Welcome to the fascinating world of sourdough! There is something special about taking bubbling starter, flour, and water and creating a crusty light loaf of bread. Here are a few helpful tips I have gleaned on my own personal sourdough journey!
Sourdough starter can be made using flour and water. Many experienced bakers will tell you the best success is by getting a mature starter from a friend or online. An inexperienced baker will not know what a good starter should look or even smell like. A new starter works well for pizza, waffles, pancakes, crackers, and noodles but will not be strong enough to rise 100% whole grain bread. A mature starter will hold up in refrigeration without being feed for weeks whereas a new starter will starve much quicker and weaken by refrigeration. Starter can be purchased from www.kingarthurflour.com and Cultures for Health
Feeding your starter: Starter that is stored at room temperature needs to be fed daily and is much better if fed twice a day. Feeding the correct ratio is extremely important. The proper ratio is 1 part starter-1 part-flour-2/3 part water. Do not use chlorinated water to feed your starter as that can weaken and kill the starter. The day before I want to make bread I will take 1/2 cup of starter and feed it 3 times, morning, lunchtime, and just before I go to bed* The reason I only use 1/2 cup is that the starter doubles every time it is fed. In a short time you will end up with gallons of starter if you are not careful. Starter that is fed properly will have a sweet yeasty smell and will rise to a peak and hold that peak for hours without deflating. Notice the thickness of the starter below–I have much better success in making bread with a thicker starter. Also, take note of the strands of gluten.
Storing your starter: Starter can be kept in the fridge until you are ready to bake with it than *feed as stated above. I store the starter in a glass quart jar or my favorite — a Pampered Chef Glass Measuring bowl. Starter that is stored in the fridge may get a watery, tan liquid on top. This is called a hooch and means your starter is hungry. Pour off the hooch and feed it adding a bit more water if needed.
You may store your starter in the fridge for weeks without feeding. To reactivate it, remove from fridge and feed it numerous times. You may notice that it falls much quicker than normal the first time you feed it. That is because it is very hungry and eating through its food rather quickly.
Your starter should not get moldy but if it does it is a sign of contamination. If it is surface mold, use a spoon to scrape of the top layer. With another clean spoon get a teaspoon of starter from the bottom of the jar that is free of mold. Place it into a clean container and continue to feed it.
Sourdough starter is actually very forgiving and not as temperamental as some folks think. Here are some of my favorite items for feeding and storing my sourdough starter.
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You will find many recipes using sourdough starter in the spiral bound 600+ page Around the Family Table Cookbook. All recipes are sugar-free and label with the correct fuel. This book is not affiliated with THM but was inspired and formulated following the THM guidelines. Books can be purchased using this link. You may also request a small jar of sourdough starter with the purchase of a cookbook. Buy It Now.