Learn how to make a homemade sourdough starter from scratch. Video tutorial also includes sourdough health benefits and our favorite ways to use sourdough starter in the farmhouse.
If you hang around the traditional foods community, chances are you have heard of making homemade sourdough starter from scratch.
I have had my homemade starter for over six years now. It is vital in my traditional food kitchen.
Reasons to love sourdough
If you are unfamiliar, let me fill you in all the reasons why crazy folks, like me, go through the effort of handcrafting, and maintaining, a beneficial colony of yeasts and bacteria in their kitchens.
Before yeast was isolated and sold in little packets, sourdough starter was a valuable commodity in homes and families, passed down for generations.
Have you ever heard of phytic acid? Basically, it’s an antinutrient found in grains, beans and nuts that interferes with the absorption of certain nutrients. They are present on grains to keep them from spoiling.
There is a reason they are there, but there is also good evidence that our bodies weren’t meant to handle them. Proper preparation of grains eliminates most, if not all, of the phytic acid in offending foods.
This is the very reason traditional cultures soaked and fermented their grains, seeds and beans. These days we’ve lost that art. And, what have we found? People can’t handle grains anymore.
Instead of using instant yeast packets, people in traditional cultures leavened their bread with a fermented starter that captured all the yeasts in the environment.
AKA Sourdough starter
How on earth do we capture native yeasts? Read on, because I explain how to make your very own sourdough starter.
Because I love good food
I already confessed my foodie tendencies with you all. I reckon it’s the same inclinations that led me into the world of homemade sourdough.
Locally made sourdough starter, with the native yeasts of the area present, is certainly the thing a foodie’s dreams are made of. A jar of healthy, productive starter is teaming with life, as evidenced by all the bubbles you will see rising to the surface.
Once you’ve experienced homemade sourdough baked goods, store bought breads and pancakes simply don’t cut it. Sourdough has a depth of flavor that just can’t be found in something made quickly with a packet of instant yeast.
Watch my video all about homemade sourdough starter from scratch
The process homemade sourdough starter from scratch
By now, you know why you want to have a bowl of sourdough starter bubbling away in your kitchen, but how in the heck do you make one?
Flour (Whole grain wheat, unbleached all purpose and einkorn are all great choices.)
Glass bowl (Metal can react with beneficial bacteria and yeasts.)
On day one, mix one cup of flour and one cup filtered water. Stir vigorously, making sure to scrape down the sides and incorporate everything. Place a clean tea towel over the bowl and set aside. Allow it to sit for 24 hours.
On day two, discard half of the mixture and repeat the process. Add one cup flour, one cup water, stir vigorously and cover.
Why do you have to remove half the mixture? By day four, you would have sourdough starter overflowing your bowl. Also, removing half ensures the right amount of flour and water is feeding the growing colony of beneficial yeast. If you weren’t discarding half, the half cup of flour wouldn’t be enough to feed them on days three and four. Basically, you would end up with a whole lot of extra starter by the end of the process and none of it mature.
Repeat the day two instructions for days three, four and five.
On days six and seven, do the same but feed it every 12 hours, instead of every 24.
By day seven, there should be enough beneficial bacteria and yeast present to bake sourdough bread and other fermented sourdough goodies, like pancakes and english muffins.
You will know it’s working if it bubbles and doubles in size.
Sourdough Starter Maintenance
Once your sourdough starter is alive and active, there will be some maintenance to keep it going for years and years.
In the refrigerator for occasional use
Storing it in the refrigerator slows down the fermentation process, so one feeding every week or every other week is sufficient.
I usually only use my starter a couple times per week. If I plan to make pancakes Saturday morning, for example, I pull my starter out of the fridge Friday morning and add flour and water. By Saturday morning it is bubbly and ready to go. I remove the two cups starter needed for my pancake recipe and put the “master starter” back in the fridge. Since it was fed the day before, it is good to go for another week, or whenever I need it next.
On the counter for daily use
Since the “little guys” in the starter, as my kids like to call them, are active at room temperature, they will have to be fed more often if kept in this state.
If you leave your starter out on the counter, you will need to be adding flour and water everyday. You will also have to be baking every day to use up all that starter.
Most people probably won’t use the starter quite so much, unless you own and operate a bakery. I would recommend storing it in the refrigerator between uses.
When I first made my starter six years ago, the blog Gnowfglins was my go to resource. Everything you ever needed to know, and more, is available there.
Everyday, I get loads of questions about sourdough starter so I devoted a whole post called How to Care for Sourdough Starter filled with your questions and my answers. You can use this post a reference guide for when you are making your sourdough starter.
My favorite sourdough pancake recipe
Every Saturday morning I bust out my two cast iron skillets and fry up a stack of sourdough pancaked a foot high. (slight exaggeration) Smothered with grassfed butter and pure maple syrup, we start the weekend off right!
Mix together in a glass bowl:
2 cups sourdough starter
4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
Add the baking soda last and watch the batter foam up to the top of the bowl.
Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add a little coconut oil. Wait until the oil is nice and hot. Add one ladle full of pancake batter. When the top is covered with bubbles, give it a flip. Let it cook another 30 seconds, or so, on the other side.
Plate it up and soak that thing in butter and syrup.
Thank you so much for stopping by the farmhouse! I hope you start incorporating homemade sourdough starter in your home, and enjoy all its many benefits!
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