Sourdough From Scratch :: day one

Find the full “Sourdough From Scratch” series here and make your very own sourdough yeast starter!

Day one! Isn’t this exciting! I realize that I’m not the first person to ever make a sourdough yeast starter, but it is the first time I have ever done something like this. To be perfectly honest, I am still halfway stuck in the “natural bacteria is gross” mentality. Chicken poop on eggs is gross, growing your own fungi for food is gross, yeast from the air is gross. Since I grew up nowhere near a farm I find myself now as an adult a little afraid to jump right into the curiosities of farm life. Luckily I am also the type of person who will try anything once, so I have allowed myself to discover the freshness and flavor of homegrown food.

I would be all scientific and tell you exactly how this works. But I don’t really know the details. From what I understand, there are natural yeasts in the air and by “feeding” these yeasts flour and water, you create a natural leavening agent. If you want to correct me… Feel free. I’d appreciate your input.

Phew! Confession over. Let’s grow yeast.


Get your supplies together:
* clean glass or ceramic jar of either half-gallon or full-gallon size
* two cups of flour (some people have had success with whole wheat, rye, spelt, you name it)
* two cups of cold water (preferably filtered)
* cheesecloth
* rubberband
* wooden spoon (wooden only; metal will react with the yeast)



Pour in the two cups of flour followed by the two cups of cold water. Mix them well with your wooden spoon. The mixture should look fairly soupy.


Now just cover the top of your jar with the cheesecloth and secure it on with a rubberband. Last minute I couldn’t locate my rubberband so I just tied on some stretchy fabric. Improvisation has always been my friend. The cheesecloth is allowing the yeast into your mixture while keeping unwanted dust and bugs out. I thought it was in good measure to double my cheesecloth up since it looked like it had pretty big spaces.

Now just sit your jar somewhere warm until tomorrow when we add more flour and water. See you tomorrow for step two.

12 thoughts on “Sourdough From Scratch :: day one

  1. I 100% agree with you! My deep dark secret is the very same! I love this farm life, but since I didn’t grow up with it, I still am a little worried everytime I bite into my own veggies…I have no idea why my brain tells me “you will bite a grub in half when you bite into this homegrown tomato, but that would never happen with a conventional tomato!” even though I know that’s not true. So strange. And I am the same with yeast – so freaked out that it will be gross or I don’t even know what! But I’m on it and mixing my starter right now! See what happens tomorrow!

    • Well hold on to your pants Melissa because I’ve heard you know your sourdough is on the right track is when it smells like gym socks… or worse.
      And you’re right. There’s more reason to be afraid of grocery store produce yet we have been conditioned to think the opposite. I’m always afraid my eggs will have blood in them. But I’ve been learning to just suck it up. ‘Sometimes there’s just going to be a chunk of chicken meat in your egg Sarah.’ ‘Put your big girl panties on and fish it out!’

      • Ah! That is gross and hilarious! I’ve been having my own little issues today with the ‘natural’ bacteria in the air. I’ve gotten it in my head that we have rabbits in the same room as our kitchen area, rabbits poop and so will I be making poop bacteria bread!?!? We breathe this air, and it hasn’t killed us yet … But today I’ve been going back and forth between just doing it and scrapping it! And thank you, the gym sock thing is REALLY helpful.

      • Maybe put it next to a kitchen window where it will get more air from outside? That’s what I’m doing. I have my gigantor jar on top of the microwave right next to the kitchen window and the window is cracked an nice or two to let outside yeasty air in.

  2. I thought I was going to be out of town this weekend so I didn’t start my sourdough on Tuesday, but now we’ll be in town so I just started it 🙂 1 cup organic whole wheat flour and 1 cup organic unbleached flour. I’ll take a pic every day and let y’all know how it goes.

    By the way, you two are funny! I grew up in the country with a BIG garden and chickens so this isn’t all that foreign to me. Be ware, Sarah, you will find blood in your eggs. It grosses me out, but I’ve sucked it up and I just scramble away (I don’t even fish it out, especially if you eat meat, what’s the diff?). I am not looking forward to the gym sock smell, but I am looking forward to the smell of fresh baked, tangy, sourdough bread! Especially since the souring process helps make the nutrients much more available and the bread more digestible 🙂

    Oh, I don’t know if you want to keep your sourdough starter on top of your microwave. Who know what those microwaves will do to your little yeasty creatures…..

    • We don’t use the microwave anyhow. I don’t really even know why we have it. Oh, Trevor reheats coffee sometimes.

      I have found little blood spots before and they don’t bug me too much. But when I found a dime-sized chunk of meat I fished it out. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it… with it staring back at me in the pan.

      I grew up in the land of 10’x10′ backyards. We had a dog and all my friends had cats. I can’t think if anyone who had a rabbit or chickens or, god forbid, a goat or horse! That would be ridiculous! But now I am trying to learn all these basic skills and enjoying the bejesus out of it! Actually, my sourdough starter is really starting to smell SOUR and it just makes me hungry for bread.

  3. I found your blog very recently (last Sunday) and I’m giving this a try. I just mixed my starter today and I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

      • Thanks Sarah! Your blog has hooked me, I’ve been slowly reading all the posts from the beginning. I read the one where you made goat cheese from scratch and my husband said “You are NOT making that!” lol had to laugh at that one! Anyways, today was gonna be Day 3 of my starter but I didn’t see any separation or liquid. Instead, it was all bubbly. I’m a total newbie at this and both me and the hubby freaked out a little so I decided to start it again. I’m wondering if maybe it’s a bit too cold in our kitchen right now (still plenty of snow out there!) or how I accidentally folded the cheese cloth four times (I didn’t realize it came doubled up). So back to Day 1 🙂

  4. Pingback: A Second Day 1 | Coffee For Two

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