I had a request for how to make sourdough starter. This method hasn’t failed me yet. It’s adapted from the Joy of Cooking.
Start with fresh whole wheat bread flour. You want the stuff available in the bulk bins of your local co-op or health food store. If you buy it in a pre-packaged bag and it’s not refrigerated, it’s too late for that flour. That is, it has sat around long enough to go rancid. For sure. This is one of the secrets behind most people’s aversion to while wheat. It has got to be FRESH! Best yet, buy the groats and grind it at home. All you need is a grinder. (Pssst…hint hint, hubby…)
ANYway, where were we? Oh, right, starter! So fresh ground whole wheat bread flour. I will be using the term FEED. It means add 1/2 cup of the flour we’ve spent the last hour describing and 1/4 cup water, and mix well. Got it?
FEED = +1/2 cup flour+1/4 cup water, mix.
Morning: Take an empty clean bowl and FEED (just add the stuff to the empty bowl, all right?). Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes with a sharp knife in the plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm, draft-free spot. I use my microwave over the stove, with the door slightly ajar to keep the light on.
Evening: FEED and re-cover with the holey plastic wrap.
Morning: Put your potential starter in a clean bowl. FEED. Re-cover with holey wrap (for some reason I keep thinking of tobyMac…).
Morning: If it isn’t bubbling at this point (slight tang smell is missing as well), then discard and start over. If it IS bubbling, FEED it, and cover it with new plastic wrap that gets to maintain its transparent bodily integrity (you know, no holes this time).
Evening: FEED and re-cover.
Morning: Put starter in a clean glass, at least quart-sized, lidded jar for long term storage. FEED.
Let it rise for 4 to 6 hours. At this point, you can use it to make some sourdough bready deliciousness! Or you can put it in the fridge. It’ll be ready to use right out of the fridge.
When you use it, leave a couple of tablespoons of the starter in the bottom of the jar. Add about 1 cup of flour (FRESH-ground, for heaven’s sake!), and between 1/2 and 2/3 cup water. Mix well, and let it rise for 4 to 6 hours (right next to your bread). It’s ready to go back to the fridge, and ready to use right out of the fridge again.