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How to Create Einkorn Sourdough Starter

How to Create Einkorn Sourdough Starter

Mastering Einkorn Sourdough Bread is a new collection of instructional videos, along with step-by-step recipes and photos, that will coach you on your journey to becoming an experienced einkorn sourdough bread baker. In Lesson 1, Carla demonstrates how to create an einkorn sourdough starter.

It seems only natural to bake einkorn bread with the same techniques used thousands of years ago, and if you have a sensitivity to gluten, it makes even more sense. Baking bread with sourdough starter is a very forgiving process that offers many health benefits.

  • Wild yeasts ferment dough without active dry yeast, creating a slower rise that enables enzymes to develop and digest starches and proteins.
  • Some believe that the creation of commercial yeast, used to speed up the bread-baking process, may be a contributing factor in making bread harder to digest.
  • Sourdough creates bread with a lower glycemic index.
  • Bread baked with sourdough is more flavorful and the bread will stay fresher longer.
  • A slow rise with sourdough is suited to the weak gluten in einkorn.

Creating your very own starter is the first step. It is not necessarily difficult, but the time it takes for the starter to become ready to use will vary from kitchen to kitchen. That’s the challenge, believing it will work and having the patience to see the process through to the end. Our process creates a firm starter, which is a bit trickier to get going, but longterm, it will reward you with a very stable starter that needs minimal maintenance and will live on for years to come.

Here are a few terms to understand:

  • Sourdough – Grains contain wild yeasts and they remain alive in flour. When these yeasts are mixed with water and left to sit out at room temperature, they ferment and multiply. The process is similar to making yogurt or vinegar, hence the word sourdough, which describes a sour piece of dough that you keep alive and use to bake bread. 
  • Starter – Once mature, a small amount of your starter will be mixed into a bread dough, causing it to ferment and form bubbles or make the dough rise.
  • Refresh – As your starter ferments, it needs fresh water and flour to consume in order to stay alive. Refreshing your starter means adding fresh water and flour to a piece of existing starter. At first, you will refresh many times to get your starter strong, discarding excess, then you will only refresh when your starter runs low.

Although we list cups and tablespoons in the recipe, we strongly recommend that you use a baking scale to measure all of the ingredients in grams, including the water. It will help make a mysterious process foolproof, especially with einkorn.

DAY 1

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) warm water at 100˚F
  • ½ cup einkorn flour: (60 g) jovial All-Purpose Einkorn Flour or (48 g) jovial Whole Grain Einkorn Flour

Instructions

  1. Mix flour and water in a small bowl to form a wet dough that is tacky to the touch.
  2. Transfer the dough to a glass container tightly sealed with a lid or plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature in a kitchen cabinet for 48 hours.

DAY 3

Ingredients

  • All the starter from Day 1 (at least 10 g)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) warm water at 100˚F
  • ½ cup einkorn flour: (60 g) jovial All-Purpose Einkorn Flour or (48 g) jovial Whole Grain Einkorn Flour

Instructions

  1. If you see a greyish hue on the surface of the starter, push it to the side. Spoon out the creamy golden starter into a clean bowl. 
  2. Mix water into the starter until dissolved, then mix in the flour and form a wet dough.
  3. Transfer this dough to a clean glass container sealed tightly with a lid or plastic wrap at room temperature in a kitchen cabinet for 24 hours.

DAY 4

Ingredients

  • All the starter from Day 3 (at least 10 g)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) warm water at 100˚F
  • ½ cup of einkorn flour: (60 g) jovial All-Purpose Einkorn Flour or (48 g) jovial Whole Grain Einkorn Flour

Instructions

  1. If you see a greyish hue on the surface of the starter, push it aside with a fork. Spoon out the creamy golden starter into a small bowl.
  2. Mix water into the starter until dissolved, then mix in the flour and form a wet dough. 
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean glass container sealed with a lid or plastic wrap at room temperature in a kitchen cabinet for 24 hours.

DAY 5

Today is the first day you will refresh your starter, which you will repeat once a day until it rises up and forms bubbles within 6 to 12 hours. That may happen after a few days, or it may take longer. This is where the patience comes in, as the process does vary from kitchen to kitchen. People always ask, “how will I know when my starter is ready?” Until you see your starter bubbling in this time frame (6-10 hours), your starter is not ready for baking bread.

