It took me years to get up the courage to begin a sourdough starter—it just seemed so hard. Once I realized how easy it was (and how many recipes you can make with it) I encourage everyone to give it a go. It takes about a week, but your active time is only about 5 minutes a day. Now I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to all the things I can make with it; pizza dough, waffles, doughnuts, Dutch oven loaves and more!
Things You'll Need
1 cup whole wheat flour
5-7 cups all purpose flour
Storage jar with breathable lid (not air tight)
Day 1: Add 1 cup whole wheat flour (you can also use rye flour) and 1/2 cup bottled water to a clean storage jar with a lid that isn't air tight. Stir to combine, then store at room temperature.
Bottled water is what you need! The contaminants in tap water, like chlorine, can inhibit yeast's ability to grow and kill your starter!
Day 2: Remove about half of the starter (this should be about 4oz removed, and 4oz left). Feed the remaining starter with 1 cup all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup bottled water and stir. Place the lid back on the jar and store at room temperature.
Hey! Why did we switch flours? Whole wheat flour has more of the good bacteria and yeast that you're looking for, so that's why we started with it. Once the starter is active, most people prefer the flavors of a starter with all-purpose flour. If you want a whole wheat starter, feel free to continue with that type of flour!
Day 3: You may or may not see less activity today than yesterday, and that's OK! Just feed as you did yesterday and store at room temperature.
Days 4-7: Continue to pour out half, feed with 1 cup all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup bottled water, stir and store at room temperature once a day until the starter is ready.
To determine if your starter is ready, you want to look for two things; bubbles and volume. If there are a lot of bubbles and the starter is larger than it was the day before, it's probably ready. To test, drop a small amount into a bowl of water. If it floats, it's ready to go!
Once the starter is ready, you can use the amount you remove during a regular feeding as the base for your recipe. Discard it (or give it to a friend to use as their own starter) if you don't plan to bake. If you use it regularly, store at room temperature and feed daily.
If you won't use it regularly, just store it in the fridge after a feeding for up to a week. Remove from the fridge and feed weekly. Once you want to use it, wake it up by feeding it and leaving it at room temp for about 36 hours before baking.