So the weather has actually been kind of nice here this week, coupled with my back pain easing up a bit, so it's been Spring Cleaning week which means Home Improvement! I've been wanting for months to start a sourdough starter, but I'd had one before and learned a few lessons.
For one, the mouth of the jar needs to be big enough to be able to dip a measuring scoop in; I'd kept a starter in a mason jar and that was a big hassle when it was time to measure out portions. For two, when they say starters grow better on the counter than in the refrigerator, and with plenty of air, they mean it. For three, you want something pretty roomy, because there are times when the starter will puff up and take up extra space in its jar. For four, while it's not something that would bother me, starters don't always look pretty at times, and I knew I'd need to hide the bubbly-gurgly from Husband or he would have reservations about eating the sourdough bread.
All this added up to a glass jar with a metal lid, with the lid drilled with holes and lined with cheesecloth, and a sweater cozy for the jar to keep prying eyes out. Pictures below the cut.
I could not find an opaque food storage container that had a drillable lid, so I ended up with this squarish glass cracker jar from Walmart (Target also carries them) for six dollars. (I'd wanted to get this opaque ceramic cookie jar at Target, but haha that lid is not metal, even if it looks like it in the store.)
The cracker jar had a nice thin metal lid, so my Dad marked 5 holes with a sharpie pen, screwed the lid onto the jar to hold it steady, and drilled the air-holes. Then he de-burred the holes, because he is awesome, but we could have skipped that step if a sander hadn't been handy. (Pro tip: Sharpie cleans off of metal and plastic when scrubbed with toothpaste.)
I took the lid back home and dug out my hot-glue gun and used that to glue cheesecloth on the underside of the lid. This step was necessary in order to keep floating cat hair from getting into the starter over time. (I also layered over the cheesecloth a couple times, because the weave was pretty open.)
Next step was to dig out an old sweater and make a cozy for the jar. I'd seen coffee-cup-cozy tutorials online in the past, so this was pretty easy to play by ear. (The sweater was acrylic, not wool, so I didn't bother trying to felt it.) I measured the jar (24 inches, rounding up), and it ended up being easier to just cut a full top-to-bottom section out of the sweater.
I cut the section to be an inch taller than necessary (6 inches tall, rounded up to 7 inches) and then sewed down the top and bottom in order to prevent fraying. I didn't bother with a lining, because I couldn't be arsed. I wrapped the swatch around the jar, pinned it tightly in place, pulled it off, and sewed along the pins. Then I sewed the inner loose end, also along the pins. And I scavenged a pretty dangle out of the button drawer and put that on too. If you look at the pictures closely, you can see two seams on either side of the dangle--one pining the loose outer side down and one pinning the loose inner side down.
Then it was just a matter of putting the sweater on the jar and boom! I do recommend pulling the cozy back off the jar before filling it with the starter ingredients, because you will spill flour on your nice cozy otherwise. And bonus! While the cozy hides the starter, you can still see the starter easily if you need to check on it.
And there it is in all its pretty glory!
Note: I plan to do a full cooking post on this later, but I used the Herman starter recipe here (sort of. with a couple minor variations because I had two recipes for reference and got mixed up), and a silicone whisk because everything I've read is that you must never let metal touch the starter because it irritates the fairies who live in the starter and grow the yeast. Or something.