How to Make a Sourdough Starter


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


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


  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.

This post contains affiliate links and links to sponsors.

Learn to Cook Real Food

Inspired Recipes, Tips and Tutorials.

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.

        • dolores eilerts says

          I would love to bake sourdough bread, I have heard on many cook shows, you have to leave the recipe amount of starter sit out on counter night before dsy of use, pancakes, bread etc. How do I know , how much of flour water to put back in starter jar, and. What other ingredients do I add to overnightset out of starter. I AM SO CONFUSED, basically does the entire recipe of pancakes, bread etc, have to sit on counter all night, or just the starter. I need to bake more due to economy, and health.

          • kim says

            This is from my mom-in-law who would be about 92 right now if she were still here.
            the night before i make sourdough pancakes I mix:
            2 cups flour
            1 3/4 cups warm water
            starter from the fridge
            mix together and let it sit in a warm spot covered with dishtowel(flour sack)
            NEXT DAY
            TAKE OUT 1/2 CUP STARTER AND SAVE!!!! then mix in:
            1 tsp.salt
            3 T. sugar
            1tsp. baking soda
            2 eggs
            3 T. oil

              • Rustaholic says

                If you read the recipe do a little investigating and see that it said to take out a 1/2 cup and put it back in the fridge.
                Now if that is how she does it then just how much would be in the fridge to use the next time? Yes she could even have three cups of starter in there but to keep it at whatever level she wants it to be she just put back in what she had used.

      • 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

        • Mona says

          It is nice to hear that you give credit to The Lord. I wish more people would think as we do. Do you think it is our age, I am eighty seven years old ?

                • chef trip says

                  anyone believing the bible(s) as the word of god are accepting a creator that supports slavery, the selling of your children, religious intolerance, women are inferior and property of men, and many more awful things. anyone with a shred of intelligence and critical thinking who reads the bible will become and atheist.

                • Colleen says

                  Chef Trip, anyone who claims such intelligence as yourself might want to ensure his grammar and spelling are correct. It would be nice to be able to read the helpful instructions and comments without being exposed to people like you. I do appreciate the recipe and instruction from the writer, Jenny. Thanks for all you do!

      • Andrea says

        Hi! Ive been working on my started for a while now and it inflates great but also deflates back down before 12 hours… :( what do I do? Is this ok? Will it work for bread?

    • 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=))).

    • makalove says

      Yeah, my grandmother gave me a starter for a wedding gift in 1990; she had gotten a starter from her mother. While living on the farm she used well water, but after the farm went bankrupt in the ’70s and she moved to town, she used tap water with no problems. I used tap water in mine for many years. She also taught me to make pickles “the real way” in her words – fermented pickles – and always used tap water and they always came out fine. While I’m all for using filtered water when we can, I’ve now done experiments with many ferments, including sourdough, pickles, sauerkraut, and kombucha using tap water alongside their filtered-water “peers”, just to see if they would work. Every single one of them did. I think we need to remember that making real food more accessible to more people is important. The less we expect folks to spend on equipment and ingredients, the more likely the more likely they are to get more nourishment into their food. I know I’m often guilty of all-or-nothing perfectionism when it comes to healthy eating; that kind of attitude can be a real hindrance for many. (A great example: I have a friend who lives in a HUD housing complex and who lives, with an adolescent child, on a few hundred dollars per month plus a couple hundred dollars in food stamps. Her apartment comes with free tap water – she can’t afford to spend money for filtered water by the gallon and certainly never has enough spare cash to buy a good filtering system. She brews kombucha using tap water and generic tea bags. Is it as good as kombucha made with filtered water and organic tea? Maybe not. But is it better than none at all? I don’t even have to hesitate to say YES.

      • kristina says

        You can boil the water for about 15 min or leave a bowl of water out overnight this will help the some of the chorine evaporate,

        • Russ Conner says

          Modern water facilities use chloramine, not chlorine.

          Less taste, and more importantly for keeping tap water safe to drink, nonvolatile. Setting it out does not take it out of the water.