Until your starter is strong, you will only use a small piece to refresh from Day 5 onward (just 2 teaspoons or 10 g) and discard the rest. It may seem wasteful, but using a small amount of starter is important to help maintain the correct ratio of flour to water. Otherwise, refreshing large pieces of starter would be even more wasteful.

If you want to bake bread before your starter is ready, it will help to move along the entire process of strengthening your starter by cultivating wild yeasts in your kitchen. Simply bake einkorn bread using a recipe made with active dry yeast, but add up to a ½ cup (120g) of the excess starter that you were going to discard to the dough.

REFRESHING YOUR STARTER

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) of starter  
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) warm water at 100˚F
  • ½ cup einkorn flour: (60 g) jovial All-Purpose Einkorn Flour or (48 g) jovial Whole Grain Einkorn Flour

Instructions

  1. Place the starter in a small bowl. Add warm water and mix until the starter is dissolved and the water is creamy. Add flour and mix with a fork until most of the flour is absorbed. Roll the starter between your hands until the flour is absorbed, rubbing the bowl with the starter to pick up remaining flour. Transfer the starter to a sealed glass container and let rest at room temperature for up to 24 hours.
  2. Watch closely each day as the bubbles will increase and the activity of the starter will become more apparent. As it becomes more active, the amount and size of the bubbles in the starter will increase significantly and will change the appearance of the starter. It will spread out and the surface will seem pitted. When the starter rises up and doubles in size after 6 to 10 hours, you are ready to bake bread!


Once your starter is ready and your bread is rising nicely, you can refrigerate the starter. When you want to bake bread, remove the quantity needed and use it cold from the refrigerator to mix up the bread recipe. Leave the remaining starter in the refrigerator, and when it becomes low, use the recipe from Day 5 to refresh and replenish the starter, always letting the starter rise after refreshing for 6 to 10 hours. For the first six months, you should refresh your starter once a week to keep it strong. After six months to a year has passed, you can leave it refrigerated for longer.

As you keep baking bread, your starter will eventually become mature and will be strong enough to bubble up within 6 to 10 hours. In the photos below, you can see how Carla’s starter bubbles up after refreshing.

Refreshed at 8:30 AM 10:30 AM (after 2 hours)12:30 PM (after 4 hours)

2:30 PM (after 6 hours- it has expanded enough for refrigeration or baking)4:30 PM (after 8 hours- it has expanded enough for refrigeration or baking)
8:30 AM (after 24 hours- if you forget your starter out at room temperature for up to a day, don’t worry. Refrigerate the starter and refresh when low. )
If you are having trouble, please contact us at info@jovialfoods.com. We would be happy to answer questions and help you through this process. Thousands of our customers have used this recipe to create their very own sourdough starter, and we have seen pictures of their beautiful loaves of bread. You can do this too! We wish you the very best of luck.

38 Responses to How to Create Einkorn Sourdough Starter

  1. Carole Hardy says:

    Hello….I’m SO glad you finally have a video. I used your cookbook and had no other point of reference for sourdough….I’m so sad to say I threw out the whole thing after day 6 because I just didn’t know what to do and it wasn’t matching your cook book results. So frustrating !
    Anyway, I ended up grinding my own Einkorn berries instead of using your all purpose flour. So my starter is whole-wheat and very beautiful….not ready for bread baking but alive and well. Just today I found your video and congratulate you on the fine instruction. Thank you!

  2. We bought your book last week and ordered your Jovial Einkorn wheat berries. We have a YouTube channel and will be highlighting you on the video that comes out tomorrow. We have to grind the berries but can’t wait to make the sourdough and use wheat that will be so much better for us. Would love to explore the possibility of becoming an affiliate for you because there will be a large market through our subscribers. Thank you for your beautiful food and website.

  3. Vera Lowdermilk says:

    Hi! I’m so glad you made a video! I have been a loyal Jovial customer for quite a few years, and really want to make my own bread. I begged my French baker to make some bread with einkorn flour, and he finally did, and it was superb. But I need to learn how to make my own- so I started my starter today! Someday I want to visit the villa in Italy- that would be a dream come true! If you want ever need an accomplished Mural artist, I paint with a classical background and have many years of experience. I tell everyone about einkorn and several friends are now off modern wheat altogether. Best wishes, and thank you!

