basic whole wheat sourdough starter
FLOUR + WATER + TIME. Those are the ingredients for a basic whole wheat sourdough starter. You simply mix a high quality, whole grain flour with purified water and let time do it’s thing. It really couldn’t be any easier. Of course, there is some maintenance involved. Sourdough is a living thing, so just like you and me, it needs care. But once established (in only 15 days), you can stick him in the fridge and not think about him again until you’re ready to bake. Now, the most important thing is to not skimp on the good flour. This is why I start our with 100% whole wheat. It just has more to offer your little micro-organisms than hard white, and it tends to give your starter the best foot forward.
What does sourdough starter basic care look like?
Well, basically your starter is going to need regular “feedings” of flour and water. In the first couple of days, you’ll do that once a day. Then on day 5, you switch to twice a day. This gives all those micro-organisms plenty of time to develop. You’ll notice fairly quickly that your sourdough begins bubbling after you feed it. And you do go through a good bit of flour those first couple of weeks, but it is a small price to pay in order to create artisan sourdough loaves!
Creating My initial “starter”
You’ll begin this process by mixing together one cup of high quality whole wheat flour + one cup of filtered pure water. Stir it well and make sure all the flour is incorporated and store it in a clean crock or mason jar.
How do I feed my starter?
To feed your starter, simply measure out one cup of starter + one cup of flour + one cup of pure water. It’s important to use pure water- meaning bottled, filtered, or lightly* chlorinated. (Too much chlorine can kill of your good bacteria as well as the bad!) You mix those three ingredients together, discard any extra starter left over after your one cup and you’re done until your next feeding.
when can i start baking?
I give my starters 15 full days to develop before baking a sourdough boule (loaf) with them. During their teenage phase, they go through a period of unpredictability. But once firmly established, you can get really consistent results. However, you CAN go ahead and start baking some discard recipes! On day 7 your starter will be active enough to begin making these delicious strawberry scones!
transitioning my starter from wheat to white
After the starter is mature and predictable ( a few weeks old) I like to transition my starter over to organic hard white flour. I do this because I find that I get a better risen loaf with organic white flour than I do with the whole wheat. But this is just personal preference. You can continue to feed your starter whole wheat for as long as you like! Just make sure you consistently feed your starter the same flour for daily feedings.
Is it really worth the trouble?
It really does depend. Sourdough is not for everyone. It does take more time than commercial yeast, and it is a completely different flavor profile. In fact, most sourdough that you buy in stores actually contains added commercial yeast and doesn’t taste anything like the homemade goodness you make at home! BUT, if you enjoy baking and the amazingly complex flavor of sourdough, there really is nothing to stop you. Each loaf is like an artist’s canvas, and I love playing around with different scoring techniques just to see how beautiful each one comes out. I can’t describe to you the happiness I feel every time I pull off the lid to see the magical risen loaf! HA!
Did you make it? Let me know by leaving a review below or tagging me with a pic on instagram @good.to.gather
Basic Whole Wheat Sourdough Starter
- 1 mason jar with lid OR Crock with lid
- 1 1 Cup measuring cup
- 1 Cup pure water Bottled or filtered water works best. You can use regular tap water as long as it is not heavily treated with chlorine.
- 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour Organic is helpful but not necessary. You will be feeding it A LOT at first, and it is important to feed it the same flour at each feeding
- Day 1: Mix together 1 Cup of whole grain flour and 1 Cup of lukewarm water. Stir vigorously and store in a clean, sanitized mason jar. You now have a starter! Allow to sit in a warm area of your home for 24 hours.1 Cup pure water, 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
- Day 2: Measure out 1 Cup starter (that you made yesterday) + 1 Cup lukewarm water + 1 Cup whole grain flour. Mix vigorously. Let sit for 24 hours. Discard the extra starter.
- Days 3: Repeat 1-1-1 feeding (1 Cup Water, 1 Cup Flour, 1 Cup Starter) with a 24 hour rest. Discard the extra starter.
- Days 4: Repeat 1-1-1 feeding (1 Cup Water, 1 Cup Flour, 1 Cup Starter) with a 24 hour rest. Discard the extra starter.
- Day 5: Feed it once in the morning. Wait 12 hours. Feed it again. Repeat feeding twice a day until day 15- or until it consistently doubles in size after feedings. Discard the extra starter until day 7. THEN, use your extra starter for baked goods. You can find some of my favorite recipes in the post below!
- It’s important to make sure that your storage jar is sanitized before using to deter the growth of any harmful bacteria.
- Make sure that you do not store your starter near any other ferments (think cheese, kombucha, kefir, or vinegar- to prevent cross-contamination of cultures.
Kathy R. says
I am so exited to try making sourdough! What do you think about using food-grade plastic container?
Callie Morgan says
Hey, Kathy! Great question! There’s a lot of debate about the use of food-grade plastics generally, but the rule would be: If it’s safe for other foods, it is safe for your sourdough starter. I personally prefer a mason jar or ceramic crock due to the size and shape, as well as its ability to safely handle high heats during cleaning. Plus it just has a nice aesthetic sitting out on the counter. 🙂
Very well explained! Thank you for this!
I’ve not done this before so I’m a bit confused. On you recipe it says it’s a recipe for sourdough starter, and in the ingredients it only lists water and flour, but in the instructions (1.) There’s three ingredients, starter, flour and water.
I’m confused, I thought this was a recipe FOR the starter. So how do I make the starter for this starter recipe?🤔🤷😂
Callie Morgan says
Paula, It was an editing mistake! Thanks so much for pointing it out. I’ve revised the recipe. Hope it makes sense now!
Whew! Lol. Now I’m encouraged.😃 Thanks so much!
I’ve read through your starter recipe and it looks pretty easy, just a question about day 2 to 15. If you’re using 1 cup of the “starter” from the previous day, are you tossing away whatever is left from the previous day?
Callie Morgan says
Jeanne, yes. You discard the extra starter each feeding. On day 7 you can begin using the discard in baked goods. I recommend my Fresh strawberry scones or sourdough banana streusel muffins. Easy peasy and a great way to be resourceful!