A gluten free sourdough starter is needed to make sourdough bread. In this starter recipe there is no commercial yeast, only the wild natural yeast from the starter. Made with the basics … flour and water. It does replace commercial yeast but in a different process.
It’s easy to make a gluten free sourdough starter and similar to growing a glutenous sourdough starter. I have found that good whole grains are the best and with GF you usually need two types of flour like buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa or millet
With glutinous flour it’s whole wheat, rye, spelt and other grains.
There are theories about fermenting glutenous sourdough for 2-3 days that makes it safe for celiac diets, but this is definitely not for a celiac diet. It is hard to understand how gluten can be removed over a period of days. It is great for gluten sensitivity though.
With repeat feedings of flour and water, fermentation will take place and the natural yeast will grow to make your bread rise.
Make sure you keep your starter in a glass jar (500 ml size will work) and do not use metal, because the acidity in the starter will react with the metal. I believe stainless steel is fine. Keep your temperature constant and between 20 to 28°C and be consistent with the type of flour you use.
- 20 g brown rice flour
- 20 g buckwheat or millet, or corn flour (not corn starch) or quinoa
- 50 mls non chlorinated water (You could substitute about 10 ml of water with kefir water or plain, raw kombucha)
- 2-3 raisins if your starter is not becoming active. Remove them later on.
In a glass jar – vigorously mix all ingredients with a wooden spoon to aerate. Adjust the water or flour amounts if your starter is too dry or too runny. The amounts don’t have to be exact. Keep covered at room temperature, with a tight mesh cloth, or paper towel with an elastic band to keep it in place. Leave at a constant temperature at 20 to 28°C. If your house is cool you can leave the starter in your oven with the light turned on.
DO NOT TURN ON YOUR OVEN!
Make sure fruit flies can not get through the cover.
In about 12 hours (breakfast and dinner time). Discard all but 40 g of starter and feed this with 40 g of the same flour you have been using. Plus 50 ml of filtered warm water.
Put the discard into its own jar to be kept in the fridge. You can make pizza, pancakes, crackers and even cakes with it later on.
Keep feeding 40 g of the starter on a regular schedule, twice daily, until it has grown in size by 30-50%￼ and is bubbly, with a mild yeasty smell.
When you start to see a regular rise and fall of your starter with feeding, then you know it is ready for baking. When it peaks and has a nice dome it is ready. If the starter has fallen after peaking, by an hour or two. You can still mix it into a dough, but if you go much longer than that, you will not get a good rise from your bread.
At this stage you can make some sourdough bread, or keep the starter in the fridge until you want to bake bread.
Keep the starter out of direct sunlight in a warm place. Not too hot and not too cold.
Gluten free flours are expensive so keep the discard flour and always save some of the starter. After the starter is established and active, you do not need to use huge amounts of flour to feed it. Most recipes you only need 100 to 150 g of starter. Plus the 20 g to keep your starter going.
Signs from your developing starter:
- Some clear liquid on the top when it requires feeding
- A yeasty smell but not too sour
- Starter has a light spongy look
- The aroma is mild and pleasant.
- The sound of bubbles popping and evenly distributed
- No liquid on top when ready to use
We bake bread every 7-10 days so the starter is kept in the fridge and taken out 1 1/2 days before baking.
Reactivate the starter by bringing it to room temperature and feeding 2 -3 times before baking bread.
Below is a guideline to feed your starter out of the fridge and to build a levain to make bread.
- Use 20 g of starter from the fridge.
- Weigh 20 g of brown rice flour and buckwheat or other GF flour
- Weigh 30 mls of warm filtered water.
Add the water to the starter first to dissolve the starter, then add the flour and mix well.
Note: the starter is very forgiving so if your mixture is looking to dry … add a little more water. The same for if it is too wet and soupy … add a little more flour.
Feed again about 12 hours later with all the starter and add 60 g of brown rice flour and 60 mls of water – giving 180 g of starter. Save 20 g of starter to keep for the next bread bake.
The starter only needs feeding once a week in the fridge with 20 g of flour and 30 mls of water.
If you do not like the smell of the sourdough starter, then you will not like the taste in your bread. Discard some starter and feed again before using. You can also take a small taste test.
Once your starter shows all the promising signs of activity and it at least doubles in size …. then you are ready to mix some dough!