sourdough starter

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Making bread is easy. Making sourdough bread is easy. Making sourdough starter is easy. So why do so few people even try?

Every where you go, sourdough breads taste different. (At least it would if sourdough cultures are not regularly brought in from other locales, like at the S.F. sourdough restaurants.) When I travel and end up spending at least three days where I have access to either an oven or a stove top, I like to make a sourdough starter, bake or fry up a few items, and find out what the local yeast tastes like.

Servings:
n/a
Preparation Time:
0.25 hours
Tools
  • glass or ceramic jar
  • soap
  • spoon
  • towel

Ingredients

Day 1

  • 1 c. unbleached, white bread flour
  • 1 c. clean tap water

Day 2+

  • 1/2 c. clean tap water
  • 1/2 c. unbleached, white bread flour
Cooking Instructions
Day 1:

  • Thoroughly clean and rinse the jar. Let the jar cool to room temperature.
  • Stir together 1 c. of flour and water in the jar until they are well combined.
  • Leave the jar uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the jar with one layer of towel to keep out dust and bugs.
  • Store the jar out of drafts at room temperature.

Day 2:

  • You should see a few bubbles on top of the mixture.
  • Toss out 1/2 of the flour/water mixture.
  • Thin the remaining mixture by stirring in 1/2 c. of water.
  • Stir in 1/2 c. of flour.
  • Leave the jar uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the jar with one layer of towel to keep out dust and bugs.
  • Store the jar out of drafts at room temperature.

Day 3+:

  • You should have a live starter up and ready to cook with.
  • Just take out 1/2 of the mixture for whatever you want to make and replace it with equal parts of water and flour.
Notes
Filtered water is okay to use. Do not use distilled water - it is too pure to get the yeast going quickly. (The distilled water will eventually work, it will just take several more days of mixing in flour and water.)

The reason you toss out 1/2 of the mixture on the second day is to get rid of some of the slower growing or dead yeasts. You are keeping a higher concentration of the good stuff and fortifying it with fresh food and water.

If the starter is very slow at getting started, mix in 1 t. of rye flour with the white and wait another day. Yeast just loves rye flour. It will adjust the taste of your baked goods a bit for a couple of weeks, but in a good way if you like rye bread.

If you do not want to use the starter every day, you can cover it with cling film (use a rubber band to hold the film onto to the top of the jar) and place it in the refridgerator. It can sit in there for up to a month with no adverse affects. Just remove it a day before you intend to use it, poor off any excess liquid, toss out 1/2 of the remaining starter, add water and flour, and let it sit out for a day before using.

Do not use a tight fitting lid on your starter jar. From what I have heard, it is not fun to clean up glass fragments and starter in the kitchen. (I believe this to be true even though it has not happened to me.)

If your starter starts growing molds or changing colours, toss it all out, sterilize the jar and start over. You just picked up some bad spores. Most of the time the starter is acid enough so nothing else will grow in the jar. I have only lost one starter in 12 years to bad spores.

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I have not had any trouble

I have not had any trouble with sealing the jar in the refrigerator.

I use one of the heavy glass jars with the rubber gasket and wire bail. I let the starter sit open on the counter for a day after its last feeding. This uses up much of the food and the yeast's metabolism slows back down so it isn't producing as much CO2. Then I put it in the refrigerator with the plastic wrap over the top for a day. After that I can close it up normally without any problems. When I take it out to use it, I immediately open the lid before the starter warms up.

It produces more alcohol than it does in the open because the yeast goes into facultative mode without the access to O2.

Depending what I am planning to make, sometimes I save the alcohol and use it as part of the liquid ingredients. This can help give you that overnight sponge taste much quicker.

I also use a glass jar with

I also use a glass jar with a gasket and spring held lit. I just did not want to include any "special" equipment in the basic recipe list to help convince people to just give it a try. When I am on the road I do use the glass jar and cling film method. You just want to keep out refridgerator odors and provide a way for CO2 to exit the jar just in case.