How to Make a Sourdough Starter (in Stick Drawings)

Sourdough starter slides images

I taught a sourdough starter workshop last month and I really could have used some graphics to outline the process. Creating a starter from scratch may sound complicated (you can read my post here) but involves only a handful of steps and your patience.Β For my upcoming free sourdough starter webinar, I put together the following slides, which I hope will help explain this magical process of transforming flour and water into a living culture.

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

Sourdough starter slides images

There you have it, sourdough starter in stick drawings.

40 Comment

  1. This looks a lot easier than I thought! I’ll have to try it! πŸ™‚

    1. Yay! Thank you so much. I had hoped images would help explain the process. Let me know how it goes πŸ™‚

      1. I’m gonna try to do it tomorrow! I’ll post updates as I go on here! Images were a huge help πŸ™‚

      2. Great! The looks on my students faces told me I needed visuals. If you have time, will you please let me know when you post (otherwise I may miss it)? I will also keep an eye out.

      3. Sure I can let you know! Is there a type of flour that it works best with?

      4. Darn! I didn’t include that info. I use half white, half whole wheat. Thanks for asking.

      5. Okay perfect! I think I have both

      6. So I just made it and it seems really dry. Like a dough ball. πŸ™

      7. Uh oh. It sounds like it has too much flour in it. I use a scale to measure the ingredients as 100 grams of flour can vary between 2/3 and 3/4 of a cup. But the difference between those two measurements shouldn’t result in a dough ball. If you still have it, you could try adding water to make it runny. Or you could start again. I hope you are not deterred. I have kept notes of my sourdough baking from the beginning and I have had lots of disasters in there. Some loaves turned out as deflated as I felt looking at them πŸ™

      8. Now there’s bubbles! I just made a post with pictures!

      9. That’s great! I’ll go check it out. Thanks for letting me know.

  2. This is awesome Anne Marie! Love the drawings. I’m a visual learner so this is super helpful. I’ve got starter in my fridge that needs to be fed soon.

    1. Thank you, Karen. I thought (hoped) these would help break down the process. I look forward to seeing some of your bread pics πŸ˜‰

  3. Aggie says: Reply

    Nice images! They make a simple process seem simple.

    1. Thanks, Aggie. It is simple and I think you really learn as you do it. You know how it should smell, how the consistency should feel when you stir it, how much bubbling to expect (or hope for) and so on.

  4. I really appreciate these slides. Can you use the “discard” to make bread as well?

    1. Thank you! I have used the discard for quick breads and have had varying results. I have made good banana bread with it. Most of the quick breads I’ve tried have turned out a little dry but for the banana bread I add a bit of yogurt and that seems to help. I have made muffins a couple of times that were just plain weird. When I finally find a perfect quick bread/muffin recipe for discard, I will throw a party…

      If you feed your starter every day, then it will always be fresh. So let’s say right now I feed my starter. I will put the new stuff aside and can use some of the discard for my sourdough bread. BUT if your sourdough is in the fridge for a while, it’s not at its height of bubbly activity. You probably don’t want to use that to make sourdough bread. It won’t be as lively as starter that has been recently fed within the last 24 hours, preferably 12, I would say. So the short answer is use fresh, active starter to make sourdough bread.

      1. Ok then! Thank you for clearing that up.

      2. You’re welcome πŸ™‚

  5. Fabulous illos!!! Easy to follow and creatively executed!

    1. Thank you!

  6. Anna says: Reply

    Absolutely brilliant slides! You couldn’t explain it better. What kind of flour do you use?

    1. Thank you! I use half organic white, half organic whole wheat, so 50 grams each. (Weight is much more accurate than volume.) A friend just bought a grain mill attachment for her Vitamix and I hope to try her flour soon. Freshly ground is ideal!

      1. Anna says:

        Thanks! Does the recipe work for rye flour?

      2. Well, I haven’t used rye in the starter but I think that should be fine. I have been adding rye to the dough when making the bread but I’m all out at the moment.

  7. Another idiot-proof recipe, made just for me, I’m sure! are you in cahoots with my friend John? Either way, thanks!

    1. Hahaha. Thank you πŸ™‚

  8. Lexie says: Reply

    When you say feed daily do you mean add more from the discard starter? Or do you mean mix same amount of flour and water and just add that fresh mix to the starter you have going?

    1. Use the starter you have going. This morning, I fed my starter. I mixed fresh flour and water and added a bit of the previous starter to it. What’s left of that previous starter now goes to the discard pile in the fridge. So now I have two batches–one recently fed and one discard. Tomorrow I will feed today’s batch. I’ll take a bit from today’s batch and add it to fresh flour and water. I hope that helps. Please let me know if it doesn’t.

  9. star says: Reply

    i still have to overcome the problem when try to make sourdough out of einkorn flour
    1]the water dosent mix well into the dough ,the dough crumbles into heavy peice wile the rest water stayes aside
    2]it becomes very acid taste but it doesn’t rise as should ,in the end get very dense tough bread
    3]out of all your offered starters ,which one if any is best in helping overcome the two problems above
    4]plus which starter if any has the minimum acid taste ,and the most creamy velvet feel to the tonge, while still the best aroma to the noise “?

    1. I tried making sourdough with einkorn and it did not work at all. I looked up einkorn in Michael Pollan’s book Cooked (I use his recipe) and apparently einkorn doesn’t produce gluten, so it doesn’t stretch around the carbon dioxide your fermenting dough produces. Thus, no rise. Switching to whole wheat and white (I know, I know, white flour is bad, but the last batch I made was only about 18 percent) will probably address your problems. Also, if you leave your starter out on the counter and feed it every day, it should produce a flavor a little less sour and more sweet. If you refrigerate it and feed it less often, it will produce a more sour flavor. But the difference doesn’t seem huge to me. I think you’ll notice the biggest change if you switch flours. I use ~ 60 percent whole wheat, 20 percent rye/spelt and 20 percent white. I hope that helps!

      1. Sunny says:

        Has anyone tried half white, half Einkorn?

      2. Hi Sunny. Cultures for Health has a long list of gluten-free sourdough recipes and may have one with Einkorn (I haven’t looked at all of them so I’m not sure):

  10. […] how to make “dorritos” out of maize meal! Watch this space. I have just started a Sourdough Starter and so will start making my own sourdough crackers to go with hummus dips and […]

  11. Can you add the discarded starter to yesterday’s discarded starter etc until ready to use. Sorry. I’m sure it’s a dumb question but I don’t like to start new things without knowing everything. Thanks in advance.
    PS. This visual is so helpful, especially for me. I’m mildly autistic and can understand visuals much much more easier than words. I SUPER appreciate that you did that

    1. That’s not at all a dumb question. I found all of this very confusing at first. Yes, you can keep one container of all your discarded starter and just add to it every time you have excess from feeding. I’m glad you found the visuals helpful. When I first learned how to make sourdough bread, I wanted pictures but didn’t have any. I know they would have sped up my learning process. Enjoy!

      1. Thank you kindly

    2. By the way, here’s my post on the bread (with pics):

  12. Thanks. Now I understand. Regards from Colombia πŸ™‚

    1. You’re welcome πŸ™‚

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