How To Make Sourdough Starter

(Eric) #41

Hi Ronald,

It looks like it’s off to a good start. The only thing I would suggest is stiffen it up by adding less water as a percentage of the flour you feed it next time. A bit stiffer starter is will be more spongy and rise better so it will be easier to gauge its readiness. When a starter rises well after feeding, you can be more confident that your bread dough will rise well also.

(Jimmer) #42

I’m new at this so excuse me if I ask questions to which you have already answered

  1. I use whole grains ground in a wonder mill to make my flour. Hard red wheat is low in moisture and high in gluten. I also grind hard white, spelt and soft white, all organic. Should I stick to one type of flour to make my starter? I’m assuming a yes on this as I am into step one using hard red
  2. When baking, I typically use half spelt grain and half hard red ground together for my flour. Does it matter that I mix grains to make bread or muffins?

Jim Strotman
Woodstock, GA

(Eric) #43

Hi Jim,

Your starter will be just as happy with one flour or another. But I can think of a couple reasons, for your sake, to stick with one type of flour. If that flour is hard red, your starter will likely be more spongy and voluminous because of the higher gluten and so easier to see it rise well after feeding and when it’s ready to use for baking. And if you stick with one flour, you’ll get good at judging how well it’s performing.

I’m not sure I understand your second question. Mixing flours is fine. It’s up to you. Experiment and see what you like.

(Karolinka) #44

New bread baker over here :slight_smile: I made this starter about a month and a half ago and have been really enjoying experimenting with different bread recipes every week since then. I do have a question, though…I thought over the weeks the starter would yield a more sour taste, but I find none of my _sour_dough breads actually taste sour. Thoughts? Any tips appreciated!

(Debra) #45

I live in northern California and I have started starters several times using just tap water and flour. Now I am grinding grains and using mostly whole grain freshly milled flour in the starter. I have never failed to get a starter going with just tap water and flour. I’m grateful for the microorganisms around here.

The grains I use to feed the starter are einkorn, red wheat, rye, and unbleached white flour, or bread flour. I don’t measure anything and use the excellent bottles from Italy that are sold by Breadtopia. I use the fidibus grinder and also the small danish dough whisk. I’m really happy having upgraded my starter equipment to the glass bottle sold here as well as the grinder and the danish dough whisk. This trifecta makes feeding starter a breeze and it looks good too.

(Debra) #46

Here is my experience with creating and reducing the sour flavor in bread. I did some googling and learned the temperature that the sourdough ferments makes a big difference in its sour or not sour flavor, and that it is possible to balance out the flavors as you like, but it takes a bit of effort and patience.

In a nut shell, feed it regularly but keep it out in a warmer room if you want it to get more sour. If you have a cooler spot like a cold garage in winter or the refrigerator and feed it regularly, the sourness will go way down after a while.

Here are the details of my experience with the same starter I’ve had for over a year.

I live in a climate that has a very hot summer. Over 100 degrees isn’t rare between July and August. Last summer, I left my starter in my living room instead of the refrigerator and fed it regularly .The starter developted super sour flavor. Last summer’s bread had a sourness was overpowering any other flavor in the bread, even though I gave the dough an overnight rise in the refrigerator to develop flavor in the bread.

The sourness in sourdough starter comes from the same substance that makes vinegar sour, acetic acid. If left out in warm temperature for weeks, my starter developed an unbelievably sour taste and made super duper sour sourdough bread.

Today I make much milder bread with the same starter and it’s delicious. To reduce the overly sour flavor, I dumped out a lot of the overly sour starter fed it more than usual. Initially I fed it more than I normally do. After a while I went back to a usual amount I feed the sourdough. Naturally because the starter spent its time in the refrigerator, the necessary feedings spaced out quite a bit from when I kept it at in a rather hot room.

When I tossed the bulk of the extremely sour starter, regularly fed it, and began keeping the starter in the refrigerator, the over the top sourdough flavor disappeared.

(Paul) #47

To add another variable, what I have noticed as a very significant determinant of how sour my starter is, is the flour that I use to feed it. At times, I keep one starter that is fed white bread flour only and another starter, which was originally started from the same white bread flour starter, but is fed one or another whole grain flour. They are both kept in the refrigerator, both fed at the same frequency, both started from the same original starter, but the white bread flour one is relatively sweet and the whole grain one is extremely sour.

