Sourdough Starter Ingredients:
1 cup flour (I used rye, but strong, wholegrain/meal flours are usually recommended - use whatever you will use when you make the bread)
2 cups of filtered water, at room temperature (yes it must be filtered or at least boiled and completely cooled)
1 teaspoon of lemon juice (but I have also seen orange, pineapple and yoghurt used)
Plus extra flour and extra water to keep feeding the starter
1 or 2 glass jars (I found a smaller jar works better than a large one)
1 piece cheese cloth per jar
2 rubber band per jar
1 small mixing bowl
1 mixing spoon
Sourdough Starter Method:
Use boiling water to sterilise the glass jars, mixing bowl and spoon. Once the equipment is cleaned and dried thoroughly, mix together the flour, water and lemon juice in the small mixing bowl. Spoon the mixture into one of the glass jars, cover the top with a piece of cheese cloth and secure with a rubber band. Place a second rubber band around the jar to mark the level of the mixture so as to gauge if the mixture is rising properly. Place the jar in a warm place (I put mine on the kitchen window), for 20 - 30 hours, depending on the temperature (cooler weather will need longer, but don't let it get too hot either).
After it has been left to sit, the mixture should have formed bubbles and have risen above the level of the rubber band used to mark the start level on the jar. It should also smell yeasty or sour - but not bad. If it smells bad it may have gotten too hot, been left too long or been contaminated (my mum said hers smelt like nail polish after she left it too long) - if it smells bad throw it out, resterilise your jar, clean your cheese cloth and start again.
Once you have a nice bubbly, sour smelling mixture, remove about half of it and place it in the second jar, cover with cheese cloth, secure with a rubber band, mark the new level on both jars with the other rubber bands to start the process again (if you don't want to make so much just through out the portion removed from the initial jar, or use it in baking). You will now have 2 jars both containing your basic sourdough starter which needs to be fed to continue to grow and fully establish a yeast culture.
Feed both jars with 50g of flour mixed with 50g of filtered water. Leave these jars again for 20 - 30 hours, they should again bubble, smell sour and have risen above the level of the rubber band marking the jar. Remove (and discard) only about 2 tablespoons of the mixture this time, and continue to re-feed with 50g of flour and 50g of water, remark with the rubber band around the jar and leave to sit for 20 - 30 hours.
After 3 or 4 days of following this process you should 2 jars of well established sourdough culture and enough to make a loaf of sourdough bread.
If you keep feeding it everyday, remembering to remove and use or discard a few spoonful's of the starter each day so as it doesn't get too acidic, the starter will continue to grow well. If you don't want to feed it as often or use it regularly you can keep your established starter in the fridge and simply take it out once a week to reefed it. You can also freeze excess - when you want to use if simply remove from the freezer, defrost it on the bench and re-feed, but allow it a few extra days to get going again.
The to check if your starter is ready to use, drop a teaspoonful into a glass of water - if it floats, its ready, if it sinks, its not ready yet so keep feeding it.
Sourdough bread recipe is on its way!