How to make a sourdough starter.

I made my sourdough starter in January 2016, using the recipe from the book “Bread” by Paul Hollywood.

I will include the link to the clip from the BBC Food website at the end of this post so that you can see it in its original form for yourself.

I do not claim to be an expert or even really significantly knowledgeable about making sourdough, I’m an out and out novice with a mere three months of sourdough baking up my sleeve. But I know what I know so far and I know it well enough that I’m turning out lovely loaves bake after bake.

And here I am sharing what I know with you today.

The “starter” is the rising agent for the loaf of sourdough, it is fermented and as such it comes loaded with benefits (which I’ll summarise in a later post in this series), particularly when you directly compare and contrast a loaf of sourdough to a loaf of mass produced supermarket bread.

First comparison is the ingredients list: sourdough comprises flour, water and salt. That’s it. Supermarket bread on the other hand… too many and too much shit, quite frankly.

If you’re reading this you’ll likely already know that supermarket bread is sub-standard and not “good” really and you’re also likely already into sourdough and a bit tired of forking out anywhere from $6 – $9 per loaf and have a simmering little passion to make your own. As I did.

So here’s how I did it.

Ingredients for a sourdough starter (from Bread by Paul Hollywood):

  • 5 – 7 seedless organic green grapes* (preferably organic else wash them really well in a vinegar solution before using)
  • 250g strong white bakers flour (I use Wallaby brand and buy the 5Kg bags from the supermarket)
  • 250mL tepid water
  • *Note that you can use organic sultanas or raisins in place of grapes

Other equipment you’ll need:

  • A clean, dry storage tub with a lid, a one-litre capacity ought to do it for home baking.
  • A set of scales

Method for making a sourdough starter:

Day One

  • Slice grapes in half length-ways or use scissors to chop the dried fruit in half
  • Put flour, grapes (or dried fruit) and water all together into your tub and give it a rough mix.
  • Set it aside somewhere dry and not too hot. I store mine in the pantry.
  • That’s it.

Day Two

  • Have a look at it, you’ll see some bubbles happening. Yes. It’s alive!

Day Three

  • Repeat day two.

Day Four.

  • Take the lid off, give it a stir and remove about a quarter of a cup (roughly 60 – 100g) of the starter then feed it a fresh quarter of a cup of strong bakers flour and the same in water.
  • Mix and replace lid.

Day Five – Six.

  • Repeat day four.

And… you just carry on this way: discarding a little, feeding a little, leaving to eat up the new food and get nice and bubbly then discard a little, feed a little etc etc until a couple of weeks pass and then you’re ready to use it in your very first ever loaf of home baked sourdough!

The grapes will decompose and you can pull them out with each discard/feed it doesn’t matter if they stay in for a bit.

A healthy starter should:

  • Look shiny but not slick (too wet)
  • Smell sour, vinegar-y, maybe like a beer mat, certainly “fermented” but not putrid like vomit
  • Be active with bubbles, not flat
  • Have no mold

And here are the above steps in pictures…

Day one. Measure out flour, slice grapes.

starter_one_jan_20

Add flour and grapes to a storage tub.

starter_2_jan_20

Add water and roughly mix. Seal the lid.

starter_3_jan_20

Day two. Have a look. Bubbles!

starter_4_jan_21

Day three. Got some good activity happening now.

sourdough_7_jan_24

Day four. Flat. Needs a feed.

starter_6_jan_23

Day four again, a few hours after my first discard and feed.

starter_six_jan_23

Day six. I baked my first loaf with this starter. A week early but I was keen!

starter_5_jan_22

Sometime in early March. After I’d fridged it for a few weeks.

I got a bit over trying to perfect my loaves. So I just put it into the fridge.

You can store starter in the fridge and just discard/feed once weekly.

sourdough_8_march

I fed it up and transferred it into a new tub.

Then it sprang back to life and I carried on baking.

This is what my starter looks like fresh after a feed nowadays.

I feed mine (1/4 – 1/2 cup flour+water) every day because I bake regularly.

sourdough_9_march

I’ll leave it here for now, it can be overwhelming when you’re new to a: making your very own starter and b: baking your very own bread. I know. I’ve been there. Any fear or doubt or twinge of anxiety you may have about this – I have had also! And I’m on the other side now. With a lovely crunchy, tangy, chewy loaf on my kitchen bench every day or so and I sure am pleased that I pressed on and just gave it a crack.

~K180, x

Oh, here’s the clip from the BBC Food website: Sourdough starter with green grapes.