How to Make a Sourdough Starter

sourdoughstarter

Love sourdough breads?  Wondering how to make your own sourdough starter?  It’s easy.  While the internet is full of sourdough starter recipes that call for odd ingredients like pineapple juice, orange juice, potato flakes or sugar water, to make a truly good sourdough starter you need just three things: flour, water and time.  It’s easy, but there’s a few things you should keep in mind first.

water for your sourdough starter

With so few ingredients used in sourdough starter, it’s essential that the ingredients that are used be of the highest quality.  If you live in an area where water quality is compromised (most of us do, by the way … ahem), take care to feed your starter with filtered water.  Most municipalities treat water with chlorine to opportunistic microorganisms lurking in the water supply before they pipe it into your home.  The chlorine not only kills opportunistic and pathogenic microorganisms in the water supply, but it also kills other microorganisms as well – the bacteria and yeasts you need to keep a lively starter.  We filter our water with a Berkey filter (find them online) which removes chlorine as well as heavy metals that can also damage the beneficial bacteria and wild yeasts present in a sourdough starter.

flour for your sourdough starter

Any flour, provided it’s a grain-based flour, will work for making a sourdough starter.  Rice flour, rye flour, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, barley flour, sprouted flour, einkorn flour, bread flour  - they all work.  In my home, where we typically only consume whole grains – properly prepared according to traditional principles, I typically use unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour in preparing my sourdough starter.   In a pinch, I’ll stir in well-sifted whole grain flour; however, sourdough starters maintained on whole grain flours can develop off flavors, becoming skunky over time.  In my experience, sourdough starters fed on unbleached, all-purpose flour or bread flours are remarkably resilient, rise exceptionally well and offer a pleasant and mildly sour flavor.

why you should use an established starter

All you need to prepare a sourdough starter at home is flour, water and time.  This wild fermentation of flour and water will yield beautiful results; however, getting a boost in beneficial bacteria and yeasts from an established starter is always helpful – particularly for first-time sourdough bakers whose technique and knowledge are limited by inexperience.  These established sourdough starters – usually sold fresh or dried and powdered – are rich in established bacteria and yeasts, and they give your sourdough starter a much-needed boost, acting as a sort of insurance policy to make sure your starter starts bubbling away reliably.  And it’s that level of insurance and reliability that is so helpful to newcomers of sourdough baking.

where to find an established starter

You can find a sourdough starter to give your own starter a boost through bakeries, sourdough-baking friends or through specialty shops online.  If you’ve found, purchased or been given an established fresh starter, use one-quarter cup to help your starter take off.  Personally, I’ve found the most success using the Parisian-style sourdough starter which is available online (see sources).  In working on Nourished Kitchen over the years, I’ve tried many different starters (including a completely wild starter that made everything I baked taste like goldfish crackers), and the Parisian starter is my favorite: it’s milder in flavor than most sourdoughs and yields a beautiful rise.

helpful tools

your sourdough jar

Your jar should not be kept airtight as sourdough thrives on circulating air; further, the process of fermentation releases carbon dioxide which can build up in a tightly lidded jar; instead, simply set a lid loosely on top of the jar, or cover the lip of the jar with a cheesecloth to keep out debris.  Remember: your starter will expand and rise to twice its volume after a feeding once it’s well-established so the jar you choose should have double the capacity of an un-fed starter.  I like to use wide-mouthed glass canisters (like this) to keep my sourdough.  A wide-mouthed canister as opposed to a mason jar will make it easier for you to feed your sourdough starter, properly aerate your starter and keep the sides of the jar clean (thus preventing potential mold or cross-contamination with other microorganisms).

your whisk

A wooden spoon works fine to mix together water and flour for sourdough starter; however, I prefer a Danish-style dough whisk which helps to aerate the starter more thoroughly. Aeration of the starter is essential to ensure that the bacteria are well-distributed throughout the starter and can, thus, begin to ferment the new flour and water mixture added to the starter at each feeding.  Proper aeration of the sourdough also helps to ensure that the production of hooch – a thin liquid that sometimes rises to the top of sourdough starter – is minimized.

