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**Sourdough Starter Basics (From King Arthur Flour - buy their starter it's wonderful)
Your sourdough starter, a descendant of one that began its life over 250 years ago, may look a little the worse for wear after its trip. It may also have a sharp, astringent odor; this is normal. What it needs is food and water, but be careful not to consume raw starter yourself.
Use chlorine-free tap water (or bottled water) to feed your starter. Add l/4 cup lukewarm water to the starter container, and stir with a spoon to partially dissolve the starter and loosen it from the container. Place the starter/water in a large glass or ceramic bowl. Add 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water and 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Mix, loosely cover the bowl, and let it sit at cool room temperature (about 68F to 70F) for 8 to 12 hours. It should expand and become bubbly, or at least start to bubble. Stir the starter and discard about half; this will bring the acidity to the proper level.
Mix in l /2 cup water and l cup flour. Let it sit for another 2 to 4 hours or till it starts to show bubbles again. Divide it in half once more: give half to a friend or discard, as you choose. Feed the remaining half with l /2 cup water and 1 cup flour. Let rest at room temperature, covered, for another 2 to 4 hours. Now the starter can be used, or refrigerated in a 1-quart (or larger) loosely covered non-reactive container.
Using your starter in a recipe: making "fed" or "ripe" starter
If your starter has been refrigerated, you need to feed it before you use it in a recipe. Up to 12 hours before beginning a recipe, stir the starter and discard 1 cup. Feed the remaining starter with 1 /2 cup water and l cup flour. Let it sit for 4 to 12 hours before using in a recipe. Use however much "fed starter" the recipe calls for, and feed the remainder with 112 cup water and 1 cup flour. Let this remaining starter sit at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours, until bubbly, then cover and refrigerate.
If you're not planning to use your starter for over a week, take it out and feed it once a week as described above. Start by discarding (or using) 1 cup of the starter. After mixing in more flour and water, you can return the starter to the refrigerator without waiting for it to get bubbly first.
Maintaining your starter
Sweetening a starter: If your starter is too sour, reserve 1 cup and throw away the rest. Feed the reserved starter with 1 cup water and 2 cups flour. Mix well and let rest for 4 hours before using or refrigerating.
Increasing your starter: To grow a large amount of starter, simply feed it l cup of water and 2 cups of flour, without discarding any. Feed again 2 to 4 hours later, and you'll have plenty on hand to use or to share.
Resuscitating a neglected starter: If your sourdough starter sits in the refrigerator for too long between feedings, it will develop a thick layer of liquid on top, will smell very strong, and will be sluggish(not produce many bubbles). If this happens, pour off most of the liquid, throw all but 1 cup of the remaining starter away, and feed with l /2 cup water and 1 cup flour. If the starter is still alive, it will begin to bubble after a few hours. Discard about half at this point and feed it again with 1/2 cup water and 1 cup flour. Let it sit for another 2 to 4 hours, then use or refrigerate it.
When to start over: If your sourdough starter begins to mold, or the odor is not the usual clean, sour aroma (on alcohol smell is OK), or if it develops a pink or orange color, throw it out. It's very rare for this to happen, so don't worry. ..
Original WP Post ID: 7374
Original WP Pub Date: 2014-02-13_173715