Making a sourdough starter

fitnaturally always encourages people to eat real bread, but what is real bread? It’s bread made from no more than flour, water, yeast and salt, and in the case of sourdough the yeast is naturally cultured in your kitchen! Just 20 mins hands on time gets you the most delicious loaf of bread which contributes to a healthy gut. Gorgeously chewy and holey, with a delicious tang, and far more filling and nutritious than the mass-produced pap that’s widely available. It’s the stuff of life!
  • bag of rye flour
  • bag of very strong Canadian white flour
  • water
Day 1:
Mix 20g rye flour and 30g of lukewarm water in a tall-sided cereal bowl or large glass jar with a lid. Either cover with clingfilm and pierce small holes, or half close the lid of the jar – a little bit of air needs to get in so that airborne yeasts can gather! Leave it somewhere not too cold, a kitchen table or shelf is fine.

Day 2:
Add the same again, 20/30 mix. Stir, cover and leave. At this stage it will look very boring and brown, and inactive.

Day 3:
Add 50g of very strong white flour and 50g of lukewarm water (always weigh the water rather than using a measuring jug). You’ll start to see some activity in your starter after a few hours, give it a sniff and watch it start to make small bubbles! It should smell faintly yeasty and very slightly tangy. Stir, cover and leave for another day.

Day 4:
When you wake up your starter should be a fair bit more active. Add 100g of very strong white flour and 100g of lukewarm water. Stir, cover and leave for another day.

Day 5:
You’ll now have your starter and it will be fairly active. Now’s the time to give it a little more power for a day of so before you bake.

Transfer 150g of the starter to a new container and mix in 100g of white flour and 50g of lukewarm water. This will make it much thicker and help it in its quest to become lava-like! You should consider this to be your starter now. Clingfilm it, pierce a few holes and leave for another several hours. You’ll soon notice volcanic eruptions and an increase in size. Say hello to your new baby! After some hours it should look like the one in the picture, and you are ready to bake.

If you have any original starter leftover, I advise that you make a spare using the instructions above and once you’ve left it to get bubbly store it in an airtight jar in the fridge. You can reactivate it if at any time your main starter gets moody, or stolen… :D You could even give it to a friend, spread the sourdough love.

If you’re baking straight away then keep your starter out of the fridge, otherwise store it in the fridge and take it out 24 hours before baking, feed and refresh it. I tend to bake every day or every other day so mine never goes in the fridge, and gets lots of feedings. Your starter is now your new baby!

All the rest of the days:
When I feed my starter I never actually measure anything cos who even has time for it?! Just add enough flour to feed it without drowning it out, and enough water to make it into a very thick paste. It softens out when left to do its thing. After a few hours it will be ready to use again. Once a week I add some rye flour just to up the enzyme activity, just a dessert spoon of it.

NOTE: You may wish to swap containers along the way as it can all get very messy! I usually transfer to a clean bowl every other day. Glass is probably best for storage as nothing leaches out of glass into the food that’s inside it, unlike plastic.

There are so many sourdough recipes and techniques out there, you could choose any number to try. A great place to start is to try any recipe by James Morton, who has such a practical and straightforward approach to bread-making.

When you have your sourdough starter up and running you can move on to actually baking a loaf <3
Nutrition info
Sourdough bread contains over thirty strains of beneficial bacteria and yeasts which help the gut to build and maintain healthy bacteria. It's a natural probiotic food - the gut is our second brain and strongly influences overall health.
Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter the greatest of feasts.
James Beard
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