Sourdough starters are all the rage, but have you heard about potato flake sourdough starters? Learn all about this, foreign to most, starter and how you can use it to make the most delicious, light and fluffy bread.
What is the difference between potato flake starter and sourdough starter?
Potato flake sourdough starter:
- uses yeast, sugar, water, and potato flakes to get it started.
- After getting it started you will no longer use yeast to “feed” it, just water, potato flakes and sugar.
- It is also much thinner and does not bubble up the same as a traditional sourdough starter. Though it does bubble some, it looks very different.
- stored in the refrigerator unless you are feeding it to use in a recipe
Traditional sourdough starter:
- only uses water and flour to make it and keep it alive
- You will continue to use flour and water to maintain it.
- It has a thicker consistency like runny pancake batter and the starter will double in size once it is ready to use in a recipe.
- Can be left out on the counter as long as you are maintaining it, otherwise it should live in the fridge.
Which sourdough starter is best?
It is all a matter of opinion but I prefer my potato flake sourdough starter over traditional sourdough. Potato flake sourdough starter is sweeter because of the sugar, so it naturally leads itself to sweeter breads. This makes it the best starter for desserts and any bread that has a sweet note. It is also perfect for anyone that is not a fan of the “sour” taste of sourdough. Potato flake starters create a lighter and more fluffy bread than traditional flour and water sourdough starter. It has been easier for me to maintain and always gives me such a great rise.
It is also gluten free and dairy free which allows for more flexibility for those who may have allergies or a specific diet. If this is important to you, double check the yeast you buy to make your starter, not all are gluten free. Here is a gluten free yeast that will work for making your starter.
How does a potato flake sourdough starter work?
Initially the starter will use the dry active yeast to get started but will eventually capture wild yeast from your environment. The sugar, potato flakes, and water you mix with it will feed the yeast. The process that is happening is called fermentation. It is fermenting the sugar and potato flakes. Once you add the starter it will ferment the flour and sugar in the recipe. The fermenting is what causes the dough to rise.
Once your starter is established you will never have to add yeast again. If taken care of and properly maintained, your starter will last indefinitely.
How is sourdough healthier than other breads?
Yes! The fermentation process that occurs in all sourdough, including potato flake sourdough, causes the final bread product to have less gluten and therefore, easier to digest. This is healthier for everyone, but especially those who are gluten sensitive.
Because of the fermenting it also produces prebiotics, a type of indigestible fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. This is great for decreasing bloating and aiding in digestion.
How do I know if my starter has gone bad?
The first step would be to examine your starter. Does it have any change of color? Does it have any growth of any kind? Smell your starter. Does it have a foul rotten smell? If you answered yes to any of these, I’m afraid it’s time to throw it out.
If you answered no, the second step would be give your starter a try. Feed it as usual. Watch and check if you see any movement in the starter. If you don’t see it moving around while it is sitting out at room temperature, it could be dying. You can try and use in a recipe, if it doesn’t rise, it could have died or it could just need to get stronger if it has not been used or fed in awhile.
What do I do to revive my starter?
If you think your starter is dying, try this method:
- At night feed your starter as normal (make sure you are feeding it the correct ratios so that the yeast has enough to feed on)
- Let it set out over night
- In the morning pour out 1 cup
- Return it to the fridge until tomorrow evening
- Complete this process again 2-3 times.
After you have done this, you should be able to tell if your starter is bubbling like it has in the past. If you see no difference, it might be time to get rid of the starter.
To avoid a dying starter, try to feed your starter at least once every two weeks even if you don’t plan to make anything. I have gone longer than two weeks, but I am not sure exactly how long you could go and still have an active starter.
Things to know about potato flake sourdough starters
What if my starter smells like alcohol?
For this type of starter, it is actually quite normal for it to smell strongly of an alcohol smell. There is nothing wrong with your starter and can be used in your recipes.
What if the potato flakes settle to the bottom?
This will happen, and that’s okay! It is typical for them to settle to the bottom. I just give my starter a stir or gentle shake before pouring out what I need in my recipe.
What if I want to use it in a normal sourdough recipe?
This is totally possible, thought it will take some experimenting. Since potato flake sourdough starters are thinner, you won’t be able to replace it 1:1 with the normal starter. You will want to also reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe, and increase the amount of flour. I would suggest starting by reducing the liquid 1/4 of a cup and increasing the flour by 1/4 of a cup. You will have to play around a bit, but it’s totally doable.
How often do I need to feed my starter?
Try to feed your starter at least once every two weeks even if you don’t plan to make anything. If you do this be sure to discard one cup of starter before storing in the fridge. I have gone longer than two weeks, but I am not sure exactly how long you could go and still have an active starter.
How do I make a potato flake sourdough starter?
Here is the gist of how to make it:
You are going to mix together sugar, water, yeast and potato flakes in a glass jar. You’ll let it sit out for 5 days, giving it a stir each day. On the fifth day you’ll feed your starter, let it sit out another 8 hours or overnight. Then you can use it to make your bread!
Read here for detailed instructions on how to make a potato flake sourdough starter from start to finish.
Favorite Potato Flake Recipes:
Comment below and let me know what is your favorite bread to make with a potato flake starter?