Have you made your own sourdough starter from scratch before? I’ve made it once, but I sort of never kept the starter going and, it died…☹
If you’ve been following my blog, then you would know, I love making things from scratch, so of course, I’m going to make sourdough from scratch again, but this time, I ended up with a lovely loaf or two…❤
I just love sourdough bread, the crusty and crispy outing, yet soft and chewy inside with that aromatic hint of sour 👌.
Another Delicious Staple That Only Requires Water And Flour
I’ve been searching the internet, looking for a sourdough starter recipes, tips and tricks to getting that perfect sourdough starter from scratch.
And there is so much to consider, but one thing you must have is patience and persistent.
As fickle as sourdough starter can be, just like a plant, with lots of love, care & time, it will reward you with a fluffy, glutenous, fragrant starter that will rise, flavour and texture your beautiful loaf of sourdough bread.
And when mature it is quite robust and won’t be as temperamental like a young starter.
Practice Makes Perfect
I tried making sourdough starter 3 times…
The first time, I didn’t really know what to look out for and didn’t really understood the sourdough bread recipe and ended up using all my starter to bake bread, resulting with a loaf equivalent to a lump of rock and no mother starter to try again with 😭…lol
Second time, I googled, researched and followed everything to the last detail, but measured my jar incorrectly and was feeding my sourdough starter the wrong qty, resulting in a huge layer of water developing on top of the starter.
Some say you can just tip the water out to save it, however I wanted to make sure it was right from the get go, so I tipped it all out and started again.
Third time, it was perfect 😍 and I was able to bake my very first beautiful loaf of sour dough and I have been in love ever since.
Sure you can buy a beautiful loaf without all the effort but, I don’t just bake sourdough because I love the taste but because I can create my own flavours and save a whole ton of money $$$ baking my own.
I’ve made seeded, lentil and quinoa loaf, fig & apricot, garlic & rosemary. The flavours are endless. Now where will you find this sultanas, peaches, pears, apricot & apple sourdough loaf for under $2.00
But like any good sourdough, you need a starter.
One that’s mature and robust.
This is what gives your bread, the hint of sour, the pocket air holes in the centre and the soft chewy texture and crispy crust.
Once you have the starter the rest is easy, so lets start!
I’ve read up on a few ways of making the sourdough starter and they are all about the same except the qty and variation in mature time, but all in all, daily feeding and waiting for it to mature is the common key.
Things You Need & Tips
To Start You Will Require
- 1 large jar with a lid.
Something that will hold 500g as the starter will grow.
A jar with a wide opening so you can easily remove and feed your starter.
The jar needs to be smooth, preferably with straight sides, making it easier to scrap and clean the jar.
Also make note of the weight of the jar without the lid on, so you can calculate how much starter you need to remove.
- Organic Strong Bread Flour.
It is better to use organic flour because it is less processed, therefor carry more of the natural microbes which will help speed up the fermentation when mixed with water.
- Organic Wholemeal Flour.
Same goes for organic whole meal flour, the extra nutrition in the bran and germ will increase the starter’s acidity and give more for your starter to feed on, so I always start my starter with wholemeal flour then switch.
I also occasionally feed my starter with wholemeal flour when it’s looking flat and needs reviving.
- Quality filtered room temperature water.
Tap water contain chlorine and can kill the microorganism that ferments and feeds the starter.
Chlorine in the water can also alter the taste of your starter and bread.
- Kitchen Scales is the most accurate way of measuring your water and flour ratio. It only takes a few grams here and there to throw the starter all out of whack!
- A rubber spatula to stir and scrap your starter.
- A rubber band to wrap around your jar so you can visually measure how much your starter has grown.
Sourdough starter takes roughly 5 – 7 days to mature and the temperature has a lot to do with it.
I’ve made mine during winter and it took me nearly 14 days before it actually started to rise and this is because it is a living organism.
The fermenting microorganisms are happier and more viable at temperatures that it feels comfortable in such as a warm room temperature (around 21°C or 70°F).
Fermentation will slow at colder temperatures, and too rapidly or even stop when too hot for comfort.
So if after 7 days, your starter still haven’t doubled its size, don’t fret, just keep discarding and feeding it.
I’ve read someone did this for over 4 weeks before their starter doubled in size. But if you want to save time and money, you may want to try and store your starter in a place where the temperature is around the 21°C or 70°F.
I wrapped a tea towel around mine and put the starter in a sunny spot to help with the fermentation process.
Now that we got time and temperature out of the way, lets begin.
Sourdough Starter Recipe
This recipe I have tried and tested, and it worked lovely for me. It’s fuss free and do it right you will be rewarded with a beautiful starter to put on the heirloom list…lol
Day 1 (Step 1)
To start, measure and pour 125g of organic wholemeal flour and 125g of filtered water into a clean jar.
