What exactly should we expect a sourdough starter kit to contain? Should we make our own sourdough starter kit or should we look to buy a set that already includes the necessary components?
However, which are actually the components that should go into a starter kit for sourdough?
Obviously, not the Dutch oven because that one is for baking the bread.
Flour is definitely needed for making the sourdough starter, it’s obviously impossible to make a starter without flour. So, is this a component that I should include? We’ll see.
By the way, check out my recommendations for the best grain mill for bread flour if you’re interested in things of that kind.
Sourdough Starter Kit: The Components We Need
I decided that I want to talk about various components if we want to make our own sourdough starter kit.
I’m not going to include proofing baskets (bannetons) because those are used when we proof the dough so it has nothing to do with making our starter, it belongs to the making bread stage.
That’s why I’m also not going to talk about Dutch ovens or loaf pans or any other type of bakeware because these also belong to the making bread stage.
To make our own sourdough starter we only need:
- Container – it can be a plastic container with a lid or a glass jar with lid (we need 2 containers of the same size if we want to use a permanent levain bucket)
- Flour – it can be bread flour, all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, rye flour, and even gluten free flours
So that’s about it. It’s really that simple when we’re talking about building our own sourdough starter kit.
We just need to pick a container or two of the same size and choose our flour. Once you have the recipe you want to follow, then you can get to work and in a few days you can bake your own sourdough breads or pizzas, etc.
If you want to cheat completely, you can use a bread machine like the Zojirushi Virtuoso to make the starter and then we add the other ingredients on top of the starter and the machine will also knead the dough and bake the bread for us.
However, if we make our sourdough starter in a bread machine we’ll need to add yeast because the starter is made in about 2 hours so it’s a major shortcut.
Containers & jars
Frankly, if you’re just making a starter to use once or if you just want to experiment for your first time with making sourdough, then I don’t even think that you need any special kit.
Use whatever container you have in the house. It can be a large plastic bowl, a plastic container that you have around the house or a large jar. Whatever can work.
Just don’t use metal.
Next, you need some flour, whole wheat flour or bread flour or rye flour are the options you should consider first.
Follow the recipe you’ve chosen and you’re ready to make your own sourdough.
On the other hand, if you want to make a permanent levain bucket, then you need two containers of the same size and you need to pay a bit more attention to which containers you’re using.
A permanent levain bucket is the container/jar in which you continuously keep the levain active and ready for baking at any time you want.
Thus, a permanent levain bucket means that you won’t make a starter from scratch every time you want to bake a sourdough loaf or make a sourdough pizza.
If you bake frequently, you definitely need a permanent levain bucket. That’s the only way. You can’t spend days on making your starter and then you can bake bread in 5-7 days. That won’t work for regular baking.
I won’t offer an endless list of containers for making your own sourdough starter kit.
I’ll only present you with two options: one plastic and one glass.
The material is up to you, I don’t have any problem with using plastic. I actually prefer plastic containers with lids because they’re so large and easy to work with.
My favorite is the Cambro 6 Qt.
1. Cambro 6 Qt Round Container with Translucent Lid
I actually came across the idea of using the Cambro 6 Qt as my favorite component for a sourdough starter kit when I was studying the Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish.
It is one of the best books about bread for those truly passionate about reaching the peak of making sourdough.
The recipe in that book mentions using a 6-quart clear round tub. Thus, the Cambro 6 Qt became my favorite.
We need a second 6-quart clear round tub with a lid if you want to keep a permanent active sourdough starter in the fridge.
Thus, get two Cambro 6 Qt plastic round containers with translucent lid if you want to keep an active starter in the fridge at all times.
Furthermore, if you feel that the 6 quart size is just too big for you, then you choose a 2 quart or 4 quart size.
Still, for me, the 6 quart container is the optimal size.
They also have the Cambro 12 Qt with Lid if you need something even bigger. That would mean making a starter with 1,000 grams of flour, which sounds unbelievable.
The container is made from polypropylene material. This is BPA-free and stain-resistant plastic. It isn’t affected by food acids, alcohol, oil, etc. It’s a sturdy material.
