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Sourdough Starter (Traditional)

Sourdough Bread, YUM, right?! A good sourdough bread starts with a good starter. I have had my sourdough starters (this traditional Sourdough Starter, and Sweet Sourdough Starter) going for many years. The biggest reason people don’t make sourdough starter is because they feel it’s too much work to keep going. However, sourdough starter is actually pretty easy to keep going, and very forgiving if you forget about it. There are ways to “bring it back to life” so to speak. Here is my basic traditional sourdough starter to get you going.

This starter takes about 6 or 7 days to ferment before you can use it. So make sure you plan ahead. Once you get it to this first stage, it will just continue to ferment and become more flavorful as time goes on. I have heard of some sourdough starters lasting hundreds of years, and passed down from generation to generation.

TIPS:

  • If you aren’t going to be using your sourdough starter for awhile, put it in the refrigerator. It will go “dormant”. It may even separate. When you want to start using it again, pull it out of the fridge, stir it, dump half of it out, and feed it like a normal feeding (scant 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water). Stir it and leave it on the counter. Repeat this same process for a few days and your starter should be ready to use in about 3 days. If it doesn’t start to bubble up after a day, add about 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast to kick start the starter.
  • If you are concerned about discarding after you start using your starter, you can use the “discard” for pancakes and waffles. But this won’t be until AFTER you start using your starter, after the first week of fermentation.
  • Use a scale to weigh out your starter, it will be more accurate. You can get an inexpensive scale on Amazon, it’s well worth it. I use my scale to weigh out food items often.
  • Store your starter on the counter when you are using it in a crock or glass jar. I use a clear glass storage jar from Amazon with the rubber seal removed from the lid so it can breathe. If you’re not using it, store it in the refrigerator, and feed once a week.

And make sure to check out my link on how to make Sourdough Bread.

If you want to have sweet sourdough breads such as sweet sourdough rolls, pancakes, waffles, Amish friendship bread, sourdough banana bread, and more, check out my Sweet Sourdough Recipe.

500 recipes like this one can be found in our cookbook “Rocky Mountain Lodge & Cabins’ MORE Favorites Recipes” which can be purchased at our Gift Shop.

And if you’re looking for a Colorado getaway, check out our Cascade Luxury Suite at Rocky Mountain Lodge in the mountain community of Cascade, at Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Woodland Park, and Green Mountain Falls.

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Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (113g) whole rye (pumpernickel) or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) cool water
  • unbleached all purpose flour, starting the 2nd day

Instructions:

  1. DAY 1:

    • Combine the flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container (glass or crockery are best). Make sure the container is large enough to hold your starter as it grows; at least 1-quart capacity.
    • Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there's no dry flour anywhere. The dough will be very stiff and thick. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. I keep mine on the stovetop on a plate with the microwave light above it. Or on the counter with a light on above the countertop. If your house is cold you can put it in the microwave with the light on and close the door, just make sure not to start the microwave while it's in there!
  2. DAY 2:

    • You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (113 grams, or about 1/2 cup), and add to the remainder a scant 1 cup (113 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup (113 grams) cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (not hot water) if your house is cold.
    • Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours. The dough will still be stiff and thick.
  3. DAY 3:

    • By the third day, you'll likely see some activity, some bubbling, and a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It's now time to begin two feedings a day, as evenly spaced as your schedule permits, such as 7:00am and 7:00pm. If you're not exact, don't worry about it, just as close as you can will be fine.
    • For each feeding from here on out: Stir your starter, then weigh out 113 grams starter (a generous 1/2 cup). Keep this amount, and discard any remaining starter. Add a scant 1 cup (113 grams all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup (113 grams) water to the 113 grams of saved starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours.
    • Repeat feeding your starter after 12 hours.
  4. DAY 4:

    • Weigh out 113 grams (a generous 1/2 cup) and discard any remaining starter. Repeat Day 3.
  5. DAY 5:

    • Repeat Day 3.
    • By the end of the day the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You'll see lots of bubbles. The starter should have a tangy aroma, pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering. If your starter hasn't risen much and isn't showing lots of bubbles, repeat discarding and feeding every 12 hours on Day 6 and 7, if necessary, as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter.
    • Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Discard all but 113 grams (a generous 1/2 cup). Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6-8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface.
    • Remove however much starter you need for your recipe (typically no more than 227 grams, about 1 cup. If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of starter, give it a couple of feedings without discarding, until you've made enough for your recipe plus 113 grams to keep and feed again.
    • Transfer the remaining 113 grams (a generous 1/2 cup) to its permanent home (a crock or jar, or whatever you'd like to store it in. Feed this reserved starter with 1 scant cup (113 grams) of flour and 1/2 cup (113 grams) water, and let it rest at room temperature for several hours, to get going, before covering it. If you're storing starter in a screw-top jar (like a Mason jar), screw the top loosely rather than airtight, so it can breathe.
    • Store this starter in the refrigerator and feed it regularly, with a scant 1 cup (113 grams) flour and 1/2 cup water once a week.

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