Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sourdough Bread: Part 1 – Let’s Get This Started

Welcome to part one of a two part video series for how to make sourdough bread, with nothing more than flour and water. If you’re thinking I already did this before, well, we did, sort of. I did a multi-part series for this long ago, but it was horribly shot, confusing, and the results weren’t good. Other than that, it was fine.

Anyway, thanks to an amazing refresher course from Northwest Sourdough (which I highly recommend you check out, and subscribe to), I decided to take those videos down, and do an updated, 2-part recipe. There’s really nothing like homemade sourdough, and notwithstanding the time it takes for your starter to mature, it’s a very simple, and easy process.

The exact number of grams seen herein doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re using exactly the same amount of flour and water, by weight. I picked 70 grams, since it seemed like a nice amount to film, but the ratio is really the key. Same goes for the types of flour used. I like half spelt, and half bread flour, but this will work with pretty much any combination, including all wheat flour.

I never like to get too deep in the weeds when showing a technique, so if you do want all the Latin terms, and detailed explanations for what exactly is happening here, there are endless resources online. All I care about is that this works. After the second day, toss away half your mixture, feed with equal parts flour and water, wait for the microorganisms to do their thing. Stay tuned for part two, or as I call it the good part, where we’re going to make a loaf of incredibly beautiful, tasty bread, and as always, enjoy!


Day 1: combined 70 g *water and 70 g flour
Day 2: add 70 g water and 70 g flour
Day 3: discard 140 g of your starter, and feed with 70 g water and 70 g flour
Day 4 until maybe Day 10: repeat the step above, every day, until your starter smells fruity, yeasty, and beautifully fermented.
- Test by seeing if the mixture doubles within 2 to 3 hours after feeding. 
-- All this is based on you keeping the mixture at 70°. If it’s cooler than that this will take longer, and if it’s warmer it may ferment too fast, although I’m not sure if that’s a problem.
Note: Once done, you can store in the fridge until needed. Most people recommend you feed it once a month or so.

* For best results, use bottled water, as chlorine can kill the yeast/bacteria.

39 comments:

Michael Stern said...

The video went "poof!" :(

Michael Stern said...

If I could offer just a touch of improvement to this... When making the initial mix, use unsweetened pineapple juice instead of water. This will make the mixture slightly acidic, helping to prevent unwanted bacteria from invading, while promoting the growth of the wanted lactobacilli. Feed with filtered water thereafter.

Susan Zomar said...

Chef John, great video, I'm going to try this special flour as well, thanks so much.

Unknown said...

I don't care that you use grams, but could you please use measurements like cups and tbs etc? I have no way of knowing how much to use as not everyone has scales for food in their homes.

Thank you, otherwise, I love your videos and recipes.

Kennapop3 said...

My starter is over 50 years old, while it has a family that brought starter on a wagon train to the west. They had to harvest a western wild yeast to begin again. It has been shared with many people that have asked for their own start from the families stash. Left to start again the yeast is joined with a new wild strain from each new location.

Detlef said...

The video doesn't seem to work

nowhyok said...

I'm having trouble loading the video; anyone else having problems can go here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FkGX3xGlog

Aaron Alexander said...

So I've got my starter made, now the process begins!

T Verga said...

I started my sourdough a few years ago and the only thing I would say is once you get it going try to feed it at least once a week. Any longer and liquid starts accumulating at the top and smelling boozy. That may have to do with the ratio as well since I don't measure, I just fill the jar back to about half after I take so to make pizza once a week. But I do think feeding more often (and definitely every time you use it) is best to keep your yeast happy and smelling delicious.

William DiStefano said...

Instead of discarding half... couldn't you put half in another container and feed that half too?

Spinni said...

Wheat and spelt are a good choice if you want to bake wheat bread (there are some great italian breads made with sour dough).

More often rye bread is baked with sour dough because it is not possible to use yeast alone in rye breads. So, try rye for your starter and bake with rye and wheat flour.

Joanne Rake said...

The video doesn't work.

Michael Glavich said...

I can't wait to try this! Thank you Chef John! I haven't had a decent sourdough since I visited San Francisco.

By the way...The video link on the blog isn't working for me...And I had some trouble with YouTube too, saying "Video has been removed by user." It did load after a few minutes, mysteriously though.

Nicole Blackall said...

