I have jumped into the realm of homemade sourdough, which means maintaining a healthy sourdough starter. There are many different ways to obtain a sourdough starter, you can get some from someone you know (let me know if you want some), you can order it online, or you can make one from scratch. I went the “from scratch” root. I found a good recipe on Pinterest, yes I am obsessed, and jumped in with both feet.
I have always loved sourdough, it’s my favorite type of bread ever. There is nothing quite like the tangy flavor that a good sourdough has. Mmmmmmmmmm…….. But I was always a little intimidated by the idea of using and maintaining a starter. I thought it was going to be this huge prolonged process, that was going to take up all my time or it wouldn’t be worth it. Man, let me just tell you, I WAS SO WRONG! I keep kicking myself for not doing this sooner. No joke, my sourdough starter is the best invested time I have made in my kitchen for I can’t even tell you how long. If you have been wanting to do join the world of sourdough bakers, here’s your chance.
What you’ll need to start out
2 cups of flour
2 cups of milk (I like to use whole milk, it makes the starter a bit thicker. You can use water, but like I said I like milk because it makes it thicker)
Medium mixing bowl (do not use metal)
Clean dish towel
Combine the flour and milk in the mixing bowl, cover with the towel and place in a warm spot. I put mine on top of my fridge, that way it was out of the way and I didn’t have to worry about my kids getting into it. You are now going to have to wait anywhere from 3-10 days until the starter is useable. During this waiting period you need to make sure to stir your new starter every day. Once it has a sour smell and small bubbles are rising to the top you have a useable and healthy, if still young, sourdough starter.
Once it’s ready
Now you are going to need to storage container for your starter. It needs to be at least 2 quarts in size (trust me on this, I used an old 1 quart yogurt container at first and it just wasn’t big enough), non-metal, with a loose fitting lid. This is what I now use:
It’s a 64oz glass container that I got at Walmart for like $5 and it was totally worth it. Anyway. Once you transfer your starter from the mixing bowl to you container simply put it in the fridge.
Maintaining your starter
This is the part that I was originally scared of. I thought if I made a sourdough starter I’d be stuck baking sourdogh bread every other day… Nope, not the case. A sourdough starter that is kept in the fridge can go 7-10 days without being touched and stay perfectly healthy (mine usually doesn’t go that long becuase I am obsessed with sourdough…). Here is what you need to do to maintain your sourdough:
Simply replace the amount you use with equal amounts of flour and milk (eg. Use 1 cup, stir 1 cup flour and 1 cup milk into your starter), this is called feeding. I usually let mine sit out overnight after I feed it to get it going really well before I put it back in the fridge. If you don’t end up using your starter in 10 days simply throw out a cup and feed it as stated above.
-Liquid may rise to the top of the starter and that’s fine, even if it’s dark. Just give it a stir and you’re good to go.
-Try to keep at least 2 cups of starter on hand, most recipes call for at least 1 cup of starter and you need something left to feed or you will have to start all over.
-I usually try to take my starter out of the fridge, unless the recipe states otherwise, at least a couple hours before I use it. That way it has time to wake up and get bubbly.
-If a recipe calls for a “fed starter” simply take out half as much starter as the recipe calls for, feed it (and your starter of course), and let it sit in a warm spot for at least 4 hours. Then measure out however much the recipe calls for, returning whatever you don’t end up using to you starter container.
-The realm of sourdough does require you to plan ahead a it more, but trust me, it’s worth it.