    • jovial says:

      Baking your own sourdough bread is so rewarding, we hope you give it a try. We would love to have you at the villa, it’s a fantastic time!

  4. Sandra says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for such a lovely cookbook Ms. Bartolucci. I started a sourdough starter January 2 with only the info from your online source. I had some issues and questions which were nicely covered in the book. My starter is now so incredible. It is the most perfect starter I have managed to make after many years. I love the mild sour flavor. I have been making great loaves of bread with freshly milled einkorn and I also made some loaves with your all purpose flour. I have had the greatest of success. I’m actually a bit surprised.
    I prefer deserts that are not very sweet. I noticed your deserts in the book are on the sweet side. Can I cut sugar proportions without changing the texture of the pastries. How much sugar can I cut from the recipes?
    Thank you.

    • jovial says:

      This is so nice to hear! Many people have problems with getting the starter going and so many do not, so we always like to hear things are working out. As for the desserts in the cookbook, Carla wanted to get the best possible results with einkorn to show people how perfect it can be, even though its gluten is different. You can definitely cut back on sugar, but some things may not turn out so good. It’s really up to you!

  5. Kim says:

    Thank you for the great video. Can you do one on your Classic French Boule? I have a few questions about that recipe, when turning the dough, what should you cover it with between turns? and while proofing? Also, if I want to make 2 small loaves in 1.5 qt dutch ovens, what would the bake time be? Thanks again.

    • jovial says:

      The Classic French Boule video is coming soon! After you turn the dough, you use a bowl scraper to scoop up the dough and return it to the bowl, then cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap. Once you are done with the turn, you should cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap so the surface of the dough does not dry out. For smaller loaves, I would try 30 minutes.

      • Carl says:

        Looking forward to the French Boule video have made it four times and would love to see a picture of your crumb. Have let it over proof and have the top of the loaf almost falls off when slicing. Have also let a sour dough Boule ferment ( first proof) in the fridge overnight great results and easier to fit into a busy schedule.

  6. SIROUN says:

    THANKS FOR THE VIDEO! GREAT TO KNOW HOW TO WORK WITH EINKORN FLOUR TO MAKE A SOURDOUGH STARTER. I’VE SEEN A LOT OF SOURDOUGH STARTER VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE AND EVERY SINGLE ONE IS DIFFERENTLY PRESENTED AND THEIR SOURDOUGH STARTER LOOKS HEALTHY AND GOOD. I’M CONFIDENT NOW TO TRY THE WAY YOU ARE EXPLAINING AND TRY A NEW STARTER NOW! THANKS AGAIN!

  7. Josephine says:

    I am happy to say I have a working starter made back in September 2016 from the recipe in your book. I take it with me on very long trips feeding it when necessary even if I’m not using it. My glass jar stays in the refrigerator sometimes up to 2 to 2 ½ weeks – under constant watch – but healthy and viable at all times. I was glad to view your video instruction as it explains so much even though I’ve been doing this now for over a year. Thank you for your beautiful book and all your on-line videos.

  8. Samantha says:

    1. When taking starter out of fridge, do i feed it immediately or do i need to wait until room temp?

    2. When can i return the starter to the fridge once i
    feed it? immediately or after so many hrs?

    3. When taking starter out of fridge, can i immediately use in recipe? or do I need to feed it first? do i need to wait to use it after i feed it?

    I am confused on the wait times etc.

    • jovial says:

      Thanks for posting these important questions. After refreshing your starter, you must let it rise at room temperature until it bubbles up and subsides (6 – 24 hours) before refrigerating it. You can use your starter to mix up levain or dough right out of the fridge because you will be mixing it with warm water. The same goes for refreshing, you can refresh cold starter from the refrigerator. Try not to refrigerate your starter until your bread is rising well. Refrigeration stops fermentation, so if you have a new starter, keeping it at room temperature is important.

  9. Denise says:

    Thank you so much for making this video! Since purchasing your cookbook and beginning to use einkorn flour I’ve tried a few times to make starter, but never made it to a strong & healthy one. Fast forward to day before yesterday and watching your video–aha! I mixed up a fresh batch and when I took it out of the cupboard today, day 3, to feed it, it’s very bubbly and nicely sour. Should I be worried that happened so quickly?