          Now, quality and taste of your water aside, having chlorine or chloramine in your water is not good for the yeast, as it is exactly the sort of thing it is designed to kill.
          At the very least, it will slow down the growth.

          a simple carbon filter will remove all the anti-microbial compounds from your water, making it safe for the beneficial yeast.

      • Debi says

        A gallon of filtered water in a refillable jug (you can use any recycled type of jug) is only .25 cents and a little effort to go fetch it at the store.


        • Debi says

          filtered water is the FIRST building block to health. While I am thankful I live in a modern clean society, I also believe that tap water from a municipality is medicating the masses.


  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?

      • eunice khoo says

        hi, may i know when the stater is ready for baking ?and can i put into the fridge to prent over fermented ? pls help ! tqs.

  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

      • Julian Opificius says

        There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with using grapes in a starter – quite the opposite, in fact: they are an excellent source of natural yeast and mild acidity necessary for a healthy starter. The technique is referred to positively in Samuel Fromartz’ “In Search of the Perfect Loaf” (an excellent read for newbie bakers – lots of philosophy, guidelines and tips) and is explicitly used in the sourdough starter in “The Panera Bread Cookbook; Breadmaking Essentials and Recipes from America’s Favorite Bakery-Cafe”.
        I started my very first starter with three Tbs of buckwheat flour (I’d have used rye, but I didn’t have any at the time), three Tbs of water, four unwashed red grapes, and 1 Tbs of natural buckwheat honey. I stirred the concoction up, placed in a handy saved 21oz square plastic rice container that a commercial rice blend came in , put a #4 coffee filter over the top retained with a rubber band, and sat it on top of some electronic equipment to warm it gently. Within twelve hours it was showing tiny bubbles, and within twenty four it was definitely puffy. At that 24 point I added three Tbs of rye flour (an excellent flour for starters, per Samuel Fromartz), three Tbs water, and a tsp of raw honey (hideously expensive, but famously effective), and within another twelve hours my starter had quadrupled in size.
        Time for another feed – backing down to a lighter flour so as not to be too strong (per Jenny), and a slightly cooler environment so as not to over-ferment, and within another day it’s ready.
        When to use? Well, any starter is better than no starter, so just remember the guidance (I won’t say rule) of not using the starter within eight hours of feeding, and all will be well.
        Thanks for this excellent article, Jenny. You show how easy things can be, as long as we are prepared to learn from our experiences.
        There are many questions here, and some answers; I would advocate that people simply try things out, be patient, observe what happens, takes notes, and think things through. We can learn a lot very quickly by doing that!

        I hope I’ve put the “no-grapes” nonsense to bed :-)

  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?


  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!

        • Ros says

          Some times bread can fail if it’s not kneaded enough, it may not be the sour dough starter causing the problem. When you new to kneading it can take around 20 mins. But as you get used to it… it takes more like 10

          Feed your start equal amounts everyday , I use a kilner Jar and that works fine for me.

  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.


  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

    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?

  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

  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.

    • Kelly says

      Rice doesn’t have any gluten. It’s completely safe and recommended for those with celiac.

      Also, recent studies have shown that those even with celiac have been able to tolerate properly made sourdough WHEAT bread, if it’s made with the ‘mother starter’.

  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?



    • 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.

    • says

      Thanks for confirming that this recipe will work with gluten-free flours. Now, how can I make a gluten-free starter from scratch (ie I have no established GF starter to add), and then, can anyone suggest a gluten-free recipe to make with the resulting starter?! Having eaten gluten-free for my adult life, it has been a long time since I’ve made a sourdough bread and I don’t remember even rough proportions, which might not work for GF anyway. Thanks!

  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 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.

  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.

  65. Annette says

    I started with just flour and water. I fed it twice a day for seven days but not much is happening. It does get bubbly but doesn’t smell “sour” yet. I’m not using spring water but it is filtered tap water. My question is can I salvage what I have by changing water? Or is it my house is just not warm enough right now? Thanks for any suggestions!

  66. Annette says

    I started my sourdough starter with flour and water. I fed it twice a day for 8 days and not much is happening yet. It gets bubbles but doesn’t smell like it’s fermenting yet. I’ve been using filtered tap water. My question is can it be salvaged if I change water or do I have to start over again? I’m thinking it’s either the water or the temp in my house. Any suggestions are appreciated!

