Updated: May 27, 2020
Sourdough starter is actually really easy to make. It just requires precise measurements and really good flour! Once you have your starter down, you can make so many different things such as pretzels, pizza, and of course sourdough bread!
Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (Amounts vary by day)
Whole Wheat Flour (Amounts Vary by day)
Filtered Water [between 75 - 80 degrees] (Amounts vary by day)
Special Tools Needed:
Bakers Scale (Click here to see the one I use)
Sourdough starter is really easy as long as you use good flour (Absolutely no bleached flour), and have some patience. The flour is used to feed your wild yeast so good flour is important. Wild yeast lives on literally everything. In this case, we will be using the yeast that is in our flour. My favorite flour to use is King Arthur brand. The protein level on their all-purpose flour is higher than most brands. This will be great for your starter, along with whole wheat flour. For a nice strong starter, it can take anywhere between 5-7 days for your yeast to grow and be ready to leaven your breads and baked goods.
One thing to remember during this process, you will have to discard some of it so that you dont end up with large amounts of starter. For that reason, once you have a strong starter growing, I would highly recommend that you only keep a 1:1:1 ratio (1 part starter, 1 part water, 1 part flour) of 30 grams. So each component would be 10 grams each. Your flour counts as 1 component....so for example, if the ratio is 10 grams flour, this means (5 grams all-purpose flour + 5 grams wheat flour). Also it is very important to make sure you keep a log of all your measurements. I like to weigh my empty mason jar so I know its weight. This will make life a lot easier when you need to discard some of your starter. If you guys have any questions, just email me and ill walk you through it.
Since its our first day, start off by weighing out 25 grams of AP flour, 25 grams of Wheat flour, and 50 grams of filtered water. This is a 1:1 ratio (equal parts water and flour). I like to measure everything out seperatly so that I can make sure that everything is precise. Be sure to zero out your scale before you measure out your ingredients, so that the weight of your vessel is not included in your measurement. In a clean and sanitized mason jar, add in your water and slowly add in your flour and mix it thoroughly. Your total weight for your starter should be 100 grams. Now put on your lid but dont close it too tight. We want air to be able to flow in. Place it in a cool place in your kitchen. I leave mine on my counter top in a corner.
You wont really see much action today as its only day 2, but we still want to change the flour and give your yeast some fresh food. You want 1:1:1 ratio here. Discard half of your starter from your mason jar. Your starter should be at 50 grams once you have discarded half. Be sure to not include the weight of your mason jar. Measure out 50 grams of your flour and 50 grams of your water and add it to your 50 grams of starter that should be in your mason jar. At this point your total weight of starter should be 150 grams.
Today you might see a small amount of bubbles, this is good! This means your yeast is making itself at home. We want to repeat what we did yesterday. Your ratio should be 1:1:1. Stick with 50 grams of starter, 50 grams of water, and 50 grams of flour. You will be discarding 100 grams of your starter today. Your total weight after you have discarded and fed your starter, should be 150 grams.
Day 4 - 6
For these days, just keep repeating your 1:1:1 ratio from day 3.
By day 7, your starter should be really bubbly and ready to leaven bread. Your starter is at its best when its bubbly, if you notice that your starter sinks a little bit, this means that its hungry, and you may have to do 2 feedings in one day.
To minimize the amount of daily discard, you can drop your starter size down to 10 grams. This way when you do your feedings, your 1:1:1 should look something like (10 grams of starter, 10 grams of flour, and 10 grams or water). If your receipes require a lot more starter, simply feed it more. Just remember to keep the water and flour ratio the same. You can even do 1:2:2 or 1:3:3 ratios, once your starter is strong.
Maintenance and Storage
If you dont plan on using your starter for a while, you can always spread your starter real thin on a silicone mat and dry it out. Once its dried, you can gently crush it using a motar and pestle. Once it has become a powder, you can store it in your spice cabinet for up to a year. When you're ready to reactivate it, just feed it using a 1:1:1 ratio of your choosing. Allow the powder to sit in the water for an hour before adding your flour.
If you plan on baking with in maybe once or twice a month, you can store it in the fridge. The cooler temperature of the fridge will slow the yeast down so it wont require you to feed it daily. You will still want to take it out 1 or twice a week and feed it. I feed mine once a week and also leave it out over night on the days that I feed it. This allows the yeast to wake up a little bit and eat before I put it back in the fridge. Your starter can live in the fridge for many years. I would just do jar maintenance monthly to make sure your yeast has a clean jar to live in.
This experience is like no other. Have fun while doing it! You will feel so accomplished when you have a beautiful sourdough bread waiting for you to enjoy. For those of you who plan on saving your yeast in the fridge, dont forget to give it a name, as now you have an edible pet!