Making A Sourdough Starter
Making a sourdough starter is easy! All you need is flour, water and a little bit of patience (that’s the hard part). The process is almost as good as your first sourdough loaf!
First lets talk about wild yeast.
What is wild yeast?
Wild yeast is key to our sourdough starter!
Before we used active-dry yeast we used wild yeast which lives everywhere. Domestic commercial yeast replaced wild yeast because it is easier for companies to produce and its easier for bakers to store and use. It also proves breads and pastries in a fraction of the time.
Wild yeast needs more looking after and can be finicky if its not kept in the right environment. It also needs to be fed regularly to keep active. Wild yeast also likes cooler temperatures, acidic enviroments and works a lot slower when proving breads. The reason we still use wild yeast today is because it’s amazing stuff! The flavours and textures we can get from wild yeast are not contest to breads made with commercial yeast. The flavours are complex and interesting and no sourdough starter is the same. Also the texture it gives is on another planet!
What is a sourdough starter?
A sourdough stater is how we cultivate the wild yeast in a form that we can use for baking. Since wild yeast also lives in flour the easiest way to make the starter is simply combine flour and water at let it sit several days. I used 50g of strong unbleached bread flour and 50ml of filtered water.
After a day or two bubbles will start to form in the starter indicating that the wild yeast has become active and is multiplying. To keep our starter happy we feed it for the next 5 days with equal quantities of flour and tepid filtered water. Once the starter is bubbling and frothy with a sour smell your starter is ready to use for baking.
I tend to use half my starter every time I bake and again feed with equal quantities of flour and water. To keep your starter really active and feed every day or two disgarding (or baking with) half the starter. If I’m going away or not going to use my starter for a while I will feed it and keep in the fridge feeding every now and again to keep active. By putting it in the fridge it slows the feeding and multiplying process right down.
You can make a starter using any flour. As you can see in the picture i have a white starter and a rye starter. Over time your starters flavour will change and that sour taste in a good sourdough will become more powerful and complex.
Make your starter today and get ready for some serious baking!
Sourdough bread blog post coming soon!