If you are unfamiliar with having a bread starter, then you surely think I’ve gone crazy. I assure you, I’ve not. I’m just referring to the act of keeping a starter active, and producing great tasting bread.
If a sourdough starter isn’t cared for properly, it will die. Yes folks, a sourdough starter is a living organism that you must feed regularly, make sure it has at least a cup of water a week, and you must let it out of the fridge to “work.”
I’m not helping my “not crazy” plea, am I?
The truth is, don’t let the beginning of this post scare you. It’s extremely easy to start, and keep a sourdough starter. Once you have your own, your bread making options are pretty much endless. You can make almost any type of bread product out of it. You can make your own sandwich bread, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, sweet breads, cinnamon rolls, garlic bread…
You get the point!
My mother has made homemade bread using a sourdough starter for years. Nearly two decades actually. (That’s a long time.)
This starter produces the most tender and tasty bread, and it’s so simple. You’ll wonder why you hadn’t done this sooner.
First, I mixed all the ingredients into a quart mason jar. Only use glass or plastic to store your starter. And only use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir your starter. NO METAL!
Once it’s all mixed up, I loosely cover it with cling wrap and leave it out on the counter for five days, stirring mixture once a day.
Now for the important part. The jar needs to be placed in a warm spot. The proper temperature needs to be between 68 and 77 degrees. If your house is too cold the starter becomes inactive (sleeping.) Too hot, it will die. So if your house is cold and drafty you may want to put it in the warmest spot in your house.
After the five days are up, it’s then time to feed your starter. Simply add 3 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of instant potato flakes, and one cup of hot water to your jar. Stir well, and set aside. This will be the same mixture you will feed to your starter each week.
Every time you feed your starter it needs to set out on the counter for 7 to 8 hours before you can do anything with it. After a few hours, you should see your starter “working.” It’s mostly a series of bubbles and air pockets that move from the bottom to the top. Sometimes the mixture will separate like the picture below.
This means that your starter is alive and well. Pat yourself on the back, you now have officially made yourself a sourdough starter, capable of producing great tasting bread. You no longer need store bought yeast to make homemade bread.
Once the 7 to 8 hour “working” time is up, you can stir the mixture. Then remove 1 cup of the mixture from the jar. This is what you will use to make your bread. If you don’t have time to make bread, or don’t want it that week, you can either pour the cup of starter out, or give it to a friend.
Take the reaming jar of unused starter and place it into the refrigerator. In 5 to 7 days repeat the feeding, resting, and 1 cup removal process.
You will need to do this each week for the life of your starter.
As a added note, sometimes if your starter doesn’t appear to be working during the first five days, don’t worry. It usually doesn’t do much after the first day. If at any point your starter becomes discolored (pink tone) or has an off putting odor, throw it out. A healthy starter should be light cream, or off white in color, and smell of fresh bread yeast.
- 1 envelope(2¼ teaspoons) of active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 tablespoons instant potato flakes
- 1 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
- Mix active dry yeast, warm water, potato flakes, and sugar into a quart jar
- Cover loosely and allow to set out of the refrigerator for 5 days at room temperature,(between 68-77 degrees)
- On the 5th day feed starter, 1 cup of hot water, 3 tablespoons of instant potato flakes, and 3 tablespoons of white sugar
- Allow to set out at room temperature for 7 to 8 hours
- Stir well, remove 1 cup of starter mixture
- Use mixture for bread making, or discard
- Place unused mixture into the refrigerator
- Feed, rest, use or discard every 5 to 7 days