Bigbelly Sourdough Series Part I: Starting the starter
Giving birth to your own starter is probably the most intimidating thing when you are about to make your first sourdough.
Sourdough starter is basically wild yeast bacteria, that has grown through feeding on flour and water. So that's it. Flour and water. Some say that the yeast bacteria is all around us in our air and thus helps the development of a sourdough starter. Also it doesn´t really matter what kind of flour you use, plain wheat, rye, chickpea etc.
So when I started out I bought this little book with instructions and loads of sourdough recipes. I was super excited then and was looking forward to making the starter. I WILL NOT RECOMMEND STARTING OUT WITH A BOOOK. In my experience, the described process is very very hard to translate into real life. Esp
ecially with sourdough you want to have a good idea on what the texture and mixing process is supposed to look like. So what do should we do? YOUTUBE.
There are tons of tutorial videos out there, so you will have to take your pick. Youtubers I liked most: Joshua Weissmann, Alex "french cooking guy", Bake with Jack or, for a german guide, Thomas kocht. Take your pick.
The important part here is that you stick to one of the tutorials and don´t try to mix and match them. The recipe I´ll give here is from Joshua Weissmann.
Good to know:
Getting your starter potent enough for baking will take at least 7 days. The longer it will live the more flavor and potency it will have. So don´t be disappointed with the result of the first few bakes.
7 days might sound like a lot of work, but, it will only take about 5 minutes each day!
"Feeding" your starter means taking some old starter and mixing it w/ fresh flour and water. Use your jar on the scale and measure flour and water (and later starter) and mix with your spatula until you reach a uniform consistency.
Sourdough excels in a warm environment, in between 27-32°C.
Before your starter is strong enough, a temperature below 20°C will make it very hard to be successful. Try keeping the starter in a warm place, like the bathroom.
After you finished the seven day schedule, If you keep your starter out at room temperature, you´ll need to refeed it every day. Keeping it in the frige will reduce feeding to once a week for the first month and then every two weeks.
I like to keep the starter in a glass jar with a loose lid. Put a rubber band around your the jar as reference, to see if and how much it grows.
If it grows to at least double the size it should be ready for baking
ALWAYS KEEP 20-30g from your ready-to-bake starter and keep it for the next bake. Or you'll have to start over.
Organic flour has more living bacteria in it. It will make it easier to grow your starter!
Using a 100% Wheat Starter
150 g water (luke warm, ~28-30°C)
water in first, stir and mix well and store somewhere warm
70g leftover from day 1
(discard the rest or put it into the pan with salt, cumin and scallion to make pancakes)
Same as Day
you might see some bubbles now. This means bacteria activity (= good!)
70g of the mixture from day 3
Same as Day 4
(If your starter doesn't grow at all at this point, something is wrong and you start again)
50g from day 5
25g from day 6
100g water (use this ratio from this day on)
NOTICE: the 1:4:4 ratio is not written in stone. I often use a 1:3:3 ratio or even less. The less flour and water you add, the faster your starter will grow. Find your own optimum!
Day 8 +
When it is alive and well, you have given birth to a sourdough baby!
Don't forget to name it. I name mine "Chewbacca" 🐻
Keep it in the fridge if you don't bake everyday.
✅ In the beginning, you can add a bit of fresh yeast for your first bake!
✅ Always cover with a lose lid, bc of gases and molding!
✅ Your starter is never "dead" until there is mold on top.
✅ And yes, it should smell weirdly sour.