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I use my own sourdough starter culture for most of my bread recipes.
In short, sourdough starter is a stable symbiotic culture of natural yeasts and lactobacilli. See the Wikipedia page about sourdough for more details.
I started my culture from scratch in 2001. The second attempt worked and it's been going strong since then. Its flavor turned out to be fairly mild and fruity.
Successful starting of a culture depends a lot on the local conditions and the flour. This recipe may work or not. Even if it works, there is no guarantee for stability or good flavor of the culture. You can also buy commercial sourdough starter cultures. I haven't used any of these.
That's what worked for me:
- all-purpose wheat flour
Preparation and Maintenance
- In a plastic container (I use a big yogurt container) combine equal parts (by weight) of flour and water, ca. 1/4 lb or 150g of each. Mix well.
- Cover, put in a warm place for a day or more until the mixture starts to develop bubbles and a light smell of fruit and yeast.
- At that point, add same amount of flour and water. Let stand for another day.
- On the next day, discard half of the emergent starter and again add the same amount of flour and water.
- Repeat for a few more days until the starter has stabilized and is very bubbly.
- At that point you can move the starter to the fridge. Feed it every 3-4 weeks by stirring well, discarding half of the starter (you can use it for baking) and adding the same amount of flour and enough water to keep the consistency. Leave out of the fridge for a few hours before putting it back.
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