How to Make A Sourdough Starter (From Scratch!)

In my family, sourdough was not a thing that we ever had, so when I first heard about how healthy sourdough is, I had no way to get a sourdough starter.

I had to learn how to make a sourdough starter from scratch. Thankfully, it’s super easy to make, and anyone can do it.

I was very intimidated by sourdough. How could just water and flour, mixed together, actually form a natural yeast that would be delicious in baking? 

And how would I know how to feed my sourdough starter if I got it to become alive and active?

I had many questions about sourdough, but couldn’t seem to find any answers. 

One day, I decided now was the time to face my fears and make a starter on my own. 

I was so surprised when it was as simple as can be. Anyone can make a sourdough starter. It’s one of the easiest projects I have attempted. However, there are some things that i learned along the way.

Now, actually baking a good sourdough bread has yet to be accomplished ( I wrote this in 2021. I’ve since learned how to bake delicious bread!).

We’ve had sourdough pancakes that the kids ate without too much complaining, and I’ve made sourdough dinner rolls. My bread is still too hard and dense. 

But with time.

This quick sourdough starter takes 5-10 days before you can use it. It is best to use your first batches of sourdough starter for pancakes, muffins, and waffles, instead of bread.

Bread needs more rising power, and the yeast in your starter will be too weak after three days. Feeding your starter consistently for 8-10 days before baking your first loaf of bread is necessary.

I always use all-purpose flour for my sourdough starter. You can also use whole wheat flour or einkorn flour. 

How To Make Your Own Sourdough Starter From Scratch

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Don’t be intimidated by sourdough. I promise it’s not that hard. Follow the instructions below, and you will discover the joy of making your own fermented foods.

Things You Need:

A glass jar that has been sanitized

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup filtered water (some tap water has too much chlorine)

The best container for sourdough starters is glass. A simple glass quart jar is good enough to start with. With time, you might need to move yours into a glass gallon jar, because the more yeast your sourdough starter has, the more it will grow.

Feeding it when it is very active means it doubles in size in a short while.

Sanitize your jar by leaving it in very HOT water for a while, or rinsing it in boiling water.

Add 1/2 cup flour (your choice), and 1/2 cup filtered water. Using all-purpose bleached flour is fine to use for your sourdough starter. That’s all I’ve ever used so far.

Mix together with a wooden or plastic spoon. Stirring your starter with a metal spoon won’t kill your starter, but it’s not recommended.

The beauty of making your own sourdough starter is that it’s filled with naturally occurring yeast. These are yeasts that are in the air of your home and are better for you.

The concept is the same as the recommendation to eat local foods. Local foods have more nutrients because they are fresher. 

Cover the jar with a coffee filter or a thin piece of cloth. I used a coffee filter and a rubber band.

Set it in a warm place.

The warmer, the faster it will become active. However, you don’t want it so hot that the active organisms get killed. 

Sourdough likes a constant temperature between 70*-85*Fahrenheit.

A good place is in an oven with just the light on, beside a coffee maker or Keurig, or just on your counter. I set mine beside my Keurig, and the warmth of the machine made it grow quickly.

Let it sit there for 24 hours before feeding it for the first time.

How To Feed Sourdough Starter

Feeding your sourdough starter is as simple as making it, maybe even more so.

After your starter has been set for 24 hours, discard everything but half a cup of starter. Feed it 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of filtered water.

Mix well and cover again

The next day, repeat. You will need to repeat this for 3-5 days. After the fifthday, you can start using your discards for muffins and pancakes. 

The more your feed your starter, the faster it will grow. After 5 days, I recommend feeding your starter twice a day. This will help speed up the growth of your starter.

When you start seeing bubbles in your jar, you know it is becoming active. 

For a loaf of bread, you need the starter to double in size within 12 hours. 

Most families won’t use their sourdough starter more often than once a week. After it is active, you can store the starter in the refrigerator, only feeding it once a week. 

Feeding your sourdough starter is what keeps it active. Sourdough starter is hardy, and you really can’t mess it up that easily.

Two things that will kill your starter are if you don’t feed it and if it gets too hot. It can also cross contaminate from other fermenting foods (looking at you, kombucha).

Another thing to consider is if your water contains too much chlorine.

How To Know When Your Sourdough Starter Is Ready To Use

Fill a glass bowl or measuring cup with room temperature water.

Drop a small scoop (less than a teaspoon) of sourdough starter into the water. If it floats, it’s ready to use. If it sinks, your starter needs more time to develop. Either give it more time to sit or feed it more often.

After feeding, bubbling action should be seen within 4-12 hours. 

A healthy sourdough starter will be bubbly and active. The organisms in the sourdough culture feed on the flour and create gases that produce the bubbly action. 

How To Store Sourdough Starter Long Term

There might be times where you want to save your sourdough starter, but you aren’t currently using it.

Storing it in the freezer works great. I always pour my starter into a plastic ziplock bag and label it.

It will be fine in the freezer for months, and when you want to continue adding fermented foods into your meals, take it out.

Leave it to warm up (about a day), and start feeding it again. 

We found sourdough to be an adjustment to our palate that was used to white bread. It has a tangier taste than other breads, but the benefits of sourdough are enough to learn to like it. 

The first thing we noticed is how we needed less food when eating sourdough. We were full much faster. This is due to leptin receptors. When your body recognizes that you have received enough nutrients from your food, you feel full. 

Sourdough has a much higher nutrient count than regular white bread, even when made with white flour. The fermentation process unlocks the nutrients that your body needs. 

That’s why pizza pops and Delisso pizzas are not filling at all. They have very little nutritional value and your body is asking for more. 

Learning to add more whole foods as well as fermented foods into your diet is a great start to a healthier lifestyle.

Learning how to make a sourdough starter from scratch is simple, easy, and doesn’t cost a thing. 

Remember, learning to incorporate cultured foods into your diet is a journey, and you won’t get it all right on the first try.

Learn to make healthy foods such as homemade yogurt, homemade sourdough starter, and fermented pickles. 

A healthier diet is within your reach. 

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