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Sourdough Starter Day 1

It's helpful to put a rubber band on the jar to mark where the sourdough starter is so you can see how much it rises and falls throughout the day. Here are some other notes on tools and ingredients:

  • I used all-purpose flour, which as you'll see in the coming photos wasn't ideal and slowed down my progress immensely. Most recipes recommend using rye or whole wheat flour (or a combo of those with AP), which I eventually switched to and it made a big difference.
  • It's important to use filtered water as chlorine can kill or slow down your starter (you can also leave tap water sitting out overnight). Use cold water if your home is on the warm side, and use room temperature water if your home is on the cool side.
  • A glass jar with straight sides is easier to clean and important so you can see the starter activity. (These Weck jars are extremely popular for their shape and the ability to easily remove rubber seal and just set glass lip on top.) Cover it with a tea towel or lid loosely sitting on top of it; you want to prevent critters or debris falling in it, but it needs air flow.
  • A silicone spatula is extremely helpful for mixing the starter and scraping the sides of the jar (plus it's easy to clean).
  • A kitchen scale makes things 1,000 times easier and more precise. I didn't have one until the end of the process, so I'm putting the measurements in here in cups to start.

If You're Making a Sourdough Starter For the First Time, Here's a Daily Guide in Pictures

I named him "Voldy" after Voldemort, and yes, this is an important first step to a successful sourdough starter. However, my husband preferred to call him "Yeastie Boy" (even playing him "Intergalactic" to prove the point that this was a superior name), and while this happened to coincide with Voldy's upswing after some dicey days, I stand by this being purely a coincidence. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Ah, the sourdough starter. So simple, and yet, all consuming. "Make bread easily without yeast," they said. "It only requires two ingredients: flour and water," they said. "Just 10 minutes a day," they said. If only I had known just what I was taking on that sunny spring day when I threw together some flour and water in the only large jar I owned and stuck it on the windowsill in the warmest room in the house.

Now that I'm at the point where Voldy is essentially a Tamagotchi requiring minimal effort to keep alive and thriving, I can finally share my experience so that you, too, can ruin your life with a sourdough starter. I kid, I kid. I'm sure it will go smoothly without any problems. But if it is a trainwreck, just know that you're not alone. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and incessant googling all through the night and persevere until you have a crusty and delicious loaf of bread at the end of this. And if not? Well, there's no shame in store-bought.

Buckle up, let's take a yeast journey, shall we?


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