Creating your own Sourdough Starter out of flour, water and salt is like some kind of alchemy, when it becomes a living, breathing thing you really will feel like you’ve made something special. Taking care of your Starter becomes a daily excitement, how is it today, is it bubbling, has it gone to sleep, will it behave itself! It is a simple fermenting process in reality and it produces a bread that is tasty and healthier than any store bought option.
What you’ll need
A clean glass jar (that will hold at least 750ml)
200g Good quality rye flour (we like Doves Farm)
200g filtered water
Pour the 200g flour into the jar, add an equal weight of cool or tepid water, mix well and cover with something porous, such as kitchen towel. Put the jar somewhere warmish, but definitely not hot – not above a radiator, for example – and prepare for a few days’ wait.
Stir the mixture occasionally, if you can be bothered, and don’t worry if a beery-smelling liquid forms on top – you can either pour this away or stir it in. Eventually you should start to see bubbles forming and the mixture beginning to swell. This is your sign that wild yeasts have moved in. (If nothing has happened after a week or so, throw it all out and try again.)
After another day or two, once your starter is bursting with bubbles and impressively puffed up, it will be ready for feeding. You could simply add to what’s in the jar, but it’s better to reduce your starter before every feed, either by baking with it or simply by throwing some away. This makes for a more vigorous culture, while keeping the volume under control. So grit your teeth and chuck out at least half of your original mixture before stirring in more flour and water.
For a healthy starter, you need to at least double the quantity of culture with each feed, so this time add at least 100g flour and the same weight of water.
Once your starter is nice and puffy again – and you’ll be amazed how quickly it bounces back – it’s ready to use. Take as much as your recipe calls for, give what’s left another good feed and, unless you’re planning on baking every day, move the jar to the fridge, where your starter will continue to thrive but need feeding less often.
Check back with us next week on baking your sourdough and all of the fab additions you can make to your bread, how about dark chocolate and sour cherry!?