How to Find a Good, Traditional Sourdough Starter

How to Find a Good, Traditional Sourdough Starter

In all the years of teaching sourdough bread classes in my kitchen, it was a matter of course — and delight — to share my sourdough starter with each student.

Obviously, this isn’t feasible for Jamie and me in an online format.

That means you’re going to have to find or make your own. But no worries! I have some sourcing suggestions for you to make sure your sourdough journey starts off right:

BEST
Source it from a local, sourdough baker. Just as Jamie and I encourage you to get out and “dig around” your community for other traditional food sources, do the same to find a “tried and true” starter in your community. Ask producers at Farmer’s Markets, Weston Price Chapters and Meetings, local bakeries, and health food stores. Check with any natural health-oriented community group. Check with any retirement and/or agricultural women’s groups. Check with your own local food co-op or meat/egg/vegetable farmer. Check with your own relatives. You may be surprised by all the sources in your community if you just start asking questions!

BETTER
Buy it online from a reputable or friend-recommended source. Follow directions to grow your starter to a one-cup volume before converting to my instructions for growing the starter to make bread. We feel this is the ‘better’ choice because it can save you a lot of time and frustration versus the ‘good’ choice.

GOOD
Start your own. This can be a sticky business—-it was for me. Many people are successful at this; I was not. Yes, I could get a starter going, but it didn’t produce a grain product that was palatable to my family. And, if you make the (theoretically) healthiest bread in the world, but your family won’t eat and enjoy it, what’s the point? So, I eventually acquired starter from a professional baker that gave me the results I wanted, and I was off to the races!

So, if making your own sourdough starter is a path you wish to take, then go for it. (The westonaprice.org website or Nourishing Traditions Cookbook are top-notch resources.) Traditional households throughout history made and kept their starter for generations. You can do it, too.

IMPORTANT NOTE:
No matter what sourdough starter you begin with, know that by actually using and growing it, an important thing happens:

IT BECOMES UNIQUELY YOUR OWN.

That is, it feeds on the friendly bacteria of your home, your environment, your utensils, your kitchen. Plus, many bakers believe that starter bacteria actually respond positively to your loving care as evidenced by growing and bubbling vigorously!

That all adds up to a flavor and consistency that is unique to the work of your hands. No one can make bread taste exactly how yours does, when prepared in your home. How cool is that?

It’s my pleasure to assist you in this part of nurturing the art of a healing table. And who knows? Maybe we’ll break bread together someday.