Learn how to make this easy from scratch active Sourdough Starter in my detailed tutorial. An active Sourdough starter is the essential building block for making Artisan Bread and much more.
My family is nuts about my homemade crunchy sourdough breads, but its not just the breads. They love my sourdough pancakes, sourdough waffles, sourdough bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls and the list goes on…. I just have to face the facts, we are a bread eating family, well except my second son, William. He takes the bread off of every sandwich I make him. For William, I make my homemade sourdough tortillas and he’s happy.
These crunchy loaves of Artisan bread don’t last long around here. I made the one above Saturday morning before I left. I asked my boys not to touch it until I could get home and photograph it.
I think we finally cut into it around 2pm Saturday, it was gone within 24 hours.
My bread recipe is such an easy no fuss recipe that I don’t mind that it gets eaten so fast. I didn’t spend a bunch of time kneading it. All it takes is a few minutes at night to mix 4 ingredients and set it aside till the next day to bake. Check out my Easy Overnight Artisan Sourdough bread here.
Good sourdough bread starts with a healthy and active starter. Here I will give you the basics and important tips to making a healthy starter that will give you years upon years of healthy breads.
Easy Tips For a Healthy Sourdough Starter
- Don’t neglect it. Sounds simple but it happens often. This is especially important in the beginning. Once you get an active starter, it can sometimes take a beating and keep on kicking. But don’t go overboard on this
- Set a time to keep from forgetting to feed it
- If you can get a few tablespoons from a friends starter, it will give you a jump start.
- You can order starter additives to get your starter going faster but its not necessary. My favorite site
- Use good quality ingredients. Do not use tap water or bleached flour
- Rye flour or Whole Wheat is what is recommended, but I use All purpose mostly
- Vigorously stir the starter to incorporate more air and wild yeast
Easy From Scratch Sourdough Starter Ingredients and Supplies
- Distilled Water
- All Purpose, Organic, Unbleached Flour
- Sourdough Inoculation Starter, like this one here by cultures for health(optional)
- Mason Jar or Glass Bowl, I use the medium bowl in this set when I am bulking up my starter for baking days, and regular pint size wide mouth mason jars for smaller storage of my starter. Ive also baked in it, and ferment my pancakes in the largest bowl. Click here for my Overnight Sourdough Pancakes with Buttermilk
- Rubber Spatula, I like this set here
- Lid or breathable fabric and rubberband
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Day 1: Getting Started
Measure 1/4 cup (25 grams) of All Purpose Flour into a mason jar or bowl. Also measure 1/8 (25 grams) cup distilled water into same bowl. Whisk all ingredients together vigorously. Scrape down the sides to keep your container clean. The flour will dry out and get crusty on the sides if you don’t. This isn’t the end of the world but I like to keep things clean.
Cover your jar loosely with a lid, or rubber band a tea towel or coffee filter around the top. If using a large bowl you can simple put a plate over the top. The point here is to keep debris out but allow oxygen in and gasses to escape. Ive used each of these options at different times. In the beginning I would use a small wide mouth jar or small glass bowl. Theres just no need for a large vessel at this point.
Set it aside in a warm place. Somewhere out of the way so that it can just do its thing. You won’t see any action this day.
*As a side note, in the past I have weighed my starter. I don’t find this extremely necessary but for those who need things to be highly technical, just use equal parts, 25grams of flour and water. On discard days, you will discard 50g of starter.
Day 2: Repeat
Day two is simple and easy. Open your jar and add another 1/4 cup of All Purpose unbleached flour and 1/8 cup of Distilled water. Vigorously whisk them together to incorporate some oxygen and wild yeast. Scrape down your sides, cover and set aside. Thats all for day two.
Day 3: Discard Day
To keep from having sourdough starter overflowing your jar, you will need to discard half of it. Trust me here, you don’t want to keep doubling your starter. It feels wasteful but its necessary. Composting is a great way to repurpose the discards and is what I do whenever I need to boost my starter after a long hiatus in the back of my fridge. Discard 1/2 of your starter. I just eyeball this but if you are weighing your ingredients, discard 50 grams.
