Like many of us during the time of this coronavirus, I am feeling “jaggedy”. So I bake and share food. Many people are feeling this therapeutic calling to bake. I’m especially intrigued that many people are baking sourdough bread. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious answer as to why people begin their cooking experience by making sourdough bread. My theory is that because sourdough is produced by fermentation using naturally occurring yeast and lactobacilli, there is something innate that draws us to create something alive when we are questioning our existence.

The significant difference with each sourdough starter recipe is the hydration percentage; the ratio of flour to water. It will depend on the hydration percentage, whether you add more or less flour to a recipe. There are many baking recipes using the starter, but not all will differentiate the amount of flour to use based on the hydration. With practice, bakers develop a feel for how much to add.

My ancestor’s Downeast sourdough starter has a pleasant sour smell and very tasty in recipes. Talk to it. Visit it every day. Give it a name! Mine is named Betty.

Sourdough Starter (50/50 Hydration)


4 cups organic wheat or rye flour (white will do if that’s what you have)

2 Tbs Organic Sugar

2 tsp. (Himalayan) salt

1 Tbs Vinegar

Warm, filtered water


2 oz clear glass container with a cover

Wooden or rubber stirring utensil


Combine flour, sugar, salt, and vinegar in the glass container. Add warm water and mix well to make a light, syrupy batter. The type of flour used will vary the amount of water, but it will take more than one quart. Cover the container with a clean cloth. Keep in a warm place. It will catch naturally occurring wild yeast from the air that will feed the mixture. The mixture will be ready in 3 to 10 days. If a lot of yellow liquid forms on top, pour it off and add ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of warm water. Stir until combined. The second time a yellowish liquid forms, mix it into the culture. The starter should be increasing in volume, bubbling and developing a pleasant sour smell.

Stir once at the same time each day.

You’ll need to use at least a cup of starter once a week. Or securely cover the container and store it in the refrigerator. Warm to room temperature before using. Replace each cup used with 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water or milk, and ¼ cup of sugar.

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