The Initial Starter:
Whisk 50g gluten free flour and 50g warm filtered or spring water in a small bowl. Pour this into a clean, sterilized glass jar. Cover with a cheesecloth or paper towel securing it around with an elastic band and let sit for 12 hours at room temperature.
After 12 hours, whisk the starter and add 50g flour and 50g water. Cover and let sit for 12 hours at room temperature. Continue adding 50g flour and 50g water every 12 hours for up to a week. Your starter should start bubbling within a few days. As you feed your starter, take care to whisk in the flour and water thoroughly into the established starter – aerating the starter will help to yield the best and most reliable results.
The starter should be “spongy” in appearance with maybe some foamy bubbles on top and some air pockets in the mixture. It should have a slight sour smell. Your starter is now active and is ready to be used. If not needed immediately cover with cheesecloth and refrigerate.
Once the starter is officially created, it enters maintenance mode. The frequency of feedings is determined by how much starter you need and how often you plan to use it.
- At a minimum, the starter can be kept in the refrigerator and fed once a week merely to sustain life (the yeast).
- You can continue to feed it daily as you have been, and in another seven days there will be enough starter for another batch of bread.
- You can also feed it daily with as little as one tablespoon of flour and water – enough to continue daily growth but not produce a large quantity of starter.
However frequent or infrequent you decide to feed your starter, the yeast thrives best when it’s fed regularly and consistently. Choose your time frame and quantity and stick with it as best as you can.
Using Your Starter:
Use your starter when it is active. An active starter is one that has been fed within the past 12 hours, and is active enough that it was able to double in size after that feeding. If you fed your starter and it didn’t double, you should feed it a few more times before using. The best time to use the starter is somewhere between the time it reaches its peak and before it starts to fall.
Maintaining And Reviving Your Starter:
If you bake less than once a week, you can store your starter in the fridge and feed it once a week. When needed, remove starter from fridge and bring to room temperature. Feed and stir well to combine. Leave for 12 hours before you plan to bake. If you bake every day or a few times a week, you can store your starter at room temperature and feed it every 12 hours or twice a day to keep it alive. This is very important.
Try at least feeding the starter with as much flour as there is starter. You don’t need too much starter at a time, so for instance use 25g starter, 25g flour, and 25g water for the first feeding out of the fridge. The next feeding 12 hours later start with all of the starter from the previous feeding (75g), add 75g flour and 75g water. You should see really large bubbles in the starter with this feeding schedule. When it’s really bubbly bake with it. You will have 225g of starter to work with – that should be plenty. Just make sure you have at least 10g starter left when you’re done to build up the new batch of starter.
Considerations For Your Starter:
Using a whisk helps to aerate the starter more thoroughly. Aeration of the starter is essential to ensure that the bacteria are well-distributed throughout the starter and can, begin to ferment the new flour and water added to the starter at each feeding. Proper aeration of the sourdough also helps to ensure that the production of hooch – a thin liquid that sometimes rises to the top of sourdough starter – is minimized.
If a hooch does appear, don’t worry, it is harmless. It often signifies that you’ve overfed your starter with water in relation to flour or have let your starter go too long between feedings. Sourdough starters are relatively resilient, and bounce back quickly once you resume proper care of them.
Do not ever cover your jar airtight. The mixture is harvesting the yeast from the environment and needs the air to breathe. Even while in the fridge. Furthermore, the process of fermentation releases carbon dioxide which can build up in a tightly lidded jar and explode. Remember your starter will expand and rise to twice its volume after a feeding once it’s well-established so the jar you choose should have double the capacity of an un-fed starter.