It can also withstand temperatures from -40 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
And there is a pair of handles incorporated for easy handling.
Where to Buy?
2. Weck Jars 745
We saw which is my favorite container but it’s made of plastic and there might be some people who don’t like that.
In that case, I recommend using mason jars or weck jars.
I love the design of weck jars. They look even better than mason jars.
The shape of weck jars is even better for making sourdough starter than mason jars. I prefer these.
Moreover, the 1 liter (33.8 oz) capacity is really great. Although, there’s also a 1.5 liter capacity for those who need bigger containers for their sourdough kit.
The mouth measures 3.875 inches.
It also has a 5.75 inch height.
Of course, they come with lids.
And it’s great that this set includes 2 big jars with a very wide mouth for easily feeding the starter without any inconveniences.
The only thing to mention is that this set is not exactly cheap. But it can be worth it because you can use them for an eternity if you don’t drop them.
Also, jars are easy to store in the fridge because they don’t take up much space. Just don’t buy glass if you have a tormented history of breaking things.
You can boil them for a deep cleaning, free from contaminants.
Of course, they’re dishwasher safe.
Where to Buy?
Flour for sourdough starter
We have our container so the second component we need in order to complete our sourdough starter kit is flour. The third is water but you can handle water all on your own.
The flour can be: bread flour, whole wheat flour and rye flours are a favorite for professional bakers due to their superior fermentation, and gluten free flours.
For those looking for gluten free options, I recommend the King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour.
All purpose flour also works if you don’t find anything else. Just make sure to choose an all purpose flour with a high protein content, like the King Arthur All Purpose Flour with 11.7% protein content.
The higher the protein content, the more gluten is produced, which provides elasticity, proper dough rise, and contributes to the dough holding its shape.
1. Great River Organic Milling Whole Wheat Bread Flour
They’re all organic, which is amazing. Also, the prices are decent for the quality and quantity they offer.
These are stone ground flours, which makes them all the more amazing.
We also get to buy a 25 pounds bag of whole wheat bread flour. I love buying flours in big bags like this one.
The only ingredient used is organic hard red spring wheat. That’s it and that’s exactly what we want to see when we’re looking for whole wheat flours for our sourdough starter.
The Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish also advises people to use whole wheat flour.
Where to Buy?
2. King Arthur 100% Organic Unbleached Bread Flour
Not everyone is going to want to use whole wheat or rye flours and there’s no problem there.
Actually, beginners would be better off using white bread flour because it’s the easiest to use.
We could say that whole wheat or rye flours can be more temperamental. Actually, rye flour should be considered when you have a bit more experience, it’s quite a sticky flour, the stickiest I should say.
The King Arthur 100% Organic Unbleached Bread Flour is amazing for those who prefer white bread flour for their sourdough starter kit.
It has a 12.7% protein content, which is very nice.
The ingredients are: certified 100% organic unbleached hard red wheat flour, certified 100% organic malted barley flour.
It is made from 100% American-grown wheat.
All in all, if you don’t want to pay the higher price for the organic feature, just choose a bread flour from a good manufacturer and with a good price.
The King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour can be an awesome, more affordable alternative.
Where to Buy?
3. King Arthur Organic Rye Flour
We can also make a mix between whole wheat and rye or a blend between white bread flour and rye flour in whatever proportions we want.
The ingredients are just 100% organic rye flour.
It is a medium rye flour that can be used for bread, pizza, cakes, scones, and cookies. It’s highly versatile.
Where to Buy?
What do sourdough starter kits offer?
Now that we went over which components we need if we want to make our own sourdough starter kit, let’s see what those kits that can be bought offer.
KneadAce Sourdough Starter Kit
If we look at some sourdough starter kits that we can buy, we’ll basically discover that some of them just include a jar with a lid and that’s about it.
That’s also the case for this KneadAce Sourdough Starter Kit.
I should also mention that it’s not a very expensive option, it has a price around $30 so it’s pretty decent. However, I also don’t feel that it’s something special.