 

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough Starter

Ingredients

  • flour
  • established sourdough starter (available here), optional
  • filtered water

Instructions

  1. Starting the sourdough: Whisk 1/4 cup flour with sourdough starter (if using) and 3 tablespsoons filtered water in a small bowl. Pour this into a jar, and let it sit for twelve hours. Twelve hours later, whisk in 1/2 cup flour with 1/3 cup filtered water and continue adding 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water every twelve hours for one week until your starter is brisk and bubbling. As you feed your starter, take care to whisk in the flour and water thoroughly into the established starter – aerating the starter will help to yield the best and most reliable results.
  2. To accomodate for expansion of the sourdough when it’s fed, make sure that your jar is only half full after each feeding. If you’ve made too much sourdough starter for the capacity of your jar, pour some off and use it in sourdough biscuits, sourdough pancakes or sourdough crackers
  3. Maintaining the sourdough: After a week, your sourdough should be sturdy enough to withstand storage. If you bake infrequently (that is: if you bake less than once a week), you can store your sourdough in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature and feed it well about twelve hours before you plan to bake. If you bake more frequently – every day or a few times a week – you can store your sourdough at room temperature and feed it with 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup filtered water once a day.
  4. Special considerations: If a brown liquid appears floating on top of your sourdough starter, simply pour it off. Sourdough bakers call this liquid “hooch,” and it is harmless; however, it often signifies that you’ve fed your starter too much water in relation to flour or have let your starter go too long between feedings. Sourdough starters are relatively resilient, and bounce back quickly once you resume proper care of them.
http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-a-sourdough-starter/

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What people are saying

  1. KJ says

    When I first started my sourdough starter I was pretty worried about using the tap water in my urban area but I decided to at least see how things went. I’m a couple months in and I’ve made several beautiful loaves of bread and the starter bubbles away very reliably within a couple hours of feeding. I don’t doubt that filtered water is a good idea for a number of health related reasons but, at least so far, not doing so has not harmed my starter.

      • Marjorie Lane says

        I,ve been making Sour dough for years ,my first one was a round loaf that was great ,I found that recipe in a magazine but lost it . I was heart broken .I found one in my bread coookboook,about the same except it was a french bread + a few other
        recipes. I’ve never tried it without yeast to start my sourdough , I’m really
        looking forward to tryiing it .
        I was watching Leon on NRB(Directv) His guest was a Herbiest (Terry Bell)And He said to
        let your water set overnight and the chlorine or what ever else would clear out ..
        PS I am 79 years old ,raised 5 children. and I still bake my own bread… All my praises goes to the LORD!!

        • Maisoun says

          Just tried rice, queneoa and wholemeal wheat. Works beautifully, secret is freshly home grounded grains. No Yeast. Just the flour and water

    • Lakisha says

      Thanks KJ, I am so glad that you posted this, I have my first attempt at sourdough in the making and I was really worried when I saw the directions about filtered water. I am not sure how it’s going to turn out, but at least I am not so worried anymore…wish me luck=))).

  2. Stefanie says

    I’m wondering if you make only white bread with this starter or is it possible to make whole wheat bread with it?

  3. Larissa says

    Thanks for the great post. Our family is getting ready to come off of the GAPS diet and wondered if we could use this method with buckwheat? The GAPS book suggest starting with sourdough buckwheat, millet, or quinoa and we’d prefer to start with buckwheat. Any suggestions? Thanks ahead of time! :o)

    • Jesse says

      The first 24 hours after I began my starter, I cut half of it away and then added the proportions of flour and water in the starter instructions. Is the left over starter safe to use for baking this early on(24 hours)? I read somewhere it could have unsafe bacteria because it is not yet stable, is that true?

    • Jesse says

      Can I bake with the starter I am to discard after the first 24 hour period? I took half of it away and then fed the remainder with the proportions of flour and water I was instructed. I read somewhere that the discarded sourdough starter is not stable/safe in the beginning because of certain bacterias. Is this true? Can I bake with the discarded sourdough starter I have from the first 24 hour period?

  4. Monika henry says

    The links in the text for the jars and whisk don’t seem to work, could you fix them? Thanks! Oh, and I think I just realised where my previous sourdough starter problems where coming from – I always used whole wheat flour for the starter… Can’t wait to try again!

  5. Peeju says

    I am currently making a sourdough starter and using stone ground rye flour. I have used whole wheat flour in the past, but it has never really worked. I’m at day seven tomorrow and its working really well. Also, I put 2 unwashed grapes in to start off with.

