Sourdough Starter: The Easy Button

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I’ve always wanted to try making true sourdough, but the whole ‘catch wild yeasts out of the air’ thing made me nervous.

Confession: I’ve had my share of misadventures with fermenting and bacterial colonies.  Kefir does NOT get more tasty with age.  Sauerkraut can grow mold.  And we nearly had to get marital counseling when my husband made eye contact with the Kombucha mother. In addition to that, I just don’t feel all that confident in my local wild yeast and bacteria population.  At least not enough to raise and eat it.

Out of curiosity, I asked a friend who makes great sourdough what her secret is. Turns out, she recommends a VERY SIMPLE sourdough starter from Breadtopia.

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THAT is right up my alley.  I’ve raised a batch or two of sea monkeys in my lifetime…I can mix with water and stir with the best of them.  And since sourdough is a colony of microbes, you’re ‘feeding’ with flour, I could technically consider this a ‘pet’…or a science experiment.

So, I embark on this journey, and am sharing my progress with this ‘easy button’ sourdough starter tutorial.

P1120360I started out by milling a few of cups of hard white wheat with my Wondermill Grain mill.  I kept the extra flour in a jar in the freezer.

Using the instructions from the kit, I let the starter flakes soften in water, and then stirred in the called for amounts of flour and water to ‘feed’ the sourdough culture.  Honestly, this was amazingly simple.

True to form, I did mess up my first batch…some sort of local microbe crashed the party.  This was probably because I started out in a small stoneware dish that wasn’t properly sealed/covered. If things go wrong, your nose will tell you.  I suspect that this microbe was from the ‘gym sock’ family.

But all was not lost!  Just to set your mind at ease, the kit came with enough starter flakes for at least 3 tries, and it was CLEAR by day 2 that I needed to start over.

Which I did, and I used the big clear jar from the get go, and everything went perfectly. I was just careful to rinse and seal, so that the starter culture would have as little competition from Mr. Jim Sock as possible.

Easy-Sourdough-Tutorial

You’ll notice that the starter amount doubles nearly each feeding, and this accelerates as you begin ‘feeding’ twice per day on day 3.

The started has a very nice, mild flavor profile…it’s not pungent and acidic smelling.  I’ve got high hopes for future baking projects!

I’m working toward a simple, slice-able loaf of good bread for sandwiches, since my new Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle is focused around using only healthy carb sources.  So fermented, or sourdough breads is really worth my efforts to play around with.

Hopefully, this lovely jar full of easy-care starter will take me there.

P1120577Stay tuned for some yummy recipes to use this starter in the coming weeks.

Easy Sourdough Starter
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
 
This basic sourdough starter is the building block for breads, pancakes, and other delicious, low carb, and low glycemic baked goods. A true sourdough starter produces breads that can be eaten and enjoyed even by those with gluten sensitivities in many cases.
Ingredients
  • 1 t. Breadtopia Sourdough Starter
  • water
  • 3 c. flour
Instructions
  1. Day 1: Wash jar and sourdough beater and rinse with clean water. Dry.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of starter flakes, and 1 tablespoon of water to the jar, and stir.
  3. Rinse beater, and set aside. After a couple hours, the starter flakes will be softened.
  4. Add a tablespoon of flour to the jar to 'feed' the starter. Rinse beater, and stir to blend. Let sit overnight on the counter while building your starter.
  5. Day 2: Rinse beater. Add another T. water, and 1 T flour to jar and stir. Watch for tiny little bubbles to show up as early as day 3. They'll look like pinholes in the top of your starter, and this will show you that it's fermenting properly.
  6. Day 3 Add an additional 1 T of flour and water to your mix in the morning.
  7. In the evening, feed your starter 2 T of flour and water.
  8. Day 4 Add ¼ c. flour and water to your starter in the morning. In the evening, add ½ c. flour and water. Let sit overnight.
  9. Day 5 Add 1 cup flour and water to your jar in the morning. If you want to build more starter, you can add up to 2 more cups of flour and water by the evening.
  10. Once your jar is full and bubbly, you may use it immediatly, or place starter in the refrigerator for storage.
Notes
Sourdough starter is the base for many different recipes, including breads, pancakes, and more. You can use your starter in any recipe calling for sourdough starter!
My family was very pleasantly surprised with the mild flavor of this sourdough...it is really nutty and yummy, as opposed to 'sour'.

 

Ready to use your new starter? Check out the sourdough pancake recipe, and sourdough tortilla recipes!

 

About Gwen's Nest

I’m a Mom of four, who was an artist in my former life. I write at Gwens-Nest.com about staying inspired and creative at home. I share healthy and innovative recipes, & my experience with home remedies & herbs.

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28 Responses to Sourdough Starter: The Easy Button

  1. Celeste Owens says:

    Hi Gwen,
    The Wheat is ok to use for THM? I thought that was a no, no.

  2. Gwen says:

    Hi Celeste,

    Sourdough, sprouted, or fermented wheat is on plan as a slow carb E food! Woot!

  3. Lori Mitchell says:

    WOOHOO…So just use wheat flour (all or just some?) for this to be THM friendly?

  4. sharon stoltzfus says:

    Do I keep the jar sealed from day one????

  5. Jennifer Hill says:

    Is this one better or just different from your “Easy E bread recipe” ?