My experience with sourdough baking is at odds with a lot of stuff I read in terms of how much the original starter affects the flavor of a given loaf. The way I think about it is that every loaf I make is the creation of a large batch of starter, inoculated with whatever starter is introduced. In other words, every loaf of bread IS starter once the bulk fermentation gets to a certain point. For me, the two variables that make the biggest difference in how sour a given loaf tastes is:

  1. the length of time that the dough is fermented (which itself depends on how much starter is used relative to the amount of dry flour in the recipe, and the temperature at which the fermentation is carried out); in general, longer = more sour.
  2. the composition of the dry flour in the recipe with more whole grain tilting things in the direction of more sour

(Jami) #48

Bonjour Eric,
I live in Canada.
I watched your video. I followed the instructions. My sourdough smells good and looks like the face of the moon.
Thank you!
Next step the bread.
Until I find a cast iron dutch oven, I have a ciramic one, my sourdough stays safely in the fridge.
Thanks again!!

(Eric) #49

Hi Jami,

Thanks for this. I now have one more way to describe to people how a lively starter should look. :slight_smile:

(Morgana) #50

Here from the Sourdough Bread Baking Facebook group. Just started three experiments using your pineapple juice tutorial.

  1. pineapple juice and white flour only

  2. pineapple juice and 1/2 white flour + 1/2 Spelt flour

  3. pineapple juice and 1/2 Spelt flour + 1/2 Khorasan flour

Excited to see what happens. I just threw away three AP flour + water experiments that failed miserably, as documented in the PDF “The Pineapple-Juice-Solution”.

Thanks for the work you do here! :relieved:

(firerafter) #51

Eric, I’m a little less than 24 hours into my starter, and there is a little bit of clear liquid on top. I know you referred to pouring off the “hootch” from a mature starter. Should I pour this off too, or just stir it in?

P.S. Thanks for the tutorial. I’ve been out of the sourdough game for several years, and I’m just circling back around. I was never thrilled with my starter’s livelyness before, and I’m hopeful with the pineapple juice technique.

Boise, ID.

(Winterhart) #52

I just got a sour dough starter from the Co-op bakery. They feed it daily, but it seems to be more solid then what I saw in you video on feeding the starter. It looks almost as thick as bread dough. Is this going to be a problem? I’ve never used sour dough starter before, and I’m using it in a bread machine.

(mattmandu) #53

Hi Eric, I followed the instructions however I’ve run into an issue and I was hoping you might have some insight. After following this recipe, all looked good - I would feed the starter and it would double and have a nice sweetish smell to it. So far so good.
I then tried the no knead sourdough recipe. After 14 hrs, I proceeded to the step whereby you dump the dough onto the floured surface, spread it out a bit and then fold it in on itself.
At this point though it my dough did not seem to have any gluten development at all - the dough was much wetter than before, almost to the point of being a very thick batter, and would essentially spread out into what could only be described as a puddle of dough. Folding it or otherwise trying to shape it is impossible.
Since I’ve successfully made instant yeast no knead breads before, I’m assuming the problem is with the starter - I’m guessing the wrong kind of bacteria have taken over though this was the first batch of bread I’ve tried making with it.
Since I’m in Montreal and it’s winter, the room temp is below 68 F so when making the starter and when proofing the bread I put the vessels in the oven with the light on which can get up to 93 F. Too hot maybe?
Any thoughts on what would cause this behaviour?

[email protected]

(Paul) #54

I’m sure your starter is fine. Your problem is almost certainly a serious case of over-proofing. 14 hours at 90+ degrees is way, way too long. At that temp you’d probably be done in 4 hours or less, though it’s always hard to estimate times given all the variables that are present in sourdough bread baking.

68F is an excellent temperature for proofing bread dough.

Most important is to keep experimenting and paying attention to how your results vary with what you did. After a while you will start to get a sense of how the fermentation process goes and you will be able to look at the dough, smell it, maybe poke it a bit with your finger and know when the bulk proof is complete without needing to reference any specific timeline (which can never take account of your specific starter, temperature, altitude, flour, etc. etc.).

(mattmandu) #55

Thanks for the tips! I got my conversion wrong, the room temp is often in the low-mid 60’s which I’m guessing might be ok for an overnight proof.
So what you’re saying is that any sourdough would progress to that really loose battery stage if left long enough? I guess that makes sense since that’s kind of what happens to the starter when you feed it.

(Four hundred degrees) #56

Thank you so very much with this helpful video,I just followed your instructions and now have a great Starter!
Once again thank you!

(Eric) #57


(Four hundred degrees) #58

Hi Eric,
I’m making a white starter now and it seems something is wrong!
I did as it says in the video. Step one three Tbl spoons flour and
24 hrs. Wait, That is where the problem is!
I see fermentation starting already is there something wrong with the
Flour, It has been windy here also 25-30 mph. Apartment temp 78-81
Any thought would be appreciated.
Thanks Rich

(Eric) #59

Are you concerned because you don’t think you should be seeing fermentation this fast?

(Four hundred degrees) #60

Yes that is my main concern since the flour is about 4 mo. Old I was wondering
If maybe it is bad?
Thanks Rich