    • joe says

      to peeju, I never had trouble making a starter with whole wheat flour.but what ever works for you..I’ve heard though,you should’nt put grapes in it. grapes have a different type of bacteria (other than sourdough bug’s) that could harm or kill the sourdough bug’s your looking to entice into your flour and water mix…so if something happens with your present try with grapes in it,don’t be dicouraged, try again,but with no grapes. I found somtimes a pinch of brown sugar helps in the flour and water mix,helps to jump start the sourdough bugs..I heard your not supose to put sugar in either..but sourdough seems to like the extra carbohidrates ..grapes can start to ferment or even start rotting before you can catch it. good luck

  6. says

    This is just great…Thanks for posting this… i just started some today…so I am glad to have read this to make sure I was doing everything correctly…I used potato water..only because i had just made mashed potatoes.. and had some on hand…Love your blog!!

    • Jacqueline Joyce says

      Of all the sourdough starters I’ve made, my favorite is made with potato water. One of my favorite sourdough recipes is one for sourdough English muffins from a Sunset Bread cookbook. I see them offered still, on EBay.

  7. says

    That’s a lot of starter! I keep mine at around 2 cups with 50/50 hydration. I get A LOT of questions about using alternative flours. I have only used rye, wheat and All Purpose. Have you had any experience with other flours? I don’t do gluten-free sourdough bread so I know very little about it.

    Also I used milk to start, I think it really kicks off the souring process. I read a lot about people on public water with issues and the chlorine etc. I have a well so our water is fine, Milk is a good alternative if you don’t happen to have spring water or a filter. Good water is essential for homebrewing, its also pretty important for good bread.

    • Trisha says

      I’ve never made sourdough bread before, but can’t wait to have a go with this recipe. I’m interested in the fact that you use milk for the starter. I only only have raw milk from our neigbour’s organic pasture fed cows, so do you think that would be ok? I also make curds and whey, the whey I would think might also help? Would appreciate your comments. Also, does that mean that you use ONLY milk for making the starter, or only use it at the beginning, then water? I do have natural spring water and also a well, the well water being treated with filters and an ultra violet light to kill any bugs etc. The spring water is used for my animals. Thanks for any help you may be able to offer.

        • DeeDee M says

          ‘Potato water’ is the water you boiled your diced potatoes in … Instead of pouring it off down the drain, cool & save it in a zip bag or freezer container and freeze for later use. There are a lot of nutrients in and uses for the potato water, from re-adding to mashed potatoes .. bread making .. thickening soups & gravies .. watering houseplants .. treat your pets by adding to their dry food … etc..

    • Yocelyng says

      Interesting! I just started using sourdough started to make bread. And since we moved to Midwest from CA I wanted to do some sourdough bread. It didn’t turn out as sour as I wanted :( I wonder if I started feeding it with milk if it would get more sour? What are your thought? Also I’ve been using all purposes in bleached flour.

  8. Monika says

    I just started a sourdough starter again, with the parisian starter from CFH. I’m following the recipe they provided with the starter, but they say you should pour off everything but 1/2 cup of the starter before feeding, and then it’s fed with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup of water. It seems a bit much to me, especially to be pouring off this much starter every 12 hours (and I can only make so many pancakes :-)
    Also, I’m only a few days into rehydrating the starter, and I’ve noticed that it does bubble, but it doesn’t rise, and it always develops a dried-out layer on top that I have to lift off before pouring off any starter. Underneath it’s bubbly, but I wonder if that dry layer is preventing it from rising properly. It smells good though, and I use a clean jar every time I feed it (I rotate between two jars) so I don’t have to worry about keeping the sides clean or getting mold like with my last attempt.

    • says

      I also have the dried out top layer and am wondering what to do with it…discard/mix it in? Is the batch still okay if this layer develops or should we not have that present if the process is working correctly?

  9. says

    I can’t wait to get a starter going. We tried this last year (with different directions), but like what Monika’s was instructed to do we were pouring out half of it and then feeding. Then when we finally were ready to make bread it was hard as a rock. So we got discouraged and gave up. This time we’ll be giving your no-knead sourdough recipe a try.

  10. Cathy Savage says

    I am confused on sifting the “whole wheat bread flour” I buy preground at the local health
    food store. I sift it and half falls through but half remains in the sieve. How do I know if there is anything
    left in the sieve (like bran mentioned in the article) to discard?

