I had been making my own pizza dough for several years already. It was about time I stepped up my game and make a sourdough starter day by day and learn how to make sourdough starter from scratch.
My dad had told a story a few times about my grandma’s sourdough starter. Apparently this thing had a mind of its own and grew so big it became hard to manage. With all the regular feeding and growth it sounded kind of like a pet! The story made me laugh but also sparked my curiosity.
Sourdough Starter Day by Day
What Kind of Sourdough Container Do You Need?
The first step for me was finding a sourdough starter container for my sourdough starter. Glass is ideal, along with a lid that allows air to escape. If you use an air tight lid on your starter it can very well explode. When I read this I began to understand why some people are scared by sourdough and starting a sourdough starter!
The container should be two to three quarts, allowing enough space for the starter to grow and room for feeding sourdough starter. I purchased this Anchor Hocking 1-Gallon Jar for my sourdough starter, which worked perfectly.
What Sourdough Recipe Did I Use?
I researched multiple sourdough starter recipes online and decided on this easy sourdough starter from The Kitchn. The recipe worked very well for me and I had no issues with it. It also did not require me to purchase a sourdough starter which saved me additional money.
The fun part about growing your own sourdough starter is once established you can share it with friends or family who may want to start baking their own sourdough bread as well. A sourdough starter only has to be made once, providing it is made correctly, then you can grow it and keep it indefinitely.
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What Else Do You Need for a Sourdough Starter?
In addition to the gallon jar, you will need water (I prefer distilled) and flour. I used white flour for my sourdough starter. It might be possible to try it with wheat flour but I have personally not done this. What I chose to do was grow and feed my starter with white flour.
Then when I bake using the starter if I want to make wheat bread I will add more flour to my actual bread bowl when I’m making the bread. I have found baking with half white flour and half wheat flour to work well for most recipes including pie crusts and pizza dough.
If you don’t want to buy distilled water you can also invest in a water distilling system, which turns tap water into distilled water for drinking or cooking. It’s really that simple. The above photos my finished starter on Day 6 from the side of the jar. It had increased in size and bubbled up.
What Should the Sourdough Starter Day by Day Look Like?
I took photos of my sourdough starter day by day. This is helpful to compare your starter to in order to make sure it is growing properly. Here are daily sourdough starter phots for Day 1 to Day 6. After Day 6 your starter is considered complete. It then goes into maintenance mode.
How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch
What Did I Do with the Sourdough Starter?
After you learn how to make sourdough starter from scratch, know that sourdough starter is most commonly used for sourdough bread After one week I made my first batch of sourdough bread. It turned out wonderfully. A week later I made my second batch. The only issue was figuring out a way to store fresh bread.
People often wonder how to use sourdough starter. They use sourdough starter for other meals too. For example, it can be used to make pancakes to make a sourdough pancake. It can also be used in waffles. There are many recipes using sourdough starter.
Tips for Storing Homemade Sourdough Bread
When you begin making your own homemade bread on a regular basis, having a storage and preservation plan is important. Usually when we buy bread from the store we freeze it right in the bag. You can purchase some plastic bread loaf bags or buy or sew cloth bread bags.
Depending on how often you continue to feed your starter and where you store it, you can control to some extent how quickly it grows. If you grow your starter more slowly and say you make bread once a week you may simply maintain your starter and won’t need to store bread.
Other people like to freeze bread for use later or they may want to feed their starter more and make more than one loaf a bread per week because they have a large family or they want to gift the homemade sourdough bread to their family members or friends.
Sourdough Bread Sliced
This post about how to make sourdough starter from scratch is intended to be an introduction to making your own homemade sourdough bread using your own homemade sourdough starter. The photos of the sourdough starter day by day can help you compare your starter and make sure it looks correct as you progress through the growing stage and help you understand what is bread starter.
If your starter smells foul (a little sour smell is normal) is of a strange color or seems “bad” in any other way, consider starting over. Make sure the container you are using for the sourdough is cleaned and sterile prior to starting your sourdough starter.
Baking homemade sourdough bread can be a wonderful way to save money, eat healthier and gain an appreciation for food and your own personal health. I hope you enjoy using sourdough starter.
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.