Breads (Sourdough) - Open Crumb

How To Make Sourdough Starter

December 31, 2021 | Recipe by Bake with Paws

How To Make Sourdough Starter


In this recipe, I am sharing "How to Make Sourdough Starter from Fruit Yeast Water"

What is a sourdough starter?  Sometimes it is simply called levain.  It is a fermented dough from naturally occurring yeast bacteria known as lactobacilli.   The sourdough starter or natural levain makes the bread dough rise.

Sourdough starters can be cultivated from scratch with only water and flour or fruit yeast water and flour.  In this recipe, I cultivated my sourdough starter from grape yeast water.

For the past 2 years I used the sourdough starter that I cultivated from bread flour and water. But, I have been feeding with different bread flours over the past 2 years and its activeness deteriorated and was not as healthy as I would have liked it to be. So, I started again from scratch, cultivating a new starter with grape yeast water. This method is adapted from "Baking with Gina" where she used apple instead of grape.

There are so many recipes and methods for cultivating sourdough starter.  I am just sharing the method I used for your reference. 

So far, I am very happy with this starter.  I have named it Romeo after my cat's name as it is still young and active.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.  Do tag me on Instagram @Bakewithpaws if you attempt on this recipe.


MAKING FRUIT YEAST WATER

INGREDIENTS:

100g grapes
500g filter water
80g organic/raw sugar

Utensil:  A glass bottle/jar with lid (about 1 litter capacity)

METHOD:
  1. Day 1
    1. Sterilize the bottle/jar with hot water.  Set aside to dry.
    2. Wash and drain the grapes.  Cut into half.
    3. Add water and sugar into the jar.  Stir until the sugar almost dissolves then add in the cut grapes.  Stir well and cover with lid.  Keep the jar in a cool place of the home (temperature @ 27C - 28C) for 24 hours.
  2. Day 2 
    1. After about 24 hours, open the jar, stir and put back the lid.  From here on try to stir it twice a day if possible.  You may not see much bubbles or activity.
  3. Day 3 - Day 6
    1. You can see the grapes floating and the water with bubbles. 
    2. Stir twice a day if possible.  Repeat the procedure through out day 3 - 6.
  4. Day 7
    1. You can see a lot of bubbles and it should smell like beer.   It is ready to harvest.
    2. Sieve out the yeast water into another bottle/jar.
    3. The yeast water can be use immediately to cultivate a sourdough starter.  Otherwise, can be kept in the fridge and use within the week.



CULTIVATE SOURDOUGH STARTER

INGREDIENTS:
Bread flour (I used unbleached Japan High Protein Flour)
Grape yeast water

EQUIPMENT
2 bottles with lid,  sterilize with hot water and let them dry
A kitchen scale
Mixing spoon/spatula


On average, I took about 7 days, but it can take longer depending on the flour, your grape yeast water and also the conditions in your kitchen.  As long as you see signs of yeast activity and bubbles, continue feeding it.  My aim is to get the starter to triple in size after feeding (1:1:1 ratio, one part starter : one part water : one part bread flour) within 3 - 4 hours times.  

Let's start...

DAY 1

5.00 pm - 
  • Combine 20g grape yeast water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   Stir until there are no lumps.  The dough will look sticky and thick.  Scrape down the sides and loosely cover the container.  
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C - 28C) for 24 hours or until double the size.


DAY 2

5.00 pm - 
  • 24 hours later, it has risen to almost double. 
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g grape yeast water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle. 
  • Discard the balance of the starter and keep in another container in the fridge.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C - 28C) until double.


DAY 3

 10.00 am - 
  • About 17 hours later, it has risen slightly more than double.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g grape yeast water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.      
  • Discard the balance of the starter and keep in the fridge.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C - 28C) until double or triple.


9.00 pm -
  • About 11 hours later, it has risen about triple.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g grape yeast water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Discard the balance of starter and keep in the fridge.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C - 28C) until triple.


DAY 4 -

10 am -
  • About 13 hours later, it has risen about 4 times and started to collapse.  I should have fed when it was triple but I missed it.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g grape yeast water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Discard the balance of starter and keep in the fridge.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C - 28C) until triple.


4.00 pm -
  • About 6 hours later, it ha triple and started to collapse.  I should have fed when it triple and before collapsing but I missed it again.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g grape yeast water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Discard the balance of starter and keep in the fridge.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C - 28C) until triple
  • I noticed the starter gets more active in shorter time.  The starter need to feed in closer time interval.


