Making sourdough bread is fun and delicious, but it has one caveat: you do need a starter. Try making your own sourdough starter from scratch!
There are many ways you can get a starter without making it yourself. You can post on neighborhood groups on Facebook, request some on NextDoor, or simply ask someone that you know makes their own sourdough.
Most people are thrilled to share their starters! You may even luck out by calling a local bakery and asking them. They may guard their starter more than a neighbor, but it’s worth a shot.
King Arthur Flour also sells starter online! One ounce is only $9, and it’s descended from a century-old starter.
All that said, there’s a certain beauty in making your very own starter. It’s truly amazing to watch as this glob of flour and water suddenly starts bubbling away, growing and expanding and full of life.
When I made my own, I was totally geeking out the entire time.
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Below is my tested, tried and true method for making sourdough starter from scratch. There are many methods out there, some far more complicated than others.
Some call for the addition of fruit, to add different microbes. Others use more complicated techniques.
Some use different flours that speed up the process.
I like to keep it simple: flour, water, hand-mixing, and time.
The key to a strong sourdough starter is simple: introduction of microbes by hand-mixing, and ample time to build a solid culture.
You absolutely can do this! Just make it a part of your morning routine, and soon you won’t even think twice about it.
Best of luck and please let me know how it goes!
How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter in Six Easy Steps
- 50 g all-purpose flour or bread flour works too
- 50 g whole wheat flour
- 100 g warm water
- Day One:Weigh water in a mason jar, and add both flours. Mix well, with hands if possible, until all lumps disappear and no dry flour remains. Cover the jar with the inner lid (do not screw down!) and place in a warm, dry location – your kitchen counter is perfect. Place an elastic band around the jar at the level of the starter to make it easy to visualize any rise.Now is a good time to name your starter! Studies have shown that people are more apt to feed a starter if it has a name 🙂
- Day Two:Remove 25g of your new starter and put in a clean jar. Add 100g warm water and swirl to incorporate. Mix in 50g whole-wheat and 50g all-purpose flours, and stir until no dry flour remains. Cover the jar with the inner lid, mark with rubber band, and place in a warm, dry location.
- Day Three:Check for signs of activity! You're looking for small bubbles around the perimeter of the jar, and evidence of rising, and you'll want to note the smell each time, too. Today it will likely smell slightly similar to beer, or have a nutty smell. This will continue until you begin smelling a distinctly sour smell in about three or four more days.Remove 25g of your new starter and put in a clean jar. Add 100g warm water and swirl to incorporate. Mix in 50g whole-wheat and 50g all-purpose flours, and stir until no dry flour remains. Cover the jar with the inner lid, mark with rubber band, and place in a warm, dry location.
- Day Four – Seven:At this point, you will repeat the feeding process above (from Day Three) once a day. Make sure you're taking notes throughout the process.
- Day Eight and onward:At this point – or possibly sooner – you'll want to start noticing how long it takes for your starter to double in size. The goal is 8 hours or less, but more important than the timing is the predictability of your starter. For example, mine will double in size at about hour six, then fall. I know this about my starter, and soon you will know it about yours!
- Your starter may be ready to bake with at Day Eight, but it might take as long as 14 days. Don't rush the process, and give your starter ample time to become nice and strong to support leavening an entire loaf of bread.If you miss a day or two of feeding, don't fret, just feed as normal and expect that the process will take a little longer. We're only human!
Once your starter is good and strong, head on over to My Go-To Sourdough Recipe – let’s start baking some bread!
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