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Sourdough is made from the natural occurring yeast and lactic acid bacteria in flour. It is often also used to name breads made using the culture. Yeasts and bacteria suitable for bread production are found in relatively high amounts on the surface of cereal grains, such as wheat. By grinding the grains into flour and allowing these micro-organisms to thrive - by adding water, keeping the mix at an appropriate temperature, and providing food in the form of more flour to create what is known as a ‘starter’ - they can be increased in size and concentration.
Our Sourdough comes sourced from starter cultures that have been in use for over a century. A mature, well aged sourdough starter has a much stronger and distinctive sourdough flavour than one recently started from scratch. We have worked hard to obtain the very best sourdough from across the world. We feed our starter cultures twice a day; ensuring that what you purchase from us is a very active, starter culture.
We currently offer the following types of Sourdough and are always working to obtain more.
We have traced heritage of our Hampshire sourdough back over a century to the New Forest. Since then it has found its way into many kitchens across the UK. This is a true heirloom variety has only been fed on plain white flour. It produces a classic tasting white sourdough loaf that has a mild, subtle flavour.
We have traced heritage back over 40 years for our Gloucestershire Rye Sourdough. It has been traced back to a kitchen not far from the Shipton flour mill in Tetbury, which is well known for it’s rye flour. It produces a slightly tart loaf, with a unique sourdough flavour. We have been unable to confirm if this starter is a true heirloom variety. It is possible that it may have been mixed with wholemeal flour at some stage of its life.
San Francisco is legendary across the world for its sourdough. It contains a specific strain of bacteria- L. sanfranciscensis. Local bakers, including Boudin founded in 1849, swore that no one could reproduce it outside a 50-mile radius of the city – thus adding to its allure. The San Francisco foggy climate cultivated this specific type of yeast, which scientists have now identified in a number of places around the world. However the strain of bacteria is still named after San Francisco, where it was first discovered.
Our San Francisco sourdough starter comes direct from the Fishermans wharf area. Although its heritage has not been officially confirmed, it is likely to have come from the original Boudin bakery starter culture. It produces a very distinct flavour and is a firm favourite of ours. We absolutely love it!
The latest addition to our sourdough range. This starter is over 100 years old and comes direct from Fairbanks in Alaska. Anyone that has spent any time around Alaskan oldtimers is likely to have heard about a sourdough starter that has been handed down from the Gold Rush era. Sourdough is such an important part of Alaskan culture that people who have lived in Alaska for more than one winter are often referred to as "Sourdoughs".
This remote location brings with it some very unique yeasts that give our Alaskan sourdough starter a very unique flavour. In comparison to our San Francisco starter, it adds a much milder, sometimes almost sweet flavour to anything it's used in. If you want to experience American sourdough but your'e not a fan of the really sour San Francisco style, we highly recommend you try this starter!
We use filtered, non chlorinated water with our sourdough. Some people use tap water and have no problems. The old saying "If it's good enough to drink, it's good enough to make bread" seems to work out for most people. We have also heard of people who have had problems with chlorinated tap water. We advise that you remove chlorine from your water when possible. You can leave tap water standing overnight to remove the chlorine or boil and and it allow to cool down again. Our preference as stated, is to use a charcoal based water filter such as a Brita.
We feed all our sourdough starters with organic flour. We choose to use organic flour as we believe organic is better. However, if you do not believe that to be the case, you are free to use non organic flour with your sourdough starter.
Please note: if you have ordered one of our 75g eBay special offers, please halve all amounts below.
Get a container that can be closed with a lid (glass jar, Tupperware, etc.). Wash it out well with hot, boiling water and a little soap. Allow the container to cool down if it is hot, then add your Sourdough.
Mix 75g of flour and 75g of water (weigh the water) into your starter and stir well. Ensure the type of flour you add matches the type of sourdough you have purchased (eg rye flour with our rye sourdough starter). Seal the lid on the jar. Remember, the starter will produce CO2 so pressure will build up in the container if closed tightly, so watch out when you open it again.
Leave the Sourdough at room temperature for 24 hours. Feed the Sourdough with 150g of flour and 150g of water on the second day and leave it for another 24 hours. After this, the Sourdough is activated and ready for use.
As a rule of thumb feed the starter with the same amount as it weighs. The starter that you received will weigh 150g. So mix 75g of flour and 75g of water is enough to start the activation process. After activation however; it is a good idea discard half of your starter prior to every feed and then to feed it enough to make up what you have just discarded. For example, if your starter weighs 300g you would discard 150g so that you are left with 150g. Now feed with 75g flour and 75g water so that your total starter is 300g again.
If you don’t discard any prior to feeding you will have to give it more flour and water with each feed. This is because the volume of starter is increased with every feed which results in more yeast cells requiring more food.
If you’re not baking every week and don’t want to feed your starter every day, and end up with lots of Sourdough, you can keep it in the fridge.
The low temperature of the fridge will make your starter inactive. It can sleep in your fridge for a long time. Generally up to 6 months. We have heard of people managing to store it in the fridge for over a year!
Always give you Sourdough a good feed before putting it into the fridge.
Sometimes some of the mixture can separate, leaving a layer of liquid on top . This is normal and simply drain off and discard any liquid before use.
To use Sourdough that has been in the fridge, simply repeat the activation process.
Sure, you can simply remove an amount of sourdough starter from the mother culture and then mix that with whatever flour type you want to use for baking. For example: The rye starter works very well with spelt flour. As long as you ensure your Sourdough mother itself remains fed on the intended type of flour, your free to use whatever flour you wish to use for baking.
You can make all kinds of things with Sourdough. Bread is the most common use. At present, we sadly do not have any recipes for Sourdough on our website. We hope to add these over the up coming months. For now, a simple google search will bring up thousands of ideas.