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SOURDOUGH - My New Starter Has Arrived!


Congratulations on beginning your Sourdough Journey and thank you for trusting Standing Stone Farms in your new adventure.  After 25 years of cheese making I discovered the world of Sourdough in 2022 and never looked back.  I’m not sure which hobby is more addictive but both provide my family with healthy, unprocessed food that is always delicious!  Plus, they often go hand and hand!!

Let’s get started…

What will I need, to get started on my Journey through Sourdough:

  • Quart size glass jar
  • Standing Stone Farms Sourdough Starter
  • Preferably King Arthur or Bobs Red Mill Bread or Rye Flour, in a pinch you can a high quality AP flour. The before mentioned brands are consistently outstanding.
  • non-chlorinated water

What you will need before baking:

  • Parchment paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Dutch Oven, cast iron or enamel 
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cooling rack
  • Kitchen Scale with TARE, optional but a huge help.

First, let’s wake up your Starter as soon as possible after delivery! If for some reason you are unable to do this immediately, place your starter in the refrigerator.

    Step 1: Empty all of your starter into a glass jar.  I use a quart size mason jar (read more on this below).  I recommend cutting the bottom corner of the bag and gently squeezing/rolling as much of the starter out as you can.  Do not worry if some is left in the baggy as I have sent you more than enough to get started. Like cheese making ingredients, aged starter is powerful!!

    Step 2: Add a pinch of sugar, I prefer raw cane sugar but regular real sugar is fine.  You will only do this on arrival of your starter or anytime you have had her on vacation, in your refrigerator for more than a a week.  Sugar is powerful food for your starter.

    Step 3: Add 2 tablespoons King Arthur or Bobs Red Mill Bread or Rye Flour into the mason jar or whatever glass jar you have chosen.  It is preferable that you feed your starter Bread or Rye  flour until your starter is fully reactivated and thriving again after her trip. However, if you do not have access to bread or rye flour, regular high quality, all purpose (AP) will work. Note: For the best results, the first few feedings should be a high protein bread or rye flour!

    Step 4: Add 2 tablespoons bottled water or water that has been boiled and cooled to room temperature (I use my electric tea kettle water). Make sure the water is NOT TOO HOT, no warmer than 110°.  I warm my water to 78° but thats not a rule or must do so if you don't own a kettle, that is okay. However, much like cheese making, the cooler the water the longer the process of fermentation will take and the warmer the faster.  The “Goldilocks” zone for your starters water temperature is 75°- 82°.

    Step 5: Use a butter knife or dinner fork to gently stir your starter, flour, water and the pinch of sugar until the flour is fully mixed in. Set your jar aside with a loose top (I just lay my plastic mason jar lid loosely on top). If your room temperature is below 72° try to find a warmer location or wrap the jar with kitchen towels. You can also tuen on your oven light and place it in the oven. My microwave stays warm if the light is on underneath and that is where I place mine on top of a pot holder.

    Step 6: Now it is time to wait for fermentation!  Mark your jar at the top of your mixture.  I use an elastic band (included with your starter).  In the perfect scenario, your starter will rise by at least double within 4-6 hours. It is not uncommon for the first time to take  longer, depending on how long your starter was in transit.
    However, if after 6-8 hours your starter did not have a double rise you will want to feed again, just like we did above with a ratio of 1:1:1.  The ratio of 1:1:1 is the ratio I use, example of this ratio is equal parts Starter, Flour and Water.
    Note: it will rise,  “peak” and then fall again so don’t miss the rise or just really look at your jar for starter residue from the peak.

    Troubleshooting: If your starter does not rise after the 2nd feeding, please email me or online chat.

    Why use a Glass Jar?

    I keep my sourdough starter in a Quart Mason Jar with a plastic lid.  During the holidays or anytime I’m planning on making a lot of bread, I use a half gallon mason Jar.

    Reasons for using a glass jar:

    A cylinder style glass jar is helpful because you can visibly watch the sourdough ferment as it rises up in the jar.

    A glass jar is easy to clean; sourdough starter get’s messy and becomes like cement on the sides and top of jar.

    Glass will not leach into your starter like plastic. In addition, plastic also holds onto scents and flavors so anything previously stored in that container can contaminate your sourdough starter.

    So just stick with glass.

    One of the most common mistakes is forgetting to hold back starter!! 

    Never use up all your starter in a single recipe as you need to have starter to continue to feed to avoid having to purchase more starter. Your starter should last forever if tended to properly.

    Am I ready to bake?

    My starter is doubling and I’ve fed it for several days, when can I make bread?

    Working with Standing Stone Farms mature starter, you can make bread as soon as you are at least doubling in size four hours after feeding but let’s test it first.  During the peak or within an hour or so, drop a small amount of starter into some room temperature water.  If it floats, you are ready to make your dough and bake!!

    I recommend all new sourdough makers visit the below websites and I personally recommend beginning with Little Spoon Farms, “Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe” I really found this step-by-step video, immensely helpful! Of course, there are many recipes and videos available but this is where I started.  My very first boule of Sourdough was amazing, and I want your first experience to be the same.

    Recommended Websites:

    Little Spoon Farm, Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe

    The Clever Carrot, Sourdough Bread, A beginner’s guide

    I also highly recommend this group if you are on Facebook as it offers outstanding support and a plethora of knowledge, 

    FaceBook Group: Sourdough Starters - Sourdough Support Group

    As I mentioned, I just began this journey in 2022 and first and foremost I’m a cheese maker.  I am always here to help you find any answers you may need and will back up any products sold by Standing Stone Farms. Never hesitate to email me, online chat or reach out via facebook.

    Be sure to check out our Sourdough Discard Recipes, here.

    Happy Sourdough and Cheese Making,