Making a sourdough starter can be a frustrating experience that takes several days; however, I'm going to give you an easier method. This method uses kefir or whey. Since kefir and whey contain some of the same yeast and bacteria strains as sourdough, it gives us a quick jumpstart into the world of sourdough. This starter will be ready to use in 24 hours!
World's Easiest and Fastest Sourdough Starter
1. Mix whey, and flour together in a small container.
2. Cover with a lid and let the mixture sit on the counter for 12 hours.
3. Transfer to a larger container and feed with 120 grams flour and 120 grams whey or non-chlorinated water, mix well and let sit on the counter at room temperature for 12 more hours. The container should be big enough that the starter can double in size without overflowing.
*At this point, your starter should have expanded and be a bit bubbly. You can see the bubbles best on the sides of a clear container. If it doesn't seem active yet, go ahead and make the pancakes or waffles mentioned in the next step. You need to reduce your starter; so you don't need to feed it as much, as you generally want to at least feed with an amount equal to it's weight.
4. Now you have a magical sourdough starter. Use it right away for these quick pancakes or waffles.
5. To keep sourdough starter healthy, you will need to go through cycles of feeding and using, feeding and using. After using the starter for pancakes, you will need to feed and store it.
6. See my post here on how to maintain a sourdough starter. While using whey is a quick way to make starter, because it contains similar yeasts, you'll only need flour and non-chlorinated water for maintaining your sourdough starter in the future.
You can use thin kefir in place of the whey. If your kefir is thick, thin with a little water until it's the consistency of whole milk. Whey is a little more predictable, but thinned kefir will work too. In fact, I've made a successful loaf of bread just using kefir in place of a sourdough starter, or yeast. I think sourdough is the most effective starter for bread for a few reasons, but because kefir contains many of the same yeasts and bacterias; I knew it would work and it proved to be a fun venture.
Before taking on bread making, I recommend starting with pancakes, waffles, crackers, and crepes while you get the hang of maintaining a sourdough starter.
To use your starter to make bread, it's best to have fed the starter approximately 6 hours before using in a bread recipe. It should be bubbly, active and have doubled, or almost doubled in size.
No discarding sourdough starter here! Use excess starter for pancakes, our favorite waffles, crepes or crackers. I promise, no one will complain! Why waste high quality flour?
You can use any flour you'd like to maintain a starter. Of course, I recommend an ancient whole grain. I usually use Einkorn whole grain flour, but you could use any flour, including whole grain gluten free flours. You can also change up the flavor of your starter by feeding it different flours, for example buckwheat flour to make buckwheat crepes etc.
If you use gluten free flours, I recommend using flours that are whole grain, free of gums and minimally processed; or ideally grind your own grains for freshly milled flour.