How to make zero-waste Sourdough starter

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My first acquaintance with Sourdough starter was 2-3 years ago when I learned that Sourdough bread is the best possible bread for our health, particularly for our digestion system and blood sugar level. It sounds such a perfect choice for both my husband and me. Because we both have gastro-related issues, and we want to watch our sugar intake.

So I decided to learn how to make the Sourdough starter and the Sourdough bread. I learned how to make the starter first. It turned out well, but it left me with the discard during the process of making it — which is 7 days until the starter was ripe. So I had to make all sorts of things such as cakes, naan bread, pita bread, pancakes, etc.

But then life got so busy that I didn’t have time to make things with Sourdough starter, and I forgot to feed my starter that it went completely off. I was so annoyed with myself because I literally wasted a big jar of starter. 

When I made another starter, I decided to try a small amount. I couldn’t find any starter recipes that advise making a small amount of starter. So I experimented with it myself. I cut down everything and tried to see if it worked. And it worked. I got a small jar of good quality starter full of bubbly sourdough at the end of 7th day. The best thing was I didn’t have to worry about discarding the starter during the process of growing my bacteria in the starter. Except for the 6th day when I halved the starter and used the discard to make naan bread so that I stayed on keeping a small jar of starter.

How to make the Sourdough starter

What you need:

  • Good quality of flour, preferably organic.
  • Cooled boiled water. Or shop-bought still spring water.
  • Jars: mason jar or cookie jar at small to large sizes. (See the note).

Day 1:

1 tablespoon of flour + 1 tablespoon of water.

Put them in the jar and stir well. Cover the jar with its lid but don’t tight it. Just leave it loose.

Leave the jar in a place far from direct sunlight at room temperature.

Day 2:

The starter from the previous day + 1 tablespoon of flour + 1 tablespoon of water.

Get a new jar, and put all the ingredients above together. 

Stir well, and cover the jar with its lid loosely.

Leave it on your kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight.

Day 3:

The starter from previous day + 2 tablespoons of flour + 2 tablespoons of water.

Get a dry and clean jar ready. Put in all the ingredients together and stir it well.

Cover the jar loosely with its lid, and leave it on your kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight.

Day 4:

The starter from previous day + 4 tablespoons of flour + 4 tablespoons of water.

Get a medium-sized jar ready. Mix all the ingredients in the new jar and give it a good stir.

Put the jar lid on loosely and leave it on the kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight.

Day 5:

The starter from previous day + 8 tablespoons of flour + 6 tablespoons of water.

Get a large-sized jar ready and put all the ingredients in. Mix and stir it well.

Cover the jar with its lid lightly, and put the jar on your kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight.

Day 6:

Now you can start using your sourdough starter as it’s quite ripe. I used it to make sourdough naan bread and sourdough chapattis. So here, I give you 2 options for feeding the starter.

Option 1:

Take 1 cup of starter, put in a dry clean jar, and set aside the discard. Then add 1 cup of flour and ¾ cup of water. Mix it and stir it well then cover the jar with its lid lightly. Leave it somewhere on the kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight.

You can use the discard to make anything you want, e.g. Sourdough pita bread, Sourdough naan bread, Sourdough pancakes, Sourdough chocolate cake, etc.

Option 2:

Put 2 cups of flour in a dry clean jar (large) and put all the starter in then add in 1 ¾ cups of water. Mix and stir it well. Put the jar lid on and cover it lightly. 

If you plan to use the starter on the following day, you can leave the jar on the kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight. But if you don’t plan to make anything with the starter very soon, then you can keep the jar in the fridge.

Once the starter is kept in the fridge, you won’t have to feed it every day. Once a week is enough. 

The notes:

  • The better quality of your flour, the better quality of your starter will be. 
  • You can always start with plain flour, and then feed it with a different type of flour. Just make sure the ratio is right.
  • For the liquid, you can use cooled boiled water, or still spring water. However, you can also use flavoured still water, or even fruit juice. Apple juice seems the popular one. 
  • If you don’t want to make anything until your starter is fully ripe, on the 6th day you need a large jar that fits 6 cups of liquid. 

How to feed the Sourdough starter

As a general rule of thumb, you can feed the starter once a week by adding equal amounts of flour to the starter. For example, if you have 1 cup of Sourdough starter, then you have to add 1 cup of flour and ¾ water. You can also do 1:1:1 ratio which is 1 cup of starter with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water. I do both ratios. Somehow I prefer the less hydrated one. Because it makes less runny starter and it seems I get more bacterias when I put less water.

So you can keep an eye on your starter and make a good judgement yourself. 

Sometimes life can be so busy that you may forget to feed your starter. If this happens, don’t worry too much if you miss feeding a day or two later than you should. Your Sourdough starter can survive longer than we thought it could. 

The signs that your starter is desperate for feeding is when you can see the water/ liquid on the top of the starter. Its colour is slightly brownish/ greyish. But if you see mould or your starter has orange streaks, then it means your starter has gone off. It took my first Sourdough starter for more than 4 weeks in the fridge without feeding to go off before I had to throw it in the bin.

Before you feed your starter, stir it well first until all the liquid on the top is mixed. Then you put it in a clean jar together with the flour and the water.

How to make the most of your starter

Now, you can use your starter literally in any cooking recipes that use flour. I’ve tried making cakes, brownies, naan bread, pita bread, pancakes and bread with Sourdough starter. And I’m planning to experiment more.

By using your starter, you won’t forget to feed it. Because you can feed your starter at the same time you want to use it.

If you think you’ll use your starter every day, you don’t need to keep your starter in the fridge. Because the cool temperature kinda slows down the growth of the bacteria in the starter. So you want to keep it on your kitchen worktop away from direct sunlight instead. Just make sure you feed it every time you take some of it for cooking.

But if you don’t use it for more than a day, then yes please keep your starter in the fridge. Otherwise, it gets “thirsty” easily that you have to feed it every day.

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If you find the post good, feel free to share it and pin it. You may also want to check my other posts:

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Thank you. All the best.

Happy cooking 🍽.

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