Free Video: What, How, & Why of a Sourdough Starter

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How do you make a sourdough starter? What’s happening in a sourdough starter? What’s so great about sourdough bread? This video tells you all that and more. It is a video demonstration from Lesson 1 in the Sourdough eCourse and Sourdough A to Z eBook.

Our free sample chapter includes the print version of everything I said in that video. Fill out the form below and I’ll send it to you. :)

You Can Do It!

Making a sourdough starter is easy, thanks to the already-present and abundant wild organisms on whole grain flour (the fresher the better). My two daughters have done it — I know you can, too! (You can get the instructions in our free sample chapter — see the form above.)

sourdough-starter

What’s Next?

Pretty soon your sourdough starter will be bubbly, active and ready to work. Use it in any of these yummy, easy, recipes, great for beginners or experienced bakers alike: fluffy pancakes, waffles, english muffins, crepes, chocolate cake, spice cake, or pizza crust — all free recipes right here on this blog.

sourdough-pizza-crust

The recipes linked above — as well as the additional recipes in the eCourse and eBook — use whole-grain flours. In addition, we always call for the entirety of the flour to be “soured” by the sourdough starter — ensuring maximum reduction of phytic acid and pre-digestion of gluten. You can bet that these recipes are the healthiest around!

Have you made a sourdough starter before? Now that you’ve seen why sourdough is so much better than modern bread baking practices, what do you think? What’s your favorite thing to make with sourdough?

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Comments

  1. says

    I LOVE this! I’ve been wishing I could take your sourdough eCourse (too busy and not enough $$ in the budget right now…) as I enjoy baking with sourdough. I feel like my homework has been done for me in just this one video since on my to-do list is “research how sourdough works.” Thank you!! Will be posting a link to this. :) Blessings, ~Lisa

  2. Lydia says

    Hi Wardee! Thank you for making this available for free! I would like to start some sourdough, but need a gluten free starter. Do you think I would have more success with oat flour or millet flour?

    Thanks for the help.
    Lydia

    • says

      Hi Lydia!
      I personally haven’t made starters with either of those flours. The GF starter recipe I use is here: http://glutenfreesourdough.blogspot.com/2010/01/boosted-brown-rice-starter-gluten-free.html There are also lots of tips in the Sourdough A to Z book, which I would highly recommend getting if you’re going to be doing lots of GF sourdough baking!

      I suspect that you could use millet flour to feed the starter once you have it established, but I found that oat flour gave it a funny smell and taste when I used it with sourdough, not sure why? Do you have a particular reason for avoiding rice flour?

      • Lydia says

        Thank you Sara!

        I wasn’t really avoiding rice flour, it’s just that the bread I’ve made so far turned out best with millet and oats, however they weren’t sprouted or soaked. I’m just now getting into the soaking part of our food prep. I will check out the link you provided.

        By the way, Wardee, I am planning on purchasing the e-books for fundamentals and sourdough. Just as soon as I have some pennies scraped together!

        Thank You Ladies, God Bless you and your loved ones!
        Lydia

  3. Sue Rine says

    Thank you Wardee. Your video added some more tips for managing my sourdough starter. I made the gingerbread from your sour dough book a few days ago. Sooo delicious and the sourdough shy members of the family didn’t even guess that it was sourdough! :-)
    I had a day in the kitchen recenty and had the starter sat near the woodstove which was fired up for baking. It was fizzing away and I was able to use some and refeed it during the day with just a few hours between feeds. It was like having a wee friend in the kitchen as I baked. :-)

  4. says

    I was blessed with some mature starter from a good friend of mine and I’m really enjoying it! I’m going to have to find the extra $$ in the budget so I can take this ecourse. This video was very interesting! I’ve always wondered about the “mechanics” of sourdough.