  11. Lindsay says

    This is probably a dumb question, but when I store my starter in the refrigerator, can I cover it with a lid? Or do I leave it open? A towel? Thank you!

  12. says

    Ours is about a week old and like Monika’s it’s not rising, but it’s bubbly. We are doing it just like Jenny suggests but we didn’t start out with any kind of established starter, just flour and water. My DH is suggesting that since we have quite a bit by now, because I don’t see where jenny is saying to pour any out before feeding, that we need to increase the feeding amount as the total batch gets bigger. (Does that make sense?) We’re going to start trying this with this evening’s feeding to see if it doubles by morning. Given that it’s bubbly shows that it’s alive, but maybe it not doubling shows that it’s not being fed enough?

    • Kristin says

      Heather, I’m on Day 3 with local organic “unbleached whole white” flour and tap water (only because I forgot to use the straight-from-the-spring water, but will use that from here on out) – northing else, with no purchased starter – and I have lots of bubbles, but no rise whatsoever. I’m interested to see how your experiment turns out, giving it more to eat.

      • Kristin says

        Beginning on Day 3 I switched to all spring water, and it finally doubled after about 10 days or so! Baked with it and it’s going great. Blech on that chlorine!

  13. Donna says

    I buy hard white wheat grain, and mill it. When you say unbleached flour, or bread flour…, I don’t know what kind of flour bread flour is. What kinds of grains should I buy to routinely make sourdough bread?

  14. says

    Hmm, one never knows where one will learn something helpful! I had about given up on sourdough thinking the bacteria in my area are “bad” but it looks like I’m just using the wrong kind of flour for the starter. I thought it would be more healthy to use only 100% whole wheat. I’ll try a new starter with unbleached all-purpose flour and see if that improves things!

    I am keeping a jug of water on the kitchen counter (to keep it at room temperature) just for sourdough starter and am wondering how long it can sit without adversely affecting the sourdough. It takes a while to use it all up and since the flavour of my bread was “off” I thought maybe it was the water. Could it be?

    Thanks!

  15. Allison says

    Uh-oh, I just started it with local hard winter wheat flour. Is that not going to work? Should I start with all purpose flour? Also, I couldn’t find any sourdough starter (but am sending away for the free one – Oregon Trail), so I’m trying it without. I’m afraid nothing will happen…should I restart with white or just play it out for a week and see what happens?

    • Sara says

      I would just wait and see. If it doesn’t work, then switch to all purpose. I am doing a sourdough starter right now. I didn’t read all of the bad reviews on wheat and I am using freshly-ground sprouted wheat flour to start. It’s going beautifully, actually. I think I’m going to switch to unbleached to keep it going but the wheat flour is working for me.

  16. Eileen says

    I made a sourdough starter for the first time and it turned out beautifully, I stored in the refrigerator with a lid but wasn’t able to get to it until 4 days later. When I went to use it, it had gone bad. Is four days too long to wait? Or perhaps I am not storing it correctly. I stored it in glass bake ware, the lip didn’t snap on or have a rubber seal, just glass resting on the baking dish. Typically how long will a starter last in the refrigerator without use?

      • Eileen says

        I tasted and smelled it before I put it in the fridge, (it smelled just like sourdough bread) and when I just took it out I tasted it just to be sure and it wasn’t the same as when it first came out, it did not taste good at all. I recently attempted to make honey wheat bread the other day and it didn’t turn out, I know there is a learning curve, but I hate wasting ingredients. I didn’t want to try and bake with this starter unless I know it’s good. When you store the starter should it have a rubber sealed lid or is just a glass lid resting on top ok?
        Also, I have never commented or posted on your site before, but I wanted to say thank you. Your site and information is like nothing else out there.

        • Eileen says

          OK Jenny I did it, I jumped to conclusions. I read back through your posts, it needed to be fed again. I made the bread and for the first time I think it turned pretty good. I look forward to the next time because I know I will get better at it. Thank you so much, your step by step instructions are very helpful!

