Easy Sourdough Starter – Uses and Tips
Sourdough starter is a staple for us when we’re on ranches just as it was for ol’ Cookie going down the trail in the 1800s. There are so many uses for it which we’re going to be sharing today. Now, our sourdough is a little different than the traditional version. Ours is a quick-set (ready in 24 hours), and you don’t need to constantly recharge it. So let’s get after it!
Traditional vs. Quick Set
Traditional sourdough starter does not have yeast in it as an ingredient. Over time, it creates it’s own. We put yeast in our sourdough to start off, because as we mentioned ours is ready to go quicker. You can use it in 12 hours, but we prefer to let it set at least 24 hours to give it a more tart/sourdough flavor.
Uses for Starter
Sourdough is a staple on our chuck wagon because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated (just keep it on the counter covered with a cloth) and it can be substituted for any recipe that calls for milk or buttermilk. You may need to slightly adjust your ingredients to achieve the desired consistency, but this is a great go-to ingredient!
- pie dough
- batter meat
- cinnamon rolls
When adding all the ingredients together, whisk well. You want it to be like a thin pancake batter, so adjust your water and/or flour to achieve this. Cover with a towel. I like to give this a stir about 6 hours after making, you’ll notice it bubbling up. You also want to stir this before using in a recipe (leave the potato in the crock). This may only bubble up once at the beginning. If it doesn’t bubble up again, it’s still good to use.
The potato, yeast and sugar all break down to create the souring process. I prefer to use a russet potato, because they seem to hold up the best. Keep the potato in the crock jar until you discard the starter. The potato will eventually break down. Some folks experiment with keeping the sourdough going by adding another potato, but I usually throw the starter out and begin a new one when the potato has broken down.
Keep stored at room temperature covered with a towel, because this needs to breath. I like to keep this about 5 to 7 days, stirring once a day when not in use. Because it’s a quick set you can use this once and throw it out and make another batch whenever you’re in the mood for another recipe.
We recommend you use a 1 gallon crock jar for this. Here is one we use: Crock Jar. You can also use glass or ceramic bowl, but do not store it in metal.
The great thing about this recipe is you don’t need to recharge unless you’re making another recipe that requires more of the starter than what’s left. After recharging, whisk well and the starter can be used immediately, or let set a few hours to create a more tart flavor.
Our cookbook, A Taste of Cowboy has several sourdough recipes in it. We also invite you to check out our full Sourdough Cooking Playlist where you’ll find more recipes to try!
So go ahead and get creative with some sourdough, because the possibilities really are endless!
Easy Sourdough Starter - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 4 cups warm water
- 1 1⁄4-ounce package rapid-rise yeast
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 russet potato peeled and cut into thirds
- Add the warm water to a crock jar that holds at least 1 gallon. This will prevent the starter from frothing over while it’s setting up.
- Whisk in the yeast and sugar and let sit for 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in the flour. You want the consistency like a thin pancake batter, so adjust the water and/or flour if necessary.
- Drop the potato pieces into the bottom of the crock jar. Cover with a tea towel and let sit on the counter for at least 12 hours, stirring halfway through. You can let the starter sit for 24 hours for a more sour flavor.
- Before using the starter in a recipe, whisk it briskly until smooth.
The starter will be sourest with its first use, so you may want to add a little more sugar to the first recipe you use it in. I typically keep this starter for a week at a time, stirring at least once a day. However, you can keep it as long as the potato stays intact. I prefer to use a russet potato because it holds up the best, but you can use any potato you have on hand. Always cover the starter with a towel and never refrigerate it.
Recharging the starter
1 1⁄2 cups warm water
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 tablespoons sugar
When you have used 3 cups of the starter, whisk all the ingredients into the jar. The starter is ready to use again, or you can let it sit for 6 to 12 hours to create a more tart taste.
Sourdough Pancakes - Cowboy Kent Rollins
- 2 cups Sourdough Starter briefly whisked before measuring
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- Butter and maple syrup for serving
- In a large bowl, whisk together the starter, egg, oil, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Let sit for 1 minute.
- Whisk in the vanilla. Slowly begin stirring in the flour until it reaches a pancake-batter consistency.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is warm, coat it with butter or cooking spray.
- Pour the batter onto the skillet in batches, making about 4-inch pancakes, or use a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup. Cook until bubbles begin to form and the undersides are golden brown. Flip and cook the opposite sides to golden brown. Serve warm with butter and syrup.
[…] My easy sourdough starter also makes a great batter for steak fingers or any kind of […]