    Here’s a question for those who leave their starter out all the time: Do you find that your house has a yummy, sourdough-bready kind of aroma all the time? When my friend gave me that starter I took a big whiff and it smelled so good! I couldn’t wait to start making something with it. I think some people might think it doesn’t smell good, but I find it comforting and homey. When I walk into my house (through the kitchen) I am greeted by that lovely sourdough smell and I love it. It kind of reminds me of my grandma, although I’m not sure she worked in sourdough. She did teach me how to knead and make bread though and every time I make bread I’m briefly transported back to when I was a little girl, kneading along side my grandma and being fascinated with the dough rising in the round, white-enameled pans with the black rims….sigh…I’m glad she’s still alive, but I know she won’t be forever and I will always cherish those memories.

  5. Sheila says

    Thank you so very much! I’ve always liked the taste and smell of sourdough bread better than regular whole wheat, but now I understand why! I can’t wait to get started on my Starter! Thank you for all you do!

  6. Clare says

    Just wanted to say thanks!! I had been wanting to do this for a while and for homeschooling we are in the middle of learning about bacteria and fungus so this video will be the perfect lesson for tomorrow!

    • says

      Sarah, it is okay if it forms a hard crust. Are you in a dry environment? Just stir that stuff back in. To get it to double in volume, you can make a thicker starter (they rise more). Keep up with the feedings and over time the organism concentration will increase and it will perform better.

  7. Kim says

    I love sourdough bread but we eat bread so infrequently is one loaf a month that it is not economical to keep a starter. I have been baking with kefir as my sourdough stater. What is your experience with that? We like the kefir sourdough bread but it does not rise as well. Any tips for that ?

    • says

      Hi, Kim! :)

      My only thought is to add a bit of baking soda just before you shape the loaves. I haven’t tried it, but it could help give a nice lift. It will react with the acid in the kefir. Start with small amounts and work up from there. Also keep in mind that it is fast-action and once it rises, won’t rise again. So really you want to work it in quickly, shape the loaf, and let rise undisturbed, then bake. Just an idea… let me know if you try it and how it goes. :)

  8. Sarah says

    Hi Wardee, When making the starter, will it still Wok if I happen to let it sit till 18 to 20 hours to feed it?

    • says

      Sarah — It might, but it probably isn’t the best idea. You want to baby it to get it going and that means regular care every 12 hours. If it was the winter and cooler temps, it’s more likely to work at that time of year than the hot summer.

  9. Karen says

    Thanks for this helpful explanation! I was just wondering if I got the proportions right? If I use 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour I get a really thick paste, not liquid at all. Is that okay?

  10. kathy says

    Am I not getting something here? I have the typical size of measuring cups. How is it that you measure 3/8 of a cup? Just thought that was a strange measurement.

  11. Megan says

    Hi, just wondering how the baking affects the lactobacilli? How does it have enough time to break down phytic acid in a dough before it gets put in the oven? Or does it just neutralize the phytic acid within the starter?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Megan — The lactobacilli and yeasts work when the flour is souring with the starter. We recommend 8-12 hours to make it the most effective. The organisms don’t survive the baking.

  12. Rhonda says

    Wardee, I’ve had an accident with my sourdough starter, I am so sad! I was making pancakes the other day and I accidentally put milk in my leftover starter. Is there any way to save it? I started another one right away and set it beside the old one in hopes to catch the wild organisms a little easier than the first time around. It seems to have gotten bubbly a lot faster than the first time I grew one. I am sure you can understand my disappointment, I’ve had it going for about 3 years from when I originally took your e course :-( Rhonda

    • says

      Hi Rhonda,

      I’ve done that also! Here is what I did for my starter; I gave it flour equal to the amount of milk. Then a few hours later I gave it a small feeding of water and flour. The next day I gave it regular feeding. My starter bounced back and was fine. Like you my starter was a few years old and fairly strong. Hope that helps.

      Millie
      GNOWFGLINS Support Team

  13. Meagan Hope Baker via Facebook says

    Just as long as you don’t have a “sick” house to sabotage your efforts. I tried and tried. I’m going to go to my parents and tend one over there. That and a ginger starter .

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