  67. Jake Steijn says

    I started my sourdough with some of the 1847 Oregon Trail sourdough starter I got from Friends of Carl. After reviving the dry starter until I had a couple of cups of live starter I tried your no knead whole wheat recipe. It sat at 70 – 75 F (by my Taylor digital thermometer) for two days with no growth whatsoever. I’ve done the no-knead route many times following the New York Time method, starting with 1/4 tsp of yeast and letting it take up to 24 hours to rise, so I think I know when a dough is not going to do anything at all. I discarded it.. To test the sourdough, starter, which I had refrigerated, I revived it and made a loaf of white sourdough. It is excellent. It was not the starter. But. Reading more about sourdough I realized that sourdough cultures may become accustomed to a particular flour, and changing from white flour to whole wheat as suddenly as I did may have caused it to fail. I started a whole wheat sourdough culture from a tablespoon of the white flour culture. I now have a quart mason jar of bubbling, live, whole wheat culture and I’m ready to try again.

    But I have a question, or observation. The sourdough culture you discuss is about 70% – 1/2 cup flour to 1/3 cup water – and your illustrations show what is apparently a white-flour based culture. 100% whole wheat is going to absorb more water that white flour, and the recipe calling for 1 cup of starter, 1/2 cup of water and 3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour appears to me to be headed for failure due to insufficient water, even allowing for the relatively dry dough you tell us to expect. Should I go just a little bit wetter given that my starter is already a rather stiff and heavy mix? I’m thinking this dough will once again be too dry to grow.

    Since I’m already starting this and have only a little time and flour to lose, I’m going to use the recipe as delivered, and I’ll post my results. But any advice will be appreciated, as this is sure to be just one of many batches.

  68. Erica says

    I have the same jar as you link to… do you use the lid it shows in the picture or would that be too tight of a lid??

  69. Lauren says

    Hi Jenny! Your information is wonderful. I have started my sourdough process and currently have about 1/3 of a jar full (the same jar that you picture). I’m confused if I need to measure the amount of starter I have each day and use that measurement to determine the amount of flour & water to add?? OR do I just add the 1/2 cup of flour and 1/3 cup of water each day as you mention above? Also, at this point, should I feed every 12 hours or is once a day enough? I used the Desem starter from CFH and Jovial Einkorn flour. Thanks so much!

  70. Jerry Krentz says

    I live in central Florida. Can I make and keep my starter in my patio kitchen? Or would the high daily temp. and humidity levels hinder or keep the starter from “starting”?

  71. kristen says

    I’m more interested in sourdough for the health benefits than the flavor-that being said, is there any nutritional benefit to adding the starter to breads like banana bread, muffins, cakes, cookies etc. or is it only beneficial when allowed a long ferment?

  72. Suzanne says

    I’ve made sourdough for years and I’ve used different kinds including making fresh sourdough starter from potato water, starter made using a little yeast to boost the process & and sourdough from the ultimate scratch which is just flour sugar and water in large shallow pan and fanning it while babying the temperature of it till you get a good population of bacteria. ( that is the original way but takes lots of time and patience)
    Your suggested whisk concerns me; since one rule of thumb is to NEVER use metal utensils as there is a chemical reaction that happens between the starter and metal . I always used glass jar and bowls and a trusty wood spoon. Lumps when feeding the starter or when making a sponger were never a problem since the bacterial activity works them out and the mixing and kneading is the same nessicary process.
    It is best to use filtered water, I don’t know the effects of fluoride or othe additives but chlorine is used to kill bacteria so it stands to reason it will inhibit the growth in your starter. A good alternative To filtering chlorine is to let your water set for 8-12 hours as this will lower the chlorine content before using it in your starter. I’ve used regular chlorinated tap water without a problem but I lived in areas where my water wasn’t heavily chlorinated though.
    Nothing compared to good sourdough bread, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, pancakes…, well anything really! :9

    • Jenny says

      The rule of thumb to never use metal is inaccurate, misguided and, quite simply, wrong. Reactions only occur if the metal is, well, reactive. That’s not an issue with stainless steel.

