People are flexing their “making-from-scratch” muscles while stuck inside, which has caused a rise in bread baking! There are a number of ways to make homemade bread, with the most common method using store bought active dry yeast. If this is the kind of yeast you have on hand, check out our Easy Instructions To Bake Bread From Scratch!
Another delicious way to make homemade bread is by using a sourdough starter, which is a fermented dough with wild yeast and lactobacilli bacteria. Many people get a starter from friends or family (some families have a starter that’s been passed down from generation to generation!), but it’s actually fairly easy to make your own from scratch with a few ingredients and a little bit of patience. It’s worth the process to get this chewy, flavorful, and easier-to-digest bread, right in the comfort of your own kitchen.
In most flours, there is wild yeast that, given the chance, will activate through the process of fermentation with the addition of water, feeding on the sugars in the flour. However, the starter needs to be “fed” additional flour and water every day, so make sure you’ve got 5- to 10-minutes (around the same time) every day to do this, otherwise, your starter may not turn out. To help you get going, we’re going to walk you through the process from start to finish!
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Make the Starter
To make the starter you will need all-purpose flour, water, a small glass bowl or mason jar, an elastic, and a porous cloth covering. You can use tap water, but make sure that whatever water you’re using is chemical and chlorine-free.
- Determine whether your tap water is treated with chlorine or chloramine by the city. If there is chlorine in the water, simply fill a large cup up and leave it overnight to allow the disinfectant to dissipate. If your city uses chloramine, you will need to use bottled or distilled water instead (even though I can’t stand single-use plastics!). If your tap water doesn’t have either of those common disinfectants, you can use it straight out of the tap!
- In a glass bowl or mason jar, combine 1/2-cup of all-purpose flour with 1/4-cup of warm water. You must use glass, as it’s non-reactive and therefore won’t interfere with the fermentation process.
- Using a fork, stir the mixture well until it looks like a thick paste. Scrape down the sides of the container and cover it loosely with the lid or a porous cloth (this allows the mixture to “breathe”), securing it with a rubber band or clean hair elastic need be. You can also put an elastic around the container to mark the top of the mixture. This will help you keep track of how much the starter has grown!
- Set somewhere warm, about 80°F (26°C) for 24-hours. The Kitchn recommends the top of the refrigerator, as it gives off some heat, but a sunny spot in your kitchen works as well. The fermentation process is dependant on temperature, so be sure to watch and adjust if your starter isn’t staying warm enough.