Okay, let’s dispel some myths about sourdough starters, these are all from the various things I’ve read and get asked:
You don’t need to wait at least 14 days to use a starter.
Your starter doesn’t need to rise and fall 28 days in a row before you can use it.
You don’t need to keep them at a particular warm temperature.
You don’t need starter heating gadgets.
You don’t need special water.
You don’t need to stir your starter with a wooden spoon.
Your starter doesn’t need to grow in 4 hours.
You don’t need to discard starter ever again once it’s ready to use.
You don’t need big jars of discard to make ‘discard’ or fast recipes.
You don’t need to feed your starter two or three times, or for several days, to ‘build it up’ ready to use to make dough.
These are just a few of the common things I come across, there’s more, but these are the main ones, regarding starter anyway…so the facts are:
You can use your starter to make dough as soon as it routinely grows after feeding, for me, if it’s grown after feeding on days 4, 5 and 6, then by day 7 I’ll use it to make dough. Aim for yours to grow after feeding 3 days in a row, then use it.
You can use starter from any age in discard/fast recipes, I’ve used starter from 3 days old to make various recipes.
Your tap water is fine for your starter, it’s only in very rare cases that it isn’t.
Your kitchen counter is all you need to make your starter, if it’s really cold, you might want to find a warm spot for short periods of time but that’s all (see previous post about this).
You can stir your starter with stainless steel cutlery, the old adage about metal spoons being bad for starters is based on a time when metal wasn’t the quality we have now and would contaminate starters. Nowadays, stainless steel is perfect and wood/plastic utensils are more likely to carry odours or leftovers from other food stuffs.
You don’t need to collect ‘discard’ to make those kind of recipes, all you need to do is feed your starter produce what the recipe needs. It’s all just starter.
Your starter doesn’t ’have’ to grow and be ready to use in 4 hours, the time it takes to be ready to use will solely depend on your room temp, and if that is indeed 4 hours, that great, but it’s not a requirement or a fixed rule.
You only need to feed your starter once in preparation to use it, all this feeding it 3 times, or for 4 days before using is unnecessary and wasteful.
I hope these tips are helpful. Find more starter tips here.