Yes you could go online and buy a starter but you don't have to. Believe it or not, you have everything you need to make a sourdough starter right in your house. It is such an easy process too! So if you like a nice sourdough bread, then you have to make you own starter.
So how does one go about making a sourdough started? Well I am glad you asked! Go to your kitchen, get a large jar, some flour and some water..... Go on, I'll wait...... I used distilled water because we are on city water and you know they have to put all kinds of microbe killing things in there and with sourdough you want, no you need microorganisms (aka bacteria and yeasts.) Whisk together 3 Tablespoons of water and 1/4 cup flour and put it in your jar. I covered my jar with cheesecloth so it could gather bacteria and yeast when I set it outside but not allow bugs and such in. I put mine outside because I really wanted to catch the wonderful wild yeasts that blow on the wind.
Now keep in mind, a sourdough starter is a living thing. You must care for it and feed it. Every morning and every night for 1 week, give it 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water whisked in and recover. Within 48 hours I already had bubbles! Obviously I caught some wild yeast when I set the starter outside. After a week of feeding your starter it will be ready to be stored in your refrigerator. (Feed it about once a week once it is in the fridge) When you are ready to bake, just take your starter out about 12 hours before hand, feed it 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water and it will be ready to use!
Now do not freak out if you get a brown liquid on your starter, this is called "hooch." Do not throw your starter out if you get hooch! All it mean is you gave your stater too much water for the amount of flour you put in or you didn't feed it often enough. It is harmless and you just pour it off. Sourdough is very resilient and will bounce back once you start feeding it properly again.
I have Herman living in my fridge. He's been with me for 30 + years and was originally mailed from Fairbanks Alaska to my mother in law in Burbank Calif. by her sister. He's a living thing so he needed a name. Herman just sounded good. He was feed very well for the trip to Calif. , put in a small glass jar that was packed in a coffee can packed in a cardboard box and mailed.
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**