Don’t have one? Get an established starter from a friend or online.
The best way to go if you don’t have a starter is to get an established starter. The flavor will be much better as it will have had more time to mature than a new wild yeast starter. If you can’t get one from a friend, there are loads of sites that sell established starter cultures now. They even have gluten-free options! I have never bought cultures online but I’m sure it is worth checking out.
Care of Your Starter
The starter must be kept refrigerated when not in use, and can be kept in the fridge without being fed for weeks. However, it must be taken out and fed every three weeks to a month or the bacteria will die. If you are not planning on baking for a long span of time, or if you will be away traveling, etc., you can transfer the starter to the freezer for no more than three months. If frozen, it still must be taken out every three months to feed. If the starter has not been regularly used, it may take a few feedings at room temperature to resuscitate before it can be used. If the starter has not been used regularly, a clear to brown liquid may form on top. Don’t worry about this, its harmless and can simply be poured off.
Feeding the Starter
To feed the starter, add 2 cups flour and 1 ½ cups water. The starter will begin to bubble after a few hours and should double in size every 8 hours. If no bubbles are forming, wait a few hours and add more flour and water. If the starter remains still, the bacteria may have died.
Baking and Cooking with the Starter
The first thing you should do when using the starter in a recipe is to retain some for future use. It doesn’t matter how much you keep back, as long as some of the bacteria remain multiply in the next feeding. I usually keep back about half a cup.
I have had sourdough starter on and off for a few years now and have not even scratched the surface of using it to its full potential! Pancakes, breads, cakes, crusts, the possibilities are endless! I recently used it as a base for a brioche puff crust in a Chicken Pot Pie and it added a lot of nice flavor.