Making your own sourdough starter

Making your own sourdough starter

I just made my first batch of sourdough starter since moving to the East Coast. Sourdough starter is a mix of flour and water and wild yeast and lactobacteria. Replacing store-bought yeast, the starter gives sourdough bread its characteristic sour taste due to the acidic produced by the bacteria.

When I first heard of making your own sourdough starter, it sounded a little gross. Leaving something out in order to ATTRACT bacteria? That just seems risky. I’ve since realized that almost anything worth doing is going to seem a little strange. It seems to be a common theme among homesteading projects - instead of hiring out projects and relying on someone else’s experience, take on the project yourself and experiment!

That said, if you see your starter turning pink/red or if it has a bad smell, it’s best to throw it out and restart :)

Here’s how to get started. Note that your sourdough starter will need babysitting for about 5 days, then regular feedings after that.

Mix 3/4 of a cup of whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup water and place in a mixing bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place overnight. Repeat, adding more flour and water, for 4 days. (The whole wheat helps to introduce the wild yeast and bacteria, but you can switch to all purpose flour at anytime.) You should be seeing your starter getting bubbly and smelling more yeasty and sour. On Day 5, remove half of your starter. (You can give this to a friend, or start baking with it!) Then add the usual amounts of flour and water. If you’re not going to be using the starter again soon, you can put it in the fridge and feed it every week. Make sure to remove half when feeding, or you’ll end up with a huge amount of starter and not enough new flour for the organisms!

I started with whole wheat, but will transition to all-purpose flour

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