Fresh, homemade sourdough bread is just about the closest thing to heaven on earth! But in order to create real sourdough bread, you must first create a sourdough stater. Once you have your mature starter going, it’s time to choose how you will maintain it to keep it strong and active for years to come!
We have a new website, Little Spoon Farm, dedicated to sourdough recipes for beginners and home bakers. It includes our updated tutorial for making a sourdough starter. It’s even easier than this one! We’ve got a bunch of beginner’s sourdough recipes to choose from too!
As you know by now, I like to keep things simple. I’ve kept my sourdough starter active and strong for well over a year now with the instructions I’m sharing with you today. Creating and maintaining a starter can be a little intimidating at first, but if you keep it simple, you’ll find that it’s very rewarding and you’ll be able to bake anytime you wish!
How much flour do I feed my starter?
Whether you follow a daily or weekly maintenance of your sourdough starter, the measurements will be the same. This keeps things easy to remember and consistent.
- 25 grams mature starter
- 100 grams filtered water
- 100 grams flour
With these measurements you will have 225 grams of mature starter at anytime.
Daily Sourdough Starter Maintenance
Use the daily sourdough starter maintenance schedule if you plan to bake several times a week. This will keep your starter active and available anytime you wish to bake.
Once a day discard all but 25 grams of mature starter. Place the 25 grams of starter into a clean jar and add 100 grams of filtered water and 100 grams of flour. Mix vigorously with a spatula, cover lightly and set on counter to ferment until the next feeding.
I like to do a daily feeding in the morning so that it has a chance to ferment during the day. That way, if I feel like putting a dough together the next day, I will take from the starter that evening to build my levain overnight, and then continue with the daily feedings as usual.
Weekly Sourdough Starter Maintenance
Use the weekly sourdough starter maintenance schedule if you plan to bake once or less per week.
Once a week, remove the jar of starter from the fridge and let it come to room temperature on the counter. Discard all but 25 grams that you will put into a clean jar. To the starter add 100 grams of filtered water and 100 grams of flour. Let the starter sit on the counter for a few hours and then place it back into the fridge until the next feeding or you are ready to make sourdough bread.
What kind of flour do I use for maintaining a sourdough starter?
You can use any kind of flour you prefer for the maintenance of your starter. To keep things simple, I prefer to use a 50/50 mixture of unbleached all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. I take 4 cups of each these two flours, mix them together in a large mixing bowl. I then transfer the mixture to a container with a tight fitting lid. This makes feeding easier as I do not have to weigh out two separate flours every time I feed.
What kind of water should I use?
Make sure that the water you use to maintain your starter does not contain chlorine, which can kill the yeast and bacteria. Either use filtered water or fill a container with water and let it sit for an hour which will allow the chlorine to dissipate before using.
So to recap, the original starter is never fully used up. It is fed regular feedings, daily or weekly, in order to keep it going! When you are ready to bake, take a small amount from the starter to build a separate levain for your dough.
Saving Sourdough Starter
It’s wise to save some of your starter as a backup, just in case! You never know what can happen. You could accidentally drop your jar, the starter could become contaminated, and the last thing you want to do is start all over again!
Instead of discarding the extra starter leftover after feeding, spread it out in a thin layer on a silicone mat. Let it dry completely and then break it into pieces and place in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in a cool dry place.
If you need to revive the dried sourdough starter, add a little water to re-hydrate and then give it daily feedings until it is active again!
Tools needed to Maintain your Sourdough Starter:
BAKER’S KITCHEN SCALE A kitchen scale is a must-have for baking sourdough bread.
BALL JARS Pint size, wide-mouth ball jars are the perfect size for 225 grams of starter.
PLASTIC BALL JAR LIDS These lids make storing the starter and other foods easy.
OXO SPATULA This spatula is my favorite because it is very sturdy and I only use it for my starter.
SILPAT MAT This is the silicone mat I use for drying out my starter.
Sourdough Starter Maintenance
- 25 grams mature starter
- 100 grams filtered water
- 100 grams unbleached flour
- Add the ingredients to a clean jar, stir vigorously and cover lightly, allowing the starter to "breath".
- Daily Maintenance: Feed the starter once a day, pick morning or evening, and allow to set at room temperature until the next feeding.
- Weekly Maintenance: In the morning take the starter out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Feed the starter and let sit on counter for a few hours or until right before bed. Store in the fridge until the next feeding.
- Any unbleached flour can be used to feed your starter.
- Make sure water is free of chlorine which can disrupt or potentially kill the yeast and bacteria in the starter.