10 pm -
  • About 6 hours later, it has risen 4 times.  
  • The starter is strong and healthy and it is time to start feeding with filter water instead from now onwards.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g filter water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Discard the balance of starter and keep in the fridge.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until double.



DAY 5 

10.00 am - 
  • About 12 hours later, it has risen double only.   I noticed the starter become slightly weaker is because I changed to water.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g filter water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until double or triple.
10.00 pm- 
  • About 12 hours later, it has risen double.  
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g filter water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until double or triple.
DAY 6

10.00 am - 
  • About 12 hours later, it has risen almost triple.
  • Feed 20g of starter + 20g filter water + 20g bread flour in a clean bottle.   
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until triple.
1.00 pm -
  • About 3 hours later, it has triple.  Yes, this is what I am aiming.
  • I changed the feeding ratio to 1:3:3 (5g of starter + 15g filter water + 15g bread flour) in a clean bottle.  So  that I do not need to feed in shorter time span.  
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until triple.
8.00 pm -
  • About 6 hours later, it has triple.  
  • I changed the feeding ratio to 1:7:7 (Feed 2g of starter + 14g filter water + 14g bread flour) in a clean bottle.
  • I fed high ration because I left it overnight for longer hours.
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until triple.
Note:  You can use to build levain for baking on Day 6 when the starter triple in side when feeding 1:1:1 ratio.  However,  I fed few more times just to make sure the starter is healthy enough to make a nice bread.

DAY 7

 10.00 am - 
  • About 14 hours later, it has risen 4 times in size.  I should have fed when its tripled but I missed it.
  • Feed 1:7:7 ratio (2g of starter + 14g filter water + 14g bread flour ) in a clean bottle.   
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 27C) until triple.
10.00 pm - 
  • About 12 hours later, it has triple.  
  • Feed 1:7:7 ratio (2g of starter + 14g filter water + 14g bread flour ) in a clean bottle.   
  • Keep it in a cool place of the house (temperature @ 26C - 27C) until triple.

DAY 8 

10.00 am - 
  • About 12 hours later, it has triple and almost 4 times in size.
  • I could see the starter is healthy and ready to use for baking.
  • I fed 1:1:1 ratio accordingly to the quantity required by the recipe and used this to bake my first loaf of bread (Charcoal Sourdough Open Crumb Bread)  The starter has risen triple in 3 - 4 hours.

MAINTENANCE

It is advisable to feed your starter regularly to keep it healthy if you want your bread to rise nicely and to use the starter (levain) at its peak.  A starter that is fed regularly will be more active in general.  If the mother starter is not healthy, the bread dough will not rise a lot even though the starter is used at its peak.  

There are so many ways and methods of how to maintain the starter.  Below is my method of starter maintenance.  This is just for your reference. Please try and find a way or schedule that works best for you.

I bake almost everyday.  So, my starter is left at room temperature and I feed it twice a day about every 12 hours at its peak when it is tripled.  I used unbleached Japan High Gluten Flour or unbleached bread flour and filter water for feeding. 

Example
10.00 am - at ratio 1:7:7 at room temperature around 28C - 29C
10.00 pm - at ratio 1:6:6 at room temperature around 27C

I feed a very small amount if I am not baking, so that I will not end up with too much discard:  
1.5g starter + 10.5g water + 10.5g bread flour (1:7:7) 
2g starter + 12g water + 12g bread flour (1:6:6) 

I kept the discard in a container in the fridge.  I used it to make crackers, pancakes and sometimes hybrid breads.  You can find the sourdough dough discard recipe HERE.

When I am baking, I will feed the starter accordingly to make up the quantity required by the recipe to be baked. If I know that I won't be baking for a few days, I will then feed it only once a day at 1:1:1, transfer to the fridge when it is doubled, and feed again 24 hours later.

If you do not bake daily or if you bake perhaps once or twice a week, then you may place your starter in the fridge and feed once a week.  But, you will need to refresh your starter few times before the baking day in order to get a better result. There is no way around this, sourdough baking takes planning! 

How I judge my starter is healthy?  My starter usually tripled in size (or at least double) in within 3 - 4 hours at room temperature (27C - 29C) for feeding ratio of (1:1:1 = starter:water:flour)

When is a starter at its peak?  My sourdough starter is usually at its peak when it is tripled in the jar. The surface of my starter looks bubbling and uneven.  The starter will not collapse when you tap the jar.  If the starter falls it means it has already past its peak.  It usually stays at its peak within 30 - 60 minutes before it starts to reduce/fall.  

