Goldrush San Francisco Starter

The dried San Francisco starter is very easy to use and will get you started in the world of sourdough baking, quickly and effectively. Once activated, your starter will, if looked after through simple feeding, last forever and you will not need to buy any more. See this article for guidance on looking after your starter.

Activating Your San Francisco Starter

A point of note for all sourdough (and yeast) baking is that in some places, the tap water can be fairly heavily chlorinated. The job of the chlorine is to kill of yeasts and bacteria - exactly the opposite of what we are trying to do. My tap water seems to be fine, but if you are not sure then leave the tap water to stand overnight before adding it - it'll be cooler than warm, but it will still work, and the chlorine will have largely evaporated.

The packet contains a sachet of the dried starter and a set of instructions measuring water and flour in cups.

The first step is to take a non-metallic bowl and add flour and water in equal volume. The instructions suggest 3 cups of warm water (about 600g) and 3 cups of strong white flour (about 300g). I used a third of this, so 200g water and 100g flour, stirred together to make a pancake-like mixture to which the sourdough sachet was added and stirred.

The instructions suggest that you feed this mixture after 4 and 8 hours, each time removing some of the starter. I confess that I didn't do this but instead left the starter in a warm place, and covered overnight (for about 12 hours) before looking again. Not too much activity, and at this point I gave it a feed of 50g flour, stirred it and returned it to a warm place (an airing cupboard in my case - a warm kitchen would be fine).

After another 4 hours, some dark, clear liquid began to settle out of the starter, a sign of activity - along with a few bubbles starting to show. At this point, I fed it with another 50g flour and 40g warm water.

Another 4 hours on, the starter is clearly active with lots of bubbles, looking like an uncooked crumpet. From this point for a few of days or so, add equal parts of flour and warm water daily, which will increase the acidity and activity of the starter (I added 40g water and 50g flour). If the volume is too great then you can dispose of some, although I tend to use it rather than throw it.

The starter will continue to develop in flavour, but once it is up and running, you can store it in a pot in the 'fridge until you need it. Read this for more about looking after your active starter. So, follow the instructions provided rigidly, or use my more relaxed version - either will give you a happily bubbling young starter.