I know sourdough has become something to enjoy and learn to do for loads of people and creating a sourdough starter is where it all starts.
My love for bread making started when I made my first Artisan bread loaf, in late 2020. It quickly became my favourite thing to do every Friday evening, proof my dough so I could bake it the next morning. I guess you can say, it was a natural progression for me to become interested in sourdough – right!?
It was actually during a time where I was off of social media, for an entire month, that I began to make my sourdough starter. During that time, I found myself appreciating the simple things in life that brought me joy – this became one of those things.
I had tried a month prior, after being persuaded by one of my favourite homesteader’s, Lisa | Farmhouse on Boone. She’s a beautiful mama of seven, who makes the farm life look and feel so authentically simple, yet exciting to me. Her encouragement led me to jump head first into the whole sourdough world. I did it so fast that I just wasn’t prepared. I didn’t give myself time to learn and understand what I was actually doing. My first try only lasted 3 days and I gave up (never give up!).
My second attempt, however, was much more calculated. I had a ton of videos and articles in my arsenal this time, with a much clearer idea of what to expect. And that’s what I’m sharing with you today – so let’s get to it!
How I got started.
So, what is a sourdough starter and why did I want to make one?
A sourdough starter is an active colony of wild yeast and good bacteria, cultivated by combining flour and water; allowing it to ferment the grain as it consumes its starch. This process actually helps pre-digest the proteins (gluten) within the flour and allows for the nutrients to become more potent and bio-available. It’s really that simple, my starter became a living organism and that was so cool to me!
The beauty of a sourdough starter is that it’s a traditional way of bread making and I love it! The thought of feeding my family good, wholesome, nutritious food, truly brings me joy.
Before I got started, I purchased an OXO Kitchen Scale and I’m so happy I did. Most of the bread recipes I’ve come across use grams instead of cups for more precise measurements – plus it helps me use less dishes 🙈. I also discovered how important it is to use an organic, unbleached All Purpose flour, instead of a bleached All Purpose flour. This is because the bleached flour has a depleted population of microbes and wild yeast that is naturally coated on the grain – and you want both! Lastly, I found that the water quality can make or break a starter. The chlorine in tap water, will likely kill any of the good bacteria that is trying to form; always use filtered water.
So, after all that research, I grabbed a wide mouth mason jar, linen tea towel, rubber band, and got started.
Recipe: - 50g Organic, unbleached All Purpose flour (1/3 cup) - 50g filtered water (1/4 cup) - Room Temperature
I mixed the flour and water (with a clean utensil) until it looked like a thick muffin batter. I then placed the tea towel over the mouth of the mason jar, secured it with the rubber band, and placed it in the warmest part of my kitchen (one of my cupboards reaches 80°F and that’s perfect for fermentation 👏🏽 ).
I let it sit for 24 hrs, then discarded 80% of the starter (into the trash, compost or feed it to your chickens!) and repeated this process with the remaining starter each day, for 12 days.
Day 1 - mixed 50g flour + 50g water in glass jar, covered loosely and waited 24 hrs Day 2 - Discarded 80% of the starter and added fresh flour and water (50g each), covered loosely and waited 24 hours Day 3-4 - repeat Day 5-12 - repeated this process (discarding 80% and adding fresh flour and water) BUT I did this twice daily (ever 12 hrs) instead of every 24 hrs
I did it right!
This part of the process has the most anticipation. You wonder if what you’re doing is actually working. You combine the flour and water the first couple days and don’t really notice a difference, however, the third day is so rewarding.
Most attest to their starters becoming very active and bubbly with a faint fruity-vinegary smell on the third day. This got me very excited and I honestly didn’t want to discard 80% of the starter but I knew I had to, to keep the process going.
Why do you have to discard?
I learned that the flour and water you give to the remaining starter, actually “feeds” the bacteria that is forming in the fermentation process. So the more bacteria (starter) you leave behind, the more flour and water you’ll have to give it each day, to properly “feed” the amount of bacteria that is remaining. Also, when you leave a small amount of the starter behind, after each time you discard, the stronger the remaining bacteria becomes. And that’s what you want, a strong starter army!
Don’t give up!
After the excitement of day three, days four through seven had me questioning myself because of how calm my starter became.
Most of the starter recipes I found, all but promised me that by day seven I would be able to use my starter in recipes – only that was not the case for me. And because of these statements, I got so worried that I had done something wrong in the process.
Did I use the wrong flour? Is my cupboard too warm? Is my water not filtered like I thought it was? All of these questions led me to a Simple Farmhouse Life by Lisa podcast, where she answered a ton of questions and gave the best advice. All I needed to do was “not give up!”
From her suggestion, I began to feed my starter (the above recipe) two times a day starting on day five. Once in the morning and again at night. I didn’t change anything else – I simply trusted the process.
He’s alive and well!
After listening to her suggestion, I continued to feed my starter 50g flour and 50g water twice a day, and finally by day twelve it was fully established! I promise it happened out of nowhere. There was no activity on day eleven but on day twelve it was fully alive and I was so happy about it!
This showed me that every starter is different. Some starters take seven days, while others take twelve. There are multiple factors that can impact how many days it will take for your starter to become established. The temperature of your house can make a huge difference.
Sourdough starter performs best at 70°-85°F
The type of flour can contribute to this as well, bleached v.s unbleached and the amount of protein present in the grain. The key is to keep going; even when you don’t see much happening. As long as you know you’ve fed your starter with flour and water everyday, and even began feeding it twice a day – don’t give up! I promise it’s working!
This reminds me of what we may experience when we pray for something specific. We wonder when God is going to answer our prayer. Am I praying wrong? Do I need to pray more? Although the Bible does tell us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to have faith in Him as we pray (Matthew 21:22), you must know, that as a born again believer, God hears your prayers (Jeremiah 29:12) and He will answer you (Jeremiah 33:3). So stay encouraged and keep praying, God is faithful to His word, you can trust in Him! - Want to read more on prayer? Check out my blog, where I discuss prayer a little deeper.
The Fun Part!
Once my starter was established, I had so much fun trying new recipes. I will continue to test out ways I’d like to use the discard and my freshly fed starter (outside of Sourdough bread making, of course). My husband often walks in and asks me, “what are you creating now?”. It’s so much fun to be in my kitchen, trying new things! I’m creating and adapting some delicious recipes (pancakes, crackers, dinner pies, etc.) and once they’re ready, I’ll share them here as a blog post!
The fun is really in the whole process of learning to make a sourdough starter, but it’s so rewarding after you’ve put in all that time and effort, as it begins to yield what you were expecting. It’s such an awesome feeling!
So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT
Think you’ll make your own Sourdough starter? Tried it before but didn’t go as planned? Maybe you have some questions about it – let me know below! I’d love to have a discussion going about all things sourdough starter. Happy baking friends!
Love & Blessings,