  73. Shona MacLaine says

    I wish I had read this before I started! However I didn’t and used a recipe from one of my cook books that has worked for me in the past (has honey and plain yoghurt in it). It had been a long time since I made starter and I didn’t know if the cover was supposed to be airtight or not. Seems obvious now but I did put an airtight lid on my glass container for the first 2 days it had a little bit of water on the top but looked (lots of little bubbles)and smelled fine so I just stirred it and fed it today and left the lid slightly ajar. Do you think it will still work? I am wondering if I should just start over or keep going with this.
    I will try a second starter using your method was just hoping to have something I could bake with a little sooner.

  74. Jen D says

    I am very new at this and have two questions, so please forgive me if these are very basic.
    My starter smells like vomit. My husband smelt it last night in the kitchen, I didn’t tell him that it was the starter or else he will not eat it. 😉 I noticed it this morning. Is this normal?
    Also, I only started my starter on Wednesday evening, following your instructions. I used bottled water as we have quite a bit of chlorine in our water and I didn’t want to wait until it evaporated out. I had alot of bubbles this morning, like the bottle overflowed bubbbles. It is summer and I live in FLorida, but my thermostat is set in the mid 70s. Could it really be ready that quickly?
    There is no seperation or discoloration.

  75. rr says

    I love your cookbook!!!
    Jenny, if it is not too much trouble could you supply the refresh amounts in scale quantities? Either grams or ozs work because my scale reads both.

  76. Jana says

    Hi, keen to start making sourdough bread. Am a novice so expect lots of trail and error! Was just wondering if it was possible to use water kefir in my sourdough started. Was just thinking that it might help give it an extra boost. Can you tell me if this is a recommend or just a crazy idea!

    • Jenny says

      Hi Jana! It won’t do much for you, but it won’t hurt either. If this is your first sourdough, I recommend you purchase an established starter, get one from a friend or visit a sourdough bakery. THAT will give it a boost, greater reliability and a higher chance for success.

  77. Alan Holbrook says

    OK, I have a nice batch of bubbly, sour smelling starter on my countertop just begging to be made into a loaf of sourdough bread. All I need now is a recipe. Do you have a recipe for sourdough bread using your starter that uses plain old ordinary flour available in a supermarket? I really don’t want to invest in any of these special order specialty flours.


  78. Stu says

    About 7 months ago I started a started from scratch and was having success. Life caught up to me and I am just now getting back to it. The starter I had successfully been using stayed in the same loosely fttting top contatiner in the door of my refrigerator. I was going to throw it away and restart a new starter but when I dug past the top layer of crust, there was the most pure looking creamy smooth pasty substance that smelled Oooh just right! Yes, just a dab on the finger tip tasted just sour right as well. I am wondering if I should toss it and start again, or just use some of this and grow from there. Any suggestions are appreciated.

  79. Melissa says

    I bought the sourdough starter you recommended from Cultures for Health. In their directions on activating the starter, it tells me to throw all but 1/2 a cup away after around 24 hours, or after the initial feeding & a second one. Your recipe doesn’t say anything about this, but everything else is the same. Do you know the reason for throwing all but 1/2 a cup away? And do you recommend I follow their directions? Or do you think that’s even necessary?

  80. Gail says

    I’ve used sourdough starter for years. Here’s what I did:
    1 c unbleached white flour, 1 c filtered water, and a squeeze of honey (about 1 teaspoon or so). (the honey is a one-time use only). Mix together (w/wooden or plastic spoon) in a glass container (I like the ones w/the attached glass & rubber lid; never use metal w/your starter), cover w/a piece of cheesecloth & a rubber band, and let sit out on counter. It should start bubbling within a day or two (which means that the wild yeast in the air has gotten into it). After that, you can add 1 c flour & 1 c water, stir, and let sit again for 24 hours. You can continue to add 1 c flour & 1 c water every 24 hours until you get the amount of starter you want. Once you get the amount you want, let it sit for 24 hr, then you can refrigerate it or let it sit out at room temp & stir daily. (If you refrigerate it, take it out once a week & stir it (including the hooch on the top) & put it back in fridge if you’re not going to use it)
    When you want to use your starter, let it come to room temp first. Feed it each time after using it. (never feed more than 1 c flour & 1 c water within any 24 hour period)
    NOTE by Judy: I’ve tried brown rice flour, rye flour, garbanzo-fava flour, quinoa flour, and sorghum flour and didn’t like the smell of any of them. I tried the Injera Pancakes using teff flour & really liked them, though – it’s not a starter that you keep going – you make it, let it set for a couple of days til it ferments, then use the whole thing. Then you can immediately start making another batch that takes another few days to ferment.

