October 12, 2009

Sourdough Starter Day 3 - It's bubbling!

I have wanted to make my own sourdough bread for a while now. Finally got motivated over the weekend and decided to try Sandor Ellix Katz's recipe for sourdough starter from his book Wild Fermentation.

Sandor's recipe is very simple: combine 2 cups of whole rye flour and 2 cups of filtered water in a medium-size bowl, and mix well. Then add a few pieces of unwashed, organic grapes or berries (fruit with an edible skin - the "bloom" on the skin provides beneficial yeasts and bacteria to get the fermentation started). I stirred in 7 organic green grapes (I have a somewhat unfounded belief that 7 is my lucky number). Then cover the bowl with cheesecloth, so air can freely circulate but flies, etc., can't get in, and leave in a warm spot (mine is sitting on top of the fridge). Stir vigorously each day, and in about a week the starter should be ready for bread-baking.

When I checked my starter this morning, it was bubbling (I guess the 7 grapes worked!) so I think it's alive! With additional luck from the fermentation fairies, I will be baking sourdough bread this weekend. Sandor's book has a recipe for an onion-caraway rye sourdough that looks really good, so I'm planning to try that.

Note: I checked on the starter later in the day and it was even more bubbly and fruity-smelling. Then I looked at the recipe again and saw that the fruit should be removed once yeast activity is apparent. (So I might have left the fruit in a little too long.) I removed the grapes with a slotted spoon and fed the starter with 2 Tbsp of rye flour, stirring well. I'll continue to feed it with a couple of tablespoons of flour every day for the next few days until it is ready to bake with.


  1. I keep thinking I must do this - my aunt bakes sour dough bread every week - she's famous in the family for it! And with the snow outside, I am thinking that bread baking has returned. So this was timely for me! Thanks.

  2. Looking forward to reading about your sourdough experience, Claudia! I haven't been able to find traditionally fermented, whole grain sourdough bread at the farmer's market or bakeries near me, which is what inspired me to try it. It is such fun to check on the starter each day! Kind of like having a pet (okay, not really).

    Also added a little more info above on the next steps of Katz's recipe to the above post: remove fruit once yeast is active, and feed the starter with a little flour each day for 3-4 days.