A very long time ago I made my first sourdough starter using the instructions from my first baking book. I loved it! Knowing I made bread using yeast from the air was almost magic. I’m sure that I let the poor thing die in the back of the fridge but since then I’ve experimented with quite a few starters.
When we moved in our current home something weird started going on. My starter lived in a quart jar on the counter and I would use it and feed it cups of flour and water for months. Then suddenly one day it would look odd and smell like nail polish remover. Not a good thing! Out it would go and I would be back at the beginning. Finally I gave up because I couldn’t stand to waste so much flour.
Then one day a friend gave me a jar of her starter. A tiny little 8 ounce jar of it. Her sister-in-law gave it to her and it was from the bakery where she worked in Denver. My new starter had a past!
The instructions blew my mind. Every time I fed it I was to pour 20 grams in a clean jar and stir in 20 grams of flour and 20 grams of water. That was it! No waste! No discarding cups of starter and adding in cups more of fresh flour! No mysterious transmogrification into nail polish remover since it was always in a new jar! No elaborate schedules and timing charts! All I had to do was feed it and put it back into the fridge. So this little starter is what I’ve been using for years. We are very happy with each other.
If you are new to sourdough baking, a starter is a mixture of flour, water, and live yeast that you keep alive by feeding it fresh flour and water so you can use it raise your bread. It’s as simple as that! The easiest way to get going is to find a friend with a starter and ask them to share. If you are the sourdough pioneer in your friend group then it’s simple to start your own, just pick up a sourdough book and follow the directions or look on YouTube.
Whether you get one from a friend or establish your own, all you need to do to feed it and keep it alive is pour about 2 tablespoons in a clean jar and stir in 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water, put a lid on it, and store it in your fridge until you need it for baking.
There are unlimited sourdough recipes online for bread, pancakes, biscuits, and so much more. I’ll post my favorite artisan bread recipe soon and show you my minimalist methods that make it super easy to bake bread without elaborate techniques, ingredients, or tools. It’s so simple you can fit it into any schedule and have amazing bread from your own kitchen for a fraction of the price of a loaf of bread from the store. I hope you give it a try!