#1: Sourdough Starter

Homegrown starter is a flavorful alternative to commercial yeast—one bite of soft, tangy sourdough, and it's hard to go back!

Credit: Kirsten Tilleman

Yeast are the invisible partner behind every great loaf of bread, the difference-makers between light, airy texture and unyielding hardtack.

Our kitchens are teeming with naturally-occurring microbes that would like nothing better than to ferment flour and water, and any starter will acquire a certain local flavor over time. While it’s possible to grow a starter from yeast in the environment, it’s hard to beat the consistent, reliable start achieved using a dormant commercial yeast.

Sourdough Starter


    • 1/8 tsp commercial baking yeast
    • 1 c flour
    • 1 c water

    Mix ingredients until smooth; let rest for 2-3 days

    After a few hours, the starter’s smooth surface will begin to froth and bubble. As the yeast activate, they begin converting the sugars in the flour into carbon dioxide gas–the bubbles we see–and a mix of organic byproducts. The smell of the starter changes, too, as acids produced by the yeast and other, naturally occurring microbes build up to give the mix its characteristic sour flavor.

    Over time, the yeast culture will eat up all of the sugar in the flour. To keep the starter fresh, just add more flour and water.

    Refresh starter


      • 2 T sourdough starter
      • 1 c flour
      • 1 c water

      Mix ingredients until smooth.

      The same recipe can be used to share a starter with friends. Just take a spoonful of the active starter, mix in flour and water, and pass along the gift of active, bread-ready yeast!

      Now, let’s get to baking.

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