Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Homemade Sourdough Starter

Sourdough is a treat- one of my family's favorites.  I have kept starter in my refrigerator since I made it over two years ago.  So, it was a sad day in our house when I accidentally killed my culture.  Yes, I killed it.  Let's just say that it was death by bacon grease...

Thankfully, sourdough starter is not hard to make!  I have a new batch in my fridge as I write this, and I just started it a week and a half ago.

Here's what you need to make your own sourdough starter:
1/4c  flour ( I used unbleached, then added whole wheat- use whatever you have on hand.)
1/4 c water

That's it!  Mix the two ingredients in a canning jar and cover it with a clean piece of cloth, secured with a rubber band- I used a piece of an old tee shirt.

Next comes the waiting... and get the idea!  Every 12 to 24 hours, you need to "feed" your starter with equal amounts flour and water (about 1/4 cup each time).  If your starter begins to reach near the top of your jar, just pour off up to half of it before a feeding.  The sour flavor that gives sourdough its name develops better in small batches anyway :)

This is my starter on day 4.  Finally, some signs of life!  My patience has paid off, and there are tell-tale bubbles in my starter- this means I have captured the wild yeasts in my kitchen.  They are happily feeding on all the gluten in my flour mixture.  But, it's not done yet!  Even though the yeast is there, my starter hasn't yet developed the yummy sour smell that a ripe starter should have.  Time to wait again... and wait... and wait.  Go ahead and keep feeding the starter until a nice, yeasty, sour smell develops.  You decide when it's done- mine took an extra four days for it to become this:

Here's my finished starter!  It is soured and ready to use in breads, pancakes and bagels!!  There are so many wonderful things you can make with sourdough, and if you're nice to your starter, it can live in your refrigerator for years and years.  My deceased starter has many children in the fridges of my friends, and I intend to spread the love with this new starter as well! 

When your starter reaches this stage, you can cap it with a tight-fitting lid and pop it in the fridge.  When you want to use some, just get it out several hours in advance and let it warm up on the counter (covered with a cloth).  Before you cover it back up and store it, be sure to feed it equal amounts flour and water to keep it happy :).  If you do not use your starter for a week-ish, just feed it and store it again.

If your starter gets a funky smell (like acetone), sometimes you can bring it back by adding a T plain yogurt! 

Enjoy making treats for your family and friends with sourdough starter! 

For recipes, click on the type:

This post was shared on Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.


  1. just what I wanted to learn! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I forgot to mention in the post, but try not to use chlorinated water or it might kill the wild yeast. Good luck, and have fun!