How to make Sourdough Starter post includes tips to collecting wild yeast and bacteria from your kitchen environment to make delicious sourdough bread.
Sourdough bread are delicious and beautiful with its holey interiors. If you think it is possible to make that bread at home? Yes, it possible. If you see my sourdough bread recipes, then you can see I am fan of it. Now with the non-availability of instant yeast, lots of people are trying to make sourdough starter at home. Trust me it is easy. In this post I can walk you through how to make sourdough starter at home.
One thing you need in plenty is patience, yes you may see the recipes that says about baking bread with in 3 days. But I don’t think it will work. The first few days after you begin the work of making sourdough starter, actually you are capturing the wild yeast and bacteria in the flour and as well as in your kitchen environment.
What are microorganisms in Sourdough Starter
Sourdough starter mainly contains lactobacillus cultures, a kind of lactic acid bacteria, which lend the bread its notable sour flavor. They can thrive in acidic environments, producing lactic acid in response to the conversion of available carbohydrates (i.e. flour) into the sugars they need to survive. Carbon dioxide, a biproduct of the fermentation process in these and other sourdough microbes, helps the dough to rise and give it its structure.
Sourdough starters can also comprise a range of other natural microbes such as airborne yeasts and microfungi. Together these microbes form communities who convert grains and water into a highly digestible, nutritious dough. Saccharomyces_cerevisiae (baker's yeast) was in abundance in people's homemade starters along with natural yeasts including: Saccharomyces servazzii (carbon dioxide producing), Saccharomyces unisporus (found in more liquid and warm starters), Pichia anomala, Saccharomyces castellii, Candida humilis, Saccharomyces bulderi, Saccharomyces exiguus, Kazachstania barnettii, Saccharomyces naganishii and Saccharomyces uvarum.
How to make sourdough starter?
The method given below will walk you through all the key steps and core concepts a first-time sourdough baker needs to bake naturally leavened bread at home with good or even great results.
Instruments and ingredients
You’ll need to invest in a few clean mason jars bottles with caps, and a kitchen scale.
Ingredients include unbleached flours or whole meal flour and water. In this post I will show how to make starter from, rye flour, whole wheat flour or Atta (Indian whole wheat flour) and unbleached all-purpose flour. You can use either rye flour alone or whole wheat flour alone. If planning to use all purpose flour go for a 50:50 all-purpose and whole wheat flour.
For water use bottled water or whatever you use to drink. If your tap water has high chlorine don’t use that as microorganisms may not grow in it.
You can use cold or warm water. Few of my friends found that lukewarm water gives better result. I used cold water that is fine for me.
You need to find warm place in your house as they require 27 to 32 °C (81 to 89.6 °F).
You need to feed for at least 10- 14 days to get a strong starter. I prefer 14 days rather than earlier time.
You can start with any flour and change later if you want.
Points to Remember
Second day you may see little or good activity: That is okay you got some bacteria and yeast from your kitchen environment.
Third and 4th day you will see a peak of activity, it is good means something is growing on. Don’t be excited that you can make the bread that day. No, it is not ready.
5th and 6th day the activity may seem to be less that is okay too. Means those who are in batch want to run first took the step and left. The ones that are there now are the guys who will make good bread.
Don’t ever try to smell your starter up to 5th day, sure you are going to get a stinky one.
Continue to feed and discard until 10-14 day. You got best bacteria and fungi in batch if they are doubling nicely.
When your starter is ready you should see plenty of bubbles, both large and small.
At this point, the texture will now be spongy, fluffy, also fruity smell pleasant, and not stinky.
If these conditions are met, your starter is now active.
If you see water in the top of the starter that is fine, it is called Hooch, stir back in and feed the starter.
If you see any black, green orange or any other color than the normal color of flour, you got a bad batch throw it and start once again.
Once you made an active sourdough starter transfer to nice clean jar and start baking bread. Make sure to feed regularly. I find that if you feed everyday you get less sour bread.
If you are baking occasionally then store your starter in refrigerator and then bring the starter to room temperature and feed two times at least before you make bread. Feed your starter everyday if it’s stored at room temperature. If you keep it in the fridge, feed it once a week.
Begin by removing and discarding about half of your starter and feed 1 :1 ratio of flour and water.
If you miss a feeding, don’t worry- your starter is not going to die. It might look ugly (and smell horrible) but it usually just needs a few feedings to perk back up.
With continuous feeding you will be able to get good strong wild yeast and bacteria that make delicious bread every time. They are like your pets; show some love they will give you love in the form of good delicious bread.
It is possible that your first loaves are not perfect, but any sourdough bread made by your hand will still be delicious. It is fruit of your hard work so enjoy it with passion. I will be sharing the Beginners sourdough bread recipe in next post.
How to Make Sourdough Starter
- Mason Jars with lid
- 5 lb unbleached all-purpose flour / Rye flour/ Whole wheat atta
- Bottled water / tap water with less chlorine
- In a clean bottle add 60g flour (rye/ whole wheat/ all purpose-whole wheat mixture) (½ cup) and 90g (⅓ cup) water and loosely cover with kitchen towel or cloth and keep aside for 24 hours.
Day 2- 4
- Stir the mixture first and then take out 55 g from your yesterday’s mixture (discard the rest) into a new bottle and add 60g flour (½ cup) and 90 (⅓ cup) water) and keep aside for 24 hours. Every time use new bottle
Day 5- Day 10
- Now you are going to feed twice. 15 g yesterday starter mix + 20g flour+ 20g of water and after 12 hours add 20 g flour + 20 g water. Do the change of bottle only once means when you are adding the starter mix. First feeding always use new bottle
Day 11 – Day 14
- You can start feeding thrice means 6-hour intervals, if you see good activity. 15 g yesterday starter mix + 20g flour+ 20g of water and after 6 hours add 20 g flour + 20 g water. Make sure to use larger container as you see the up and down activity.
- When your starter is ready you should see plenty of bubbles, both large and small.
- You can start baking bread.
This is Swathi ( Dr. Ambujom Saraswathy Ph.D) from Zesty South Indian Kitchen who loves to explore cuisines from all over the world. Whenever possible I try to to give an Indian touch to several of the world cuisine, and has weakness for freshly baked bread. All the recipes you see here are created by me and approved after taste-test by my family.