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eacA starter is a fermented mixture of flour and water that acts as a leavening agent in sourdough baking. The fermentation is produced by "good" bacteria and wild yeast and gives everything from bread to pizza dough a fluffy rise and tangy taste. Learning how to make sourdough bread with your starter is a low-stress way to feel like an artisanal baker, plus the need for just flour, water, and salt for a basic bread recipe will take a load off your grocery list. With some patience and observation, you’ll have your own starter in no time.

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1. Ingredients and materials

Flour and water are the only ingredients necessary to make your own sourdough starter. Unbleached, all-purpose flour is a great choice for beginners, but whole wheat flour will also work if it's all you have on hand in your pantry. A glass jar is the best container for growing and maintaining your sourdough starter because the glass will not react negatively with the bacteria, plus you will be able to track the vertical growth of your starter. You may combine ingredients in a mixing bowl initially, but it is best to feed, grow, and maintain within a non-reactive container.

Homemade dough ingredients Shaiith / Getty Images
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