Sourdough Basics

...or "Having 10,000,000 New Mouths to Feed"

Maintaining a Sourdough Starter

Once you've gone through whatever instructions came with your new, dehydrated starter, you will need to feed that starter on a regular basis. I recommend keeping your starter in the fridge, which will slow down the yeasts' metabolism. Yet, they are still alive and eating. So if you don't feed them, they will starve to death. I keep my starter in a quart Ball jar, using a coffee filter as a cover and a lid band to hold it in place. An elastic band would also work. Once a week Il add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water, stir and place back in the fridge. 

Sometimes you'll find a gray-ish fluid on top of the starter. This is an alcohol called hooch, a by-product of fermentation. You can stir it in, or pour it off. It also means you need to feed your starter either more flour, or more often. Logically: If there's more sourdough in the jar, say 1-1/2 cups as opposed to 1/2 cup, it's going to eat up the flour more quickly. There's a lot more information about keeping a starter here:

Feeding Sourdough Starter for a Batch of Bread

By the time I'm ready to make bread, I have a pint or more of starter in the jar. Early in the morning, I take the jar out of the fridge, feed it 1/2 c flour and 1/2 water, mix well, and leave it on the counter to foam up. In about 4 hours (usually around noon) it will bubble and rise a few inches, and then start to settle down. At that point, I pour as much starter into a large bowl that will leave about 1/2 cup in the jar. I'll give the jar another 1/4 c of flour and 1/4 of water and put back into the fridge for another day.

I add another 1/2 c of flour and 1/2 c water to the starter that's in the bowl, cover it (plastic wrap works fine) and leave it in a warm place to rise again. Tip: My kitchen tends to be chilly in fall, winter and spring, so I use my stove to raise the starter. All I need to do is keep the oven light on and the door shut, and that warms it sufficiently. Note to self: Put sticky note on oven door so no one turns the oven on while my starter is in there.

Four hours later I again add another 1/2 c flour & 1/2 c water and put it back in the stove. At bedtime I do this one more time. By the next morning it's ready to start making some bread.

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