If you’re a bread lover like me, then you’ve got to try your own homemade sourdough starter. The tangy taste of sourdough brings back memories of my honeymoon where my husband and I spent a week in San Francisco. That’s where I had some of the best sourdough I’ve ever had, not to mention the best creamy clam chowder! It seems like I got a sourdough bread bowl full of clam chowder everyday on that trip (not so good for the waistline.)
Fast forward almost 15 years later and I’m still in love with sourdough…and my husband! Late this summer I decided to make my own sourdough starter from scratch. I decided to use a recipe from a cookbook I bought when we were in San Francisco, simply called San Francisco Cookbook, A Culinary Tour Of The City By The Bay.
There are so many different opinions about sourdough and how to make it that you could go crazy trying to read everyone’s advice. I’m no expert on sourdough, but I’ll just share with you what is working for me. This recipes uses dry yeast to get the starter going. Again, there are strong opinions about what to use in order to have an authentic starter, however this starter has worked for me and has been growing and been in use in my home since August of 2015, so I’m sticking with it and am happy to call it authentic.
I allowed this starter to develop for a week before I started using it so that it was strong enough to use in bread recipes. Depending on different conditions like temperature, the sourdough may be ready in a week, or it may take up to two weeks.
How Do You Know When It’s Ready? You’ll know it’s ready when it has a sour smell, is very bubbly on top and is able to double in size with regular feedings. (The smell is not a rotting smell, but acidic and sour – no mold growing on top.) Another great test to know if your sourdough starter is ready to use, is to fill a glass with cool water and drop some starter into the water. If it sinks it’s not ready, if it floats it’s ready.
If your home is consistently cool, around 68 degrees or below, you’ll want to place your sourdough jar in a warmer place like the top of your refrigerator.
The recipes seem endless as to what you can make using sourdough starter. So far our very favorite are sourdough pancakes. They have an amazing tangy flavor and are a good way to use up excess starter. I’ll be posting about them in the near future. Other things to come that our family loves includes breads, pizza crust, soft pretzels, crackers and more!
- 1 packet rapid rise dry yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- Day 1:
- Dissolve yeast in a large non-reactive mixing bowl with warm water. (Glass, crockery, plastic or stainless steel)
- Stir in flour and whisk until well mixed.
- Cover tightly with a lid or plastic wrap and store at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day 2:
- You may see a little bubbling or you may not by day 2, that’s ok. Discard half of the starter.
- Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup lukewarm water.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Cover and let rest at room temperature for another 24 hours.
- Day 3:
- You should be seeing some bubbling by now and an increase in volume. Now you will start with regular daily feedings.
- Discard 1 cup of starter.
- Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup lukewarm water; whisk to mix well.
- Cover and let rest at room temperature for another 24 hours.
- Day 4:
- Repeat day 3 process.
- Day 5:
- Repeat day 3 process. By now the starter should have at least doubled in size and have lots of bubbles at the top. Starter should have a sour, tangy aroma.
- To Use:
- If you’ve been keeping your starter in the refrigerator, you’ll need to feed the starter and warm it up to room temperature for at least 4 hours - so plan ahead. Once the starter is bubbling and doubling in volume, remove what you need for your recipe and set it aside. Feed the remaining sourdough starter with 1 cup lukewarm water and 1 cup all-purpose flour; whisk until smooth. Allow the starter to feed for 2 hours at room temperature, then place back in the refrigerator.
- Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter
- If you’re a hardcore baker and intent on using your sourdough starter multiple times a week, then you’ll want to keep it at room temperature, feeding once-a-day like this:
- Maintaining At Room Temperature: Daily Feeding
- Stir the starter well and discard all but 1 cup of starter.
- Stir in 1 cup lukewarm water and 1 cup all-purpose flour.
- Mix until smooth.
- Cover and repeat every 24 hours.
- This is what I did in the beginning, but now I’m a little more laid back about it so I do the following method:
- Maintaining in the refrigerator: Once-A-Week Feeding
- Once you have a viable starter, store the starter in an airtight container. I keep mine in a large hermetic clamp jar in my refrigerator.
- Once a week, take your starter out of the refrigerator. (There may be dark brownish to grayish liquid on top. drain this off; this is just alcohol from the fermentation process.)
- Discard all but 1 cup of starter - this discarded portion can be used in the pancakes I mentioned about. I usually do this process on Saturday mornings when I cook a late breakfast/brunch for my family. The discard can also be used in pizza dough, crackers and other baked goods - coming soon!
- Add 1 cup lukewarm water and 1 cup all-purpose flour; whisk until smooth and cover.
- Allow starter to rest on your kitchen counter, which will warm it up a bit and allow it to begin feeding. After 2 to 4 hours return to the refrigerator.
I usually pour off the hooch and stir in any remaining residue of liquid on top back into its “mother” (the starter), then proceed with my feeding schedule. Really, it’s ok! I’ve done this many times.
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