Part 1 of 3
I’m sure it’s not copyright, so I’ll share my sourdough starter experience from my recent course at the School of Artisan Food. Contrary to many sources, there is only a need to use a teaspoon of flour a day - none of that rubbish of using 100g and then throwing half away every other day. Also plain tap water is fine - no need for mineral water.
The starter. So, start with a very small jar and a heaped teaspoon of flour and a teaspoon of water. Mix well. Each day for another 5-7 days, add another heaped tsp of flour and water, mixing well. By day 6 or 7, there should be signs of activity - bubbles in the mix and a different smell to the starter. Keep warmish, but don’t cook it!
NB different bread flours have differently noticeable activity - wholemeal Rye flour produces lots of activity while White flour has much less obvious reactions. Apparently, chick pea flour (Chana) is very active! Possibly, organic stoneground may be better (IF available).
What’s happening is natural yeasts AND the same bacteria in yoghurt, which are naturally present in the flour and encouraged by adding water and keeping warm, encourage fermentation and growth of the ‘good’ bacteria. This makes your bulked up and very active ‘sponge’.
So, the ideal end result after about a week:
A mix of flour and water that is bubbly and has a distinct aroma. If we think wine has many, different aromas, well starters are amazing! I have three on the go, one is slightly alcoholic, with vinegar and acetone notes, while the second is more bready and yeasty. The third is almost cheesy, certainly with dairy aromas. All are good!