Frugal Sourdough Starter

How to Make a Sourdough Starter in 7 Days

This starter recipe does not involve throwing out half the starter every day, as most recipes do. Also, these amounts will only make enough starter (in 7 days) to make one loaf of sourdough bread, with enough left over to continue your starter. I recommend this method, because it is an ideal way to find out if your starter is active enough to produce a loaf of bread without the risk of losing a lot of ingredients. While this post deals with whole wheat or spelt, I will soon be posting my recipe for gluten-free sourdough starter.

Day 1: Take 1/4 cup of whole wheat or spelt flour (the fresher the better) and place in a bowl (glass or plastic, see through is best). To this, add 1/4 cup of filtered water (especially if your water is chlorinated) and stir well. Cover loosely and set in a warm place and leave undisturbed for 24 hours.

Day 2: Add 1/4 cup of water to the starter, stir well, then add 1/4 cup flour and stir till well combined. Re-cover, return to warm place and leave undisturbed for 24 hours.

Days 3-4: Repeat Day 2. At this point, you should be seeing some bubbling action. If not, don’t give up! Transfer starter to a clean bowl on Day 4. (Bowl should be larger to accommodate the upcoming increases)
Bubbling Brew” This is what an active starter looks like.

Day 5: If you don’t see any bubbles at this point, continue with Day 2 instructions until you have bubbles. Change to a clean bowl every 3-4 days. Don’t worry about odors as they may come and go during the fermenting process. However, if you see mold in your bowl or on your starter, throw it out and start over, changing bowl more frequently. If you have bubbles by this point, you want to begin to build your starter up to the amount you’ll need to bake bread. Add 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour, stirring till well combined. This will be a stiffer starter. Cover, set in warm place, undisturbed.

Day 6: Your should be seeing some rise in your starter. (It should begin to fill more space) It should have air holes throughout (visible from the side, if you are using a see through bowl). Stir down and add 2/3 cup of water and 1 cup of flour, stirring till well combined. At this point you don’t want to lose your starter to mold, so go ahead and place in a clean bowl. Cover, set in warm place, undisturbed.

Day 7: Repeat Day 6, without transferring to a clean bowl. You should be ready to bake a loaf of sourdough bread on Day 8!

Note: if you want to bake 2 loaves rather than one, continue with feedings following Day 6 instructions, until you have enough starter to make 2 loaves (2 2/3 cups) and a little left over to continue your starter.

Once you have removed your starter to bake with, you can refrigerate the remaining starter (covered loosely) or continue to build it back up, changing bowl as needed, until you have enough to bake more bread and some to continue starter. If/when you refrigerate your starter, it can be fed weekly. However, if you forget, don’t throw it out! There’s still a chance it’s good. Once my starter became active, I took some out and put it in the fridge when I started building it up for baking (after the first loaf). I did this just in case I ruined the starter I was building. This way, I wouldn’t have to start over completely from scratch. Once you have your starter established, you can dry it if there will be periods of time when you won’t be using it. Those instructions can be found here. Just scroll to the bottom of the post.

A general rule of thumb with starter is, never add more in feedings than the amount you already have. For example, if you have 1/2 cup of starter, do not add more than a total of 1/2 cup of water and flour. Once you get past the initial stage, you can begin to build it faster if you choose to bake 2 or more loaves at a time.

Next post: Recipe for Sourdough Bread.
Very easy, 4 ingredient bread.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop. (It was my first time to participate and didn’t know what I was doing, so the link to my blog is titled “Karen” – entry #52)

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