18 February 2009

Making your own Sourdough Starter


Look past the picture of the lovely loaf in the foreground to that of the humble jar in the background.  That jar is filled with millions of tiny yeast, the workhorses of so many beautiful loaves of sourdough bread, pancakes and waffles.  After yesterday's post on Sourdough pancakes, I received many wistful comments from readers who aren't as lucky as me and don't know anyone from which to receive some starter, or who once had a starter that has since died.  Don't despair, gentle readers.  It is easy to make your own!

I have had luck with whole wheat sourdough starters and rye sourdough starters.  To get started, all you need is a jug of distilled water, some flour, a scale, and a quart sized mason jar.

How-to make a Rye (or Whole-Wheat) Sourdough starter

(I will give the directions for making a rye sourdough starter, if you would like to make whole wheat starter, merely use whole wheat flour instead of the rye flour, but don't interchange the whole wheat and the rye.  You must keep them separate and have two different starters if you want to do both.)

Day 1:  Place 4 oz. rye flour and 4 oz. distilled water in your quart sized mason jar.  Stir, place lid on and screw on.  Leave on the counter for 24 hours.

Day 2:  You may notice some activity, a little bubbling, a slightly ripe smell, or you may not.  Regardless, remove half of the starter from yesterday and throw out.  Add to the jar another 4 oz. rye flour and 4 oz. distilled water.  Stir, cap, and seal.  Leave on the counter 24 hours.

Day 3:  You will probably see activity and notice a slightly ripe smell to your starter by now.  If not, don't worry!  Again, throw out half of the starter from yesterday, add to the jar another 4 oz. rye flour and 4 oz. of distilled water.  Stir, cap and seal.  Leave on the counter.

Keep feeding it this way until you can see the bubbles and activity forming about 6-8 hours after feeding.  This may take a few weeks.  Be patient!  Once the yeast are busy and bubbling about 6-8 hours after feeding, the yeast are strong enough to use in recipes.  After using the starter in a recipe, feed it again the 4 oz. rye flour and 4 oz. distilled water.  Now however, you may keep it in the refrigerator if you are not using it every day.  You will need to feed it about once a week if you are refrigerating it (and after every time you use it).  If you haven't used it, throw out half the starter and feed it 4 oz. of rye flour and 4 oz. distilled water.  If you have used it, don't throw any extra out, just feed it the 4 oz. of rye flour and 4 oz. of distilled water.

See, it is not difficult to make your own starter, it just takes a little baby-sitting.  Think of your yeast as your "pets" as my friend Rich does, and it will be easier to remember to feed them!  Below you can see my bubbly rye starter, about 12 hours after feeding, behind the jar of the show-off potato flour yeast.  Have fun, and when you try it, be sure and leave a comment letting me know!





24 comments:

Cathy said...

Thank you :)

Jo said...

I saw a recipe for this and it looked too scary to me to try. However you've made it look much less daunting, so maybe I'll give it a shot after all.

Sheila said...

Thank you for the directions. I have many friends who happily talk about their sourdough in their fridge, but I have never made it before and am embarrassed to say so!

Bob said...

I'm not the biggest fan of straight up sourdough bread, but I do have several recipes for other things that use starter. I might just have to try this out. :)

Robin Sue said...

Ooh I love sour dough. I have tried to keep starters but the smell killed me! So I just buy the bread. But Wow you can make pancakes too? I know Southern Grace keeps her Eb around for all kinds of things. I will have to try this and just hold my nose. Does it have to be rye flour?

Sam said...

I've never had any luck with making my own sourdough starter before, you make it sound so easy I think I should try again!

To answer your question about the pasta I used, I didn't make it it's quite easy to buy here. If you can't find it where you are my tip is to cut lasagna sheets into strips and use that, it works a treat!

Mark Dutch Oven said...

I've been making a lot of sourdough bread lately, in my dutch oven. I caught a local strain of yeast. It's not that "edgy" like the San-Fran.

My sister gave me a strain that she got from Europe. There's also a website that will mail you a sample for free that you can use. I'm checking for it, but I don't remember the address.

Here it is! http://home.att.net/~carlsfriends/

Nurit said...

wow. I love yeast bread! (sounds too funny to only say "I love yeast"), home baked bread, ohhhhhh

Reeni♥ said...

How cool! I thought it would take a lot longer than that to be able to use it. It looks kind of fun to make.

Calm In The Kitchen said...

This looks doable, thank you for posting the recipe! It would definitely get a bunch of use in this house.

Daily Spud said...

Some day I will get to making sourdough again. It's been years since I did the whole starter thing...

Chef E said...

I really appreciate the instructions, I think years ago I was taught but long since it left my brain...I will start this tonight, and I have Teff flour, are you ready to take a trip with me to Ethiopia now?

I worked for two years in an Ethiopian/Ethnic restaurant, and will start blogging about their delicious cuisine and Injera now...I needed a sourdough starter to get it going...

Okay I will shut up now, but you do not realize how excited I really am right now!

Chef E said...

Our charter will not leave for two weeks when the sourdough starter is ready :) so you have time to find that passport!

thecleanveggie said...

sounds delicious!!
love sourdough bread <3

Vij said...

Thanks for the directions.Gotta try this soon!

Brownies for Dinner said...

You read my mind. I've been thinking about sourdough starter lately but have not gotten around to looking up instructions, and then you posted this :) Thanks!

Selba said...

Hehehe.. I like the way you said, "Think of your yeast as your "pets" :)

Rachael said...

This looks really interesting. I love sourdough and have never made my own! Maybe I will attempt it now:-)

Tangled Noodle said...

Many thanks! Sourdough starters are like gold so I hope that mine will be successful. Then, the sky's the limit for sourdough deliciousness!

j & j dish it out said...

I've always wanted to get my hands on some starter. I'm going to make this for sure and see how long I can keep it going. Thanks.

Mama Chicken said...

I've been wanting to give this a try. I love sourdough bread with all my heart! Thanks for making it look easy enough to try!

emily said...

You are so ambitious! Thank you for the easy recipe for starter. I'm sure it makes wonderful sourdough (my absolute fav)
Em
www.justeatfood.com

Curry Leaf said...

HUGE THANKS,Iwanted the starter recipe desperately.I thought it involved many elements.this is do able and THANKS AGAIN.Will let you know when I make this.

NuKiwi said...

The last time I tried to make sourdough, I ended up with flat dense nearly inedible loaves...perhaps your recipe is better. Worth a try, right?!

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