Starting your starter
There was a time before yeast packets and grocery store bread. Turns out that yeast is everywhere, including that bag of flour sitting in your pantry. With a little know-how and patience you can start your own sourdough culture. It takes a bit of work to get it started and keep it thriving, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to bake fresh loaves of sourdough knowing that it all started from your own bread culture.
To make the initial starter, combine 4 ounces all-purpose flour with 4 ounces of filtered water. Stir it up until a smooth batter forms. It should be decently sticky and thick. Once you’re happy with the consistency, cover with plastic wrap or a towel held down with a rubber band. Store the container somewhere warm and let it sit for a full day. After a day, feed the starter with a combination of of 4 ounces water and 4 ounces flour. By day three, you should start to see some signs of life in your starter. Bubbles should form, and it should begin to smell a little sour. Keep adding the same ratio of flour and water each day to feed your starter. By day five, your starter should be nearly frothy, and looser than the previous two days. If it doesn’t quite seem ready, continue feeding it as you have been. If you think it’s good to go, be sure to either use or discard half of the starter and feed it each day. This way it maintains its level of “sourness” without getting too weak or strong.
Ready to put your starter to use? Try this recipe for sourdough bread.