Want a healthy bread? A “true” sourdough bread is a great healthy bread to consume. You can read my article about all the health benefits in sourdough bread in my article A Healthy Bread That is Good For You. To make your own sourdough bread, you will need a sourdough starter. It is not hard to make a sourdough starter, it just takes a little time. In this post, I will show you how to successfully start your own sourdough starter. Once we master the sourdough starter, I will then show you how to make your own sourdough loaf.
Here is what you need to start your sourdough starter. You will need some whole grain spelt flour and some fresh oranges. Fresh pineapple juice can also be used instead of fresh orange juice. To start your sourdough starter, simply add 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice with 2 tablespoon of spelt flour. Place in a small bowl and mix well. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. We will continue a 7-14 day feeding schedule to make your sourdough starter. Once you have your starter, you won’t have to go through this whole process again, you will just use and save some of this starter for future uses. This recipe was adapted from The Fresh Loaf website.
DAY 1: Add 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice and 2 tablespoons whole grain spelt flour to a small bowl. Stir vigorously, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave on counter for 24 hours.
Here is what your starter will look like after 24 hours at room temperature. I will post a picture daily so you can see how it changes and what you are looking for. If you notice, not much has changed after day one.
Day 2: Add 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice and 2 tablespoons whole grain spelt flour to your mixture. Stir vigorously, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave on counter for 24 hours.
Here is what your starter will look like after 2 days. Not much has changed after day 2 but look for changes coming real soon.
Day 3: Add 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice and 2 tablespoons whole grain spelt flour to your mixture. Stir vigorously, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave on counter for 24 hours.
Here is what your starter will look like after 3 days. Notice all the bubbles starting to appear.
Here is what the starter looked like after 3 days. Little change, as of now. Yours might look different by now and that is fine. Your sourdough starter will grow on its own terms.
Day 4: Stir down your sourdough starter. Measure out 1/4 cup starter and discard the rest. To this starter add 1/4 cup filtered water and 1/4 cup flour. At this point you can add any flour you would like (excluding coconut flour and almond flour). I usually stick with spelt flour because it has a better result. I tried all purpose organic flour and didn’t have the best results. Stir vigorously, cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature.
Repeat day 4. Repeat day 4 for days 4-14, (Stir down sourdough, measure out 1/4 cup and discard the rest, add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour. Stir vigorously and loosely cover and leave at room temperature) once daily until your sourdough starter starts to expand and smells yeasty. Your sourdough starter might become very bubbly and then go flat. That is ok. If it doesn’t become bubbly again by day 6, add 1/4 tsp of apple cider vinegar with the daily feeding.
Day 6: Here is my sourdough starter on day 6 right before the feeding. You can tell it is time for a feeding because it has deflated. Notice how far it raised up by the lines on the sides of the bowl. When it falls it is ready for a feeding. I needed to feed mine about every 8-12 hours now.
Day 7-14: I finally have my starter. Here is what a healthy starter looks like. Look how high it has risen. It has more than doubled in volume and it has a lot of air bubbles.
I will continue to feed it (the normal feeding: 1/4 cup starter (throw out the rest), 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup flour) and keep it at room temperature for 1 more week (a total of 2 weeks) to make a strong more favorable starter. My sourdough starter is now ready for use. At this point, you can make a fresh loaf of sourdough bread.
After 2 weeks of storing and feeding your starter at room temperature, you will need to now store your sourdough starter in the refrigerator. At this point, you can feed it once a week by using the same method. At the top of the starter will be a liquid called the “hooch” and that is normal. Simply pour the hooch off and discard it and measure out your 1/4 cup starter and add to it 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup flour. Mix together and store back in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to make a loaf of bread, simply pull the starter out, pour off the hooch and give your starter a feeding (1/4 cup starter (discard the rest), 1/4 cup filtered water, 1/4 cup flour). Leave out at room temperature for 8 hours and give your starter another feeding. This might be enough to activate your starter (remember you are wanting it to almost double in size and you are wanting it to be bubbly, like champagne). If it is not bubbly then you might need to give it one more feeding. You are now ready to use your sourdough starter in your recipe. Remember to save a little for your next recipe and store it in the refrigerator.
I know you all might have questions along the way. Please feel free to leave your comments below in the comment section and I will answer your questions for you.
Liquid hooch picture courtesy of Bradyrevisited.com.
Hi! I just threw out my starter (was using a different recipe) because I thought it from using spelt – so excited to find this! Just wondering I only have white spelt flour – unbleached. Will this also work?
RITIKA JAIN says
Hi, thanks for you feedback on sourdough, my day 3 the sour bought starter had not risen but had fallen but was slightly bubbly.
So I feed it with half cup flour n half cup water. Stirred it well with a wooden spoon covered it n kept it back over the refrigerator for it to feed on.
Do I need to keep it in the refrigerator after this or continue doing this n keep it in the refrigerator once am it’s risen up to the brim. Thanks please do advise. This is my 1st time making sour dough started.
Tui Lidstrom says
This is my first attempt. Since day 4, the starter is quite runny with a watery layer on the top. It’s not really bubby or rising. Today is day 6 and I’m not sure if I should give up and start again or keep going?
Julian Vlaiko says
I am baffled by the two methods of feeding my wholegrain spelt starter, yours which is 1:1:1 by volume (1/4 a cup) vs other’s 1:1:1 by weight (e.g. 50gr:50gr:50gr). Yours method by volume results in a more liquid started naturally as water is denser than flour.
I live in a hot country, temperatures of 24C~30C are common in my kitchen. In some cases when it’s hot going with your approach 1:1:1 by volume I get more hooch that needs drainage and (i assume) need to feed the beast again. Should I stick with volume or weight ?
Also, heard that using a metal spoon to swirl the feed into the starter might cause a chemical reaction adverse to the well being of the starter. Should we use only plastic/wooden tools ?
Thank you a lot for the clear tutorials, really helped me getting up and about making wonderful bread !
I’m on day 3 of the feeding, and about 3 hours after the feeding my starter has grown quite abit in comparison to day 1 and 2. and i can see it climbing to the top, plus it smells like it is getting yeastier, is it possible it is ready or i need to shorten my feeding timings? how am i supposed to know?
Im sure the hot summer weather is contributing to speeding up the process yet im not sure how to change the steps accordingly.
Antoinette Quagliata says
Hi! I got to day four and made a last minute trip out of town forgetting to take it with me. It sat untouched for 4 days. Is it still useable?
Hi! So I’m making my first starter but I’ve been using sprouted spelt flour. I was feeding at night but I missed one night of feeding on day 5 I think but fed first thing in the morning. My starter is very bubbly but hasn’t risen at all. Any advice before I trash it and start again?