If you see action today don’t get too excited. There is a battle going on in your jar between good and bad bacteria and yeast and you need to complete the whole 7 days to give the good bacteria a chance to win that fight.
Just like Day 2, add 1/4 (25g) All Purpose flour (Rye or Wheat), and 1/8 cup (25grams) Distilled water. Vigorously Stir, Cover and set aside.
Day 4, 5, 6, and 7: Discard and Replenish
The next 4 days you will do the exact same as you do on day 3. However, now you will increase that to twice a day, morning and evening. Discard half, and replenish your starter when you get up in the morning and then again before you go to bed at night. You should start to see bubbles in your starter and eventually you will see it rise and then it will fall by the end of the day. If this happens sooner you can feed it sooner. It’s like a newborn at this stager, you feed it when it’s hungry not necessarily on a schedule.
By day 7 you should have a pretty good starter going. At this point most starters aren’t quite mature enough to really give you a good bread rise. This will happen closer to day 14. However, there is no need to waste all that starter discard anymore. Your good bacteria and yeast have now won enough of the battle to produce some desired rise in other sourdough foods. For ideas that use up your discard check out my No-Fuss Sourdough Discard Pancakes. My kids get so excited when I make these.
Low Maintenance Storage
Once your starter is good and active and you’ve made all the loaves of bread you and your family can take, or your just tired of feeding this new pet two or more times a day, you may begin to wonder how to store your starter for the short and long term.
- For short breaks, feed your starter and store it in the back of the refrigerator. The cold temperatures slow down the yeast and bacteria, but they do not stop it completely. Your starter will continue to ferment. However, I have left me starter closed up in the back of my fridge for 6 months or more and when I pulled it out and revived it for a day or two, it was back to full rising activity.
- Dehydrate your starter. This is a great way to preserve your starter for the long term. However, it’s incredibly important that you do not dehydrate it with heat. Heating your starter will kill the good microbes. Its best to dehydrate your starter on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spread thin, at room temperature. This can take a few days. Store it in an air tight container or ship it to a friend.
- Lastly you can freeze your starter. Thats right! You can freeze it. Similar to the refrigerator method, the yeast and bacteria will simply go to sleep and once you thaw it and begin feeding again your starter will become active and lively again.
Warning: Your Easy Sourdough Starter could experience this.
If your starter begins to separate when stored in the refrigerator and you see liquid on top, this is called hooch. It’s completely normal when not fed but should be avoided. Hooch causes your starter to become sour and can give some undesirable off flavors. It can even smell like fingernail polish remover (acetone). What has happened is your good bacteria and wild yeasts have run out of food and have started to die off.
Do Not Despair your Easy Sourdough Starter isn’t ruined
However, do not despair if you see hooch. Even if you see grey or almost black hooch, your starter can be revived. The first thing you need to do is pour it off. Try to get as much as you can to prevent the off flavors being mixed back in. Then you will need to feed your starter a few times over the next few days to revive it enough to bake with.
This last year, when I was pregnant and exhausted. I had very little energy and we survived off of pre-made meals. I stuck my starter in the back of our fridge, on the top shelf where its coldest, and forgot about it for probably my entire pregnancy. About a week ago I pulled it out and fed it twice a day for a few days and now its so active it wants to be fed 3 or more times a day.
I do not measure exact quantities when it comes to my sourdough starter. Truth be told, I just make sure my starter is thick. I go more by feel. When I first started out I used to weigh or measure everything, but now days I just get it done. My sourdough looks amazing. I just remember to keep my starter a bit thicker. If using measuring cups, always try to use about half the amount of water.
Comment below with your favorite Sourdough recipes or what recipes you would like me to write about.
For more recipes and homesteading ideas check out my other website, Living Langton Homestead