Okay, this is gonna be really difficult, (that's why so few people do it themselves). If you can manage to find the ingredients, I'll walk you through complex steps involved.
What you'll be needin'
Got that? I know - I know. Crazy right! Follow these steps CAREFULLY - they're tricky!!
All kidding aside, there are some things to know - for making successful sourdough starter.
If you're baking twice a week - you can leave your starter out on a shelf or counter - feeding it daily as described. If you only bake once a week or less - keep your starter in the fridge, to reduce maintenance. Take your starter out of the fridge once a week, feed, and leave at room temperature for 6 - 8 hrs. It's then ready to make dough with. Return starter to the fridge when done with it.
This is one of my favorite videos for making sourdough starter. Watch the other "DietEasily" videos too! Very simple and straightforward. In this video, pineapple juice is used to kick off the starter, by adjusting the pH. Some people use raw apple cider vinegar, some don't do anything. On this same note - you can also omit the molasses. There's also a recipe that uses crushed, organic grapes (which have lots of wild yeast on them). Don't be afraid of experimenting, and having fun with it. You will have failures and you will have successes - it's all part of the CRAFT. There's really no right or wrong way to do it, once you understand the dynamics of it. Unless - your starter becomes highly pungent, funky smelling, discolored, moldy, slimy, etc. You want it bubbly, happy, fluffy, and smelling of beer.
Once you've fallen in love with making your own Sourdough (and you will!) Consider adding to your Starter family, and honing your skills as a Master. Cultures for Health offers some wonderful Heirloom Starters - from Danish to Parisian, Italian to authentic San Francisco, Brown Rice, Spelt, and Yukon Starters, plus many more. Make sure to check out their website for all your fermentation needs. They've got great starters for kefir, Kombucha, yogurt, and cheese making! Sourdough is just the beginning!
Sticky Starter: 1 part flour - 1 part liquid
Wet Starter: 1 part flour - 2 parts liquid
This is a rough guideline. Recipes and instructions for other Starters vary. It's common sense - add flour/water to maintain the same consistency in your Starter. Climate has to be taken into consideration.
There are tons of recipes online. Bread Dough ratios depend on the consistency of your Starter! Use your intuition! It also depends if you're using a bread loaf pan, or baking free-form loaves. Or, you're making biscuits, flatbread, muffins, etc. This will dictate the consistency of your dough. Some people prefer NOT to knead, and use a wetter dough - directly in a greased loaf pan. The fermentation process actually kneads the dough itself as it rises. If you want Artisan loaves - make a firmer dough (not sticky), and knead by hand or mixer for 10 - 20 minutes. Leave to rise - 4 to 8 hrs. standard. 8 to 12 hours for a more "sour" loaf. The longer you allow your dough to sit/rise - the more phytic acid is removed. You only have to let your dough rise once, twice is up to you - then bake.
Preheat and bake at 400 degress F 30 minutes
Test internal temperature of loaf: 190 F - 210 F .
Remove from loaf pan to cool - then slice.
SOURDOUGH ISN'T JUST FOR BREAD! CLICK HERE TO GET RECIPES FOR SOURDOUGH PANCAKES, CAKES, COOKIES, MUFFINS & MORE!
At least 3 feedings to get your starter established (3 - 6 days)
Feed your starter EVERY 8 - 12 hours
Feed your starter: more water, more flour, a sweet treat (optional)
Tips & Tricks
Start with a smaller batch of Starter, so you don't wind up with too much (1/4 cup flour + 1/4 cup liquid)
Don't throw excess starter away. Give to friends/family or use this Pancake recipe!
Even before agricultural times, up until - not so very long ago...your family made bread using a natural fermentation process that involved a Starter. It's no joke that starters were cherished, family heirlooms, passed on to relatives, and children as they branched out in their own direction - carrying a part of their 'home' in a small crock, that they loving cared for and nourished. Starter isn't just a physically holistic process, it's a spiritual, energetically holistic, living thing - that you develop a relationship with. YOU FEED IT AND IT FEEDS YOU (on all levels).
