Each spring, I start a batch of sourdough starter. I never seem to keep it alive through the winter, but for several seasons out of the year, we enjoy tasty sourdough bread.
I found my recipe several years ago in a magazine my parents bought me a copy of. It’s one of the GRIT Country Skills Series, in an edition that was all about Homemade Bread. As you can tell, it’s been well used over the years. Owen also got a hold of it, which explains the missing chunks. Pica sure is frustrating sometimes!
Anyways, there are tons of great recipes in this magazine, and I’ve tried most of them over the years.
But my favorite is the sourdough starter. It calls for a unique ingredient that I hadn’t seen before in other starters.
I’ve made it enough that I started to tweak it. Here’s my version of the sourdough starter.
Potato Water Sourdough Starter
This sourdough starter starts off with potatoes!
- 4 potatoes (unpeeled) boiled until very soft
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
Once your potatoes are falling apart, remove them from the heat and let them cool. Once you can comfortably touch them, remove the skin. Then mash the potatoes.
Add enough water to make it like a slushie. The amount you add will depend on the thickness of your potato puree. You want it to be a thick, pourable liquid.
Measure out 2 cups of this potato puree into the container for your starter. Add the other two ingredients and mix well. It’ll look like pancake batter.
Cover it with a cloth and let sit for three days. This will allow the fermentation process to start.
Then, begin feeding the starter regularly. I add 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water and mix it all up. You can increase these numbers if you desire. You can also add a spoonful of sugar. I do that about every third feeding.
When your sourdough starter has a pleasant, sour smell and bubbles, it is ready to use.
What Should You Keep Your Sourdough Starter In?
I just use a round glass Pyrex bowl for my sourdough. It’s simple and something I already had on hand.
In years past, I’ve used half-gallon jars. I prefer these, but mine all broke and I didn’t want to wait to order another one when I was feeling motivated to get my sourdough started.
At some point, I’m planning on purchasing a dedicated crock style container, like this, to keep my starter in. But for now, what I have works. So I just keep it simple. Don’t overthink the container aspect. Use what you have for now and go from there.
How to Maintain Your Sourdough Starter
Each time you use your sourdough starter, make sure you feed it. This will keep it strong and healthy. If you aren’t going to use it for a while, stick it in the fridge and stir it every week or so. This will aerate it and keep it going.
Then before you use it, take it out and feed it. Then let it sit for several hours before using.
No matter how often you feed your starter, you may notice some clear liquid on the top. This is normal. I just stir it back in.
You shouldn’t see mold or discoloration on top. If I find anything gross like that, I toss my starter and start over.
Keep your starter at room temperature. Also, keep it covered so flies don’t land in it. Depending on the container you use, you may be able to use a rubber band to secure a thin towel over the top. I just use a kitchen towel draped over the top. It works.
What to Make with Sourdough Starter
There are so many different recipes to try once you have a strong sourdough starter. Sourdough bread is my favorite. It has such a great texture.
I also like sourdough pancakes and the classic sourdough biscuits.
But here’s a super simple recipe for sourdough bread, also inspired by the GRIT magazine shown above.
- 2/3 c sourdough starter
- 1 1/2 c warm water
- 3 1/2 c flour
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 t salt
In a larger bowl, mix your starter and warm water. It should be a fairly thin mix, depending on the thickness of your starter. Add the other ingredients and stir well with a wooden spoon.
You will have a wet, sticky ball of dough.
Cover it and let rise for at least 12 hours. It should be doubled in size and very bubbly.
Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Then, remove the dough and shape it the best you can into a round loaf. It probably won’t look perfect, and that’s okay.
Let rise another hour or two.
Once it’s risen, preheat your oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake the bread for 30 minutes, or until nicely browned and done.
Allow it to cool and enjoy.
Here’s the loaf I baked this morning:
What’s your favorite recipe using sourdough starter? Now that I have some active again, I’d love to try some new ones!
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