Feeding the Wild Yeast!

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Sourdough Starters from Scratch

Sourdough starter experiment progress.  Days 4 and 5

(clockwise from top) Whole Wheat starter, Bleached All Purpose starter, Unbleached All Purpose starter.

Today is day 5 for my starter (bleached, all-purpose wheat flour) and day 4 for my son and daughter’s starters (whole wheat & unbleached wheat flour respectively).

I kept reading recipes that said to only use unbleached flour or combinations of unbleached & rye or whole wheat flours.  But when I began my quest to learn to create my own starter with just flour & water, I only had bleached all-purpose flour.  So I went for it.

My starter is on day five.  It has gone from a stretchy batter (slightly thicker than pancake batter) to a thinner frothy batter consistency.  The smell has improved dramatically.  I noticed yesterday the distinct & pleasant “sourdough” odor – compared to the first 3 days, when I could only describe it as a sour “bad bell peppers” smell.  Here’s a photo of my starter.  We call it Bob.

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“Bob” bleached all purpose wheat flour starter, day 5.

My son chose whole wheat flour to base his starter on.  It is a little harder to get a good consistency with this one.  We have to add a bit more water to get it to that batter consistency & then it separates pretty rapidly.  It was bubbling very aggressively in the first 2 days.  But that has really died back, the bubbles are now small, but constant.  The smell – to me is unpleasant.  My first thought, when I open the container & before stirring, it that it smells a bit like vomit.  But we’re not giving up yet…  Mine smelled pretty bad to start with, too.  Here’s a close up of the tiny bubbles in his whole wheat starter & then a photo of the rapid separation:

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My son’s, as yet unnamed, whole wheat sourdough starter. Day 4.

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Whole wheat starter separation, less than an hour after stirring.

My daughter is using unbleached all purpose flour for her starter.  To me, hers has smelled better than both the others from the very beginning.  It also started getting the frothy bubbles sooner than the bleached flour.  She has dubbed her starter “Fred”  & here is a photo: 

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“Fred” – Unbleached all-purpose wheat flour sourdough starter. Day 4.

The steps we have followed so far:

  1. 1/2 c. flour & just over 1/3 c. warm water – mixed thouroughly in a tupperware container with a lid that can be left loose on a corner.
  2. Place in a warmish spot (for us this is on the top of our egg incubator) and stir a few times a day.
  3. Second day, repeat the first step & mix with the original starter. Continue to stir through the day.
  4. Third day, measure the starter and use an equal amount of the fresh batter mix to feed your starter.  For us this came to 1 c. flour & just under a cup of water.  Stir as before.
  5. Fourth day.  Repeat the addition of an equal amount of food to the existing starter.  Stir as before.
  6. Fifth day.  Repeat.  If your starter is getting too big for its container, transfer it to roomier accommidations or discard enough so you can double it up with the food batter again.  Stir as before.
  7. Future (up to about day 10-11) we will continue these steps & hopefully see some rising.  If all goes well we’ll have a nice smelling batch of starter to use for our first loaf of completely homemade sourdough bread.

We should be ready for baking on Easter weekend!  I’ll keep you posted.