I have had a very nice injera starter going for several months now and it produces pretty decent injera. Not perfect yet. I think I need a fire pit, but Avery said no. Something about city ordinances????? But my starter does produce pretty good injera most of the time.
Because I know I'm not the only emaye (mommy) out there who knows nothing about sourdough starters, I'm going to explain this really simply. So if you already know about sourdough, don't feel insulted! Lots of us are clueless!
YOU WILL NEED LOTS OF PATIENCE TO MAKE THIS WORK!!!!!
What You Will Need:
One 1-gallon plastic, ceramic, or glass container with a lid
flour (white unbleached works great. Others are fine)
Wash everything that will come into contact with the starter so that you don't have any little unwanted bacteria trying to get in and mess up your starter!
4 cups lukewarm water, 78 degrees- Water that's too hot will kill your starter.
3 3/4 cups flour
You can mix using a spatula or your hands. I recommend using your hands so that you can get to "know" your starter. This will make sense to you much later after you've experimented a lot.
The point of the starter is for the natural yeasts and bacteria in the air to form a sybiotic relationship with each other in the starter, thus keeping it alive. In order to give your starter a little help, you can use 1 pound pesticide free red or black grapes, a couple of potatoes cut up into smaller pieces, or a couple of fresh peaches. You tie the fruit or potatoes up into a cheese cloth and put the cheesecloth into the starter. If it's a juicy fruit, squeeze the cheese cloth to release the juices into the starter. When I made my starter a few months ago, I used cut up potatoes. This is supposedly not necesary, but I don't know. I figured I needed all the help I could get!
Let your starter sit on your counter covered with a lid.
Do nothing. Keep starter on counter covered with lid.
Do nothing. Keep starter on counter covered with lid.
Some bubbles may have started to form in the starter. This is good. If it's really frothy, this is good too. The cheese cloth may have inflated with gas and floated to the top. This is good. If you smell it, it should smell "yeasty" like fresh baking bread. This is good. If it looks gross, this is good too. If it's moldy, this is NOT good. Remove the mold as soon as you see it using a spoon. As long as you remove the mold, this is good!
Add 1 cup flour and 1 cup warm water.
Mix with your hands. Cover with lid and keep it on the counter.
You can technically make injera at this point, but it's not as easy or as tasty as if will be if you wait a little longer.
The starter will start to smell like alcohol soon. This is good.
Do nothing. Let it sit on the counter. If you see mold, remove it right away. Then, only if there was mold, you can add 1 cup warm water and 1 cup flour. Stir.
Unless there was mold, you don't need to stir the starter. Just leave it alone. At some point, the alcohol smell will be replaced by a nice yeasty smell again. This is good.
You will begin your starter's regular feedings on Day 10. Remove cheese cloth and throw away. Stir your starter very well. Set aside 2 cups of the starter. Throw the rest away. Put the starter back into your 1 gallon container. But clean the container first. For the best injera results, feed your starter 3 times a day. Feeding this often makes it so that you have lots of ain ("eyes" - this is what Ethiopians call the bubbles in the injera).
1 cup warm water
1 1/4 cups flour
Stir thoroughly with hands. Put lid back on.
I try to space out my three feedings. Ideally, it would be fed every 8 hours. But you have to sleep at some point! I feed my injera first thing in the morning, again in the early afternoon, and again right before I go to bed. Space the three feedings out the best you can given your daily schedule.
For feeding #2, add:
2 cups water
2 1/2 cups flour
By the time I need to do feeding #3, I usually throw away all but 2 cups of the starter and start all over again with the feeding amounts. In other words, for each feeding, you double the amount of flour and water that you used the previous time. But, as you'll soon figure out, doing this will create A LOT of starter! So, once you throw away all but two cups, you'll start again with adding 1 cup water and 1 1/4 cups flour.
Days 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
Continue with the 3 times a day feeding schedule. By Day 15, the starter might be ready for injera. Mine was not. Mine took almost three weeks before it was ready to make nice injera. The way you know it's ready is to try it. If it makes injera with lots of bubbles, it's ready. If not, keep feeding it a few more days and try again.
Day 15 And Beyond
As long as your starter isn't in the refrigerater, you need to feed it regularly. I have found that feeding it just once or twice a day will keep it from dying. But any fewer than three feedings each day produces injera with not so many bubbles for me. Because the amount of wild yeast in your house is not the same as my house, each person's results will vary slightly. Temperature also has an affect on how quickly the starter develops. Once your starter is very strong and healthy you can put it in the refrigerater.
You should pull your starter out of the refrigerater, let it sit until it's room temperature, and give it 1-3 feedings about once a week. It is possible to get away with once a month, but you're risking letting it die if you wait so long. Mine is at the one month point right now. So, when I pull it out to feed it today, I sincerely hope it's not dead!
Converting Your Starter To A Teff Starter
Once your starter is very strong and consistently bubbly, you can then convert it to a teff starter in order to obtain the proper sour teff flavor of injera. This part is easy. You just feed it as detailed above. It only takes 2-3 feedings before the teff has become the dominant flavor in the injera.