Making your own sourdough starter can seem intimidating when you are just starting out. I can assure you that it isn’t hard at all and you will be so glad that you decided to embark on the sourdough journey.
From my experience, and I know I’m not alone, sourdough baking has become an addiction. It is not only fun as there are so many amazing recipes to make but they are all much healthier than anything store-bought!
Follow along and I am going to walk you through how to get started in making a sourdough starter with 100% hydration and keep it active.
- Bread Flour
- Whole Wheat Flour
What is a sourdough starter
Before we jump into how to make a sourdough starter let’s just go over what exactly it is. Sourdough starter is a culture made of flour and water that ferments and creates active bacteria that act the same as yeast.
It eats the natural yeast that is in the environment and creates the yeast so that bread and other baked goods will rise just like if you used commercial yeast but the starter takes the place of that.
It is great to use in an array of recipes and is healthier than most store-bought bread and other recipes that require yeast.
How to make sourdough starter
Here is the fun part! We get to start mixing and creating your starter. Follow along and let’s get you in the game!
We are making a starter that is 100% hydration, meaning that we will have equal parts flour and water.
Day one: Starting the starter
1. Tare the jar
Place the jar on the scale and tare it so that the scale weight is at “0”.
2. Add water
Add 30 grams of room temperature water to your scale and then press tare again.
3. Add flour
Pour 15 grams of bread flour and 15 grams of whole wheat flour into the jar. You can “tare” in between flours or just add 15g and then go to 30g with the whole wheat flour.
NOTE: It is important to make sure that you are using fresh flour and learn how to tell if flour is bad.
4. Mix and set aside
With a rubber spatula mix the water and flour together. You want to mix it until you do not have any clumps bigger than a pea. It will become a thick pasty consistency.
Place a rubber band around the jar so that you know where it started and can tell if it grew. Set the jar aside until tomorrow.
Day 2: Feed the starter
You will feed your starter every day until it has become active. After that, you can retard it in the fridge for a few days if you aren’t planning on using it.
To feed sourdough starter you are simply going to take a new clean jar and place it on the scale, tare it, and then add in 30 grams of your starter. You can discard what is left of your starter as you won’t need it anymore.
Don’t panic if you notice a brownish liquid on the top of your starter. This is called “hoosh” and is totally normal. It is a sign that your starter needs to be fed. Drain off the liquid and continue.
Tare the scale, then add 30 grams of room temperature water and mix the starter and water together.
Next, you will tare your scale again and add in 15 grams of bread flour and then 15 grams of whole wheat flour.
Mix those together and you have officially fed your starter for the first time! Place your rubber band around the jar again so that you can see if there is growth.
Days 4, 5, 6, etc. Continue feedings
Repeat the steps from day two until your starter doubles in size. Once it has doubled in size and is bubbly on the surface, it is now active and ready to bake with! Congratulations!
Just for fun
Give your sourdough a name! This is just for fun, but something that many people who have sourdough starters do. The amount of attention it gets from its feeding makes it a part of the family so it deserves a name.
My sourdough starter’s name is Sam. I’d love to hear what you named yours in the comment section below!
What you need to start your sourdough starter
You only need a few things on hand in order to get started. I am going to go over each thing so that you know exactly what you need to be successful and get you baking sourdough bread in no time.
You will want to have a baking scale on hand to measure your flour, water, and starter in grams. You don’t need anything fancy. I have this scale I have had for years and works great.
Having a scale is going to help keep your measurements accurate and consistent which is key when starting your starter.
Jar with a lid
You want two containers with lids for your starter to grow in. You want your containers to be see-through so that you can see how much your starter has grown.
Having two jars is key as you will be making adding to your starter every day and you want to have a fresh new container each time.
I particularly like using Wecks jars because they have loose-fitting glass lids as well as tightly sealed lids.
This is nice because when you have your starter on the counter you want a loose fitting so that the sourdough can eat the bacteria and breathe.
Whereas the tight-fitting lid is great for when you put it in the fridge so that it doesn’t dry out or attract other smells or flavors.
It is important to use good-quality flour especially when you are just starting out. I like to you King Arthur bread flour and whole wheat flour to get my starter going.
You can use all-purpose flour but I prefer using bread flour as that is what I am going to be using when I make my bread.
I use wheat flour as a jump start for my starter because it gives it a good boost to feed off from and ferment.
For optimal longevity and maintenance, store your sourdough starter in a clean, airtight container in the refrigerator, feeding it once a week for long-term storage.
How long does it take?
The amount of time it will take for your starter to become active depends on a few factors. Typically it will take about 6-8 days but can vary according to the temperature in your house, the natural yeast in the air, and the humidity.
However, there is no exact time frame when “growing yeast”. If you find that your sourdough starter still isn’t active after a week or two, that is okay!
Don’t give up, it will likely be active any day now,, stick with it and continue to feed it using the 1:1:1 rule. 30g starter, 30g water, 30 grams flour (15g bread flour and 15g whole wheat flour)
If you are wondering how to tell if your sourdough starter has gone bad you can find out all of the things to look for in this post.
What to look for in an active starter
You will know that your starter is active when it doubles in size and is bubbling on the surface. The smell of your starter will also have a pleasant acidic odor to it.
Sounds like a strange description but you will know what I mean when you smell it.
Another common way to tell if your starter is ready and active is to take a little bit of the starter out of the jar and float it in room-temperature water. If it floats it is active and ready to go.
Storing your bread in the freezer is great for making it last longer. Check out my post on how to freeze bread to learn more.
Easiest Sourdough Starter Recipe
- Baking scale
- Rubber spatula
- 5 lb Bag of bread Flour
- 2 lb Bag of whole wheat flour
- Place a jar on the scale and tare it. Then add 30g of water (about 70-80°F)
- Add 15g of bread flour and 15g of whole wheat flour
- Mix together until you get a thick paste like consistency with no clumps larger than a pea size.
- Place a rubber band around the jar at the level of the starter and cover it loosely with a lid. Place on the counter until tomorrow
- Place a clean jar on the scale and tare it. Add 30g of starter from yesterday and discard the rest.
- Add 30g of water and stir together combining the starter and water.
- Mix in 15g of bread flour and 15g of whole wheat flour.
- Place the rubber band around the jar at the level of your starter, cover it loosely, and set it on the counter.
Day 5, 6, 7, etc.
- Continue with the same steps as day two every day until your starter doubles in size. This means the starter has risen above the rubber band doubling amount that you started with.Also, look for active bubbles on the surface to know that your starter is now active and ready for baking.