  17. Hannah Hudson says

    Hello and thank you for this site, I am looking forward to delving deeper into it….
    I haven´t made sourdough starters before so I´m trying to get myself informed before I give it a go.
    I have a (perhaps) very silly question : I live in a very hot, humid part of Mexico where currently we have 35 degrees C during the day and humidity is very high. My instinct says that this will provide a good environment for a starter but I am worried about how likely it is that the starter will spoil.
    How does climate affect a starter ?
    Thanks in advance for any comments or advice !

  18. April says

    Hi Jenny,

    I attempted this a while back, following your instructions, using filtered water… and it went what I took as bad… it had yellowed on the edge one day and smelled less like sour dough more like just… I don’t know wrong. I took the yellow as a sign of mold? I had washed the jar and rinsed with boiling water to santize.

    I’m hoping to start again this week but hate wasting ingredients.

  19. Michelle says

    Hi Jenny, I’ve been baking sourdough on and off (I’m mom to a busy toddler and 8 month old) for about a year now. I want to try your recipe. These links on this page for your canister for storage (I use wide-mouthed mason jar but see the limitations) and Danish whisk are broken. Can you share links to where to get such items? Also, I’m still confused about the sifting. Do you measure out the flour into a small bowl, then pass through a sifter into a larger bowl and re-measure, or do you use all the dough, just re-sift? I’ve honestly never sifted since middle school home economics classes, so I don’t know how to incorporate this and see if it gives me a loftier bread.

    Thanks!

  20. christine says

    When one begins the sourdough-making process, does one cover the jar with a cloth, a lid, or nothing? The first day I did this, the starter looked quite dry so when I added the second batch of flour and water, I covered the jar with a lid. What is the correct way?

  21. athena says

    I started my starter 4 days ago, and won’t have time until tomorrow, do I then discard 1/2, let i stand 4 hrs, and then include 1 cup water-2 cups flour. Let stand again 2-4 hrs and the ‘overlay’ dough 2-3 times, and then in oven. Sorry, you’ve probably said all this before, but having a hard time focusing.

  22. Cathy says

    Hi Jenny,

    My sourdough starter looked great after 7 days but I wasn’t ready to bake and I had the starter in a 1/2 gallon mason jar so I put it in the fridge. You say “feed it well” 12 hours before, but can you be more specific? I only added an additional 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup filtered water and checked it after 12 hours but it didn’t look as proofed and bubbly as when I had finished the week long feeding. but I went ahead and used it and sure enough my sourdough loaf didn’t rise. Thanks in advance for your input!

  23. Marlene Stratton says

    There are several Desem bread recipes online where you use whole wheat flour and use a different kind of starter, for those of you who don’t want to use white flour.

  24. Ellen says

    Hi!
    I have had my starter for about a month now and have attempted to make bread 3 times. When I first started my starter by day 7 it was bubbling and rising so much so that I moved it to a larger jar, but since that time it has never risen quite the same. It has a wonderful sour smell and is always bubbly after I feed it, but my bread never rises. I use filtered water and unbleached All Purpose Flour so I am just at a loss as to what could be going wrong. Any ideas or suggestions would be great!

  25. joanna says

    What should the consistency of the starter be? Mine has lots of bubbles and it’s risen but there seems to be lots of water in the bottom of the bowl…

  26. says

    Last year, I tried to make sourdough starter without success. Your post inspires me to try again. The first instructions that I used were very particular on the temperature of the starter–which is a challenge for me as I live in a cold climate and my house does not get above 68 degrees this time of year. Should this be of a concern for starting my sourdough? Thanks!

  27. Natalia says

    Why can’t WW Flour used to feed the starter? :(
    That’s all I have… And I would like to keep it that way, I would hate to just buy some for the starter. Why would WW flour develop a funky smell after a while? Could I just start a fresh batch every once in a while? Can I add anything to the starter to remedy that?
    Thanks!

  28. Randi says

    So looking forward to starting is using a sprouted flour unnecessary because the souring is basically doing the same thing? Also FYI your links to the whisk and glass containers are broken
    Best
    Randi

  29. Esther says

    I was so very excited to start this but now….i don’t know! I started my starter 15 days ago and it’s still not doubling in size. I have been using organic unbleached flour and filtered water. There are small bubbles on the upper half of the starter and it smells yeasty but it’s not doubling in size. What is my next step? I’m new at this and really don’t know what to do.