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      The microbial profile for a sourdough is a lot more broad spectrum than the yeast I use in my easy E bread on my blog. I’m still in the learning phase with this one, but so far, I’m enjoying it!

  6. Spatzli says:

    I’ve read your tutorial a couple times, and I’m not sure if I’m following correctly :/ Do I need to buy those starter flakes, or is that just freshly ground/milled wheat? Thanks!

    • Gwen says:

      Hi Spatzli,
      I opted to buy the dried starter that already contains the microbial profile for good sourdough. 🙂 Hence the ‘easy button’ title. Some of the other online tutorials have you catch wild yeasts from the air, but I’ve not had great success with that.

  7. Kathy says:

    Any chance we could do the starter by feeding it with almond meal or flaxseed meal? Is it necessary to feed it with any white flour at all or could I do 100% of an alternative?

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      The sourdough culture/microbes feed off of the starches (carbs) in the grain. So I don’t think that almond or flax would work, since they are so low carb. But you can easily use either of those to create a non-fermented bread product that works with low carb style meals. 🙂

  8. Kristen says:

    I have my starter ready to go…but now what? Is there a basic bread recipe I can use this starter with now to make an on-plan bread?

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      Hi Kristen,
      I don’t have a bread recipe developed yet, but I have posted a pancake recipe and a tortilla recipe here on the Grain Mill Wagon. 🙂 I’ll add links to this post so they’re easier to find.
      You can use this starter with any recipe calling for sourdough starter. Check out the Breatopia website for more recipes too!

  9. Melanie says:

    Thank you for sharing your recipe! How long can the starter keep in the fridge? What size jar did you use?

  10. Rachelle Boyd says:

    What about rye flour???? I didn’t read all the instructions carefully before purchasing my starter from breadtopia, so last night at the grocery I just purchased rye flour thinking rye was ok…..

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      I’ve not tried rye, but it should work. Rye is so low glycemic that it doesn’t require the fermentation/sourdough process to work for THM. Different flours will give you different properties too…I’ve heard rye makes a ‘wetter’ final bread, so you may want to use half rye, half whole wheat? Let me know how it turns out. 🙂

  11. Rachelle Boyd says:

    Okay, another question has popped into my head…. This is called a sour dough starter…. so the idea I was understanding was that I do this starter once and then just pull off ____ amount to make a loaf of sour dough then keep feeding the starter and it keeps growing as long as i feed it….. Am I making any sense? In all of the instructions I am seeing there is no where it says how much to grab from the start to make the first batch of bread…. Am I making this too complicated? Does anyone have any idea?

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      Hi Rachelle,
      The instructions for how to use it will be in the recipes using starter. I have posted a sourdough tortilla recipe, and one for pancakes. I’ve not played with a bread recipe yet, but there are many out there that you can use this starter with. Best of luck!

      • brandy says:

        I understand that you take however much out of the jar that the recipe calls for but then u put in the fridge and then how do u know how much and when to feed it or if u don’t make bread the next time, how much do u pull off to start over feeding again? Thank you 🙂

  12. samantha says:

    Do I need a whole wheat bread flour? It can I use just while what flour? And the recipe says to let it sit for 24 hours (on breadtopia package) from the first feeding in day 1. Yours just says over night? Which should I do…thank you! So excited about this bread 🙂

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      You can use either bread flour or an all purpose whole wheat for this. I believe I let it sit 24 hours…I’ll ammend my post. I tried to do my starter maintenance each day in the afternoon. 🙂

  13. Yvonne Ketterman says:

    Hi Gwen,

    Three months ago I discovered that I have a pretty bad Gluten Issue. I love and I mean love sourdough bread, or sourdough anything. I have not tried this yet but someone told me to try and use spelt flour since it is not highly processed and I maybe ok with this. I am planning to try a test run. so here is the question. if all goes well I would like to get the Breadtopia Sourdough starter and do you think I could feed it with spelt flour vs. regular flour and maybe after several feedings I can use it? This is all new to me so I am just trying to find my way through this. THM has helped me tremendously too. I am into my second week! 🙂

    • Gwen's Nest Gwen's Nest says:

      If your sensitivity to gluten is high, I would not risk using a gluten based culture. I’d start a new one with a GF grain. Not sure if spelt contains gluten, but you’d want to confirm that first. Even ancient strains of wheat have gluten content that can trigger immune reactions in those who are sensitive.

  14. Sheena Carnes says:

    Can we first “sprout” our wheatberries before grinding them for the flour for this starter? I just ordered some wheat berries and can’t wait to get started:)

  15. Kerri says:

    I have on hand some soft white wheat berries (and by some I mean a 25 lb amount…. Didn’t know what I was getting from Bountiful Baskets that day). I have read that the soft white is better for pastries, but I have sooooo much and just don’t know what to do with it, do you think I could make it work?

  16. Tracy says:

    Hi Gwen, am I supposed to stir the starter every time I add water and flour to the starter. I noticed that by day 2 or 3 the instructions say to add water/flour but they do not mention stirring the newly added water/flour into the starter. The beginning instructions say to stir after adding something to the starter. So I am just wondering if it is “understood” that each time I add flour/water it is to be stirred as well. Hope this makes sense. Thanks for your help.

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