Our sourdough starter is the OH’s pride and joy. It’s beautiful – healthy, tangy, totally alive and with a mind of its own. He’s been keeping it for just over three years, and while it’s had its ups and downs, it has stayed alive that whole time.
While initially, you need a sterile environment for a sourdough starter to get going, what makes it come alive is the airborne yeasts that drift about the home and through open windows. These will make it totally unique, with its own flavour, own style of rising, own timeframe, everything.
Did you know you can even find bakeries who will ‘babysit’ your sourdough starter if you’re ever away for a while? I wonder how that would change its flavour and behaviour – if you’ve ever tried a sourdough babysitting service, let me know!
Anyway, I’ve been charged with taking care of our sourdough while the OH is away for the summer. The sourdough intimidates me. It has its own thing going on, and is a bit like a cat – happily ignoring me for days at a time, until it needs a bit of fuss and some food. We keep it at room temperature, unless it’s particularly hot out, or if we’re away for a few days together – then it goes in the fridge.
Here are the instructions I’ve been given for keeping your sourdough alive and healthy – it’s really very simple.
How to keep a sourdough starter healthy
- Keep the starter in a clean (initially sterile) Kilner jar with a tight seal
- Set a reminder on your phone/calendar for every 5 days – ending indefinitely
- When you need to feed it, undo the seal and gently tip or spoon out about half of the mixture. This can either go towards your next batch of sourdough bread, or in the bin
- Place the jar on some scales and weigh in 100g of flour – strong white/brown, rye, plain, spelt – whatever you’ve been using and depending on your flavour preferences. I tend to steer clear of self-raising flour, I’m not sure how the added rising agent would react with the natural yeasts in the starter
- Add 100ml of tepid water – if you’re precious you can add it from a cooled kettle (but make sure the water has actually cooled, if it’s too hot the yeast will die)
- Mix in thoroughly and reseal the jar
- Repeat every 5-7 days
And there you have it!
I’m practising different sourdough recipes until I find the perfect one that suits me. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got a particularly great one.
The recipe I’m using right now can be found on on the Kitchn’s website, via the beautiful Tartine books. It uses a Dutch Oven technique, which literally never fails to make me snigger.
Anyway, here are some first attempts!