  30. Kelley says

    Im on day 2 and already have a bubbly and doubling starter!!! Im stoked. I used rye flour and filtered water from my fridge. Last night it didnt look like uch but this morning it was light, bubbly and had doubled! It’s almost filled up a quart mason jar. Going to have to take some out soon. (Yeast activity could also be due to me putting the jar along with other fermentations…)
    Thank you for the great instructions, I’ve tried a few other times to cultivate a starter and just wound up with wasted flour. :)

  31. Lisa says

    What are the best Gluten-Free flours (if any) to use in the sourdough starter?
    Has anyone had good results with GF starters?

  32. Cathi says

    Could one make sour dough starter from Coconut flour or Seed fours like Sunflower and Seseme Seed Flour? I cannot us any grains I have Celiac Disease and that means NO Rice too. I am on the SCD diet for healing my gut. The plain Gluen free diet did not work for me. But I would like to find a way to make sour dough from Coconut or Seed flour. Would you have any ideas how do that?. Oh, I have allergies to nuts, so those are out. Thank you for your help.

  33. says

    Recently, it seems I have developed a sensitivity to gluten. I wondered if using sourdough would be safe or if I should just stick to gluten-free flours instead.

  34. says

    I was recently given a 20-yr-old starter. However, it is a “potato flake starter.” The instructions my neighbor gave me with the starter say to feed it potato flakes, sugar, and warm water. Do you know if I can start feeding the starter wheat flour and warm water as is done with traditional sourdough starters? Or do I need to start over from scratch and create my own starter using wheat flour?

  35. says

    Hi Jenny,

    This may be a silly question, but how soon after starting your starter can you start using it? Do you wait for the whole week- 7 days, or can you start using it sooner? I see that you can pour it off for biscuits, pancakes etc., but should you wait to try it with bread until the 7 day marker?

    Thanks!

    Joanna

    • says

      You can use it right away, but the flavor won’t develop for a few weeks. If you just need a yeast substitute and the sourdough is rising eagerly, I’d go for it!

      Not the blogger, but a sourdough enthusiast. Best of luck!

  36. JoBeth says

    Thank you for this sourdough recipe. Have you ever tried making a starter with a red cabbage leaf? I found a recipe with this method and it worked well. I guess red cabbage (I recommend organic) has a natural yeast-like coating. We are a gluten free family, so I use all gluten free flours.

  37. Marian Motherhood says

    after following your instructions precisely almost 3 weeks now of feeding every day and it is bubbly but doesnt rise, and my bread doesnt rise either, even if i make it with white flour. we are using organic artisan white flour, and water filtered through berkey with pf2 filters. do i need to buy a starter???

  38. Jod says

    I have my starter going (I actually just kept a bit of raised bread dough before I completed the loaf) and it seems to be growing well. Does anyone have a good recipe for the bread that works well for them?

    • says

      Stir in the hooch! It helps. I also recommend letting your starter sit on your counter for 30 days and feeding regularly (1 to 2 times a day depending on the point in the process). I did this and have a lovely, tangy sourdough starter!

  39. says

    I am new to baking and found this information useful. Can we use the sourdough to be used in baking regular breads, pizza and pita bread? Will the sourness of sourdough affect the dishes? In short I am looking for yeast substitute for my breads, pizza and pita bread. Your experience will be helpful in guiding me.

  40. Karen says

    This is a silly question, but i have the same jar as you, and I was wondering if I can put the top on it. I know that air flow is important so I’ve just had a towel over it for now. But the top isn’t air tight at all. What do you think? Thanks!!

  41. Susan says

    I saw a question on Gluten free:
    I was a”wheat” baker and did use sourdough starter pre-gluten-free. I hope this helps someone.

    I used white rice flour to start my “mother” and have added all sorts of other gluten free ones in feeding, including teff and buckwheat, but find white rice flour is probably the best for neutral flavor.

    I started the starter with a little sugar and yeast and kept feeding for a week on my counter, but this is months ago and I have just kept feeding once a week and it has been successful. Supposedly you can do it with a piece of apple rind instead of yeast and leaving it open to the air…it did not work for me so I cheated.

    I use it once a week, so I keep it in a wide mouth ceramic jar with snap/seal lid and in the refrigerator from Sunday night to to Friday night and feed it on Friday ( lid open and covered with a cloth when out of the fridge).

