Creating your own sourdough starter can oftentimes seem intimidating and not the simplest task to manage. There is a lot of confusing information out there and a bunch of different recipes, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed don’t be disappointed- you are most likely not alone. Many people are not lucky enough to have been passed down a sourdough starter through generations, and a common misconception is that the starter takes a long time to create. Well, I’m here to tell you that you can have a starter that is ready to use in just about a week and only requires two ingredients! Plus, most of the time it takes to create a starter is the waiting game and is mostly hands-off. Having a healthy sourdough starter in your repertoire will be the beginning of many great recipes and baked goods!
What is sourdough?
Let’s go back to the basics for a moment. Sourdough in a nutshell is fermented bread. It is created from the naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in flour and is a healthier option to most commercially baked bread. The acids and long fermentation of the bread increase the breakdown of gluten in the body and actually makes this dough much easier to digest. Sourdough has a distinct tangy flavour and when baked into bread, has a chewy texture with a crispy crust. Once you have your starter (that can last you years), sourdough is essentially the easiest bread to bake at home!
Getting started on the starter
There are a few things to go over before we begin making the starter. First off, water that is high in chlorine can impede fermentation. For this reason, we suggest using distilled or bottled water if you have high chlorine content in your tap water. Sometimes leaving a glass of tap water overnight on the counter will cause the chlorine to dissipate, but to get things started it is best to use filtered water.
Secondly, there can be an increase in fermentation in the first few days. This is most likely caused by other bacteria that will eventually die off, so do not fret when it seems your sourdough starter has stopped growing. Things will eventually stabilize and will grow at a consistent pace.
Sourdough starter recipe
All you need to get going on the starter is water, flour and a jar or container that will leave enough room for the starter. No yeast required! The natural “wild” yeast already exists in the flour and is waiting to be activated. Use good organic flour because it will be full of extra nutrients that will kickstart the fermentation process.
Mix 1/2 cup of flour with 1/4 cup of warm water and mix with a fork until blended, it will be thick and pasty. Glass jars with a rubber seal and lid that latches work best for the starter. Cover the mixture and leave it in a warm spot for 48 hours. Bubbles forming on the surface are a sign of fermentation!
Feeding your starter
Whether bubbles are visible or not, by the third day it is time to start the feeding process. Start by discarding half of the starter mixture by scooping it out with a spoon. Replace this with another 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. The consistency should resemble that of a thick pancake batter. Continue this feeding process once a day for one week!
After about seven days your starter should have doubled in size, be full of all sorts of bubbles and the smell should be pleasantly tangy. If these requirements are met then congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a sourdough starter! Continue to feed your sourdough about once a day, or when it has fallen in size, and do not worry if you miss a feeding. The starter will usually perk back up if you are slightly late.
The recipes are endless now that you have a sourdough starter. Create your own sourdough loaves, pancakes, muffins, pie crust, crackers, scones, cinnamon buns and so much more. Say goodbye to harshly treated wheat in store-bought baked goods and hello to your gut health-aiding sourdough treats!