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How to Make a Sourdough Starter: Day Four

Posted By Nicole On September 26, 2011 @ 9:36 pm In Adventures in Baking,Breads,Sourdough | 8 Comments

I was really excited to check on my starter this morning, because after the activity yesterday, I was sure that it would double in size overnight.  Wrong.  Today it looked about the same as yesterday.  Yes, it did bubble and grow a bit after feeding it last night, but it never grew past the level it reached on day three. 

In The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart says to let it sit out at room temperature for an extra 12 to 24 hours if it hasn’t doubled in size on day four, but it seemed to me that the poor thing probably wanted to be fed on schedule.  So I went ahead and dumped out half of the contents of the jar, mixed the remaining starter with 1 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour and half a cup of filtered water.  I poured it back into the clean jar, adjusted the rubber band to mark the level, covered it, and crossed my fingers.

Tomorrow we’ll delve a little more into the world of sourdough.  I’ll tell you more about what’s actually happening in this jar of mine and what we can do with it once the starter has matured.  Thanks for following along on this little adventure!

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.

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