These are instructions for taking care of a wild sourdough starter, which contains no commercial yeast. It is inoculated only with wild bacteria and wild yeasts from the natural environment.
To feed, discard all but about a few tablespoons from the jar; add a few tablespoons of water and enough flour so that it forms a paste. Make sure you give your starter plenty of flour to eat and enough water so that it can be stirred, but is not runny (it should be thick like a paste). If you are baking regularly, you can leave your starter on the kitchen counter, so long as you feed it at least every day.
Your starter can also be kept in the refrigerator where it only needs to be fed every few weeks (or longer). To use your starter after refrigeration, feed it on the day before starting your bread, and again before returning it to your refrigerator.
If the recipe that you are using requires a lot of starter (for example, 1 cup or more), grow your starter by doubling the total volume of the starter at every feeding. Depending upon how much starter you keep in your jar, this may take a few feedings/days.
- Every few weeks, put your starter in a clean jar to prevent the possibility of mold.
- Don’t tighten the cap on the jar; your starter needs to breathe.
- For best results, use unbleached flour (preferably organic) and filtered or spring water.
- If a dark (or black) liquid forms on the surface of the starter, it is just hungry. Feed several days in a row to nourish it, and consider increasing feeding to twice per day. You may also want to switch to feeding a whole wheat flour if you are not doing so already.
- The volume of your starter will dramatically expand after feeding: leave plenty of room in your jar.