Bread, English muffins, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, pretzels – the list of things you can do with a nice sourdough starter is endless! A friend of my mom’s turned me on to the wonders of starter many years ago when she served up the most delicious sourdough biscuits bathed in bacon fat for brunch. I initially thought it was the bacon grease that added all that flavor, but she promised me it was the starter. (Maybe a bit of both?) Since then, I have tried my hand at many recipes that use starter and now plan to share the best of the lot here on EATS Together. The longer you can keep your starter, the better it gets (as they can attest to in San Francisco, where some bakeries, and even families, have starters that are well over 100 years old). I think my longest run with a single starter was twelve years. Then, one day I opened it up to discover a metropolis of mold and not good things. It may sound silly, but I wept! After that, I went through several batches before finding the best storage and care system for my starter. The one I have now has been alive and kicking for just over 9 years. Below, I’ll share some tips (and hope others will, too). So, get your starter ready, because our favorite recipes are coming soon!
Ingredients for Sourdough Starter
- 1 package active dry yeast (do not use quick-rise yeast)
- 2.5 C. warm filtered water (105° – 115°)
- 2 C. flour
- 1 T. sugar
TO MAKE your starter, in a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of the water. When the yeast is dissolved, add in the other ingredients and beat until smooth. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature for 5 – 10 days, stirring occasionally, until the starter has a fermented aroma. A warmer room will yield quicker fermentation.
TO STORE your starter, transfer to a clean jar or glass container and refrigerate with a cover that IS NOT AIRTIGHT. I have found that the glass crock pictured above is perfect. This is the container that I have kept my most recent starter in for the last 9 years.
TO USE your starter, take it out of the refrigerator the night before (or a good 10 – 12 hours before) you are going to use it so that it comes to room temperature. This makes the starter easier to work with and prevents the starter from slowing the rise of whatever you are making. Your starter will separate while sitting in the refrigerator, so be sure to give it a good stir with a whisk, making sure to re-incorporate the ingredients fully, before using.
TO FEED your starter, replace an equal amount of flour and filtered water as what you have used. For example, if you use 1 cup of starter, then add 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water back into your starter base. After I feed my starter, I usually let it sit out for a day or two, stirring it once or twice before returning it to the refrigerator.
Now, you are ready to bake! What recipes would you like to see first? Or, are you a baker who loves to use starters, too? Email me or share your tips, advice or requests in the comments below!