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Place 6 tablespoons of ground, whole grain flour into a wide-mouthed glass container and mix this well with 4 tablespoons of water. Filtered water is recommended as chlorinated water from the tap will be harmful to the bacteria you are trying to culture. Stir this to make sure the water and flour are well-incorporated, scraping any residue down off of the sides of the container. Secure a cover on the jar loosely. This will keep out unwanted pests and protect the new starter from drying. A loosely fitting lid also allows gases (which result as the cultures multiply) to escape without breaking your container.

Allow your new starter to sit for 12 hours and check it to see whether there are any bubbles by looking at the side of the glass. If you don’t see any bubbles, stir the starter vigorously and re-cover it loosely. Check it again in 12 hours. The presence of bubbles will tell you that there are enough organisms growing to thrive in your starter. Feeding the starter before you see bubbles could dilute the strength of your starter by separating the organisms that need each other to thrive. This happens more commonly in cooler climates

If you still aren’t seeing bubbles after two days, discard the starter and begin again with bottled spring water and a different brand of whole wheat flour.

When your starter begins to make bubbles, it will be ready for regular feedings. A feeding consists of 6 tablespoons of flour and 4 tablespoons of water. Feedings should take place every 12 hours. I feed mine each morning and evening. The starter should double itself a few hours after being fed. Place a rubber band around your glass jar to mark the level of your starter. This way, you can see how much it rises and how long it takes the starter to double. The rising time of your starter is a good indicator of how much time you will need to allow your dough to rise.

A well-fed, healthy starter will have a stable colony of microbes that will produce enough carbon dioxide to cause your dough to rise nicely. Just as you would with a garden, the key to having a healthy Sourdough starter is to give it a good environment in which to grow. In the absence of proper food, yeast and the lactobacilli will die, leaving your starter to be taken over by bad bacteria that thrive on decay. This is something that definitely WON’T enhance your bread!

When the quantity of your starter reaches 2 cups, discard half of it at each feeding. This provides the starter enough room to continue growing and keeps it from becoming too large to manage. If you wish to bake a large batch of bread at one time, you can continue feeding the starter without discarding any until you have the necessary amount. Just be sure to stir the starter vigorously at each feeding. This shuffles the microbes and allows them to access more food. They don’t have the ability to migrate to better food sources on their own.

Your new starter will be ready to make bread when it accomplishes two things. The starter should be at least 4 days old as this is the length of time required to produce an established colony of microbes. Your culture should produce bubbles and double in bulk between feedings.

If you find that your starter is not doing well, you can add a couple of tablespoons of Kefir to the mixture as a booster shot. The day before I bake a loaf of bread, I feed my starter three times: morning, noon and evening.

If your glass container becomes coated, your starter can be poured into another clean jar. I place the food mixture in a clean measuring glass and stir vigorously. Then I add the contents of my starter jar to the food, blending the entire contents well. I clean and dry the (now empty) starter container, return the newly fed starter to the jar and replace the lid loosely.

If you find that you wish to take a break from baking or will be out of town, feed your starter and place it into the refrigerator. When you wish to use it again, remove your starter and feed it. Once you see bubbles, feed it 3 times in one day. After this, it should be ready to use again.

The rising times for a recipe made with sourdough will be different than with commercial yeast. Remember to watch how your starter rises to determine the amount of time your converted recipe will require.

A cup of healthy Sourdough starter should equal one package (2 ¼ tsp) of yeast in its ability to rise. To convert a recipe, reduce the amount of liquid by ½ cup and reduce the flour by ¾ cup for each package of yeast you replace with a cup of sourdough starter. You may have to adjust the amount of water and flour to get the proper consistency to your dough.


cowgal jazzy said...

So u can make this one without the Kefir woohooooooo!

cowgal jazzy said...

Can u do this in a plastic 1 gallon container?

Kay said...

I wouldn't, The plastic can leech into your food. Here's an article by Dr. Mercola http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/22/bpa-exposure-health-problem.aspx

cowgal jazzy said...

I promise I will buy a wide mouth container at Walmart soon and start my sourdough. I want to try it to see if I can do this.. I wish I can buy flour in bulk til I can get a mill to grind up seeds...

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