You've got a sourdough! Now what?
Being a sour dough baker is a commitment, it’s not something you do for special occasions every few months. It’s a way of life really. A slow, intentional way of life.
You can choose to work with it daily or weekly, but if you choose weekly, you’ll have to start a couple days in advance. It’s not the quickest or easiest way to make bread, but it’s so worth it.
So, what is a starter? A sour dough starter is wonderful wild yeast. This is the life blood of your bread. It gives it lift, it gives it life. In fact, it is very much alive. Being as it is alive, we have to feed it in order to keep it alive.
How often? That depends on where it lives and how much it’s used. If it lives in a temperate climate (I’m talking room temperature here) it needs to be fed every 12-24 hours. You’ll know when its ready because it would have expanded in size to fill your jar and has lots of wonderful bubbles. You want to try and feed it before it shrinks back down.
If it lives in a colder climate (I’m talking about your fridge here), it can go for a week or so without being fed. However, in these conditions it enters survival mode and will need 3 good feedings at room temperature (this multi feeding is known as activating) before baking with it.
Here’s how you feed your new friend:
Step 1: start with roughly 1/3 c. of starter
Unless you just got your starter from me or a friend, you probably have more than 1/3 of a cup in your jar right now. (side note, if your starter is not in a quart size jar, it should be). If your starter is currently active and your ready to bake you can put the excess starter into a mixing or measuring bowl to use for baking. If your starter is not active or you are not planning on baking today discard that excess starter- preferably by composting or giving to a friend.
Step 2 and 3: Add 1/2 c. of water and a scant cup of flour.
2. Now that you have roughly 1/3 c. of starter in your jar, go ahead and add 1/2 c. of water to it and mix. It is best to use room temperature water as we want it to stay the same temperature
3. Next add just under a cup of flour to your jar and mix a final time. Cover with a small piece of cloth and secure with a rubber band. That’s it. You have fed your starter. congratulations! If you are working on activating your starter because it has not been fed in a while, you will want to do 2 more feedings before baking with it. .