Sourdough starter is an amazing thing. It’s a living organism that has been around for thousands of years. It’s also incredibly simple to make. All you need is flour, water, and yeast.
But there’s one problem. If you leave the sourdough starter out at room temperature, it will start growing mold. So if you want to use it straight away, you’ll need to keep it cold.
However, you can use a sourdough starter straight from the fridge. Here’s how to do it.
A sourdough starter is basically just bread dough with some extra ingredients added in. These include:
Flour – This helps feed your bacteria so they multiply quickly.
Yeast – A natural form of sugar that feeds on starch.
Water – To help hydrate the mixture.
Salt – For flavor. And sometimes other things like seeds or nuts.
Yes, but only when stored properly!
If you’re using a commercial brand of sourdough starter, then this should be fine. But homemade starters are different. They have more complex flavors than store-bought ones.
So before you go ahead and try making your own starter, read up about them first. There are many great resources online where you can learn all about these little guys.
Whether or not your sourdough starter has been fed, you may use it directly from the fridge. While a freshly fed beginning will rise your dough faster, a starter that hasn’t been fed in a few days will still raise your dough. Allow it to come to room temperature if you want to speed up the fermentation process. Additionally, don’t worry too much about feeding it every day. Just give it enough time to grow.
It depends on what kind of starter you’ve made. Some require less maintenance while others need constant attention. However, most people find their starter after two weeks.
You might notice that your starter doesn’t look as active as it did when you began. That’s because it needs to rest. After 2 weeks, you can begin adding new batches of flour and water.
You can add 1/4 cup of flour per week until you reach 3 cups total. Then wait another week before adding any additional flour. Once you hit 4 cups, you can stop adding flour altogether.
When you see bubbles forming, you know your starter is ready to use. At this point, you can either let it sit overnight or refrigerate it immediately. Either way works well.
The reason why we recommend waiting 24 hours between feeding your starter is that it allows the yeast to fully activate. When you mix fresh flour into your starter, the yeast starts working right away. As soon as it gets going, it consumes the available sugars in the flour.
This causes the pH level to drop which makes it harder for the yeast to work effectively. By giving your starter a chance to settle down, you allow the yeast to really kick-off. Once you start mixing your starter again, make sure you keep an eye out for signs of overfeeding. If you see lots of foam coming off the top of your starter, then you probably went overboard.
Also, remember that there’s no such thing as "too much" salt. Salt isn’t harmful at high levels. In fact, it actually benefits your starter by helping to balance its acidity. So feel free to sprinkle liberally throughout the entire recipe. Your starter will rise and decrease throughout this 4-12 hour period. You may get a quicker rise and superb oven spring if you catch it at the proper time. When it has achieved its maximum height and is just about to deflate again, this is the best moment to utilize it.
If you’re using a 100 percent hydration starter, you’ll see a surface covered with bubbles at this stage. At this stage in the sourdough starter’s cycle, the bacteria have devoured the majority of their "meal" and can no longer generate gas. This means they are now producing lactic acid instead of carbon dioxide. These acids help create flavor and texture in baked goods. They also contribute to the overall healthiness of your bread.
While some prefer to feed their starter daily, others like to skip this step entirely. This method requires patience but also results in better-tasting bread.
To do so, simply place your starter in a bowl with warm tap water. Let it soak for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly and discard the soaking liquid. Mix together equal parts flour and water. Add one tablespoon of sugar to each batch. Stir vigorously until combined. Cover tightly and leave alone for 12 – 16 hours. Afterward, drain the mixture through a cheesecloth and transfer it back to the original container. Store in the refrigerator.
If you’re using a large amount of starter, consider dividing it among several containers. Each should be kept separate. They’ll all have different amounts of activity depending on how often they are fed. Some people even use multiple starters within the same household.
Sourdough starters last indefinitely when stored properly.
However, most recipes call for them to be used up after 3 days or less. It depends on what type of dough you plan to bake. For example, pizza crusts need more leavening than baguettes. Also, don’t forget that sourdough starters contain live cultures. Overuse could result in spoilage.
I hope this post helped you with what you were looking for.