How to Start a Sourdough Starter from Scratch…and keep it alive!

So I, like many people, spent this quarantine with a brand new hobby: sourdough! Now, I had two options before I started, get a piece of starter from someone else or start one on my own. I decided to go the route of starting a sourdough starter from scratch. For any of you who are also thinking on embarking on this journey, here’s exactly how I did it and how I continue to keep it alive.

Let me start off by saying that having a starter is not nearly as tricky as everyone makes it out to be. Honestly, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. All you need to get started is a glass jar or container of some kind, flour and water.

Directions:

  1. Add one part flour to 3/4 part water. I started with 1/2 cup flour and just a bit less of water. Mix together and cover with a coffee filter or paper towel. Secure it with an elastic band and let sit.
  2. 24 hours later, discard half and feed with equal parts flour and 3/4 water. Mix, cover and let sit again.
  3. Repeat for the next week. Always ensuring you discard some before you re-feed it. If you don’t decide to discard any, your starter will grow quite large, since you have to feed it with equal parts flour.
  4. I found that mine was ready to use about one week in. I will say though, the first loaf didn’t turn out as fluffy as I would have liked. But as the starter matured, the bread just kept getting better and better.

 

Once my starter was producing bread I loved, which was about the third week, I started putting it in the fridge to “hibernate” when I wasn’t using it. This made the upkeep WAY easier and more manageable. Essentially, I would use part of the starter to make the bread, then feed it as normal, let it sit and “eat” for a few hours, then stick it in the fridge. I aimed to use my starter once a week, on Saturdays. So on Friday I would take it out and feed it to “wake” it up again. I would feed it again about 4 hours prior to when I was going to start the bread. This is the trick to making your bread airy and perfect.

 

Tips for the Best Sourdough Starter from Scratch

  • Clean out the jar every few weeks or so. Not necessarily a tip to make the starter better but just overall tip. Your jar will get pretty…gross after a while. So changing it frequently makes it look way better
  • Your starter is good to use once you notice bubbles and a sour smell.
  • Best time to use the starter in making bread is when the starter doubles in size after feeding. For my starter this is about 3-4 hours after feeding it. I like to put an elastic band around where the starter is so I can see how much it has risen.
  • Don’t be super crazy about exact measurements and always use a little less water than flour. The key thing is that there are equal parts starter, flour and a bit less water whenever you are feeding the starter. That being said, being super exact in terms of cups, or grams isn’t really necessary. I found that this was the best thing for me in terms of keeping the upkeep realistic.

 

And there it is y’all, how I made my own sourdough starter from scratch. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you. So if you are thinking about it, and are concerned about taking the time, just do it! You will not regret it.

 

For a recipe on making bread with the starter, click here or watch me do it start to finish below!

 

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