When the Coronavirus forced people into their homes for months – I like many others looked for hobbies to ease the boredom. Many turned to creating a sourdough starter and to bread making. To be honest – I was really late to jump on this bandwagon. When the first lockdown was ordered in March 2020 – we were 10 days into our kitchen renovation. We lived for 3 months without a functioning kitchen (no power hookups, no counters, no stove, and no sink/running water). We had a fridge and relied on our BBQ and microwave for cooking, and of course a lot of take-out. The time wasn’t right to start a food hobby.
When the lockdown restrictions eased in late spring/early summer, the contractors were able to complete our dream kitchen. We love our kitchen and are so grateful for it! With our dream kitchen complete, we were overjoyed to be able to cook real food from scratch again.
Where to Start?
We did our research and it seemed easy enough and the process would take 7 days. Basic everyday tools and ingredients is all that you need. This must be why it became so popular during the pandemic with increased restrictions on leaving home. I can see why people were turning to this hobby – besides delicious homemade sourdough bread.
After 7 seven days of building up the starter, we were ready to enjoy it. Naturally, we made sourdough bread, but over the last few months, we’ve learned to incorporate the starter into many other recipes like banana bread, chocolate cake, cobblers, and my favourite – pizza!
Getting Started – Tools and Ingredients
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You need just 5 things to get started with your sourdough starter.
- Glass bowl (our research showed that glass is preferred over metal as the metals can interfere with the starter) – we rotate between a large glass measuring bowl similar to this Anchor Hocking 77898 Batter Bowl and the Ikea 365+ 3.3L glass jar
- Wooden Spoon Oxo 1058024NA Spoon, Beach Wood, Large, 11-Inch
- All purpose flour (we buy organic in bulk from Costco)
- Filtered water (we use the filtered water from our fridge tap)
- Patience – it will take 7 days to build up your starter but could take up to 2 weeks to cultivate the yeast as it is dependent on factors in your environment.
Steps to Make a Sourdough Starter from Scratch
Day 1: In your glass bowl add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Mix vigorously, making sure to get lots of air into the batter. You want to trap the native yeast in the air into the starter so it can feed off the flour. Place a clean cotton or linen kitchen towel over the bowl and let sit on the counter for 24 hours. Make sure not to seal the starter, it needs to breathe which is why we top with a towel and not a lid or plastic wrap.
Days 2 to 5: After sitting for roughly 24 hours, your batter will be hungry. Discard 1/2 the batter. Add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Again, mix vigorously to add air into the batter. You will end up with too many starters if you don’t discard 1/2 each day. Your starter would also need more than a cup of floor to properly feed if you aren’t discarding.
Days 6 to 7: For the next 2 days you will feed your starter every 12 hours or twice a day. Same as you have been doing, discard 1/2 the batter. Add 1 cup flour and 1 cup water and mix vigorously.
How do I know if the starter is working?
If your starter is bubbly and puffs up a few hours after a feeding – you know it is active and well.
If you notice a crusty top or some darker spots on the top layer of the starter it likely is because it is hungry. Simply remove the crusty top and darker spots and feed your starter.
Sometimes the jar gets really crusty around the sides. Since I don’t put my starter to rest, I move my starter to a clean jar every other week. This is why I have 2 jars in my sourdough rotation.
How to Care for Sourdough Starter?
Proper care will ensure your starter remains healthy and active for years to comes.
The maintenance required will greatly depend on how often the starter is used in a given week. My starter is used 1-2 times during the week and 1-3 times over the weekend. For this reason, my starter has a permanent home on my kitchen counter. I keep a jar of flour beside the starter so that it is really easy to feed it daily.
If the starter is used once a week or fewer, it is best to put the starter to rest in the fridge.
Active Starter (use 2+ times per week)
To keep your sourdough starter active, feed it daily 1/2 to 1 cup flour and slightly less in water. Since I use my starter so often, I only discard if it gets a crusty top layer.
Resting Starter (use 1 or fewer times per week)
After feeding your start, cover with an airtight lid and place it in the fridge. On a weekly basis, feed the starter (discard the top crusty layer or about 1/2 to 1 cup prior to adding in fresh flour and water). Stir and place back in the fridge if you are not going to use it for a while. Don’t worry if you forgot – I’ve gone 2 weeks before without feeding and it was fine.
The night before you want to use it, remove it and place it on the counter. Feed the starter with 1 cup flour, some water, stir vigorously, and cover with a kitchen towel. By the next morning, the starter should have grown and be bubbly.
Now you are ready to start making delicious sourdough recipes.
Sourdough Pizza is the easiest in my opinion and I have an easy-to-follow guide!
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