How to Make Sourdough Starter

Keith Cohen, of the 98-year-old Orwasher’s Bakery, shares the secrets to making the perfect sourdough starter.

Editor’s note: This illustration featuring Keith Cohen of Orwasher’s Bakery demonstrating how to make a sourdough starter originally ran in our fall 2014 travel issue. We understand that they small copy might be challenging to read on smaller screens, so scroll below the image for the full instructions.

SourdoughStarter

How to make a sourdough starter

  1. Many of Orwasher’s breads are risen with wild yeasts via a fermented “sourdough” or liquid starter that yields complex flavors, crust and crumb. All you need is flour, water and a $15 digital scale.
  2. In a clean container mix 2.15 pounds of all-purpose flour and 2.85 pounds of cold water. A 5 pound batch seems like a lot but results in stronger starter and better bread.
  3. Cover it so it doesn’t dry out and let it ferment for two days at room temperature. Your starter will begin to create carbon dioxide gas. It can double in size, so use a large container.
  4. Feed your starter over the next 5-7 days. Each day, 1) pour out half of the starter and 2) add 1.425 pounds of flour and 1.075 pounds cold water, stir well and replace the cover.
  5. When your starter is ready, it darkens slightly, develops a strandy texture and lots of gas. It also smells and tastes sour like vinegar.
  6. Bake with your starter once it’s strong and almost doubled, before it begins to collapse. If it does, feed it again. You can also freeze until you need it; once you’re ready to use it, bring it to room temperature and feed it for a day or two.

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