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How do I safely make sourdough starter mix?

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Amish bread or Friendship Bread is a sourdough starter mix used to make a sweet dough-type bread. The starter mix is usually fed with 1 cup each of flour, milk, and sugar. The usual directions say that the starter should not be refrigerated for 10 days. According to the USDA, this method is not considered to be safe. Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and other pathogenic microorganisms can grow rapidly in the unrefrigerated mix. To ensure the safety of the starter mix, refrigerate it. While it will take longer before it is ready to use in a recipe, it will be safe. If at any time the starter shows signs of mold growth on it or becomes slimy or foul smelling, throw it out.

Here is a safe starter recipe:
1 package active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees F)
2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon sugar

Soften yeast in warm water in large glass bowl. Stir in flour and sugar, beating until smooth. Let stand in a warm place (85 degrees F) for about 36 hours, stirring occasionally. The starter can be refrigerated immediately after preparing it. However, the time required for fermentation before it can be used will be about 72 hours. Stir well just before using. Pour out the amount of starter needed. Replenish remaining starter by adding 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water, beating well. Let stand in warm place until bubbly. Place in covered jar and refrigerate for later use. Use in bread recipes in the following proportions: 1 cup starter per 6 cups of flour per 2 cups of water.

SOURCE: University of Illinois Extension Solutions Series. Original publication available at:

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