The youtube video is unavailable! :(

Nicole Blackall said...

The video is unavailable :(

Nicole Blackall said...

The video is unavailable :(

Tony L said...

Hi Chef John, I understand redoing some of your original video's. One of my favourite recipes of yours in your Ultimate Roast Chicken recipe. It's the best roast chicken I have ever had. I make that quite often when I have company coming over for dinner. Everyone loves it. Your videos have come a long way since you first started producing them. I think your chicken recipe needs to be shared with the world once again.

David Richards said...

I enjoyed watching this video. I love chef John's enthusiasm. I have been making sourdough bread for more than 20 years and I am always looking for a better approach to creating a starter. I have never successfully made one without using an eighth teaspoon of yeast. I am going to give rhis one a go as my starter in the fridge is kaput after a long period of rest.

David Richards said...

I enjoyed watching this video. I love chef John's enthusiasm. I have been making sourdough bread for more than 20 years and I am always looking for a better approach to creating a starter. I have never successfully made one without using an eighth teaspoon of yeast. I am going to give this one a go as my starter in the fridge is kaput after a long period of neglect.

rashep142 said...

Just so you know, Chef John, the video remains "unavailable" according to my laptop.

Thanks for all the great recipes and techniques.

Jonas said...

Video unavailable (at least in denmark). This video looks interesting though. :-)
/Jonas
Love your videos by the way.

Cassandra Schrow said...

If all goes according to plan, and we get to keep the starter in the fridge, how long does it stay good for? Or will this last for "forever" as long as we take care if it?

FeverentCJFan said...

what are your suggestion on maintaining 70 degrees

Christian Groß said...

Dear John,

if you say "discard half of it" - does it mean half of everything? Do you keep the hooch or do you discard all of it before discarding half of the rest?

Jeanette Tucker said...

The video doesn't work... :(

Georgia Dabinett said...

Video unavailable message recd. :(

Jim said...

What's happening here, video is unavailable? Someone needs to fix this.....

Al Wilson said...

Hi Chef, the video doesn't seem to be available. Cheers!

Al Wilson said...

Hi Chef, the video doesn't seem to be available. Cheers!

Eirik Dahl said...

the video is not working for me. not on youtube either

Shannon Sullivan said...

Hi Chef John! I am a long time fan of your videos! My husband and I both subscribe to your YouTube channel and when a new video is available we wait to watch together. I am the cook in the house but my husband enjoys watching the videos and often makes special requests that I make your recipes.


I started my sourdough starter last night and I was wondering if there is any issue with continuing to feed the starter without discarding half? I understand it will become a LOT of starter but, is that the only issue?

Thank you so much for your awesome videos, your great puns and your fabulous food. Looking forward to part two of this video series!

Shannon

julie4evert said...

Where is the yeast?

Todd Hollerson said...

I didn't have audio on but read the recipe. It seems like 70 g (gallons) is a lot. So that's a total of 140 gallons of starter. That's a lot of bread. Sorry, just pulling your leg. I know what a gram is. :)

Kattis said...

Just started mine! Hope that I will get it right :)

Josef Princiotta said...

I was told that the microbes on an unwashed grape (grapes) can influence the subtle taste of the starter and therefore the bread. Add a small amount of freshly squeezed grapes into the very first day's mix only?
What say thee ( anybody who cares to offer )?
Chef John, Your Style, and Manner of presentation are very much appreciated.
Thank you, for your talent and generosity.

Jim M. said...

So you use 100 gms of starter and then add 100 gms of flour back to the starter???

puttermuch said...

Mmmmmm.....sour dough pancakes :)

Mike said...

Julie4Evert asked, "Where's the yeast?" Yeast is everywhere, in the air you breath and the flour that we buy (there's a lot of non-flour things in flour). But wild yeast is very location specific. That's why San Francisco sourdough bread is so famous; the wild yeast that can grow in that area can only grow in that area. The same chef taking the same steps in southern California would produce a different flavor because of the different strains of yeast that thrive in that environment. The difference in taste and texture would be subtle, but it would be there. We live in Asia; our flavor of sourdough is very different than what came out from my native California.

Marine Robey said...

Hey Chef John!
So I forgot to feed my starter (Sour Puss) for a couple days....I just fed her now though. Do you think my starter will be ok? Or do I need to start a new one. I'm about halfway through the process.
Thanks! Xox