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Sourdough Starter for Beginners (Q&A)
We have had a bunch of sourdough starter questions and we finally have got our stuff together and have answered all those darn questions on this episode of Sourdough Starter for Beginners! A lot of the answers fortify the starter basics but we all know the basics are the most important part of any foundation, so let’s get goin’!
We do hope we’ve answered all your questions, but if we forgot anything and your like “HEY, WHAT ABOUT THAT!”… then don’t be afraid to ask!
Q: What is a sourdough starter?
A: Sourdough starter is a fermented dough with a natural wild yeast. It makes sourdough bread rise and is an alternative to dry yeast.
Q: How much do I feed a sourdough starter?
A: Feed your starter equal part starter, flour and water. (50 grams each of starter, flour and water OR 1/4 cup starter, 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water)
Q: What is a discard and what should you do with it?
A: A discard is sourdough starter you empty out of your jar to make room for feeding. You can bake with it or throw it away.
Q: What is an active starter?
A: It’s sourdough starter that’s ben fed, bubbled up and is ready to bake with.
Q: What type of flour should I use?
A: You can use any type of flour you like. We usually use AP white flour.
Q: Should you mix flours?
A: Mix any flours you like. It depends on your preference.
Q: Should you keep the starter in the fridge or on the counter?
A: If you bake a lot leave the starter on the counter and feed it twice a day, 12 hours apart. If you don’t bake a lot keep the starter in the fridge and take it out once a week feeding it twice that day, 12 hours apart. Then you can put it back in the fridge for another week.
Q: What temperature do I need to keep my starter at?
A: A starter needs to be kept at room temperature. You can refrigerate a starter but it needs to be at room temperature to feed and grow.
Q: What is room temperature?
A: Room temperature is around 20-22 degrees C (or 68-72 degrees F).
Q: Can sourdough starter sit directly in the sunlight?
A: No. Direct sunlight can kill the yeast.
Q: Do I close the lid tight or leave it a little loose?
A: Place the lid on top of the jar but leave it a little loose to avoid pressure build up.
Q: When do I feed my sourdough starter?
A: If you leave the starter on the counter feed it twice a day, 12 hours apart. If you leave it in the fridge, take it out once a week, and feed it twice that day, 12 hours apart, then back in the fridge for another week.
Q: What temperature water do I use when I feed it?
A: Cool or room temperature water. Don’t use hot water it can kill the yeast.
Q: When can I bake with sourdough starter?
A: When the starter is fed and it bubbles and doubles in size, it’s ready to bake with.
Q: Why does the starter smell funny?
A: Starters smell funky but as long as there is no black mold, embrace the funk!
Q: Why isn’t my starter growing?
A: Make sure to feed it at room temperature, twice a day, 12 hours apart until it becomes active (approx. 3-4 days).
Q: Can you over feed a starter?
A: Yes. If you feed your starter more than twice a day it can slow down the wild yeast from becoming active.
Q: Can you freeze a sourdough starter?
A: Yes. But DO NOT FREEZE IN GLASS! You can freeze a sourdough starter but put it in a ziploc bag first. Defrost and transfer back to the jar before feeding.
Q: Why is there a clear liquid on the top (or bottom) of my starter?
A: The clear liquid is a sign that you need to feed your starter. Pour the liquid out or mix it in when you feed, it won’t make a difference.
Q: Does sourdough starter go bad?
A: Starters can go bad, but they can also live over 100 years, as long as there is no black mold and you keep feeding it, it is good to go.
Q: Do you need self-rising flour?
A: No. Any flour will do, use your favourite.
Q: Should I use tap, bottled or mineral water?
A: Use any water you like as long as it is safe to drink.
Q: Is my starter dead and can I bring it back to life?
A: Just keep feeding it twice a day, 12 hours apart, out of direct sunlight, at room temperature. It will come back to life!
If you want to know how to make a sourdough starter or feed a sourdough starter, this is a great place to start, most importantly have fun with the starter because the possibilities are nearly endless.
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