In Home Chefs Club, Recipes

At home breadmaking experienced a boom during hard lockdown just over 2 years ago. It seemed as though everyone was baking and Instagramming not just simple yeast-based bread recipes but fairly complex sourdough. Suddenly amateurs were not only baking their own artisanal bread but creating starters from scratch too. 

But what is a sourdough starter and how easy is it to make your own? We’ve got you covered with our simple sourdough starter guide. 

What is a sourdough starter? 

Sourdough starter is a live culture made from flour and water. 

Once the right quantities of these two ingredients are combined, they start to ferment, which encourages the growth of naturally occurring wild yeasts and bacteria found in the mixture. Once developed to the right stage, a small amount of it is used in your sourdough recipe to make your dough rise. 

Sounds super simple right? Well, there is a catch. The starter is a living thing and needs to be kept alive by regularly feeding it flour and water so that it stays strong and maintains its rising power.

How to make your own sourdough starter

Just 2 simple ingredients, flour and water, in the right quantities and environment create a starter that you can use for baking sourdough. Time and patience are all you need. 

This popular recipe includes all the details for making your own starter at home.

How to maintain a sourdough starter

The one thing about a starter is that you do have to throw part of it away when you ‘feed’ it. The delicious side of avoiding waste is making something from the throwaway part, better known as ‘discard’. From pancakes to crackers and flat bread, sourdough discard can replace raising agents like baking powder in a lot of recipes and give them a healthier more delicious sourdough flavour.  

Here is a convenient round-up of over 53 sourdough discard recipes from sweet to savoury.
Or try our recipe for Sourdough with citrus and cardamom butter.

Get a little help

If you’ve tried and failed to keep a starter alive, you are not alone. Don’t let that put you off as there are other options available. 

If you know a friend who has a thriving starter, ask for some of their discard to get ahead in the process and keep it alive rather than starting from scratch.

Alternatively, you could buy some. Mother Dough is a South African based business that takes the stress out of starter making and maintenance by selling and delivering starter culture kits to make it all super easy. Their product has a unique guarantee: they will replace your starter free of charge if you manage to kill yours.  

They also offer a variety of courses so that you can upskill yourself in the art of sourdough.

Your drool-worthy creations deserve to be cut with a beautiful knife. Treat yourself to a new knife to easily cut through crunchy crusts.

Shop bread knives.

If in the end, sourdough is not for you, don’t throw out the idea of homemade bread altogether. Bread makers are a great option for creating fresh bread every day or as often as you like without the pressure of keeping a starter alive. 

Shop bread makers.

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