  10. sal4kids says:

    I am on day 21 of my third attempt to create a sourdough starter. I have been feeding it about every 12 hours for the last week or so, and it never seems to bubble. I let it go for 24 hours once, and the sweet yogurt smell went away. I was afraid I killed it! When I dig into the center of the ball of dough, it does have some air bubbles, but they never make it to the surface. Is it working correctly?

    • jovial says:

      Are you using a scale to measure the ingredients? Don’t refresh it until you see bubbling or every 24 hours. Why don’t you try to take 20g of this starter, add 45 g of water and 30 g of flour and let it sit out covered for 48 hours and see if you can get it started again? Repeat this, then refresh with the recipe for Day 5 every 24 hours. Always leave it out at room temp. Let us know if that helps.

      • Sally says:

        Yes, I am using a brand new scale, and am measuring everything very carefully. I am using bottled spring water, that I warm slightly. I needed a break from feeding the dough, so I put it in the refrigerator for 2 weeks. I refreshed it again today, and am wondering if I should leave it out for 48 hours, like you suggested? Do you think it will work after being refrigerated?

        • jovial says:

          Yes, leave it out for 48 hours, but add 20g of starter and 1 extra tablespoon extra warm water. Refrigeration is tough on a new starter, it just makes everything stop fermenting, and two weeks is a long time. Not saying it won’t come to life, it’s just a little harder. Let us know how it goes after the 48 hours.

  11. rick Romines says:

    I started looking for a healthy way to cook for my wife as she has a gluten alergy. I have baked several different loafs of bread with very good results but the whole grain was a bit dense. The sour dough was good but I expected it to taste more sour or maybe its my taste buds. I really like the sour taste of sour dough bread. I think I need to work on my starter. your store does not have a proofing basket. Anyway thanks for your cook book and your devotion.

    • jovial says:

      If you want your bread to taste sour, just let the dough rise at room temperature for 3 hours, then refrigerate it for 24 hours. The longer it proofs at cold temperatures, the more sour it will taste. We are working on some new whole grain recipes for the website, so give those a try.

  12. Christine Canion says:

    I tried making the kefir sourdough bread this week and it didn’t turn out as well as I wanted. Would you consider adding a tutorial on this method? I saved a piece of the dough and am going to attempt to grow a starter, even though my bread came out very dense. I measured everything with a scale, but I don’t think my starter was active and bubbly enough when I assembled the bread (especially when I compare it to the starter you created in this video). I love making things with einkorn and have been afraid to make a starter because I was unclear on some of the steps in the cookbook –
    I thought I was going to end up with five cups of starter after 10 days! Now I know I have to discard all but 10 grams. I will keep my kefir experiment going, but I’m going to be brave now and try making a new starter using this tutorial. First, I need to order more flour 😉

    • jovial says:

      The success of the kefir starter often depends on the kefir itself. The starter made with flour and water is a much more stable and flavorful way to go. I would give the sourdough starter a try and let the kefir starter go, you can do it. Or you could take 10g of your kefir starter and keep refreshing it, converting it into the sourdough starter. Let us know if you have questions.

  13. Susan says:

    I’m on day four of my starter and yesterday I already had bubble in it I must have a lot of yeast in my kitchen. I’ve seen other starters that are really runny and am afraid mine isn’t right because it is thicker. I assume this is the way it’s supposed to be since mine looks like the picture above. Thanks for the great video. I’m thankful to have found your flour, I am gluten intolerant and have no reaction to your flour.

    • jovial says:

      That’s great that you can enjoy einkorn. If you are weighing all of the ingredients with a scale, then the thicker consistency is correct. Good luck!

  14. Sarah says:

    I’ve tried three times to get a starter going. But they either mold or smell horrid on day three. I’m following your instructions exactly. Should I let it set for 24 hour instead before feeding the first time? Why is this happening?

    • jovial says:

      That is really strange to see mold on day three. When you say you are following the instructions exactly, are you using a scale? Do you use a container that has been cleaned and dried in the washing machine? Are you covering the container tightly? Are you seeing any bubbles? You could try cutting the first day to 24 hours and see how that goes, but 48 hours is pretty standard. What type of water are you using?

  15. Julie says:

    I need a bit of clarification. On day 5 , when instructions say to “leave out”, does that mean on the kitchen counter in daylight or should I place the container back inside a kitchen cabinet? Thank you in advance.

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