Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sourdough Starter

To make Sourdough, you need to make a 'starter', which is basically like growing your own yeast, made with mixing Rice Flour and distilled or spring water, and feeding it (it's like a pet, it needs food and attention) everyday. The natural bacteria in the air and in the flour will grow in your starter into a living yeast, and you blend this starter batter with flour and ingredients to make dough to bake with.

Step One: Wash and sterilize with boiling water a glass or plastic container. I usually start with a small container, then as I feed the starter, I then transfer it to a bigger container.
Step Two: Add 1 Tblsp Rice Flour and 1 Tblsp Spring/Distilled/Bottled Water to the container and stir with a Wooden Spoon. It is important to use a wooden spoon, as metal with inhibit the growth of the bacteria in your starter.
Step Three: Store your starter in a warm place out of direct sunlight. It needs to be warm for the yeast to grow. I have a shelf above my fridge which is behind a door; it is like my fridge has its own little room; the motor running from the fridge keeps this little room nice and warm and is the perfect place for a starter to grow. Cover your container with a loose lid, you don't want it to be airtight.
Step Four: Every 24 hours, feed your starter twice the amount as before, i.e.on DAY 1, you fed it 1 Tblsp Rice Flour and 1 Tblsp Water, so
on DAY 2, you feed it 2 Tblsp Rice Flour and 2 Tblsp Water,
on Day 3, feed it 1/4 Cup Rice flour and 1/4 Cup Water,
on DAY 4, feed it 1/2 Cup Rice Flour and 1/2 Cup Water
Once I get to half a cup, I usually continue to feed it 1/2 Cup measurements from then on.


  • After 2 or 3 days, it will have a sour or beery smell, this is a good thing. By this point you may notice bubbles forming, but this may take a few days longer to happen. 
  • Your sourdough starter will continue to get more and more bubbly and frothy.
  • Each day liquid may accumulate at the top of your starter. This is called 'hooch', as it is almost like beer, but not drinkable. It will not harm your starter. Either stir it back in, or pour it off, depending on if your starter is looking dry or is quite wet.
Note: Some recipes for sourdough tell you to throw away half your mixture each time you feed it, but this seems like such a waste and I hate waste. I find it works just fine with my method.
If you are having trouble growing the starter or you just don't have a warm enough place to grow it, you can cheat a little and add some packet yeast to help it along.

  • Once your stater is all bubbly and smells quite sour, it is ready to use. You can use it straight away, or store it in the fridge to use at a later time. After it has moved to the fridge, your starter only needs to be fed once a week.
  • If you are using chilled starter from the fridge, you will need to proof it before you use it to bake with. Just mix your starter with 1/2 cup rice flour and 1/2 cup water, and leave it to 'proof' for a few hours or overnight. You basically want it bubbling and fermented again.
Sourdough works really well for making gluten free Pizza. I have yet to perfect a bread recipe yet, but I am working on it.

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