    I add a 1/4 cup to every loaf or equivalent i make. It adds, a bit more of the “bread” taste”as I remember it.
    when it is bad, I remember reading somewhere that when it has an orange or pink color and funky smell, toss it! It is not worth taking a chance on making yourself ill, so always keep a bit in the freezer to start a new batch if necessary.

    Change jars and wash thoroughly once a month.

  42. Ash says

    Alrighty, so I followed a slightly different set of instructions, one which said to use an airtight container, and to feed it once a day. It said that, after 5/6 days, it’d start bubbling. I used plain old tap water (I live in a really hard water area), and extra strong brown bread flour, as it was all I could procure…. An hour after I fed it for the first time, I had several large bubbles appear. I’m assuming this was just magic, because I’m crap at getting things like this right first time lol.

    I’m now on my 5th day of feeding, and ready to put my jar in the fridge. Apparently I need to give it a month to mature before it’ll give a strong taste in my loaves.

    Kinda forgot where I was going with this, but I’ll go ahead and ask a question anyway: Is it really THAT important to avoid an airtight jar? My kilner jar seems to be working a treat.

  43. Jonathan says

    What should the consistency of the starter be? I’m on day 6 and it is roughly the consistency of pancake batter. Does that sound about right?

  44. Amanda says

    is there a reason to NOT use a wire whisk? i remember reading something a while back stating that you should only use wood, but I prefer the whisk to get more bubbles…

  45. jamie says

    i have a batch of starter that i had going good and strong for a couple of months, i used it at least once a week and fed it every day. i started neglecting it and now a month or more has passed and it has been sitting on my counter in a jar ever since…unfed :( it does not appear to be affected at all..it still has that good sourdough smell..there is no mold on the sides of the jar…..question is…should i start feeding it again and use it still or start over? people are starting to demand the sourdough bread again!

  46. Jill C says

    Ine thing you should NOT do, is keep your starter in the oven and not leave yourself a note. You might preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and murder your starter. You also might melt the plastic lid onto your mason jar, ruining both.

  47. Rachel says

    Once the starter is established how do you feed it/ prepare it for baking? Do you do a 1:1:1 ratio with starter, flour, and water or…? Different resources call for different ratios and I’d love to know what you suggest please! Thanks!

  48. Christal says

    Hi Jenny,

    You mentioned using a starter and the fact that the starter is producing laco bacillus. Do you think I could use some whey from my laco fermented sauerkraut or would it give the sourdough an off taste?

  49. says

    Hi, I made it, but two days I forgot to feed the sourdough each 12 hours, I did it 24 hrs. How does this affect the proccess? could be dangerous a wrong in preparation? Thank you very much.

  50. Kathy D. says

    This is a very nice website, and I congratulate you. However, this is not a recipe for “sourdough starter” if one of the ingredients is “sourdough starter” !!! That said, of course it will result in a starter, but I expected to see a recipe from scratch.

    • Jenny says

      Had you thoroughly read the piece, you would know that using an established starter as a boost is optional, and a method is given for wild-started sourdough as well.

  51. Tracy says

    I am doing everything according to directions….same container, Danish whisk, flour..etc. I have a pancake sour smelling mixture after a week with some bubbles and usually some liquid on top. I keep feeding it, and the whole amount is over a 1/4 of the canister full – is it ready? The jar is so large I can’t tell if it is growing! I can just keep feeding it, but don’t know when to start. Also, my grandma said to add some salt for flavor – is this ok? Thank you!

  52. Lindsey H says

    Hi! Is the link you posted in the article above correct for the starter you use? You mention using a Parisian starter but it links to one on Amazon that says nothing about Parisian… Thanks!

  53. maiastras says

    Hello Jenny,

    I took a leap and decided to make a sourdough starter according to your instructions. I purchased the sourdough starter your recommended, and have been feeding it for the past three days.

    From this morning I noticed and while there is no hooch, there is a distinct layer of bubbly starter at the top (about an inch). Is this normal or okay? I just added in more flour and water anyways, but noticed that the “layer” has formed again.

    The starter smells okay, and looks happy and bubbly but the photo of your starter seems to be even throughout so I’m just curious as to how I’m supposed to interpret this.

    Thank you!

  54. says

    for a gluten free starter, after the week of feeding, how long can I leave it on the counter and when should it go to the refrigerator. Thanks!

