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Starting a Sourdough Starter

2015 January 3
by ruduss

Making bread from scratch can be the most rewarding of experiences, especially if you’re using your own starter. It means you’re in control of the every single aspect of the bread making process, as it’s been you who’ve raised the starter from its origins of just flour and water, into something which is a living and growing thing.

Your starter will become an extra responsibility in your life, so it’s best to accept that at the offset if you want to get into it. Like a puppy or goldfish – it needs to be fed and watered at regular intervals.

The kind of starter that you should keep depends on the kind of bread you will be making. The best rule to go by is to use the same flour in the starter as you would in the loaf. So if you’re going to be making a lot of rye-based breads, then a rye starter is what you should be keeping. When making white-based loaves, then it’s recommended that you use a starter that’s made with white flour. I’ve included instructions on how to begin and maintain both below.

There’s not a lot you’ll need when starting and maintaining a starter. Some recipes state that you need raisons, rhubarb, or even sugar to help your starter get going. Please don’t add these. What is essential is using great flour. Don’t go to the supermarket and pick up the nearest flour that may have the letters ‘rye’ or ‘white’ on the package. That just won’t do. You won’t get the flavours and yeasts that come with a great flour. What you need is an organic unbleached flour, as this still has the nutrients and microorganisms required to get the starter going.

The flours I use in the following are Redbournbury Organic Unbleached white flour and The Priors Organic Rye flour. Both available from Bakery Bits.

I’ve included below a tried and multiply tested recipe for a rye and white (liquid levain) starters.

Rye Starter

rye starter

Rye starter

Day 1 – making the initial sourdough
225g Rye flour

225g water

Mix the flour and water into a paste, and put into an airtight container. Keep it in something like an airing cupboard where the temperature is consistent for 24 hours.

Day 2
125g initial sourdough

125g rye flour

125g water
You should be getting a nutty smell from the initial sourdough mix, which should have also increased in size slightly.
Mix all the ingredients into a small paste, place into an airtight container and leave

Days 3 to 7

125g initial sourdough


125g rye flour

125g water

Mix all the ingredients into a small paste, place into an airtight container and leave in a warm area. You should do two feedings on these days at 12 hour intervals.As the days progress, you should be getting increasingly maturing yeasty and alcohol smells and tastes from the sourdough. This is the yeasts and bacteria settling into their new homes. After about a week it should start to smell ‘right’ and you can start to use it in your loaves.

Daily Maintaining:

5g initial sourdough

80g water

100g organic rye flour

Mix together in a paste, and keep in an airtight container.

Liquid Levain (White) Starter

white starter

white starter (liquid levain)

Day 1

150g rye flour

187g water

As with the rye sourdough starter, mix the flour and water into a paste, put into an airtight container, and place in a temperature-consistent place.

Day 2 (morning)

100g Day 1’s initial mix

45g Rye

45g White

112g Water

Mix ingredients, and put into an airtight container.

Day 2 (+12 hours)

Repeat the Day 2 morning steps

Days 3-5

100g initial mix

90g white flour

112g water

This should be right to use after the fifth day, although don’t expect it to produce a decent loaf for the first few times you use it.

Daily Maintaining:

For optimal health, it’s best to do the following:

16g initial levain

80g water

80g organic white flour

Mix together in a paste, and keep in an airtight container.

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  1. Classic White Sourdough Bread | Foodiespicnic

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