Just about a week ago, I decided that I was finally going to undertake making my very own sourdough starter. Now, this is a project I have wanted to attempt for while but was nervous. Starters require a lot of attention and precision and I had not tried before. I would go to begin the task, and then get too worried I would fail (crazy, I know). Well last week I decided this was it, I’m trying it, what is the worst that could happen. I researched, read, and Googled just about every article on tips for making your own starter. I got my mason jar ready, my wheat flour, and my ½ cup of water. This was it. My cat, Star, was watching me pensively, making me nervous and judging me as per usual. In went the whole wheat flour, and the water and I mixed it well, tightly closed my jar and left it in a warm corner of my kitchen.
Day 2. I nervously checked my starter, under Star’s extremely judgmental but adorable gaze. It had bubbles! And it had gotten bigger. I happily discarded all but ½ cup of the mixture, and fed it with another ½ cup of flour and the same of water. Set it back on the counter to *hopefully* rise and become active. Then…. Oh shit. I had forgotten that on most of tips I’d read, most bakers had said to switch to bread flour after the initial mixing with wheat flour. Oh my god. I had used all purpose flour! It was ruined, I knew it.
Day 3. Update… it was not ruined! I woke up to see that my starter had doubled its size, and was full of bubbles. Since the all purpose flour seemed to be working< I decided to continue with it instead of switching to bread flour for my daily discard and feeding.
Day 4. Apparently, all purpose flour was not so bad because day 4 my starter was becoming very active, rising and falling, and bubbling. When I checked it in the morning, it still seemed like it was eating, and not quite ready to be fed again. So off I went about my day to go see a friend for some autumn activities.
Day 5. Well, apparently being tired and having a few drinks with my friend had *somehow* caused me to forget to feed my starter the previous day. The fifth day brings a slightly hungover me to very apprehensively check on my neglected starter. It has fallen down the jar considerably, and has some sort of disgusting looking brown liquid on top of it. Great. I’d blown it. Probably should have not drank the last two beers and been clear headed. Star is perched on the kitchen table, giving me super judgement. She starts to groom herself, I start furiously googling on what might be going on with my poor starter.
Good news! I didn’t blow it. Having the dark liquid on top of the starter just means that it is very hungry, and a feeding will make it perk right back up. I do my daily discard, making sure all the vile liquid on top is gone with it. Making sure to switch my daily feeding measurements to 1 cup flour and ½ cup water, I feed it and profusely apologize to it (I mean it is alive after all). By the end of the day, the starter seems to have returned to its former glory. To be safe, I decide to repeat day 5.
Day 5 Number 2. Today the sourdough starter has risen considerably, and has much larger bubbles in it. It smells slightly sweet and tangy, very much like dough. It even looks much more like dough and has a consistency that is somehow both thick and liquid (ish) all at the same time. After its first feeding, I notice at the end of the day that it has fallen a bit, and isn’t hitting the top of the jar. But it still looks extremely active, so I decide to not feed it a second time. Overfeeding a starter can make it lethargic and possibly die, so starving it would actually be the better choice since it can be revived.
Day 6. The final day has arrived! I wake up to Star meowing quite demandingly at me for treats, and an extremely active starter. It is bubbling a lot, both at the top and throughout. It has climbed to the top of the jar. Success!! Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I do the final discard, and this time I decide to save some of the discard in a separate jar since the starter is basically established I can use the discard for other recipes. I feed my starter its meal of 1 cup flour and ½ cup of water and mix it well. Put the lid on and go about doing some cleaning and making some lunch. After only about a few hours, the starter has already almost doubled in size. And, much to my delight, the starter passed the float test! The float test is when you take a small bit of your starter and place it in a glass of water to see if it floats or sinks. If it sinks, not to worry. Just continue with feedings and discarding for a couple more days, or adjust the temp the starter is in. if it floats, you are ready to bake a loaf!
What are some of your experiences with making sourdough starter? I would love to hear!
Stay tuned for the next adventure in Sourdough Speculations, baking bread!