How to make sourdough starter.
It isn’t hard to create your own sourdough bread starter. All you need is organic stoneground white flour and water, some basic equipment and the right conditions.
You need a warm room to get a sourdough starter going: not hot and not cold, just a room that is pleasant to be in; a non-reactive container is essential to make and store your sourdough starter in. I prefer using stoneware jars or glass kilner jars, but food grade plastic is fine too. It is important to remember that a starter is acidic so it will react with certain metals.
You will need a whisk to incorporate air, and a breathable cover or a lid such as a clean piece of cotton or a loose fitting disposable shower cap.
It is important to leave your starter in a space where it can’t catch wild yeast, i.e. with no other cultured foods nearby. So put away the cheese, any moldy fruit or beer, or there will be a cross over and you might not get the kind of yeasts that you need.
Put 200g of organic stoneground wholemeal flour along with 200ml of water at 30C in a large jar. Whisk the mixture vigorously and incorporate air then cover with the breathable lid. Then simply allow your mixture to sit in a warm place for 48 hours.
After 48 hours you might be lucky enough to see some bubbles, which is a good indicator that organisms are present. If you don’t then do not worry, they can take a few days to get going. Repeat the feeding by removing half the mixture and replacing with 100g organic stoneground white flour flour and 100g of water at 28C. Stir vigorously, cover and again wait another 12 to 24 hours.
From now on you need to remove half of the starter before every feeding and discard it. This way the starter can multiply in organisms without your jar overflowing.
10 – 14 days later the sourdough starter should be beautifully bubbly (it will certainly be quicker that this in warm weather) and should have enough yeasts and bacteria to be active enough to bake with. On the very rare occasion you might find that it smells or tastes horrible, or that the bread and other baked goods it produces are not at all pleasant in flavour. If this is the case then it means that the bacteria that has occupied your sourdough starter is not the right kind, and the lactic acid, which is what makes the starter inhospitable to other organisms hasn’t got going. You need to discard this, start over and move the location of your culture to a different room.
More often that not I find that people who are having the, most difficulties have meddled with the process. Be patient. You don’t need hot water, rhubarb, live yeast, grapes, or your grannies socks or anything else to get yeast going. Yeast is naturally present in the grain that you use and for the best results use stoneground organic wholemeal flour, because the grain has not been sprayed with anti fungicide.
In so many ways getting hold of an established culture is easier than the process of getting your own started. When people first start trying to bake sourdough bread I recommend using this as an option. It is simply faster and simpler to get an established starter and also more reliable as it already contains active yeasts that have been populating the dough over a long time. A long established starter should be stable, active, and resilient and because of its established bacteria and yeast. This way your first attempts at making sourdough bread will be guaranteed to produce a well flavoured sourdough bread. If you can’t wait, or you have difficulty getting your starter going, you can buy sourdough starter from us here.