It contains a wide mouth jar.
We also get an aluminum cap and a cloth cover.
The jar has a 24 oz capacity. It’s certainly not big but it’s big enough to make sourdough starter for 3 loaves of bread. It’s decent.
The jar also comes with an elastic band marked with the days of the week and the time of the days to give us an indication of feeding time.
However, I don’t think this band with the date and time is all that necessary. For example, a starter recipe can mention feeding the starter daily any time between noon. So you can do this quickly after drinking your first cup of coffee. We don’t need a band to actually remind us of the day and time, at least that’s how I see it.
Another thing the jar from the KneadAce Sourdough Starter Kit includes is a thermometer band. It’s another thing that is not all that essential.
A silicon spatula is part of the package.
And a walkthrough video and recipe to create a sourdough starter from scratch.
All in all, the KneadAce Sourdough Starter Kit is not a bad kit but I also don’t see it as something that people should buy. As I’ve shown you above when we talked about making our own sourdough starter kit, things are really simple.
King Arthur Fresh Sourdough Starter and Classic Crock Set
This is another kit that you’ll come across online. You can find it here.
While I think that the almost $50 price is quite expensive, I am also intrigued by it.
The component that intrigues me is the Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter (1 oz). It’s a fresh sourdough starter that has been nurtured in New England for decades.
Of course, we still have to feed this tiny starter but it’s certainly a start and some people really love it.
The other thing included in this set is the Classic Sourdough Crock (7 ½ inch tall, 1 ¼ quart capacity). It’s quite tiny.
Ballerina Farm Sourdough Kit
This is among the most expensive sourdough kits that I’ve ever come across. It costs almost $100, which is a lot. You can find it here.
First, we get a Sourdough Bread Recipe Book.
We also get two proofing wicker baskets. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t necessarily think that proofing baskets should be included because they belong to the baking bread stage. And we can shape a sourdough dough even without a banneton, although it’s nice to have one around.
We also get a spatula for mixing the starter.
A bench scraper, which again is not exactly needed.
The helpful component in all this is the dehydrated Willa starter to get it all going.
However, there’s no jar, no container, no nothing. Besides paying all that money on this kit, you still need to get a container and to buy the flour. All in all, I’m certainly not impressed by this Ballerina Farm Sourdough Kit.
The alternative: sourdough flavored bread mix
While doing my research for sourdough kits, I came across the Krusteaz Artisan Flavored Bread Mix, No Knead.
Frankly, I’m intrigued and I just wanted to see what exactly this mix is. I’m used to gluten free mixes but this is something else.
I should also mention that I wouldn’t recommend getting the Krusteaz Artisan Flavored Bread Mix.
It took me just a quick glance to see that I’m not impressed with this mix. While I love GF mixes, this one from Krusteaz isn’t what I would like to buy.
Basically, I’m reviewing the Krusteaz Artisan Flavored Bread Mix to convince you that the only way is to make your own starter at home. You don’t need any special sourdough starter kit.
Buy a container or two or use whatever jars or plastic containers you have around the house, get some good flour and that’s basically it.
You really don’t need products like the Krusteaz Artisan Flavored Bread Mix. It also has a bunch of negative reviews that mention that the dough won’t rise.
Let’s check out the ingredients for this sourdough flavored bread mix to see what it wants to offer us.
The ingredients are: enriched bleached flour, sugar, soybean oil, lactic acid, salt, active yeast, wheat gluten, enzymes, soy lecithin, natural flavor (contains milk), calcium lactate, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid.
Thus, it’s a normal white dough that is supposed to have a sourdough flavor.
We can use the dough to make bread or we can use it as pizza dough.
For the 14 oz box we need 1 ¼ cups warm water and the yeast packet that is enclosed.
There are 4 different prep options: no knead, one hour no knead, bread machine, and traditional.
Basically, we add water and yeast to the mix and in an hour the bread or pizza dough should be ready. It doesn’t sound all that bad but I’m still not impressed. It’s clear that choosing the route of using our own sourdough starter kit is so much better and so much more rewarding.
Where to Buy?