Want to make sourdough bread but don’t have any sourdough starter? No worries, it’s easy to make your own in a two quart glass or plastic container.
Healthy Sourdough Starter Is Easy To Make At Home
Sourdough starter can be made from just flour and milk or even mashed potatoes that are left to sit out and attract wild yeast spores that occur naturally in the kitchen. That can be a little tricky.
Here’s a simple sweet starter recipe for you. The starter recipe I’m sharing here gets a boost from a packet of “store-bought” yeast. There are only four ingredients. Flour, sugar, yeast, and water. That’s it!
Well, actually there are five ingredients. The fifth one is a pinch of patience. I promise there will be rewards! I suggest you read through the instructions more than once but it’s honestly pretty simple!
Day 1. In a plastic or glass bowl, dissolve one packet of yeast in warm water. Next, use a wooden or plastic spoon to stir in flour and sugar. Keep stirring until the batter is free of lumps. NEVER use a metal spoon! Now cover the bowl loosely with a clean tea towel and let it sit in a warm spot overnight.
On day 2, give it a good stir, cover, and refrigerate. For the next two days, stir it daily and put it back in the refrigerator.
Every Day It’s The Same Old Thing Stir Stir Stir
On day five divide the mixture in half and discard half or give half to a friend along with feeding instructions and recipes like my friend Colleen did for me! Feed the remaining starter again with 1 cup flour, one cup milk, and 1/2 cup sugar. Once again, stir daily for the next four days.
You see, sourdough is a living thing full of hungry yeast that needs nourishment to stay alive. A sweet sourdough starter like this is often affectionately called “Herman.” This method of leavening dates way back to ancient days when bread was one of the main staples in the human diet.
On the tenth day, feed Herman again. Give it the exact same feeding of 1 cup flour, one cup milk, and 1/2 cup sugar. Then stir daily for four more days.
On Day 15 The Fun With Sourdough Begins
Day 15 is finally here! The starter is ready to be used in baking! Yay! This is what you’ve been waiting for! Today, use part of your starter to bake something wonderful. Then, keep back at least one cup of starter in the refrigerator and continue the stir and feed cycle. You can throw away or give away any leftover starter.
From this point on, your starter will be ready to use for baking every ten days! Here’s some more good news! A well-tended starter can stay healthy and live for years and years!
Here’s what I do instead of discarding the extra starter. I bake a bigger batch of bread or try one new sourdough recipe instead. And let me tell you, I have friends who can’t wait until it’s baking day!
Remember The Little Red Hen? Like the busy hen, I’ve found out most folks would rather eat the bread than bake it. They’d rather have a fresh-baked loaf than a cup of starter.
But I love to make bread and love the way my kitchen smells while it bakes. So it’s always a win/win. Best of all, I love to see the grin on someone’s face when I hand them a loaf of sourdough bread!
Sourdough Bread Is Work But The Results Are Amazingly Rewarding
Like any habit, it takes a little time to establish and make it part of your daily routine. I suggest you keep your sourdough starter in a visible spot in your refrigerator so you see it every day. It takes only minutes a week to keep your Herman happy and well-fed.
Here is a recipe for San Francisco-style sourdough bread. But remember, this sweet starter is not just for bread! You can make biscuits, pancakes, donuts, or cinnamon rolls, too. On my next baking day, I’m going to make some into sandwich buns! I bet they will be amazing!
Happily, it appears that the art of bread baking is on the rebound and for good reason! Homemade bread has no preservatives and sourdough is one of the healthiest types of bread you can eat.
The fermentation process that takes place creates probiotics good for gut health and makes it easier to digest. Research has also indicated that sourdough fermentation may modify the structure of carb molecules which lowers the bread’s glycemic index.
- 2 cups warm water (110 degrees, or about the temperature of warm bathwater)
- 2 cups all purpose flour plus 2 more cups, divided, to feed starter
- 1 packet dry yeast
- 1/4 cup plain white sugar plus one more cup, divided, to feed starter.
- 2 cups milk, divided, to feed starter
- Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar and flour until there are no lumps. Cover lightly with a clean dish towel and leave in a warm place overnight.
- Day two, stir well, and refrigerate. NEVER USE A METAL SPOON!
- Day three and four stir well again and refrigerate.
- Day five, divide the batter in two. Discard or give away half. Feed remaining batter 1 cup milk, one cup flour, 1/2 cup white sugar, stir and refrigerate.
- Day six, seven, eight, and nine. Stir well daily and return to the refrigerator.
- Day ten, feed batter 1 cup milk, one cup flour, and 1/2 cup sugar.
- Day eleven, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. Stir well daily and return to the refrigerator.
- Day fifteen. It's time to bake!
What To Do When You Need A Sourdough Vacation
Even the most devoted baker needs a time out at some point. There are many ways to pause the fermentation process and put your sourdough starter on hold. My research indicates freezing the starter is a good solution. When I need to press pause in my baking schedule, I will divide my starter into one cup portions and store it in freezer bags.
Then, when I’m ready to bake again, I can remove one or more bags of starter from the freezer and return it to its home in the green plastic bowl. Once it’s defrosted, I will resume the feed/stir cycle and continue baking delicious sourdough delights every 10 days.
I Want To Hear Your Sourdough Starter Story
Are you intrigued to try making sourdough bread? It would be a fun project to do with children and be a great way to spend time together in the kitchen. Have you already made sourdough bread or used the starter to make other delicious baked goods? I’d love to hear from you!
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