Have questions about how to use sourdough starters? Here’s everything you need to know for a healthy starter to whip up tasty breads, waffles, and more!
Leavening with a fermented starter
A sourdough starter is the leavening for sourdough bread. Sourdough starter uses water, flour, and wild yeast (found in the flour) to ferment and catch air bubbles which will help sourdough loaf rise.
What you need to have on hand
Important tools and ingredients for a sourdough starter include a glass vessel with a loose-fitting lid to keep the starter in, a kitchen scale, and an instant-read thermometer. As for ingredients, unbleached flour is key. You can use organic organic rye flour or organic unbleached all-purpose flour, for example.
When beginning to make your starter, first record the weight of your empty jar. Put in 100g of flour, and 150g of water at about 85 degrees fahrenheit, and mix together to hydrate all the flour. Cover with a loose-fitting lid, write the date on a piece of tape on the jar, and let sit for 24 hours before your first feeding.
A feeding is when you get rid of some of the old mixture and add more flour, so that the starter can have nutrients to continue to develop. Take out enough starter so that the jar and starter weighs 70g plus the weight of the jar, and add 100g of flour and 115g of water, still 85 degrees. Let sit at room temperature for another 24 hours.
Lather, rinse, repeat
Notice the activity of your starter in bubbles and rise and fall streaks on the side. On days 2 and 3, repeat the feeding amounts from the first feeding. On day 4, repeat the feeding with 100g of water instead of 115g. Continue the feeding process every day; on day 6, only keep 50g of mature starter, and on day 7, keep 25g
Keep your sourdough starter going
As long as your starter is active (good rise and fall and streaking on the sides), continue the day 7 feeding indefinitely. Make sure to keep your starter alive (it’ll live pretty much indefinitely if you keep feeding it) by feeding it every 12-24 hours, and if you forget, just pick up the feeding again (don’t throw it out!).
Sourdough starters are surprisingly easy to use!
Sourdough starter seems complex, but is actually pretty simple if you follow these steps. However, lots of different people have different models for feeding amounts and which flours they use for their starter; this is just one person’s model.
Questions about sourdough starters to discuss on Ohlelo:
- Did anything surprise you about how to use a starter?
- How do your personal experiences with sourdough starter compare to this advice?
- What kinds of flour do you like to use for your sourdough starter?
- What things besides bread do you like to make with sourdough starter?
- Do you have other fermentation projects beyond sourdough starters?
Check out Joshua Weissman’s YouTube channel for more great food tips.