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Sourdough starter got you stumped?

Ive been baking a lot over the past few years, teaching myself and learning new skills. Building up collaborations and new friends in something I am very passionate about. Ive also opened up a baking school, outside of my home kitchen, which has been going from strength to strength. I now employ a member of staff and am looking at expanding the business soon, all very much still early days but exciting times ahead! So writing has not been something I have had too much time to do. However now I feel the time has come for me to share what I have learnt so far (aside from in the popular workshops) through writing a monthly blog and to hopefully help some of you!

So you've taken the plunge and decided to try making sourdough. Whether you're thinking about it or have been on a recent workshop or and have a jar of living wild yeast sourdough sitting in your fridge or out on the counter in the kitchen, looking after your new "pet" needn't be time consuming or something to worry about.

Here are a few FAQs and answers aimed to make the routine of looking after your sourdough starter as hassle free as possible and to help you on your journey into the mysterious yet wonderful world of sourdough.

Q: What does "feed mean"?

A: Put simply this means to give your starter equal amounts of flour and water.

Q: What is discard?

A: Discard is the portion of starter that you take out of your jar or pot, whether its discard you want to use or simply to reduce the amount you have in your vessel, prior to feeding.

Q: Where should I keep my starter when I'm not using it?

A: If you intend to bake one a week or less store in the fridge with the lid sealed.

Q: How often should I feed my sourdough starter?

A: If kept in the fridge, once a week, just to keep the good bacteria active. I have left mine in the fridge for two weeks or so, when away and have been able to revive it with a couple of extra feeds. Keeping it at a cool 4- dorments the active yeasts and slows everything down.

Q: What if I want to bake more than once a week?

A: Leave your jar of starter out on the counter with lid off, covered with a cotton tea towel or muslin cloth and feed every 48 hours. Don't forget to discard, otherwise you'll end up with jars of the stuff.

Q: How do I know when my starter needs feeding?

A: A strong vinegary smell is usually a tell tale sign that your starter is hungry and needs feeding.

As with any new hobby, passion or (obsession) in my case, routines do take time to adjust and planning is key to making sourdough. Think about when you might want to eat your delicious homemade sourdough and work back from there!

Until next time, happy baking. Jess x

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