How to catch your own sourdough starter…
Ladies and gentlemen, I could not be more excited to introduce to you my first featured guest post. I would like to introduce you to Meghan. She and I bumped into each other at an Azure drop off. And after seeing her Instagram, @wildlysour, full of gorgeous breads and fermented goodness, I knew I had to invite her to share her love for sourdough. So please help me welcome Meghan….👏🏼
My name is Meghan and I have been making sourdough bread and other fermented foods for 5 years. I started making sourdough to improve my gut health. My whole life I have dealt with eczema and digestion problems, so after trying all kinds of products I decided to look inward.
Gut health was the answer to my problems.
Fermenting was key. Sourdough therefore was something that I wanted to try to see if it would be beneficial to my gut. It definitely made a huge difference. This process was something that grew into a passion and now I have a cottage bakery called, Wildly Sour, where I sell my fermented baked goods. I also enjoy showing the beautiful art of the whole process over on my Instagram, @wildlysour, you can follow me there.
When Krystal reached out to me and asked to write a post on sourdough I was happy to do so, I am personally always trying to cut the middle man and make everything I can at home to be self sufficient. From growing my own vegetables to making bread and fermented drinks. So, I definitely want to encourage more people to do the same, not only because it’s enjoyable and makes us feel good about ourselves but because it is so much better for our health. Getting away from processed foods is one of the best things we could do for our gut health.
How to catch your own sourdough starter
For your initial mixture I highly recommend using Organic White Flour and Organic Spelt making a 50/50 blend. It just produces a very nice and strong Starter.
Why do you want to use organic flour?
We want to promote good bacteria and if you have pesticides in your flour you will be counterintuitive. If you can’t find spelt adding any whole wheat will be just fine. If you can’t find whole wheat you of course can just use your Organic White Flour only. The water just needs to be purified water, no tap water with chlorine in it.
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My suggested starting amount is 50g of water and 50g of flour (25g spelt and 25g of white flour) but if you want to you can do more. Then cover it with something breathable: coffee filter, paper towel, or loose lid. Then we are going to leave this mixture out on the counter, within two days you will start to see very small bubbles forming. This is proof that it is alive and we caught the yeast and bacteria!
The next step is what we call “feeding” the yeast. We want to take the skin that forms on top and discard it. Add the same amount of fresh water and flour as day 1 and mix until no dry flour is left. Then cover and leave it out another 24 hours.
We will repeat the same feeding we did on day 2. After mixing, cover your starter and leave for another 24 hours.
Discard majority of the mixture, leaving only about tablespoon or two. This will allow the yeast to have more food available. (You will always do this when feeding from here on out.) Then feed your starter again, the same amount.
You will see an increase in the amount of bubbles and swelling in the next few days.
Feed your starter again. I know, kind of repetitive but worth it, I promise.
You will notice your starter swelling and maybe doubling in size. This is a sign that the yeast is getting stronger and more active. Continue to feed your starter every day until day 7. After day 7 you will have an active Sourdough starter.
Now you can start using it.
There are three very distinct stages of your Sourdough Starter.
The first stage that you will notice is that there is some swelling but not many bubbles. This is before the “peak” happens. At this point the yeast is not ready to be used.
The second stage is your peak. You will notice a growth about double the size and there will be a ton of little and big bubbles. It may have a slight sweet smell like overripe bananas. You may even notice some bubbles forming and popping or as I like to refer to them as “farting.”
The third stage is going to be the end of the fermentation period, you will see bubbles and they may even look frothy. It will also have an offensive odor, slightly astringent.
When does a peak happen?
The normal peak of your starter, once active, is around 5-8 hours from the time that you fed it. The peak is when you want to use it for your bread recipes. Usually it will be anywhere between a quarter to double the size of where it started when you fed it.
I usually recommend marking the starting point after you finish feeding. This is a great way to know how much it’s grown, if it’s at its peak or if it’s already come down and it’s time to feed again.
How often do I feed my starter?
The recommendation is once it is active after 7 days you want to keep feeding it every day for another 7 days. In that time you can definitely use it, but after that week you can now store it in the fridge if you’d like. Just put a lid on your jar or bowl and you can keep it in the fridge feeding it once a week.
The night before you want to make bread with your yeast, discard all but 3 tablespoons and feed 100g of flour and 100g of filtered water. ***Note, the longer you leave it in the fridge without feeding it, the longer it will take to become active again.
make sure you feed it first before you want to use it. You can keep it longer than a week in the fridge without feeding it but just remember the longer you keep it in the fridge the more times you may have to feed it before it becomes active again.
Answers to that strange liquid in your starter…
My starter smells astringent and has a brownish color liquid on top, help!
Don’t worry it is still alive and is just telling you it’s time to feed it again. Discard the liquid out and most of the mass and leave 3 tablespoons to feed.
My starter has a black liquid on top, why?
This usually happens when kept in the fridge for too long. The liquid is just yeasted water. Again, discard the liquid and most of the mass and feed what is left.
The liquid and the mass is black, what happened?
Unfortunately, this is due to total neglect and the sourdough starved to death! It sounds dramatic because it is! Now is your time to discard your starter and start over. This rarely happens but it can.
That is it my friends, I hope you are inspired to go out and catch your own sourdough starter. Please don’t forget to follow Meghan on Instagram @wildlysour, her page is filled with beautiful breads and all sorts of yummy fermented foods.
Happy sourdough starting!