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How to Make a Sourdough Starter: Day Three

My starter has come to life!  Well, at least it has bubbles and has grown a bit for the first time.  When I checked on it this morning, this is what it looked like.  I thought it might grow a bit more throughout the day, but no such luck.

In order to feed the starter today, it is necessary to discard half of what’s in the jar before adding new flour and water.  If you have a friend who is interested in cultivating a sourdough starter, you can put the extra in a separate jar and pass it along.  Wondering why we need to discard part of it before feeding? Our fledgling starter is hungry and needs fresh flour and water each day to feed on and grow stronger.  In order to keep a manageable amount of starter in our jar and not have it overflow, part of it needs to be removed before the fresh flour and water is added each day.  Once the starter is strong and has a good flavor, you can use the extra for bread, pancakes, waffles, English muffins… the options are endless.

This evening I discarded half of what was in my jar then mixed the remaining starter, one cup of unbleached all-purpose flour, and half a cup of filtered water.  I stirred it up well then dumped it back into my clean jar.  If you want to start mixing everything together in the jar instead of a separate bowl, that’s fine.  I like having a clean jar because it’s easier to see how much it grows and makes for nicer photographs.

I’m looking forward to what I find tomorrow morning – hopefully it grows even more overnight!

Want to create your own sourdough starter?

Here are the instructions (click on the links for photos):

Day One: In a small bowl, mix one cup of whole wheat or whole rye flour with 3/4 cup (6 oz) canned pineapple juice (at room temperature) until all of the flour is hydrated.  Scrape mixture into a quart-size wide mouth glass container, such as a jar or glass measuring cup.  Mark the level of the starter with a piece of tape or rubber band. Cover the container with a paper towel, cheesecloth, or coffee filter and secure with a rubber band.  Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day Two: You probably won’t notice much change at this point.  Scrape the contents of the jar into a mixing bowl and add 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose or unbleached bread flour plus 1/2 cup pineapple juice (make sure juice is room temperature).  Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Wash and dry your glass container and scrape the mixture into the container.  Mark and cover the container just like day one.  Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day Three: You may notice some activity at this point.  The mixture may have risen some and there might be bubbles.  Regardless of whether you notice any fermentation or not, discard half of the mixture (or give it to a friend to cultivate), and mix the remaining half with 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose or bread flour and 1/2 cup filtered water (make sure water is room temperature).  Wash and dry your container and scrape the mixture into the container.  Mark and cover as before.  Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day Four: The mixture should have at least doubled in size at this point.  If it seems to be sluggish and hasn’t doubled in size, allow it to sit at room temperature for another 12 to 24 hours.  Otherwise, repeat instructions for Day three.

Day Five: Feed the starter (repeating day three instructions) first thing in the morning and then again in the evening (about 12 hours apart).

Day Six: If your starter has been very active and always doubles in size (or more) between feedings, then your starter is ready to bake with.  You may also choose to refrigerate your starter at this point and slow down the feedings to once a week.  If you’d like to bake some bread, here is a basic sourdough bread recipe to get you started.  If your starter still seems a little sluggish, continue with the twice daily feedings as above.

Day Seven: Same as above.

If you’d like to play along, I’d love to hear about it.  Please feel free to share photos of your sourdough starter experiments on the Pinch My Salt Facebook page.  If you’re a blogger and decide to write about the process, please share your links with me so that I can share them with others.