Oh, how I love to grow things in my kitchen! Just this morning I squealed in excitement over my thyme herb plant sprouting it’s way out of the soil. There is so much reward in having living things to nurture and care for in your kitchen. I have tropical plants, succulents, cacti, flowering plants, and…
my most abundant life form, yeast and bacteria. Don’t worry, I don’t have a nasty bacteria infestation in my kitchen. I culture it in a contained atmosphere :). No wild bad bacteria in the Voth kitchen.. well, to my best ability I keep it all clean. But what bacteria I purposely have, I have in the form of kombucha, vinegar, sauerkraut, kimchi, other fermented veggies, kefir, and sourdough of course. If you are confused as to why I would culture yeast and bacteria in my kitchen, take a look into gut health and what is needed for it. Your body needs bacteria. Your gut specifically needs it for healthy digestion. Now don’t freak out, there is such a thing as good bacteria. Your body has all sorts of bacteria, good and “bad” living in and on it.
Traditionally, food was preserved through a fermentation process before one had refrigerators and canning capabilities. Yeast in particular was cultured and used in bread which is the agent that makes bread rise. Sourdough is exactly what that is – your yeast culture. If you have never heard of sourdough, or want to know more specifically about it’s health benefits, check out my blog post, why you should have sourdough in your kitchen.
For those of you that are already convinced they should have their own sourdough starter, I’ve listed the how to, below.
Things you need:
The wider the opening the better. The more surface area of your sourdough exposed to air the better. A quart size mason jar will do. If you plan to bake a lot. you can get a gallon jar, one just like mine, here or find one locally (which I encourage). Either will work. It really depends on how much you plan to use. I will use a gallon jar when I know I’ll be baking up a storm on the weekend and need several cups of starter for my recipes. However, the majority of time I’ll use a quart mason jar.
A wooden spoon
Used for feeding your sourdough. Some use a baking dough whisk like this to better break up the clumps of dry flour, however, any wooden spoon works fine.
Recipe – For getting your sourdough starter started
Begin by mixing equal parts water and flour. That is,
60 grams organic whole WHEAT flour
60 grams water – preferably filtered
Cover jar with a cheese cloth and rubber band or slightly leave lid ajar and leave it at room temperature.
After 24 hours, check and see if your starter is bubbly. If it’s not that’s fine. It will get there.
Use your scale to reach 60 grams of starter then add,
60 grams organic unbleached ALL-PURPOSE flour
60 grams water – preferably filtered
At this point you will see bubbles starting to form.
Day 4. – Day 7.
Repeat the process on Day 3.
You’ll know the sourdough is ready when you notice a rise in your starter dough since your last feeding, typically doubling in size. The starter should also be looking very bubbly — even frothy. If you stir the starter, it will be webbed with bubbles. It should also be smelling quite sour and pungent.
Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter
Don’t freak! You don’t have to feed it daily forever, read up and you’ll see. After you’ve started your starter as it should be bubbly and ready to go, you can start maintaining it in a way that that best meets your cooking needs.
How Much To Feed Your Starter
Feeding your starter means adding equal weights of flour and water and mixing it well. The ratio of starter to water to flour should be 1:1:1. The amount you feed your sourdough starter depends on how much of it you have to start with. When practical, you want to approximately double the amount of starter you have each time you feed it. An example of not practical is if you already have a quart of starter on hand and typically only use a cup of starter in your recipe. It doesn’t make sense to have to double the existing quart of starter. In this case, I take out the excess amount and then double what remains. A great way to not waste your excess sourdough is to make pancakes. Here is a recipe for ya.
How Often To Feed Your Starter
Ideally, you’d want to feed your started 1 time 24 hours before starting your recipe. The starter should double it’s size and start falling before feeding again.
Where To Store Your Sourdough
When you’ve fed your sourdough starter and are waiting for it to rise/ferment so you can use it in a recipe, you want to store it at room temp with a cloth over the top. When you aren’t prepping your starter to be used in a recipe, store in the fridge (more explained below).
How To Know When Your Starter Is Ready To Use In A Recipe
Your starter is ready to use when it is at it’s peak in rising and about to start falling. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 12 hours before your starter doubles in size. There are many factors that are involved in how fast or slow the rise happens such as the temperature of your home, the density of your starter, where it’s rising, etc. Get to know your starter. I’ve also read that if you put some of your starter in water and it floats, then it’s ready to use. After your starter goes through it’s cycle of rising to twice it’s size and falling back down, approximately within 24 hours, you will need to feed it again. or…
What To Do With Your Sourdough Starter While You Aren’t Using It For An Extended Period
You can put your starter on hold by putting it in the fridge. The coolness of your fridge slows the fermentation process of your starter. That means it can go a lot longer without being fed. Store your sourdough in the fridge for up to a week. It’s necessary then to only feed it once a week and then you can put it back into the fridge.
Important: to avoid any mold build up on the side of your jar, wash weekly.
Wa La, super easy. Doesn’t even feel like work once you establish your routine.