Food Fridays – How to Make a Sourdough Starter

Earlier this week, we talked about how good sourdough is for you.  If you missed it, check it out.  Another reason sourdough is so healthy for you is because those beneficial bacteria help to digest your food.  We eat a lot of food that is actually really difficult for our bodies to digest (like granola, which is toted as a health food!).  When you make sourdough bread, it has to sit and rise for awhile – traditionally overnight.  During that time, the good bacteria are “pre-digesting” the grain for you.  This makes it a whole lot gentler on your digestive system.  Just another great reason to make that yummy sourdough!

Today we’re going to make our starter.  It’s going to take a few days, so hang in there with me.  I promise it’s really easy though!  Get your materials ready.  Just a note: any type of flour you have on hand should work just fine.

Day 1:  In your Mason jar or glass bowl, combine one cup of flour with one cup of water.  Cover the container with a piece of cheesecloth, and secure with a rubber band or string.  Find a warm place out of direct sunlight (a corner of the kitchen or on top of the refrigerator works well) and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, stirring occasionally.

Day 2:  Stir the mixture and return to its warm spot!  Large bubbles should start to form in the mixture soon, if not already.  That’s those good bacteria workin’ it!

Day 3:  Next we need to feed our soon-to-be sourdough starter!  (All living things need to be fed, right?)  So after that first 48 hours, add another 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water, stirring well.  Return to that warm, comfy spot.  (You may have to use a larger container at this point if your starting container was on the small size.)

Day 4:  Repeat Day 3, adding 1 cup each of flour and water.  The mixture should definitely be bubbling by now.

Day 5:  Dump your starter into a bowl and wash the starter container.  Put one cup of the starter back into your clean container, and feed with ¾ cup flour and 1 cup of water.  The remaining starter in the bowl is called cast-off.  You can use it for any number of sourdough recipes, but it won’t be quite as strong enough to rise bread yet.  A quick internet search will find a whole slew of sourdough recipes (like pancakes, pizza dough, biscuits, even desserts) that you can use your cast-off for.

For the stronger mixture to use in bread, repeat the feeding process (1 cup each of flour and water) every 12 hours for another three days.  Then your sourdough starter will be finished!

Get working on your starter and check back early next week for instructions to maintain it long-term (Yes, you can kill it.  I’ve done it).  Then for next week’s “Food Fridays” I’ll post my favorite sourdough recipe!

6 thoughts on “Food Fridays – How to Make a Sourdough Starter

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  2. Pingback: The lovely joys of potty training | Monica Jacobson

  3. Pingback: Food Fridays – Sourdough English Muffin Recipe « A Hopeful Homestead

  4. I’m a little confused on this part:

    “For the stronger mixture to use in bread, repeat the feeding process (1 cup each of flour and water) every 12 hours for another three days.”

    Do you feed the castoff in the bowl three more days to make bread or feed what you put back in the jar?

    • Sorry for not being clear! You feed the part you put back in the jar. This will be your sourdough starter that you’ll keep going long term. The cast-off is “extra” that you can use for other things. The castoff isn’t quite as strong, so I would use it for something like pancakes, biscuits, etc that doesn’t need to be left to rise.

      Hope this helps clear up the confusion!

  5. Pingback: Maintaining your Sourdough Starter « A Hopeful Homestead

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