I dove into the sourdough world about a year ago, so I don’t have TONS of experience. But I have learned a lot along the way and am happy to share with you what I do know. I fell into the world of sourdough because I love to bake and bread was something I wanted to make a lot in our home. I saw quite a few sourdough bread recipes floating around and my best friend had just started into sourdough as well. So the timing seemed perfect.
I was lucky enough to take some of my best friends starter and didn’t have to make one myself. But for those of you that are looking for a good starter recipe here are a few I have seen and trust. THIS ONE or THIS ONE. These two websites are also my favorite for a whole bunch of sourdough starter and discard recipes.
Feeding Your Sourdough Starter
Once you have a good healthy sourdough starter you can either leave it on the counter and feed it everyday- or what I do is keep mine in the fridge. If you keep it in the fridge you only have to feed your start once a week. I typically only feed mine 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir it up and put it back in the fridge. This is all I do unless I know I am going to be wanting to bake bread or some other recipe that calls for a sourdough starter. Technically this starter in the fridge is considered a discard. There are lots of recipes that you can use your discard for so it doesn’t go to waste.
How to create Leaven
This is where the magic happens. When you know you are going to be needing active sourdough starter (or leaven) this is what I do. First, you will want a clean jar. Add, one heaping spoonful of your sourdough discard from the fridge to your clean jar. Next, add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water, then stir it up. Once it is mixed up draw a line on the outside of your jar with a wipeable marker where the sourdough starter hits. Let your jar sit with a loose lid on top of your counter. *It is important that the lid does not seal the jar * You are waiting for your leaven to double in size. Once it is doubled you want to use your starter immediately for your recipe. Your leaven should slightly stick to the sides of your jar and look bubbly.
How long it takes for your leaven to double can vary. A lot of it can come down to how warm or cool your house is. I have seen that mine can double in about 4-5 hours at my house. Because of that I will make my leaven in the morning and it will be ready by the afternoon for me to bake with.
What Happens if my leaven falls?
You start your leaven, you forget about it, and when you come back you can tell that it has fallen. First of all, how do you know? The side of the jar will have starter on the jar higher then the starter currently sits. When this happen you can still use this leaven, you just need to re-feed it. Give it another 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour and wait for it to double again.
Random sourdough knowledge I have found helpful.
-The reason why taking a spoonful of the discard works so well to create the leaven is because you are giving that discard ample “food” to eat. That is what makes it so active and beautiful.
-Why sourdough?? Sourdough actually breaks down the gluten in the flour in recipes, which then makes it way easier for our bodies to digest. Any recipe that calls for sourdough starter never will call for yeast. The sourdough IS the “yeast”. It is what makes your bread or recipe rise.
-Chlorine can kill your sourdough starter, and unfortunately chlorine is in most tap water. So to avoid it killing my starter I have just put water from my tap in it’s own water jar and have let it sit on the counter for a day or two before I use it in my recipe. The chlorine naturally burns off this way.
-Do not boil your tap water and then use it. The starter actually needs bacteria to grow, so if you boil your water there will be zero bacteria in it, which also isn’t great for your starter.
My favorite sourdough pancake recipe
1/4 CUP MELTED BUTTER
2 LARGE EGGS- ROOM TEMP.
1 CUP MILK- ROOM TEMP.
1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
1 1/2 CUPS SOURDOUGH STARTER
1 1/2 CUPS FLOUR
1 TSP BAKING SODA
1 TSP BAKING POWDER
1 TSP SALT
- PREHEAT GRIDDLE TO 325 DEGREES
- IN LARGE BOWL WHISK BUTTER, EGGS, MILK, VANILLA AND SOURDOUGH STARTER
- ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS ONE AT A TIME
- COOK PANCAKES 2-3 MINUTES ON A GREASED GRIDDLE