bubbly sourdough starter

Do you have a lot of extra time these days? Are you looking for low-risk responsibility? Well, you have come to the right place! I’m going to starter off (heh..) with a brief Q&A to cover some of the basics, and finish with step-by-step instructions so you too can capture (and potentially neglect and kill) your very own microbial community.

YK sourdough original loaf

So, what exactly is a gluten-free sourdough starter?

A sourdough starter is simply a mixture of flour and water combined to create the perfect environment for wild microbes to flourish. Yeast and bacteria already exist on the flour. The microbe strains even differ in variety depending on the grain being used! Most any gluten-free flour can be used to make your starter, but some of the easiest include rice, millet, sorghum, and buckwheat flours.

GF sourdough open crumb

What’s the purpose of a sourdough starter?

Have you ever baked with those little packets of yeast? A sourdough starter replaces commercial baker’s yeast commonly used in baking. Wild yeasts and bacteria originating on the flour and in the air act as a leavening agent for your bread to rise!

your future commitment!! (photo by ralph smith @popsci.com)

What’s the science of a sourdough starter?

The flour to water ratio is key, but not the only consideration. Temperature is another primary factor influencing the success and fermentation rate of your sourdough starter. The colder the environment, the more slowly the microbial community in the sourdough starter will grow. If your home is cooler than 70F try placing your jar on top of an appliance generating heat, or let it get cozy in your turned-off oven with the light on as a heat source.

Alright, now for the fun part, let’s get it started…

Supplies Required: gluten-free flour, water, measuring cup, spatula, cheese cloth, large container.

1. Combine a cup of cool water with a cup of gluten-free flour. Your starter will grow, so use at least a 1-quart container made of non-reactive material like glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic as your starter’s home.

2. Thoroughly mix and incorporate all of the dry flour into the water. Cover your container with cheesecloth or a towel to prevent any unwanted visitors, and leave in a warm area for 24 hours.

3. After 24 hours you may see no change (don’t throw it away just quite yet), OR you may start to see some fun bubbly activity! Either way, discard half of the starter (or gift it to an ambitious friend), and add another cup of fresh cool water, and flour. This is your first official feeding! Wooo!!

4. Stir the mixture until combined and let rest for another 24 hours. By this time you should start to see bubbles, and you can continue to feed the starter daily (step 3). To increase the starter, stop discarding half, and slowly increase the amount of flour and water each time, as it gets larger in volume your starter can handle larger feedings. The precise amount doesn’t matter (as long as the ratio is 1:1), the sourdough starter is quite forgiving.

5. After about 5 days, you will see the starter significantly increasing in volume following a feeding. The best time to use the starter is when the activity is highest. Watch your starter for a couple feedings to determine when it is most active.

6. You can store your starter in the fridge for months. Before using, remove from the fridge and feed 1-2 times to reactive the microbes in your starter baby!

from starter to finish (geoff & juliana, co-owners)

5 Comments

  1. Claire Gerard on May 26, 2021 at 2:42 am

    Thank you very much for recommending the gluten free cookbook.
    Claire Gerard

  2. Claire Gerard on May 23, 2021 at 1:07 am

    Do you have a recipe for gluten free sourdough made with this starter?
    Thanks

    • YoungKobras on May 24, 2021 at 9:46 pm

      Hi Claire,

      I recommend checking out the cookbook Cannelle et Vanille: Nourishing, Gluten-Free Recipes for Every Meal and Mood

      It’s full of wonderful gf recipes, including a recipe for gf sourdough 🙂

      Warmly,
      Juliana

  3. carly on March 22, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Lovely! I”ve always wanted to do this…. AND do y’all have a favorite pancake recipe to use with the baking mix?

    • YoungKobras on March 25, 2021 at 12:37 am

      Hi Carly!

      We haven’t tested pancakes but it should work well. I would just keep adding water until the mix resembles pancake batter (remembering that it will thicken up as it sits so you may need to add more later). I’d try 2.5 cups to start and see how it goes. I would leave out the yeast. And fry up like normal pancakes!

      Would love to hear how that goes for you 🙂
      Juliana

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