- 1/2 cup (2.5 oz) unbleached all purpose white flour + more for feedings
- 1/8 teaspoon instant, fast-rising, or bread machine yeast
- about 1/3 cup room temperature ( 70 F) bottled or chlorine free water + more for feedings
- Start the starter: In a medium glass bowl or large, wide mouth jar, stir together flour + yeast. Add 1/3 cup room temp water to make a gravy-like consistency. Place a clean tea towel loosely over the top. Once in a while, stir mixture with a clean spoon to speed up development. ( You may see bubbling when you stir.) Leave covered bowl out on counter overnight.
- Feed starter: For the next 4 days: Stir in 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 – 1/3 cup room temp spring water every day, stirring once in a while if possible. Mixture will become more sour tasting/smelling and may smell like alcohol, which means it’s maturing. On day 5, pour off and throw out 1/3 of the mixture before feeding starter again with usual amount of flour + water. Continue to feed same way for another 4 -5 days, to build up the starter. By now, there will be enough starter to bake with as well as to store and maintain.
- Liven/refresh starter for baking: Pour off a third of the mixture, then stir in 1 cup flour + 1/2 – 1/3 cup water. Leave out starter for at least 4 hours until very bubbly before you use it. Next, stir well and measure out amount you need for baking.
- Maintain starter: Don’t forget to take good care of the remaining starter! (Think of it like watering one of your beloved plants.) Replenish starter with 1/2 cup flour + 1/4 cup water, to achieve a consistency like pancake batter. Transfer the mixture to a large, clean container and cover with a LOOSE lid. Once it is bubbly, transfer mixture to your refrigerator. ( Set a note on top of container to feed starter in 7 days.) After 7 days, stir, pour off 1/3 of mixture, then feed remainder by stirring in 1/3 cup flour + 1/4 cup water. Return mixture to fridge and repeat this maintenance feeding one time each week. NOTE: At this point, I put the starter in a glass bowl with a lid. It’s important for me to see the starter when I open the fridge each week so that I remember to feed it. Pick a day and stick to it- I feed mine on Sundays.
- To revive a refrigerated starter: If you don’t feed the starter for a long time, it can sour and separate into layers; it can even make your bread too sour. Pour off liquid on top , give it the usual feeding, stir well and set out at room temperature. If it doesn’t bubble at all, add in a pinch of commercial yeast. Repeat feedings daily, pouring off build-up until bubbly and less sour again. Once revived, place starter back in fridge and feed weekly. Pour off some of old amount every time you feed it. Rarely will a starter spoil. However, if your starter smells bad, moldy or turns orange in color, throw it out and make a fresh starter.