sourdough starter for preparedness beginners guide to sourdough

Sourdough Starter for Preparedness: The Ultimate Beginner Guide to Sourdough

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Why Make a Sourdough Starter for Preparedness?

sourdough starter for preparedness the ultimate beginners guide

Are you tired of being unprepared when yeast supplies run scarce during uncertain times? It’s time to take control of your baking destiny and embrace self-reliance by learning the art of creating a sourdough starter for preparedness. In this blog post, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of cultivating a sourdough starter and explore its versatility in keeping you well-prepared and equipped to thrive even in challenging situations. So, let’s dive in and discover how sourdough can be your secret weapon for baking and preparedness.

Like many of you, learning how to make and use a sourdough starter was on my long list of skills to master. However, life always seemed to get in the way. It wasn’t until the Covid lockdowns that I finally took the plunge. With time on my hands and limited access to store-bought yeast, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to embrace the world of sourdough. Little did I know that this decision would lead to a newfound sense of self-reliance and a baking journey filled with incredible flavor and versatility. And to my surprise, even someone like me, with limited baking skills, managed to conquer and master some truly fantastic sourdough recipes.

Creating Your Sourdough Starter

Tools You Need to Make a Sourdough Starter

  • Glass container: Yeasts and bacteria make react to metal (I like to use a quart mason jar)
  • Wood/plastic scraper or spoon
  • Cheesecloth or a coffee filter: Use to cover your starter and keep out any bugs.
  • Rubber band
  • Measuring cups (not metal)

Step-by-Step Instructions for Making Sourdough Starter

First Day

  • Mix equal parts of flour and water in a jar (e.g., 1/2C flour & 1/2C water).
  • Stir until well combined and cover with cheesecloth or coffee filter. Secure with a rubber band.
  • Place the jar in a warm spot (70-80°F or 21-27°C) and allow it to sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

2nd Day

  • Discard about half of the starter (e.g., 1/2C), leaving the remaining half in the jar. If you don’t do this step you’ll end up with a mess. Later you’ll learn you can use discard from your mature starter in recipes.
  • Add equal parts of flour and water to the jar (e.g., 1/2C flour & 1/2C water).
  • Stir until well combined, cover, and let it rest for another 24 hours.

Days 3-5

Repeat the steps from day 2 every 24 hours. (Don’t worry maintaining your starter isn’t this time-consuming or tedious).

Days 6 & 7

active sourdough starter

These two days you need to feed it every 12 hours. So, repeat the process of discarding 1/2 and feeding it. It should begin to bubble and that is how you know it’s active. I like to put a rubber band around the jar at the level it is before I feed it to make sure it is doubling in size. This lets you know it’s active.

You can start using your sourdough starter once it is consistently active and bubbly, indicating that the wild yeast and bacteria are thriving and ready for baking. This typically takes about 7-10 days of regular feedings and maintaining the starter at room temperature or until it consistently doubles in size within a few hours after feeding. You can also choose which method you’d like to use to store it depending on how often you plan on using your starter (on the counter or in the refrigerator).

Using Your Sourdough Starter in Recipes

  1. Measure the Amount Needed:
    • Determine the amount of starter required for your recipe. Recipes often specify the weight or volume of starter needed.
  2. Preparing the Starter:
    • Take out your sourdough starter from the fridge (if stored there) and let it come to room temperature. This may take 1-2 hours.
    • Stir the starter to ensure it is well-mixed and homogenous.
  3. Feeding the Starter (Optional):
    • If your starter hasn’t been fed recently, it’s a good idea to refresh it by discarding a portion and feeding it with equal parts of flour and water. Stir well to combine.
  4. Using the Starter in the Recipe:
    • Add the required amount of starter to your recipe as specified.
    • Depending on the recipe, you may need to adjust the flour and water amounts slightly to account for the hydration of your starter.
  5. Feeding and Maintaining the Remaining Starter:
    • After using the starter, it’s important to feed and maintain the remaining portion to keep it healthy and active.
    • Discard a portion of the starter to make room for fresh feedings, then add equal parts of flour and water (e.g., 1/2 cup each) to the remaining starter. Stir well to incorporate.
    • Let the starter sit at room temperature for a few hours until it becomes active and bubbly before returning it to the fridge (if storing in the fridge) or continuing with regular feedings if storing at room temperature.

By following these steps, you can confidently incorporate your sourdough starter into recipes and continue to maintain its health and vitality for future baking endeavors. Enjoy the delicious results of your homemade sourdough creations!

