Can you buy sourdough starter? The simple answer is: absolutely.
So now that we have the question of 'can you buy a sourdough starter?' resolved, let's talk about something else that often creeps up when discussing this topic. Is buying a sourdough starter cheating?
Our stance on this is if you can buy a sourdough starter and that's the choice you make, then you are no less of a legitimate sourdough baker than anyone else. There are many reasons why you might decide to buy sourdough starter, and they can be some of the following:
- You want to start baking quickly
- You want a strong and flavourful starter
- You don't want to keep a sourdough starter permanently
- You don't have the patience or have had bad luck with making your own sourdough starter before
Additionally, buying a sourdough starter is NOT cheating because baking sourdough is much more complex than just making a starter. If you have ever tried to make a beautiful sourdough loaf, a starter is just the beginning of the process and a vital but tiny ingredient. Most seasoned sourdough bakers make many uncooked, over or under prooved loaves before they figure out how to make the perfect loaf.
It's important to understand that making sourdough bread is not just about the starter. It also involves understanding the conditions required for fermentation, the science behind the dough's rise, and the techniques for shaping and baking the bread. These elements are crucial in creating the final product and require knowledge, experience, and skill to master.
Buying a sourdough starter can be an excellent option for those who are just starting and want to get a feel for the process without having to go through the time and effort required to make their own starter from scratch. Some of the best sourdough bread comes from bakers who have purchased starters from reputable sources and honed their baking skills over time.
Moreover, buying a sourdough starter can also be a convenient option for those who want to try different types of sourdough bread. Starters can vary significantly in flavor and texture based on the yeast and bacteria strains they contain. Buying a sourdough starter is not just limited to novice bakers. Even experienced bakers may buy a starter if they are looking for a specific flavor; for example, we sell wheat, spelt, and rye sourdough starters, which all taste very different and produce different bread.
Further reading: What effect do different flours have on your sourdough starter?
In conclusion, buying a sourdough starter is not cheating. It is a perfectly acceptable option for those who want to learn the process of sourdough baking, try different types of sourdough bread, or save time and effort. The key to successful sourdough baking is not just the starter but also the knowledge, experience, and skills required to make a great loaf. Whether a baker decides to make their own starter or purchase it, the most important thing is that they enjoy the process and the result. So yes, you can buy sourdough starter, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.