Soured Dough, Part I: Let’s Get Startered!

In this multi-part series, we explore one of the most fundamental (and fun) ferments– sourdough. Carbohydrate-hungry microbes in the air are drawn to this simply slurry of flour and water. Each micro-climate (from which wild sourdoughs are made) is said to offer a distinct flavor which can be tasted in the finished product. And boy what a variety of products– bread, pizza dough, pancakes, biscuits, and more!

Sourdough Starter
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Prep time: 
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Yield: ¾ cup
 
Starting your living sourdough The most important thing to remember before starting (ha!) a wild sourdough is that it may take over your kitchen! This is a quick ferment once it gets going, and you can expect your dough to double in size with each feeding.
Ingredients
  • 3 oz./90 ml (by volume) Organic, Unbleached Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 fl. oz filtered water
Instructions
  1. When catching a wild starter (as opposed to pinching a bit of active starter dough from a friend) I recommend starting small. Begin with a tablespoon of flour, as you will be adding to this twice a day.
  2. For the first three days, stir 1 tablespoon each of flour and water twice per day into a medium glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with a tea towel and leave the container in a warm location.
  3. By the third day, your starter should be bubbly and sour smelling. Many experts believe that it takes between 30-90 days for this ferment to reach its maturity, when fed and used daily.

In years past, this was the main leavening agent in home cooking, and starter was often “used” multiple times a day.  In today’s busy world, we may only cook with it once or twice a week.

Next up: Care and Storage Tips. Why do some folks believe that it’s sourdoughicide to store it below 46 degrees F, while others opt to freeze their starters?

6 thoughts on “Soured Dough, Part I: Let’s Get Startered!

  1. Austin

    I hope you share recipes for all the goodies you mention above– pancakes and pizza dough especially!

  2. sweetcaroline0405

    This is great! I am really looking forward to starting this this week. Just was wondering, what is the water measurement when starting the with the flour and feeding (I might have missed this bit in your article.) Thanks for the help – will be sure to report back!

    • Jennifer Post author

      Sweet Caroline, good doughs have never been so good! I start with an equal part water and flour (and I start small, because this dough will gain volume quickly) For the first three days, stir 1 tablespoon each of flour and water twice per day into a medium glass or ceramic bowl. Cover this with a tea towel and leave the container in a warm, but dark location. Good luck!

  3. Michelle

    I’m not sure as to the right water to use. Can I use purified? Spring? Distilled? Anything but tap? Thanks!

    • Jennifer Post author

      Hi Michelle!
      Typically, sourdough recipes encourage you to use purified, spring or distilled. I happen to live in an area with good quality, albeit chlorine treated, tap water. I use tap water for my sourdough recipes, and spend the money on distilled water for my brine ferments.

      When in doubt, do what makes you feel good. Experiment with your local water and see if you like the results.

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