5 Biggest Mistakes With Sourdough Starters

Here are the 5 biggest mistakes with sourdough starters you might be making when you begin your sourdough journey. I know… I’ve made them all!

1. Not using a nutrient dense flour

Sourdough starters are like newborns – they need to be fed flour that contains a lot of proteins, minerals and vitamins. Bleached flours have been stripped of most of the healthy nutrients found in freshly ground wheat, so it’s like feeding your newborn skim milk. Bread flour, whole wheat and dark rye will make your sourdough starter grow fat and healthy.

2.  Not using non-chlorinated water

Chlorine is the kiss of death to any sourdough starter. I lost a starter by spraying my container with chlorine spray “just to be safe” and thought I had rinsed it all out. No COVID…but no yeast. Salt is your other enemy. Brita filters and others are based on salt purification and will kill your yeast. I use distilled water for every feeding.

3. Not using a clean jar each day for feedings

The rim of the jar can grow mold that you can’t see which will colonize the sourdough starter and beat it to the food. This turns  your sourdough starter into a bitter, moldy glue, forcing you to abandon it. Refer to #3 and just use soap and water to clean out a jar before starting the day’s feeding schedule.

4. Not tossing the leftover discard into the trash rather than down the drain

This made the plumber very happy as sourdough starter dries like glue and doesn’t easily dissolve even in hot water. Snake the drain only once and you will not make this mistake again. Even Liquid Plumber met its match with a sourdough starter. I keep a jar in the fridge for leftover starter to use for pancakes, muffins, pizza and any bread I want to have a unique umami flavor. If my jar is full, I put the leftover starter into a zip lock bag and toss in the trash.

5. Not leaving a loosely fitted lid on the jar

Sealing your jar closed after each feeding can result in pressure build-up that can shatter a glass jar. Head the advice of #4 as you will be cleaning walls, counters for an hour ( and even several days after that mistake.) I cover my jars with hotel disposable cheap shower caps. Saves on saran wrap, cheesecloth etc and goes on and off easily.

Learn from my mistakes and bring some joy into your life with all the goodies you can make with your sourdough starter.
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