Sourdough Starter Maintenance

sourdough starter for preparedness loaf
  1. If storing in the fridge:
    • Feed your starter regularly to keep it healthy and active. Every 1-2 weeks is generally recommended.
    • Take the starter out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours to activate before feeding.
    • Discard a portion of the starter to make room for fresh feedings and maintain a manageable quantity.
    • Feed the remaining starter by adding equal parts of flour and water (e.g., 1/2 cup each) and stirring well to incorporate.
    • Allow the starter to sit at room temperature for a few hours until it becomes active and bubbly.
    • Return the starter to the fridge once it has become active or repeat the process if you need to use it in a recipe.
  2. If storing on the countertop (at room temperature):
    • Feed your starter daily or every 12 hours to keep it thriving and active.
    • Discard a portion of the starter before each feeding to maintain a manageable quantity.
    • Feed the remaining starter by adding equal parts of flour and water (e.g., 1/2 cup each) and stirring well to incorporate.
    • Let the starter sit at room temperature for a few hours or until it becomes active and bubbly before each feeding.
    • Repeat the feeding process daily or every 12 hours to ensure the starter remains healthy and ready to use.

Reviving Your Sourdough After it’s Been Stored in the Refrigerator

I’ve been known to keep my starter in the refrigerator for quite a while before I decide to go on a baking bender. Here are the steps I use to wake up my starter.

  1. Take the starter out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours to reactivate and come to room temperature.
  2. Once the starter is at room temperature, discard a portion of it. This helps maintain a manageable quantity and ensures a fresh start.
  3. Feed the remaining starter by adding equal parts of flour and water (e.g., 1/2C each) to the starter. Stir well to incorporate.
  4. Allow the starter to sit at room temperature for a few hours or until it becomes bubbly and active.
  5. Measure the required amount of starter needed for your recipe, keeping in mind that you need to reserve some to maintain your starter.
  6. After using the required amount, feed the remaining starter as before (equal parts of flour and water) and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours.
  7. Once the starter becomes active and bubbly again, you can return it to the fridge for future use.

By following these steps, you can effectively use your refrigerated sourdough starter while ensuring its continued health and vitality.

Troubleshooting Common Sourdough Issues

I believe I have experienced every issue on this list, so if any of the problems on the list below happens to you, don’t panic!

  • Issue: Starter is not rising or showing signs of activity.
    • Solution: Ensure your starter is in a warm environment and give it more time to develop. Patience is key!
  • Issue: Starter smells unpleasant or has a pink or grayish color.
    • Solution: Discard the starter and start over. It may have been contaminated with undesirable bacteria or yeast.
  • Issue: Starter is too thick or too runny.
    • Solution: Adjust the consistency by adding more flour or water, respectively, during the feeding process until it reaches a pancake batter-like consistency.
  • Issue: Starter is separated, with a layer of liquid on top.
    • Solution: This is called “hooch” and is a natural byproduct. Pour off the liquid and continue with the feeding process as usual.
sourdough in dutch oven

Basic Sourdough Bread

A simple recipe to make an amazing loaf of sourdough bread. Delicious and easy to make
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 36 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven
  • 1 Non-reactive bowl (glass is best)
  • 1 Wooden or plastic spoon

Ingredients
  

  • 3 C All-purpose flour
  • 1 C Active sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 C Lukewarm filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp Salt

Instructions
 

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and salt, create a well in the center (you will be mixing your liquid ingredients in this well).
  • Add sourdough starter and water into the well you created, stir to combine, then incorporate into the flour/salt mixture.
  • Scrape dough into a rough ball shape. Cover bowl with tea towel and place in a cool dark place to sit for up to 6 hours. Scrape down sides and pull sides of dough over top after 30 mins (do this twice). Let rest for remainder of 6 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) and place a Dutch oven inside to heat.
  • Transfer the dough onto a moistened piece of parchment paper and shape it into a round loaf. Place the loaf in the parchment paper into the preheated Dutch oven.
  • Cover the Dutch oven with its lid and bake for 20 minutes. Then, remove the lid and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.
  • Once baked, remove the bread from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack before slicing and enjoying.
Keyword bread, Sourdough

Nurturing Self-Reliance Through Sourdough

By embracing the art of making and using a sourdough starter, you open the door to a world of self-reliance and flavorful baking. I finally took the leap during the Covid lockdowns and haven’t looked back since. Remember, it’s a journey of patience and practice, but the rewards are worth it. With your own sourdough starter, you’ll always have a reliable source of yeast for uninterrupted baking. So, gather your ingredients, follow the steps, troubleshoot any issues along the way, and enjoy the versatility of sourdough in your kitchen. May your baking adventures be filled with deliciousness and a sense of self-reliance.

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