Mix it all together, scraping any mixture off the side.
Place the lid over the jar, making note, not to tighten the lid too tight, as tightening won’t allow the air to circulate.
Line a rubber band around the jar at the height where your starter begins and sit the starter in a warm spot to ferment for 48hrs.
After 48hrs, the starter should have grown or doubled in size.
There should be a strong smell of sourness, but this will get lighter and sweeter over the next few feeds.
The texture should be soft, glutenous with small air pockets on the top. All a good sign the starter is on the right track.
Day 3 (Step 2)
After 48hrs, discard all but 125g of your starter.
Now remember how I told you to measure the weight of your jar? Weighing the jar prior will let you workout exactly how much weight should be left in the jar.
Eg. Say my jar weighs 300g, then you will need to discard until your jar weighs 425g?
300g Jar + 125g of starter = 425g 👌
So discard all but 125g of starter and then feed 125g of organic plain flour (yes now we switch to plain flour) and 125g of filtered room temperature water.
Mix it all together, scrap any mixture off the side, put the lid back on, line the rubber band around the jar at the height where your starter begins and return the starter to a warm spot to ferment for 24hrs.
Whole grain flour contains more organisms to feed the yeasts and bacteria which is great for getting your starter going, but feed on a daily basis and it may be too much for your starter and may attract unfriendly bacteria.
Day 4 (Step 3)
Day 4 and the smell will be stronger, almost nail polish like.
But don’t fret, it will get better.
The appearance will look about the same as day 3 and more bubbles should appear through out the starter.
Repeat Step 2 and let starter stand for another 24hrs.
Day 5 and the smell will be less pungent and quite sweet with a subtle hint of sourness.
Bubbles should be more visible and depending on the fermenting activity of your starter, it should have grown quite a bit.
If not, don’t fret, like I said, mine took over a week before it showed any sign of noticeable activity.
It may be the temperature effecting the growth.
Repeat Step 2, remove all but 125g of starter and then feed 125g of organic plain flour and 125g of filtered room temperature water.
Mix it all together, scrap any mixture off the side, put the lid back on, line the rubber band around the jar at the height where your starter begins and return the starter to a warm spot to ferment for another 24hrs.
Come day 6 and your starter should be “mature” and is at its final stage of fermenting before it’s ready to be used and stored in the fridge.
The starter should have noticeably doubled in size with lots of air pockets on display.
Repeat step 2 and remove all but 125g of starter and then feed 125g of organic plain flour and 125g of filtered room temperature water.
Let starter stand at room temperature and if it continues to double in size within 8hrs or less, then your starter is now “active” and is ready to be used or stored in the fridge for once a week feeding.
If not, continue the discarding and feeding process every 8hrs (thats discarding and feeding twice a day) until the starter have double in size within 8hrs.
This time use organic wholemeal flour to give the starter a boost. Then return to organic plain flour for the following feeds.
Again, don’t panic, it “will” double in size.
At this stage of the process, the sourdough starters are like teenagers, they don’t want to cooperate, however give them time, and they will grow when they are ready to mature…😉
When the sourdough starter is active and is ready to be used, you can either store it in the fridge for weekly feeding or in its spot for daily feeding, if you plan to use it on a regular basis.
Sourdough starters kept outside of the fridge, over time will develop a stronger flavour compared to starters kept in the fridge.
Mature sourdough starter, won’t be as fickle as young starter, and will tolerate a missed or late feed here and there.
Let your starter feed for 3-4 hrs before returning the sourdough starter to the fridge.
This starter is a 100% hydration that’s equal part water and flour.
Hydration affects bread texture because of the way water and gluten (the protein responsible for providing most of the structure in bread) interact with one another.
A lower hydration, more flour, less water creates a thicker more dryer dough suited for harder baked goods.
A higher hydration, less flour, more water, creates a stickier, looser, wetter dough, suited for things that are lighter and more airy such as pizza dough, breads. High hydration creates more gas, giving you those lovely pocket holes in your final bake.
To make sourdough bread you only require roughly 2 tbsp of the starter to make the levain. Therefore you can reduce the qty if you feel 125g is too much to maintain. Or you can up the qty for recipes that requires more starters such as pancakes, bagels or pizza base that requires a cup or 2.
When you’re ready to bake, try my no knead sourdough recipe.
Link below 👇
And turn all that hard work into something beautiful, soft, chewy and delicious 😋
Well there you have it, that’s how you make sourdough starter from scratch!
It may seem very time consuming and daunting, however once you get started and get in the rhythm of it, it’s actually really easy.
Only requiring 5-10 min out of each day to discard and feed. And once the starters active, once a week, even easier!
I hope you do give it a try and let me know in the comment below how you went!