Sourdough is made from the natural occurring yeast and lactic acid bacteria in flour. It is often also used to name breads made using the culture. Yeasts and bacteria suitable for bread production are found in relatively high amounts on the surface of cereal grains, such as wheat. By grinding the grains into flour and allowing these micro-organisms to thrive - by adding water, keeping the mix at an appropriate temperature, and providing food in the form of more flour to create what is known as a ‘starter’ - they can be increased in size and concentration.
Our Sourdough comes sourced from starter cultures that have been in use for over a century. A mature, well aged sourdough starter has a much stronger and distinctive sourdough flavour than one recently started from scratch. We have worked hard to obtain the very best sourdough from across the world. We feed our starter cultures twice a day; ensuring that what you purchase from us is a very active, starter culture.
We currently offer the following types of Sourdough and are always working to obtain more.
We have traced heritage of our Hampshire sourdough back over a century to the New Forest. Since then it has found its way into many kitchens across the UK. This is a true heirloom variety has only been fed on plain white flour. It produces a classic tasting white sourdough loaf that has a mild, subtle flavour.
We have traced heritage back over 40 years for our Gloucestershire Rye Sourdough. It has been traced back to a kitchen not far from the Shipton flour mill in Tetbury, which is well known for it’s rye flour. It produces a slightly tart loaf, with a unique sourdough flavour. We have been unable to confirm if this starter is a true heirloom variety. It is possible that it may have been mixed with wholemeal flour at some stage of its life.
San Francisco is legendary across the world for its sourdough. It contains a specific strain of bacteria- L. sanfranciscensis. Local bakers, including Boudin founded in 1849, swore that no one could reproduce it outside a 50-mile radius of the city – thus adding to its allure. The San Francisco foggy climate cultivated this specific type of yeast, which scientists have now identified in a number of places around the world. However the strain of bacteria is still named after San Francisco, where it was first discovered.
Our San Francisco sourdough starter comes direct from the Fishermans wharf area. Although its heritage has not been officially confirmed, it is likely to have come from the original Boudin bakery starter culture. It produces a very distinct flavour and is a firm favourite of ours. We absolutely love it!
The latest addition to our sourdough range. This starter is over 100 years old and comes direct from Fairbanks in Alaska. Anyone that has spent any time around Alaskan oldtimers is likely to have heard about a sourdough starter that has been handed down from the Gold Rush era. Sourdough is such an important part of Alaskan culture that people who have lived in Alaska for more than one winter are often referred to as "Sourdoughs".
This remote location brings with it some very unique yeasts that give our Alaskan sourdough starter a very unique flavour. In comparison to our San Francisco starter, it adds a much milder, sometimes almost sweet flavour to anything it's used in. If you want to experience American sourdough but your'e not a fan of the really sour San Francisco style, we highly recommend you try this starter!
A good wholemeal sourdough is hard to find. When it comes to sourdough bread, white flour seems to be the firm favourite. We recently got sent a sample of this fantastic wholemeal starter direct from the USA, where it had found it's way from the Rocky mountains in Colorado to a small bakery in San Francisco. We have been making brown sourdough bread with it every weekend since.
It makes a very firm dough, with a tart, almost vinegar like flavouring that follows it into any bread baked with it. It has an explosive nature and we often find it has bubbled out of its container when left unattended. It produces a fairly heavy wholemeal bread. It comes with a unique flavour that some of here love and some of us just don't get along with at all. The after taste can have a real twang to it, as the acidic bacteria in this starter really seem to favour whole grain flour. If you are new to sourdough you may want to try one of our more traditional starters. For those wanting to try something a little different, it is very interesting to work with.
We use filtered, non chlorinated water with our sourdough. Some people use tap water and have no problems. The old saying "If it's good enough to drink, it's good enough to make bread" seems to work out for most people. We have also heard of people who have had problems with chlorinated tap water. We advise that you remove chlorine from your water when possible. You can leave tap water standing overnight to remove the chlorine or boil and and it allow to cool down again. Our preference as stated, is to use a charcoal based water filter such as a Brita.
