Growing Seed for Sourdough

A while back ago , i bought Peter Reinhart’s bread book , it has how to step by step to grow seed for sourdough starter . I was always tempted to try it , but at the time i thought such a hassle to make the seed culture .

What is actually seed culture anyway ? Well , it is a mix between flour and water and when you let it sit for a day in room temperature , ideally about 70-80 F , it will eventually grow into seed , where you will turn this seed when it’s totally developed into a mother starter , which basically yeast to make your bread dough .

So , years later i still wasn’t tempted to make the seed , though my journey with bread baking has been awesome , i’ve learned a lot , from someone who didn’t even know how to cook or bake , now i think i can say that i am a good bread baker . I don’t need a machine to help me making bread , in fact i don’t care for bread machine , how about standing mixer ? It’s always nice , but nowadays i always opt to use my own hand to knead my dough . There’s special feeling about the correct stickiness about the dough , where with the machine , you run a risk adding too much flour and therefore you end up with drier bread .

Anyway let’s get back to seed for sourdough . I don’t know what got me into this , i am always up for trying something new , not that commercial yeast is bad , no not at all .. they give me a good flavor bread , and i have no problem with them . But .. i wanted to take my bread baking to the next level , and that’s how i ended up , let’s do this .

So , ironically i did not follow Peter Reinhart’s recipe to grow the seed , i followed this . During the first day , i mix the water and rye flour and all purpose flour . This is how it looked like on 1st day , right after i mixed it


Letting it sit for a day , the next morning i had no clue what i was getting myself into . I woke up , happily i saw the mixture has bubbles on top , as i opened the lid / wrap ..well i almost died .. to put it mildly , unpleasant odor is such an understatement , when waking up at 6 in the morning , and you’re pretty much welcomed with smell so horrendous , it smelled like baby’s barf ! Yuck ..

This is Day 2 in the morning before feeding


Patiently , i discarded half and mixed another rye , all purpose flour and water , to feed the bacteria ( that is what i am trying to grow ) . The bad smell was from the bad bacteria which eventually will be beaten by the good bacteria ( the good smelling .. alcohol smell .. ) Covered it back up and let it sit in warmer area . Speaking about warm area , my house indoor temp during winter is 68 F , we live in Texas btw , so it doesn’t get very cold here , i still put it in the oven with light on because we do like temperature cooler in the house . We don’t always turn the heater on too when it gets down to 30’s and 40’s at night . So we thought oven with light on was a good place for them to grow .

Day 2 evening feeding , i had to feed it every 12 hours now . This is how it looked like on day 2 before feeding ( discard half , and feed with flour and water everytime )


Does have bubbles , the smell was still bad , NOT as bad , but still bad .. LOL .. i started to think maybe i shouldn’t do this . Between me dyeing yarn with the smell of acid / vinegar , then the smell of baby barf from growing bacteria and having cinnamon candle on .. i was really hoping that we won’t have any company for the next few days LOL .. Still fed it , rye ,all purpose and water .

The next morning , day 3 , this is how it looked like from the side , all tiny bubbles everywhere


From the top , there wasn’t much difference than the night before so i wasn’t sure but after seeing the side , i was feeling positive ..


And the smell was much much better , still not the greatest but much much tolerable !! I fed it again , this time only with white flour and water , i cut the water down a little bit . I still fed it 2 times per day , every 12 hours .

This is Day 5 , the smell was like yeast bread !! There’s no bad smell whatsoever , i had a smile on my face !! I was happy and i knew my seed is growing on the right track . I fed it again every 12 hours . At this time , they doubled in size within 8 hours or less .



Day 6 was this morning , and my seed is looking really good . Since Day 5 i was really thinking what a waste that you had to discard almost half of it , and just used the other half and feeding it . But there’s a good reason for it , because you want to feed the bacteria with enough food .. that’s why you have to discard half of it . But last night , instead of throwing it away , the part that was supposed to be discarded , i put it in a bowl and turned it into sourdough pancake ( another entry coming up ! )

So , i fed it anyway .. though it looked really good already and smells so delicious


You really do need patience .. as with everything patience is a virtue ! You’re pretty much rewarded with a healthy happy seed , after taking care of it for almost a week .

After feeding it this morning at 7 am , i took my son to school bus and i went running . I came home about 8.30 , and my seed has ALREADY doubled in size !! It’s not even 3 hours .. it’s basically 2 hours and they’re doubled already , so i thought  GOOD , it’s time to create the Preferment , or as Peter Reinhart calls it Mother Starter .

Since i have enough seed to experiment , i tried recipe from this lady on bread baking i belong to , hers using regular all purpose flour , i mixed little bit of the seed , with all purpose flour and water . Here’s hers

mother starter1


The second bowl , i used Peter Reinhart’s recipe for mother starter , using bread flour and water .

mother start2er2

Now my job is waiting for these preferments / mother starters to grow , double in size . Once it’s done doubling in size within 4-8 hours or more , i can use it or store it in the fridge up to 3 -5 days i believe . And according to Reinhart’s book , if i haven’t used it for 5 days i can always revive it . Now what do i do with the seed ? I have 2 containers with seed still .. so after doubling in size within 2 hours , i put them in the fridge , i am sure i can revive them too if i needed to .

I will update with how the 2 mother starters are doing ..

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