Why use starter at its peak?  This is when the starter is most active and it will result in a better rise for your bread in general.  By the way, you can use when it is doubled/before its peak too.  But, not it starts to fall.

Comments

  1. Very cute how you have named your starter after your cat ๐Ÿ˜„

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very cute how you have named your starter after your cat ๐Ÿ˜„

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Thanks for reading this post. LOL.. I find this name very suit my starter..lol

      Delete
  3. Hello.
    First word, I would like to thank you very much for your recipes. I am so grateful and lucky since knowing you because I have been stuck in cultivating the starter for last 6 months. And when I followed your recipe, I don’t know whether the weather of Vietnam is too hot because after one day, my grape water yeast had tiny bubbles and I sticked the flow as your recipe within 7 days. Yesterday I started cultivating the starter and my “Star” had risen triple after 12 hours, I fed this morning and Star had risen more than triple after 12 hours. Now it’s almost 3 hours and the Star is rising more than double in size. Could you please show me how to do next? I am happy if my Star is strong yet I don’t know about cultivating sourdough starter well. I am still learning day after day.
    Thank you so much for spending your time on this comment.
    I hope to see your response.
    Give you a flower as a token of my appreciation for your help ๐ŸŒน.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for trying. Wow! your fruit yeast water is very strong. By the way, the above recipe is just an guidance. Our grape, water, sugar and ambient are different so the natural yeast cultivated will be different too. It is an natural living thing so you do not need to follow exactly.

      Since your starter is so strong, you can feed with filter water now. Feed ratio 1:1:1 (20g starter + 20g water + 20g water). If your stater triple in 3-4 hours then you can feed at higher ratio 1:3:3, wait until triple then feed again. Otherwise feed 1:1:1 until you get it triple in 3-4 hours.

      Next, just feed for another 1 or 2 days then you can use for baking.

      Cheers:)

      Delete
    2. Good evening Bakewithpaws ^-^
      I am happy as the time I see your response. Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™.
      I have used filter water to cultivate starter for 4 days and I realize that my Star has become weaker much more than using grape water :,(. but I keep trying with him. And now, with your recommendation, I partly understand why the Star is weaker day by day. I thought my Star needed to be feed since Star risen triple after 3 hours, therefore I fed with the ratio 1:2:2 and then 1:3:3, Star still risen fast then I fed with the ratio 1:5:5 (because I go to work). After that I thought him is strong so that I changed the water and since then Star was like just double, him can’t rise triple...
      Fortunately, it takes more 10 days for starter to get strong enough (I referenced from general information) so I still have time to get back to the right way. I won’t give up ๐Ÿ˜
      Thank you again for your help❤️. Give you a flower ๐ŸŒน.
      Jesus loves you.

      Delete
    3. Hi, my pleasure to response. The starter will get weaker when you feed with filter water. But, eventually it will get strong at some point. Just keep on feeding. Just experiment and try to suit the method that work best for you and your schedule.

      Happy baking and god bless you,

      Cheers :)

      Delete
    4. Thank you so much ❤️.
      Cheers ๐Ÿค—

      Delete
  4. Hi, I tried doing a new starter with your tips but my starter never got to rise up to 4x. At the very max only up to 3x. I just feed at peak everytime. Or how can I get it to be stronger?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Thanks for trying.. Sometimes is very hard to say. Could be the flour, water you used and environment of your area. Some people added 10% of rye flour. However, I didn't find it works very well for me. You can try. For my new starter I never added any rye flour.

      Try to fix with one type of bread flour if possible. Changing of flour will weaken the starter based on my experience.

      If I were you, I will keep on feeding.

      Cheers :)

      Delete
  5. Hi, came across your article. Wanted to find out how to maintain & keep my starter strong. The starter was given by my friend to me that it will usually raise 3x within 5hrs at her place. I fed at 9am, only up to max 2x by 2pm. I fed again at peak, it still only 2x within next 5hrs. What should I do so that it will raise to 3x?
    Awaiting for your advice. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog. It could be change of flour if you used different flour than the flour she used to use to feed. It may take a while for the starter to get back to healthy stage. Just keep on feeding until you get tripled in within 5 hours. Leave it on the counter for time being. Don't store in the fridge except the discard.

      If the same flour used, then maybe is the water or also the ambience.

      You can try to feed slightly more flour too, means less hydration. Once the starter get healthy, feed back to 100% hyration.

      Cheers :)

      Delete

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