Please note: if you have ordered one of our 75g eBay special offers, please halve all amounts below.
Get a container that can be closed with a lid (glass jar, Tupperware, etc.). Wash it out well with hot, boiling water and a little soap. Allow the container to cool down if it is hot, then add your Sourdough.
Mix 75g of flour and 75g of water (weigh the water) into your starter and stir well. Ensure the type of flour you add matches the type of sourdough you have purchased (eg rye flour with our rye sourdough starter). Seal the lid on the jar. Remember, the starter will produce CO2 so pressure will build up in the container if closed tightly, so watch out when you open it again. Leave the Sourdough at room temperature for 24 hours.
Discard 150g of the starter. Feed the Sourdough again with 75g of flour and 75g of water on the second day and leave it for another 24 hours. After this, the Sourdough is activated and ready for use. If you want to bake with it, we recommend discarding another 150g of the starter and feeding once again with 75g of flour and 75g of water 3-4 hours before you plan to use it.
As a rule of thumb, each time you want to feed the starter. weigh it and double its weight with 50% flour and 50% water. For example, if your starter weighs 300g you would discard 150g so that you are left with 150g. Now feed with 75g flour and 75g water so that your total starter is 300g again.
Sourdough is a very hardy culture. As long as you feed it water and flour on a regular basis it will survive. If you overfeed, underfeed or even forget to feed your sourdough. Don't panic, it will be fine.
It can feel wasteful discarding so much sourdough. However, if you don’t discard any prior to feeding you will have to give it much more flour and water with each feed. This is because the volume of starter is increased with every feed which results in more yeast cells requiring more food. For example you take your 300g starter and don't discard 150g, you will need to then double the amount of water and flour. So instead on 75g of each you would need to increase that to 150g of each. Over time, you will work out a regime that best suits your baking needs.
For the best success baking with sourdough, feed the starter at least 3-4 hours before working with it. Ideally, feed it once the night before and again 3-4 hours before using it.
If you’re not baking every week and don’t want to feed your starter every day, you can keep it in the fridge. It is best to feed your sourdough every week. Even if you feed it and then return it back to the fridge without using it. This keeps it in good health long term.
If you forget to feed the sourdough in the fridge, don't panic. The low temperature of the fridge will make your starter inactive. It can sleep in your fridge for a long time. Generally up to 6 months. We have heard of people managing to store it in the fridge for over a year without feeding! However we always recommend as stated above that you feed your refrigerated flour sourdough weekly. It will keep it in the beast health and produce the best results when baking.
Always give you Sourdough a good feed before putting it into the fridge.
Sometimes some of the mixture can separate, leaving a layer of liquid on top (grey brown). This is normal, simply drain off and discard any liquid before use. You can also stir the liquid back in if you wish. The liquid is often very acidic. Leaving it in the sourdough starter will make a much more sour tasting product when baked with. If you like your sourdough bread with a tang, we recommend leaving the liquid rather than discarding it.
To use Sourdough that has been in the fridge, simply repeat the activation process. It will usually need 48 hours and a couple of feeds to become fully active again. You will need to prepare for this additional time when baking. For example, we take our sourdough out of the fridge Friday morning and feed it. We then feed it again Saturday morning and bake with it Saturday afternoon.
Sure, you can simply remove an amount of sourdough starter from the mother culture and then mix that with whatever flour type you want to use for baking. For example: The rye starter works very well with spelt flour. As long as you ensure your Sourdough mother itself remains fed on the intended type of flour, your free to use whatever flour you wish to use for baking.
You can make all kinds of things with Sourdough. Bread is the most common use. If you want a really easy way to make sourdough bread that doesn't require any bread making skills, try our no knead dutch oven method found here.
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