  55. Kira says

    I recently heard of feeding the starter with milk. Raw milk supplies decrease in the winter around here, is it safe to use pasteurized milk to feed the starter? Are there any benefits to this vs. water?

  56. I_Fortuna says

    Good grief! Making sourdough starter is easy if you just follow the recipe above. I was making this way before the internet with no problem. Just use common sense and don’t overthink it. Start simple and go from there. K-I-S-S : )

  57. Dhyan Marga says

    Hello, have got a really good routine going. Mill spelt grain in my Thermomix in two batches (gone down from 500gr to 300gr adding more soaked seeds these days) mix with water, leave sitting around in a bowl overnight or day then back in the Thermomix with the starter and sea salt, no water. I knead for ca. 5 min. Scrape in bowl to rest and double.
    Soak about 300 gr. sunflower, linseed, chia, quinoa mix for a few hours. Drain well after. The sunflower seeds I soak separately, easier. The other seeds swell up to a sort of porridge. When the dough has risen for a few hours I add the seeds and put the mix in an oiled floured heavy tin with a spatula. Sprinkle more flour on top. Another few hours and off in a hot oven with a little bowl of ice cubes.
    The starter I feed whenever I think of it, always with rye flour. Only about 2 teaspoons of flour sometimes more. I keep it in the fridge unless I bake soon.
    Sounds long winded and complicated but is easier and becomes routine. Honestly the best bread ever, especially toasted.
    Of course the same can be done with bought flour and no machine, except it is a bit wet and would take a bit of a work out.
    It does take time but so worth it, good luck!

  58. Lisa C says

    I live in CO at 6500 ft and have heard from several friends that making sourdough at this altitude doesn’t work well. I would like to try your recipe; do you have any recommendations for high altitude?

  59. Dawn says

    Hi I’ve followed the starter recipe and now what do I do to make bread?do I make the sour dough bread the same as regular yeast bread?

  60. Julia says

    Recently I learned from my friend that Sourdough is even more gluten-free than gluten-free. Something about the effect of the bacteria on the gluten. But it must be “real” not processed sourdough. Any thoughts on this?

    • Jesse says

      Can I bake with the starter I am to discard after the first 24 hour period? I took half of it away and then fed the remainder with the proportions of flour and water I was instructed. I read somewhere that the discarded sourdough starter is not stable/safe in the beginning because of certain bacterias. Is this true? Can I bake with the discarded sourdough starter I have from the first 24 hour period??

  61. Bonnie says

    Hi jenny,
    Just an FYI. The danish wisk you mentioned, is currently not available and they do not know when it will be back.
    I can’t wait to try making this. As always, you are my trusted source I all things of traditional cooking.
    Thanks,
    Bonnie

  62. Jennifer says

    I am excitedly trying sourdough bread baking for the first time and had a question. I followed your directions for activating my starter and had it bubbly and active. I wanted to try a recipe for sourdough bread that required the starter to be at 100% hydration. Would that work with my starter I created using your directions? Or would I need to remove some starter and feed it for a while at a different hydration level, making enough starter that the recipe called for?

  63. Talia says

    Hi Jenny,

    I’m on my 3rd sourdough starter (the first 2 turned pink and smelled horrible after a few days… maybe because the steam from my oven vents upwards, to where I’d stored them)

    Anyway, my current sourdough starter is 8 days old and smells like a cross between sour/fruity. Although it hasn’t doubled in size, it gets bubbly after every feeding and rises a bit. I tried to bake with it last night, but the dough wouldn’t rise – at all! I looked around and came to the conclusion that maybe I wasn’t feeding it properly. Many sites say things like, start with 50 grams starter and add equal amounts of flour and water to double the size of the starter. Then discard 50 grams and repeat every 24 hours.

    Other more serious sourdough sites with many active participants say that 50 grams of starter should be fed with 50 grams of water and 50 grams of flour. So, I started to do this instead but was wondering how long I’ll have to wait until I can use the sourdough starter. Does this mean that I’m starting from ZERO or will I be able to use it soon?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me!

  64. says

    Hi Jenny! I just received my Parisian starter in the mail, and only have einkorn flour on hand. What white flour brand would you recommend for initial feedings? Thanks so much!

    • Jenny says

      April – I actually would just feed it whatever you have on hand. In my experience, starters aren’t nearly as picky about their source flour as many people believe they are.

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