  81. Gail says

    You don’t have to throw any of your starter away like many blogs say. You can give some away to friends, though, if you like. Throwing away some is not necessary.

  82. Linda says

    I would like to make my own starter and feel comfortable with the process as I am experienced with fermenting other foods. I have seen starter recipes that call for yeast. What is the difference between the two types?

  83. Liliana says

    I attempted to find the answer to my question from all the posts but every time someone had a similar question to mine, it seemed that there was no answer. It is day 7 now and I have been using sprouted spelt flour for my starter with clean water. There have been a couple of times when the brown liquid film has appeared on top and I removed it as said in directions. The starter seems to have gotten a little less bubbly but it is still bubbly. It is not expanding so much in size as many others seem to have experienced. It does have a sour smell and taste but I don’t know if it will actually cause bread to rise so before i bake a loaf I would like to try and fix the starter if possible. How can I get the starter to bubble more and rise more? I feed it as instructed except for once in last 7 days where I skipped a feeding. Is there something else I can add in to help kick start it some more? Thanks you

  84. Marek says

    When you feed your starter every 12 hours, do you first mix flour and water in separate vessel and add into the starter?

  85. Carissa says

    Hi Jenny,
    Thanks for posting this. I’m looking so forward to learning how to make sour dough. I just started my first batch of sour dough stater. Now following the recipe, I started with 1/4 cup flour (I used white rice flour) and 3 tbsp water. It was pretty much crumbs. I fed it this morning with 1/2 flour and 1/3 cup water and it’s still just crumbs. Isn’t it suppose to be watery?

    Thanks so much. Would appreciate any help :)

  86. Pam says


    I am using your recipe to make my own starter. I used the fourth of a cup of white flour and 3 tablespoons of water to start the sourdough starter. I fed The starter every 12 hours for 2 1/2 days. Then I got really busy and fed it only once in 24hours, fed it again in about 10 hours. I am now back on the 12 hour feelings. It is bubbling very well but it looks a Little dry and darker in some places. In the darker areas, the bubbles look like they have a little white stuff on them.
    My question is have I ruined it and need to throw it out or is it okay? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  87. Marek says

    I am at day 6 and reached 3/4 of capacity of the jar. Around day 3 my starter was very “springy” but on day 5 has gotten runny and did not expand much since. It smells little “sour” right now. How can I “test” if my starter will perform when using in sourdough recipe?

  88. Daisy Bangerter says

    Reading your instructions for the starter and feeding of the sourdough, I figure that at the end of the 7 days I will be putting in the jar a total of: 7 1/4 Cups of flour and 4 2/3 + 3 Tbsp. of water. Considering expansion of the dough, how big does the container has to be? A gallon is only 16 Cups capacity.
    Now you say that to “accommodate for expansion of the sourdough when is fed, make sure that the jar is only half full after each feeding. If you have 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”.
    What is the point of following the recipe to end up discarding part of the sourdough? Is it not better to start small and not waste, unless I want to make biscuits, pancakes or crackers, but if I only want to make bread, may I cut the feedings to half the amounts of flour and water?

    • Jenny says

      Hi Daisy, you should NOT cut the feedings. You should discard the sourdough once it reaches half-way up your jar. You discard part of the fed starter not only to prevent overflows, but to feed the beneficial bacteria, so that you can maintain a ratio of new flour (food) to old flour for the bacteria and yeast in your starter. Some sourdough makers are even more rigorous, discarding have of the starter every time they feed it. I do not.

  89. Lois Brown says

    I haven’t seen this question pop up, but I am curious. Would rain water be better to use than filtered water if its captured in a sanitized or suitable container?

