With COVID-19 going on, a TON of people have decided to take up baking. I’m glad that I got into it a few years ago so at least I’m already familiar with the process and had started building up supplies prior to the lockdown. I have heard a lot of people who have started making bread starters because it is difficult/impossible to get active dry yeast at this time (side note: my wife mentioned part of the reason for the shortage is that it is hard for the yeast companies to obtain the packaging for the yeast and normally their “busy season” is int he fall so they weren’t prepared for the high demand). I had made a starter a few years back and kept it going for a few months but then neglected it and eventually tossed it. For the last year or two I’ve been meaning to re-start one. It happened to be unseasonably warmer this week and since I have a little extra time (I’m considered essential so still working but not as much as before) decided to start a new sourdough starter.
Surprisingly you can make a sourdough starter pretty easily and with few ingredients. All you really need is flour and water. There are some particulars to each that you have to pay attention to. For the flour you can actually use different types (as evidenced below). The water you ideally should be using something that doesn’t have chlorine or chloramine in it as that can retard the growth of the starter (either using filtered water or bottled water).
I decided to try two different types to see which would create a better yeast starter. I made one out of whole wheat flour and one with AP flour.
Both those failed to produce.
I waited a week and then decided to try once more (what’s that saying “try and try again”). This time I kept it very simple.
- 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup water (used the Brita since that water has sat and if there is extra chlorine, hopefully it will have evaporated out).
- Food safe plastic container
- I mixed everything up thoroughly and then used cheesecloth to cover (and partially covered with the lid but didn’t seal it). I put this on top of the fridge because it’s supposed to be a little warmer there.
Then I just let it sit for about 24 hours. Our house is relatively cool so I left it an additional 12 hours. By now I could see a little bit of bubbles. I removed 1/2 of the mixture and then added in another 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mixed it thoroughly.
I kept repeating the process (waiting 24 hours between feedings). It took almost 2 weeks (most web sites say you can have it ready in 5-7 days) probably because it is cooler in our house (normally they want it in 80-85 F temps).
If left too long a crust can form, just discard it and underneath is fine and toss 1/2 and re-feed