Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is at the heart of all sourdough bread baking. You are creating a living organism, and that takes time. It’s a 24-day project for starter to develop and mature, but with proper care and feeding, you’ll have it for life. Make it, feed it, share it: that’s what starter and bread baking are all about!
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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 22 days 18 hr
  • Active: 2 hr 45 min
  • Yield: 1 serving
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Ingredients

Day 1

250 grams (8.8 ounces) organic or wild grapes, wiped clean but not rinsed; or use 250 grams (8.8 ounces) organic raisins, soaked overnight in 250 milliliters water

125 grams (.5 cups plus 3 tablespoons) organic dark rye flour

Days 3–6

400 grams (2.5 cups) organic dark rye flour, divided

400 grams (1.5 cups plus 3 tablespoons) water at about 60 degrees F, divided

Days 7–9

225 grams (1.5 cups plus 1.5 tablespoons) whole wheat flour, divided

225 grams (.75 cups plus 3 tablespoons) water at about 60 degrees F, divided

Days 10–20

1650 grams (11.75 cups plus 1 tablespoon) whole wheat flour, divided

1650 grams (6.75 cups plus 2 tablespoons) water at about 60 degrees F, divided

Days 21–24

150 grams (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) whole wheat flour, divided

100 grams (.25 cups plus 3 tablespoons) water at about 60 degrees F, divided

Directions

  1. Day 1: Make sure neither your hands nor your containers have any traces of soap or detergent, which will prevent your starter from growing. Place grapes in a medium bowl and use your hands to crush them, reserving as much liquid as possible in the bowl. (You can also do this in a food processor.) Alternatively, purée the soaked raisins with the water in a food processor. Add the rye flour and mix with your fingers until all of the flour is wet and fully incorporated. Place in a small lidded container. Cover and let rest at room temperature until Day 3 (48 hours).
  2. Days 3-6: Place 100 grams (¼ cup + 2½ tablespoons) of the Day 1 starter into a container; discard the remaining starter. Add 100 grams (¼ cup + 3 tablespoons) water, and stir to combine thoroughly. Add 100 grams (¾ cup + 1½ tablespoons) dark rye flour and stir again until there’s no visible flour. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 24 hours.Repeat this step of feeding 100 grams of the previous day’s starter every 24 hours, for a total of 4 feedings.
  3. Days 7-9: Place 75 grams (¼ cup + ½ tablespoon) of the Day 6 starter into a container; discard the remaining starter. Add 75 grams (¼ cup + ½ tablespoon) water, and stir to combine thoroughly. Add 75 grams (½ cup + 1½ teaspoons) whole wheat flour and stir again until there’s no visible flour. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 24 hours.Repeat this step of feeding 75 grams of the previous day’s starter every 24 hours, for a total of 3 feedings.
  4. Days 10-20: Place 75 grams (¼ cup + ½ tablespoon) of the Day 9 starter into a container; discard the remaining starter. Add 75 grams (¼ cup + ½ tablespoon) water, and stir to combine thoroughly. Add 75 grams (½ cup + 1½ teaspoons) whole wheat flour and stir again until there’s no visible flour. Cover and let rest at room temperature 12 hours. Repeat this step of feeding 75 grams of the previous day’s starter every 12 hours—that's twice a day—for a total of 22 feedings.
  5. Days 21-24: Place 50 grams (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) of the Day 20 starter into a container; discard the remaining starter. Add 100 grams (¼ cup + 3 tablespoons) water, and stir to combine thoroughly. Add 150 grams (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) whole wheat flour and stir again until there’s no visible flour. Cover and let rest at room temperature 6 hours.At this point, it’s preferable to refrigerate the starter for 60 more hours before using it to bake bread, for additional fermentation. But it will be fine to use after 6 additional hours at room temperature (i.e., 12 hours after final feeding). Congratulations, you have created the "mother" starter!
  6. Maintaining your starter: By "stiffening the mother," you can slow down fermentation while maintaining a healthy ecosystem for your starter.Once every 3 days, remove the starter from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 6 hours. Place 50 grams (3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) of the existing starter into a container; discard the rest. Feed the starter using the same proportions as Day 21: 100 grams (¼ cup + 3 tablespoons) water, and 150 grams (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) whole wheat flour. Cover and let rest for 6 hours, then return to the refrigerator. If you’re going to be away for more 9 days, you need to slow the growth of the starter. Remove from refrigerator place 100 grams (¼ cup + 2 ½ tablespoons) of starter into a container; discard the rest. Let it sit at room temperature for 6 hours; then add 350 grams (1¼ cup + 3½ tablespoon) water and 750 grams (5¼ cup + 2 tablespoons) of whole wheat flour. Mix well to incorporate. Refrigerate for up to 9 days. If you’re going away for up to 9 days, have a friend feed it according to the 3-day feeding schedule. (Think of your starter as you would a pet: it's a living creature that must be fed and watered regularly!)
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