7 Days Starter Recipe

How to make the 7 Days Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter

Sourdough starter

It takes approximately 7 days for the starter to ferment and ripen to be used to make the dough.   This depends on the surrounding temperature and regular feeding with the right amount at the right time.  Sourdough is basically a fermented flour eaten by the bacteria, the process produces gases which give bubbles which in turn make the dough to rise and make holes in bread,  making it light and fluffy.

Remember that the sourdough is a living thing and it will grow and double in size every couple of days,  so allow for this with a storage container.   I do not recommend plastic containers even so they are practical.  I always use a glass jar or container to prevent chemicals from plastic to get into the food.  It needs to be large,  preferably about 1.5 liters or more and leave the top slightly open to allow it to breathe.

Points to remember:

– be consistent – feed your sourdough starter at the same time each day.

– The length of time depends on the right temperature of the room where the starter is left standing and fermenting,  the warmer the better, preferably the same temperature every day. The changing temperature and cooler than 25 degrees C surrounding will slow down the fermentation process.

– cover the jar with a lid with a hole in it,  or with a wet cloth or plastic wrap to prevent wild yeast from the air to settle into the starter.   Do not close the jar fully as the starter needs to breathe.

– observe and write down your observations,  it will help to recognise different stages of development.

– use clean utensils and containers – rinse any detergent residue with hot water thoroughly before use,  the dishwashing detergent will stop the culture an good bacteria to grow.

– place the starter in a warm place,  temperature 25-30 degrees C or 80-85 F.   If the temperature drops below 25C – there will be no harm done to the starter but it will take longer for it to ferment.   If the temperature goes above 30C,  the starter might be spoiled.

– if you need to warm up your starter,  place it near the heater, in the warm oven or large bowl of very warm water.  Remember that if the temperature is too high you will kill the bacteria and the starter will not ferment.

– use the best ingredients – organic flour and filtered water or juice.

The two ingredients are flour and water,  however you can vary them to achieve different outcomes – see Starter Recipe Variation   by substituting water with: 

unsweetened pineapple juice – it has the right amount of acidity to promote the early fermentation.

raising water – water from soaking raising or sultanas overnight.

Variation:  Add couple of spoons of yogurt on the first day to flour and water to introduce the good bacteria and start fermentation process quicker.

The Sourdough Starter Recipe:

Day 1:  Mix well 25 grams of flour with 25mls of warm water (approximately 30 degrees C). Let it stand for 24 hrs in a warm place,  temperature 25-30 degrees C.

Day 2:  Add to the mix the same ingredients as in day 1, mix to a paste, leave it standing for 24 hrs in a warm place.

Day 3:  Add to mix 50 grams flour and 50 mls of water,  mix to a paste,  leave it standing the same as previously.

Day 4:  Add to mix 100 grams flour and 100 mls water, mix to a paste, leave it standing the same as previously. Alternatively,  you can half the starter and feed only 50 grams of flour,  discarding the other half,  or instead use it to make sourdough baguettes (see Recipes)

Day 5:  Rest and observe what activity developed – bubbles or smell.

Day 6:  Add to mix 100 grams flour and 100 mls water, mix to a paste, leave it standing the same as previously.

Day 7:  It should be ripen and ready to use.

You should end up with a total of 600 grams of sourdough starter.  Use the half of it to make the bread and retain the second half 300 grams to feed and maintain as a “wet” starter for your next dough.  

Follow the recipe below to feed your wet starter to maintain and keep as a liquid starter,  or use the “old dough” method retain this portion in the fridge and use again next time without feeding regularly.

Feeding your wet starter to maintain for the next use:

You need to remember that your sourdough starter is alive,  it grows according to its own rhythms and needs.  If you fail to restart its growth, it will loose its rising qualities.   You need to remember to feed it again and place in warm temperature,  which is very important for fermentation.

It is important to have the proportions and quantities right – whatever is the volume you left for your starter,  it needs to be relative to what you use and when you use it.   If for example,  you make two loaves of bread once a week,  you will need to maintain about twice the volume of starter in your original leftover chunk.    This should equate to approximately 600 grams of starter by weight,  which will be again divided to two halves of 300 grams each to be used in the next bread dough and the next starter.

The original starter,  sometimes caller a mother dough can be fed and kept for a long time.   Keep in the fridge if you want to delay the fermentation process and do not bake for a week or longer.   The starter needs to breathe to live.  The container should be covered but not airtight to allow the dough to breathe.   If you use cloth to cover,  the dough may dry and crust making it hard to deal with.   The best is a jar with a lid in which you make small holes with a pointy knife,  or if you use a container,  do not close tightly the lid leaving one corner open.  

Plan when you want to use it,  take it out of the fridge a day before and allow to rise in warm room temperature.    Allow for the winter cooler temperatures inside the house,  place closer to the heater to increase the fermentation.

If you do not plan to use the starter for a while,  make the dough thicker rather than liquid.   When you cut off a portion of the dough you have made (before adding salt)  and store in the fridge for few months,  it will slowly become more liquid as the bacteria eats up the carbohydrates,  resembling a sticky batter.

To refresh your starter before next use,  add a little flour and water a day before use.   This will restart the fermentation process back to the dough reducing the acidity of your bread.

If you use your starter frequently, like every day,  refresh it with a small amount of flour and water,   by only a third of its volume.   This will make it ready quicker for use.   If you refresh it with a larger amount of flour and water,  say you double its volume,  it will take longer to ferment and be ready to be use to make the next bread.

When you use a wholemeal flour for your starter you need more water as wholemeal absorbs more water than a white flour.

The starter never really dies – it starves and looks dead and dry, but when you feed it a little water and flour,  and place it in a warm place to ferment,  it will return to life again.  It may take few days to return to its full productive stage again.  

If the water has separated out of it,  pour if out and feed the remaining starter to get it back to life.

If there is no bubbling activity,  you can mix it well either by hand or in the food processor,  this mixes up and reactivates the ingredients.

If it gets mouldy,  cut the mould off and discard,  feed the rest of the starter and it will become productive again.

It should have the consistency of a thick batter,  it will become thinner and more liquid over few days as the bacteria eats into the carbohydrates,  so do not make it too liquid.  A liquid consistency will become acidic very quickly.

Here is my own starter with step by step pictures and comments:

Sourdough starter Day 1

Sourdough starter Day 1

Day 1:  I mixed 25 grams of organic rye wholegrain flour with 25mls of warm water (proportions 1:1).  I mixed it for couple of minutes to a smooth paste and left standing for 24 hrs.  The temperature inside my house at present is not warm enough so when heater was on,  I placed the jar with the starter close to it to warm up.   Be careful when you use other source of heat so you do not overheat it above 30 degrees C as you will kill the bacteria in your starter.   It is better to be cooler than too hot,  it will just take longer.   I checked the starter every few hours impatiently but really nothing happened during the first day,  there was no bubbles and no smell yet,  probably due to cool temperature.

Sourdough starter Day 2

Sourdough starter Day 2

Day 2:  I mixed the same ingredients as in day 1 – 25 grams of organic rye wholegrain flour with 25mls of warm water to a smooth paste.    I left it standing for 24 hrs.  Again I warmed the jar a little at the time next to the heater,  and to my surprise a nice fermenting smell started to develop and the starter was soft, fluffy and bubbly.

Day 3:  I added double the quantity as at this stage the starter is hungry for a feed,   50 grams organic rye wholegrain flour and 50 mls of warm water,  mixed all ingredients to a paste,  and left it standing next to the heater.   The starter is now triple in size,  has a nice fermented smell and lots of bubbles.   I know it will turn up nice and strong.

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