Sourdough II: Mixing the Starter

Cultivating a new sourdough starter is just about the easiest baking project you can attempt.  See the previous post for particulars on the equipment and ingredients.

100 grams organic dark (whole grain) rye flour

100 grams (weight) distilled water or spring water

1/4 teaspoon organic barley malt syrup or organic maple syrup

Pinch of additive-free salt (take the pinch between your thumb and index finger)

1.  Put a 1-quart bowl on a digital scale and tare (zero) the scale.  Weigh the flour, then tare the scale again.

2.  Slowly pour in the water until you have exactly 100 grams.  Scrape the malt syrup off the spoon into the water and add the pinch of salt.

3.  Use a new or scrupulously clean rubber spatula to mix to a heavy paste as in the photo above.

4.  Scrape the starter into a larger glass bowl, spread it flat, cover with plastic wrap and label with the date and time.

P1020096

P1020094New sourdough starter after step 4

Set the bowl of starter in a warm draft-free place.  I always put mine on top of the refrigerator - it's warm and the height makes it easy to see the side of the bowl.  According to Professor Calvel, the ideal temperature for cultivating a new starter is 81 degrees F.  The temperature can be as low as 72 degrees F, but lower than that the mixture won't start to ferment. 

I mixed the new starter in the photos early yesterday morning and by early this morning it was barely showing signs of fermentation.  My oven has a 100-degree bread proofing setting, so I tried that for a couple of hours and the starter just bloomed:

P1020100New sourdough starter after 28 hours

If you scroll back and forth between the photos of the side of the bowl it's easy to see that fermentation has begun.  At this point the starter won't get bubbly like the one in the previous post.  You'll need to feed it some flour and water several times before it will start to ferment that actively.

Feed the new starter with:

100 grams (weight) distilled water or spring water

100 grams unbleached bread flour

Stir in the water smoothly, then stir in the flour.  Scrape the starter into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and note the date and time of the feeding.  I'm going to feed mine now and continue tomorrow after the fed starter has fermented again.

Next:  Maintaining your new starter and a little sourdough science.