The Basics of Sourdough Starter

| 12/10/2014 11:06:00 AM

Annie MillerSourdough is a healthy alternative to store-bought bread. You know exactly what is going into your bread and you know how it is prepared. Sourdough ferments and grows by “catching” the wild bacteria from the air. I have never made two sourdough starters that yielded the same taste in every loaf. It is a variable as different as each new day. The longer the starter is used and the more sour it becomes, the more maximum health benefits you will obtain. That being said, I have discarded a starter and begun over when my children said it became too sour for them. They have enjoyed trying different sourdough recipes.

Sourdough starter must be kept in a warm place. During the Westward Expansion, the sourdough was guarded with care on the trail. “Cookie” kept the sourdough in his bedroll with him at night to keep it at a warm temperature. Otherwise there was no breakfast in the morning and you would have a miserable Cookie and an unhappy ranch crew!

Sourdough tastes best fresh. There are no preservatives in it and it does not keep much past a day. The daily ritual of making bread reminds me of the Bible verse, “Give us this day our daily bread.” I believe that this is one of the reasons it is better for us because it is a daily action that reminds us of our reliance on God to provide all our needs.

It takes approximately one week for your starter to be ready for use. On Day 1, begin your sourdough starter by obtaining a quart-size Mason jar. Wide mouth is best. Sanitize it well. Place 1 cup flour (I prefer King Arthur for quality) and 1 cup water in the bottom of the jar and stir well. I have found that a butter knife works well for this. Cover the jar with a paper coffee filter placed upside down over the mouth of the jar. Secure with a wide mouth-canning ring. This allows the starter to “catch” the bacteria while keeping out dust and other unwanted things, such as gnats!

Now, you must name your starter. It is tradition that all starters be named with a male name. I think that is because it must be fed each day and naming it gives your starter a personality to help you remember! I named mine Boaz.

On Days 2 through 6, feed your starter flour and water each day using a 1:1 ratio as a general rule. If you want less sourdough starter, 1/3 cup may work best for you: 1/3 cup water to 1/3 cup flour. If you have a large family, 1 cup flour to 1 cup water may be more appropriate for you.