Gluten-free Sourdough Starter

Hey guys, nothing wordy from me today (gasp. I know); I’m just stopping by to share a quick recipe. I’ve been meaning to get this one up for a while now, but it took a friendly request to actually get me moving. So here I am with my gluten-free sourdough starter, and I’ll be back again soon with one or two of the bread recipes that I love so much. In the meantime, you can all get those starters going…

Supplies:
  • brown rice flour
  • clean glass jar
  • chlorine-free water
Day 1

Add ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water to a clean glass jar and stir thoroughly. Cover the jar with a paper towel (held in place by a rubber band) or cheesecloth, and let the mixture sit for 24 hours at room temp. The mixture should be thick, but nice and smooth. Add a splash more water if necessary.

Sourdough Starter day 1
Day 1: Not much to see
Day 2

Add in another ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water and stir well. Cover again and let sit quietly at room temp. There probably won’t be much of a difference at this point in the appearance (or smell) of your starter.

Repeat the above instructions 12 hours after the first feeding on day 2.

Sourdough Starter Day 2
Day 2: Still not much to see
Day 3

Add in another ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water and stir well. Cover again and let the starter sit undisturbed at room temp. At this point your starter may have doubled in size, there may be some foam and numerous bubbles visible through the glass, and it might have a light yeasty odor.

Repeat the above instructions 12 hours after the first feeding on day 3.

Sourdough Starter day 3
Day 3: Some foaming and bubbling action
Day 4

Add in another ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water and stir well. Cover and let sit undisturbed at room temp.

At this point, if your sourdough starter smells yeasty, there are numerous air bubbles, some foam or a dome-shaped top, then the starter is ready for baking. If none of the above signs have yet appeared, or they seem very weak, continue feeding your started as outlined above until the yeast colony shows signs of vigorous activity.

Sourdough Starter day 4
Day 4: The starter is ready to use!
Noteworthy tips

Chlorinated water will kill yeast. We are blessed with well water, but recently needed to shock the system for bacteria (I highly recommend bi-annual water tests on well water; live and learn). Thinking that the water was once again free from chlorine, I added it to my starter…and promptly killed it. So use bottled water if you’re in doubt.

Temperatures matter. I have definitely found the temperature in my kitchen to be a factor in how well (and how quickly) the starter grows. Too cool will definitely slow down the growth of the yeast, while nice and warm will have your colony multiplying rapidly. If the temperature seems on the cooler side you could try placing the starter in the oven overnight (oven off, but light on) and that should be enough extra heat to get things moving.

Storage. Cover (use a paper towel or cheesecloth to allow air flow) and refrigerate the active starter if not immediately needed for baking.

Waking Up Your Yeast Colony

3 days prior to using the (mostly) dormant starter, take it out of the refrigerator, set it on the counter, and allow it to come to room temperature. Once the starter has warmed I might notice some bubble activity as the yeast wakes up, but usually there’s nothing much to see. Feed it equal amounts of flour and water (I usually use ½ cup measurements). Then feed the starter again 12 hours later.

Feed it again 12 hours later, and if you see foam, or a dome-shaped top, then your starter is again ready to use. If there are no signs of activity, continue feeding until the above signs appear.

Confession: I rarely (ever) properly wake up my colony. Often I want a loaf of bread on a whim, or need one for a meal, and I refuse to wait 3 days for my yeast to start partying. Instead, I simply remove the starter from refrigerator, stir it up…and use it. Seriously, it might not be as active, but it still gives a beautiful sourdough-y taste to all of my breads (without the wait!).

Maintaining Your Gluten-free Sourdough Starter

While the cold temperature of the refrigerator dramatically slows down the growth of the yeast, you’ll still need to occasionally maintain the starter. To do this, once a month add equal amounts of flour and water (I use ¼ cup measurements), stir the starter well, and place it back in the refrigerator. I swap out the jar for a clean one with each feeding, and keep it covered with either cheesecloth or a paper towel (held in place by a rubber band) so that the starter can breathe.

Also, once I’ve used some of the starter in baking I usually replace it in equal amounts (if I use ½ cup, I replace it with ½ cup water and ½ cup flour)

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Gluten-free Sourdough Starter
Author: Melinda
Instructions
Day 1
  1. Add ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water to a clean glass jar and stir thoroughly. Cover the jar with a paper towel (held in place by a rubber band) or cheesecloth, and let the mixture sit for 24 hours at room temp. The mixture should be thick, but nice and smooth. Add a splash more water if necessary.

Day 2
  1. Add in another ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water and stir well. Cover again and let sit quietly at room temp. There probably won't be much of a difference at this point in the appearance (or smell) of your starter.

  2. Repeat the above instructions 12 hours after the first feeding on day 2.

Day 3
  1. Add in another ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water and stir well. Cover again and let the starter sit undisturbed at room temp. At this point your starter may have doubled in size, there may be some foam and numerous bubbles visible through the glass, and it might have a light yeasty odor.

  2. Repeat the above instructions 12 hours after the first feeding on day 3.

Day 4
  1. Add in another ½ cup of brown rice flour and ½ cup of water and stir well. Cover and let sit undisturbed at room temp.

    At this point, if your sourdough starter smells yeasty, there are numerous air bubbles, some foam or a dome-shaped top, then the starter is ready for baking. If none of the above signs have yet appeared, or they seem very weak, continue feeding your started as outlined above until the yeast colony shows signs of vigorous activity.

And that’s all there is to it! In my next post I’ll include a recipe using this delicious and tangy (gluten-free) sourdough starter. Until then…happy growing! Have a beautiful weekend. xoxo Melinda

For more vegan fare please hop on over to my Recipes page. (Also, Gluten-free Sourdough Starter can be found in my cookbook, Compassion Tastes Better)

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