Sourdough: Flour, Water & Time

Harry van den Bergh
5 min readAug 10, 2021

Many people have picked up making sourdough bread last year during the pandemic. I really like that, and I hope this will not be over when things return to normal. Maintaining a sourdough starter and baking bread is very satisfying, not only when lockdowns are keeping you in the house. The result is incomparable to any bread you buy.

I have been making sourdough for more than 15 years. This article is to share my experience on how you can enjoy the benefits of sourdough without too much effort. It's about making & maintaining the starter as well as best practices around baking bread and making pizza. I also want to share my ideas around health benefits and commercial sourdough bread. In my opinion sourdough is not too complicated, and very forgiving when it comes to quantities and timing. So don't get distracted by complex and super precise instructions.

Making the starter

The bacterias needed to start your sourdough are already in the flour. At least when the flour is unbleached and not treated in any way. The best flour to start with is a biological flour. And when you have an artisinal flour mill in your neighbourhood (as we have in several countries in Europe) that is definitely the best choice. Start with 200 gram flour and 400 gram water and mix this in a bowl. You could add an additional source of bacterias (like some biological grapes as they have the bacterias on the skin) to speed up the process. However without should go well. Cover the bowl with a lid (or a piece of cheesecloth) and have it at room temperature. Add a little flour and a little water (like 20 grams of flour and 40 grams of water) every day and mix it in the starter. After a few days you can remove the grapes if using them. After about 1 week you should see some movement in the starter. Some air showing on top. You should also be able to smell some acidity of the lactic acids being produced. Maintain this feeding process for about two weeks. Then your starter is ready to use. When not using my starter, I keep it in a plastic container in the fridge. Even if you use it only every few weeks, it will stay alive. I have mine for many years now. In Italy you hear stories about starters that are over 100 years old. But as the bacterias gets refreshed every time, I don’t think the age of the starter is really important. By the way, if you…

Harry van den Bergh

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