A lot has changed in short amount of time. With the advent of commercial yeast (not to mention regulations in pasteurization) - we've lost a VITAL nutritional component of good health!!! We lost fermentation altogether in practically one generation! We lost a part of our "culture" (pun intended)..and our digestive system (as a nation) is suffering greatly. We're becoming more and more intolerant of all sorts of foods, and that's just a symptom of what's occurring. I can sometimes go on, about the intentional conspiracy to destroy everyone's good health, but in this particular case - it's our fault...when we give up 'real' foods, in exchange for convenient foods. The price we pay is way too high!
It was back in the late 1860s that Louis Pasteur discovered yeast to be a 'living' organism. He set about collecting strains, and hybridizing the strongest, most aggressive yeast possible. This yeast revolutionized bread making, by reducing leavening time from an average 8 hrs, down to 30 minutes - and a new industry was born - Commercial Bread. Thanks to Louis - we also have pasteurization, which has become standard law for us Westerners. I go into a raw milk rant here, but pasteurization is the same process that renders so many store bought foods 'dead' - destroying delicate enzymes, vitamins, and healthy bacteria. I know that Pasteur was attempting to make industrialized food safer, so I'm not blaming him. It's the whole idea of our food supply (from start to finish) being industrialized, that's the problem. It's not really about feeding a growing a population. It's more about making the most profit possible - and again, our health suffers for it.
The problem with speeding up the baking process, is that the phytic acid is no longer be broken down, as it is in the (longer) natural, fermentation process. Phytic acid holds on to all the nutrients that should be released when you eat grain, making all baked goods - useless calories. Not only that, but phytic acid can also rob nutrients from other foods you're eating, and directly from your body. Eat toast, oatmeal, or cereal with your morning supplements? You're throwing money down the drain.
1 in 133 Americans suffer from Celiac disease, and 1 in 21 suffer from Gluten intolerance. Why? Commercial grain processing. It's not just bread - all our ancestors took painstaking steps to process grains in a very specific manner. Soaking, sprouting, souring, fermenting them all before eating. Our modern lifestyle doesn't allow time for all those methods, but finding the time to ferment some basic staples in our diet - goes a long way in preserving our heritage and our health. Taking our cultures back - is one of the simplest stands we can make against the bullshit in place. An art, a craft, a passion, and a vital component of good health. Share the craft with your friends and family. Turn them onto the enjoyment and fulfillment of it, and share in the rewards!
WHAT IS WILD YEAST
Wild yeast, or multi-micro flora, are natural air-borne ferments that are generated or seeded in a dough, that is left 'exposed' to the environment. Within the fertile medium (starter/dough) - lactic bacteria (B. Pastorianum, B. Delbrucki, B. Ternoas), as well as saccharomyces (s.Pastorianus, and S. Cervisiae) multiply, by consuming natural sugars found in the medium. Wild yeast naturally enriches bread, due to an additional development of enzymes and ferments.
TOO SOUR SOURDOUGH
Sometimes your Sourdough can be too sour. This is an excess of lactic bacteria in your starter - usually a sign that it hasn't been fed regularly enough. Your starter has had a lack of aeration and nutrition, or where it's housed is too warm, or possibly been contaminated with unwanted matter. Lactic bacteria are anaerobic, and thrive in the absence of air.
More Food/Less Warmth - Try 2 feedings a day, and a slightly cooler corner of your house - a slower fermentation process, will produce sweeter bread.
Feed Regularly - There are two critters alive in your starter - wild yeast and bacteria. Missing feedings for your starter, causes the bacteria to get the upper hand, and gobble up all the sugars in your starter - starving the yeast. Then the bacteria turns and starts feeding of the yeast. The bacteria produces lactic acid (in the form of waste). The more lactic acid = the more sour your baked goods.
Hoochie Brew - Pour off the "hooch" liquid that accumulates on the top of your starter - this is basically where the lactic acid accumulates. If your starter is fed regularly - hooch should not be present.
More Starter - The more starter you use in your recipe, the less time you'll have to wait for it to rise. It continues souring the dough during those 8 - 12 hours. You're not breaking down as much phytic acid, during a 4 hour rise, but if you can't handle the sourness - it might be a fair trade off.
Baking Soda - You can add a little baking soda to your recipes to neutralize acidity. It also gives a little extra rising power to your dough.