sourdough starter

Sourdough bread is the perfect thing to have on-hand: swipe it with butter and jam for a delicious breakfast; use it as sandwich bread to surround your favorite fillings. Having sourdough dough, though, is even better. Not only can you vary the ways in which you use the bread, but you can even use the dough to create a variety of different recipes. There are studies that have shown that sourdough may be edible for people with gluten intolerance. And the best part of all… it’s easy to make at home!

1. Making Your Own Sourdough

Making your own sourdough involves collecting yeast and bacteria that are already present in the air. These bacteria and yeast are different everywhere, which is why sourdough in New York and sourdough in San Francisco taste so vastly different. How do you collect those yeast and bacteria? By setting a trap.

2. Attracting Yeast

First, pick a flour that’s full of tasty nutrients, like whole rye or whole wheat flour. Combine equal parts (by weight) of flour and water in a glass container. Let it sit, uncovered or covered with a thin layer of cheesecloth, at room temperature for 24 hours.

3. Feeding the Starter

You may have heard of this expression from experienced sourdough bakers, but don’t worry; it’s not as scary as it might sound. All you have to do is, 24 hours after having started the starter, throw out half of it.

Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive.

Then, add the same weights of water and flour you added to make your original starter back to the starter that remains. In other words, if you started with 5 ounces of water and 5 ounces of flour, once you’ve thrown out half, you can add 5 ounces each of water and flour to the starter that remains.

Continue discarding half and feeding your starter twice a day for between two and four days, until your starter is very bubbly and has a nice, fruity smell. After about a week, your starter should be ready to use.

4. Using Your Starter

Simply measure out what you need and put the rest of the starter in a jar. At this point, you can either continue feeding it twice a day or store it in the fridge, though you’ll need to remove it to room temperature and begin feeding it again twice a day until it begins bubbling and developing its aroma again before using it in a new recipe.

For more tips, consider looking at our very own sourdough starter recipe. As for what to do with your starter, try some of our favorite sourdough recipes:

Image: Jim Champion