 hours of each feeding.

Storing the Starter:

  • Once your starter is consistently active, you can store it in the refrigerator. Feed it about once per week to maintain its vitality. When you intend to use the starter, remove it from the refrigerator 24 hours in advance to feed it and allow it to come to room temperature.

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