  90. Debbie McLaughlin says

    I have some starter and I would like to know if any one has a recipe for sourdough bread in a bread machine.

  91. Julia Erlikh says

    Hi Jenny,

    2 questions:
    1- which of the culturesforlife starters would you recommend?
    2 – exactly which unbleached all purpose flour do you use to feed the starter? Einkorn? Or non-sprouted, like King Arthur. I’ve been using Jovial’s einkorn and toyourhealth sprouted wheat, staying away from non-traditional milled flours. But are you saying it’s OK for the starter? Is t the same theory as using white sugar for kombucha?
    Thank you!!
    P.S. Love your book!!

  92. Paddy says

    Hi there. I misread your instructions about how often the starter needed feeding. Instead of feeding it every twelve hours I have fed it once a day for five days now. The first few days I was getting some very very sour smells. I went to feed my starter this morning and a lovely fragrance of slightly sour and very banana smells met my nose.,I have made starter before in a workplace and I remember quite distinctly the smell of banana when the starter was just about ready to use. Tomorrow I’m trying your recipe for sourdough pancakes. Thanks for all of the info you have made freely available. Once the pancakes work I’m going to be baking bread again. Cheers

  93. Bernard says

    I started making my starter early this week using Wholemeal Spelt flour.

    The starter was doing great in the first 3 days of feeding, bubbling and expanding and all. But after 3 days the starter simply stop bubbling and expanding. It just still…. silent. I don’t smell anything off in the starter though.

    It is now in the 6th day of feeding. What is wrong with my starter?

    • Jenny says

      Hi Bernard, the problem is that you used wholemeal spelt. Sometimes spelt is contaminated with a bacterium that creates an incredible bubble in the early stages, and then it completely does offer by day 5. I recommend using up bleached all-purpose flour.

      • Bernard says

        Well, after reading Wheat Belly I pretty much stop eating wheat altogether even the sourdough variety.
        This is why I use Spelt flour instead.

        Would it work better using White spelt flour?

  94. Alan says

    Hi, I have previously had great success with sourdough, but the last two attempts have resulted in a most unpleasant smelling starter. I have searched the comments and seen a couple of others with this issue but with no responses. The only change that I can think of is I now have aluminum measuring cups. Surely this would not be the cause of the problem?

    Cheers, Alan

  95. Sarah says

    Hi there :) I’ve been eyeing this post for months and finally got settled into our new home and started the starter! Very excited! I am using the type of jar you suggested and am adding flour/water every 12 hours. Do I need to be changing jars each time I add? I didn’t see that in the instructions but wanted to ask. I’m wiping down the sides after I stir with a napkin but there is some residue on the side of the jar. What do you think?


  96. Joeanne says

    I’m on my third attempt at making a sourdough starter. Two out of the three times I have been so excited to see my starter rise more then double on the third day and then I get up after feeding it the night before the fourth day and it hasn’t done anything and goes downhill from there. Our city has chlorine in the tap water so I have used reverse osmosis from the health store. I use organic bread flour…Help!!!

  97. Heli says

    Making this has been on my list forever, however it is really difficult to get the established sourdough starter shipped here, will the recipe still work without it, may be I shall add some sugar, not sure what to do, can you help.

  98. Wilma says

    So.. I make my starter and after all the 12 hours are up and in the frig–I want to make a recipe–I take the starter out of frig the night before–then next morning take 1/2 cup of starter out to use for next recipe–I do have to
    add flour & water to this 1/2 cup and mix — then back in frig and do again in 12 more hours until I have 1/2 jar of started??? Is this the way you do by keep adding flour & water to the 1/2 cup to keep the starter going? Thank You!!

  99. Kristin says

    Thanks for using a 12 hour feed plan for the starter. Most other websites recommend a 24 hour feeding cycle. When I read your suggestion I fed the starter after 12 hours and within an hour my horrible looking concoction started to “work”, bubble and double. in another two weeks or so I should be ready to use it! Thank you!

  100. Kathy says

    I clicked on the link for the glass jar — what is the best size for the sourdough starter? There are several options to choose from. What size do you use?
    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *