If you haven’t started your starter yet, make sure to check out Step 1 and then this image of what your starter will look like after about 24 hours of fermentation.
Has your little bowl of flour and water been sitting for 2 to 3 (or maybe 4 or 5) days? Seeing those bubbles yet? Has your starter formed a nice little crusty upper shell? The “crust” isn’t required, it just kind of happens when air meets flour combined with water.
Once you see a good amount of activity (aka bubbles) when you look through the glass bowl, congrats! You’ve harnessed wild yeasts (and bacteria), and now it’s time to start training them so you can
ride them off into the sunset use them to make unbelievable bread.
This training period is a feeding of your starter and it will allow the community of bacteria and yeast that provide the flavor and rise of sourdough to become stable and reliable. As Chad Robertson says in his book Tartine Bread (from which we are drawing this entire edition of Sourdough Starter School) this is the time to pay attention to how your sourdough changes throughout the fermentation process. Give it a good sniff before and after feeding. What has changed? When do you see the most bubbles? Do you notice a difference in appearance, smell or consistency when the temperature in your home shifts? Give a little attention to all of these things, and you’ll begin to develop a sense of when your starter has stabilized and when it’s ready to use as actual leaven for bread. We’ll discuss both of those over the next 3 days of Sourdough Starter School, but for now, let’s get feeding.
Making Sourdough Starter, Step 2
Adapted from Chad Robertson’s Tartine Bread (essential reading for anyone who wants to make great, naturally-leavened bread at home).
- Small, glass bowl
- clean kitchen cloth
- (optional) kitchen scale
- 20% of the sourdough starter from Step 1
- 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flour
- lukewarm water, approximately 77°F-80°F (25°C to 26.7°C), but you don’t need to measure temp at this point
Now that a few days have passed and you have a reasonable number of bubbles to prove that fermentation is happening, you’ll need to ditch about 80% of the fermented batter. (Don’t fret about this too much! I’ll have more on the whys on that tomorrow, so if you hate food waste, throw that excess 80% in the fridge for tonight.)
Keep 20% of the starter, and then replace the 80% you tossed out with equal parts flour mix and lukewarm water. You can definitely eyeball this, but if you want to do this more accurately, use a kitchen scale.* So by weight, an example: Let’s say the bubbly starter in your bowl weighs 150 g. You remove 30 g of the starter and add it to a clean bowl. To that same, clean bowl, add 60 g of lukewarm water and 60 g of flour mix. You’ll be back to the original 150 g.
Use clean hands to mix everything together until you have a thick batter. Scrape as much as you can off your hands and from around the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with a cloth and rubber band and let it sit for about 24 hours.
Next steps will be posted tomorrow.
New here? Start Here:
- Step 1 (Days 1-3) – Let’s Get This Starter Started
- What your starter will look like after 24 hours of fermentation
- Step 2 (Days 3-7) – Stabilizing Your Starter (You Are Here)
- Why You Should Do a “Low-proportion” Sourdough Feeding
- 4 Things to Make with Excess Starter
- Getting Ready to Actually Bake a Loaf! Equipment and Starter Health Check
- Preparing the Leaven
- (Up Tuesday) Mixing the Dough and Bulk Fermentation
- (Up Wednesday) Dividing, Shaping, Final Rise
- (Up Thursday) Baking and Cooling
*I’ve made this both ways. You will want to use a kitchen scale for the actual bread-making parts of this process, but at this stage, eyeballing is totally fine. In fact, I haven’t noticed any difference between weighing and eyeballing.