Skip to Content

How To Make Sourdough Starter

What is a sourdough starter? I know what you’re thinking. Why in the world would you want to make your own sourdough starter and bread when you can just buy it in a bakery? Well, there is nothing more satisfying than baking your own loaf of bread. Not just any bread but sourdough bread.

Learn how to make your own Sourdough Starter, using two ingredients and no special equipment required. Your sourdough starter can be ready in 5-7 days and can be used in crusty sourdough bread, pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, and rolls. This sourdough starter is made from the flour’s natural bacteria, water and the wild yeast in the air around us. 

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing or booking through these links earns us a commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you.

SOURDOUGH STARTER

What is Sourdough Starter?

Sourdough is one of the oldest grain fermentation processes. A sourdough starter is a fermented dough that consists of natural, wild yeast and a bacteria called lactobacilli. It is also called a levain. It is what makes sourdough bread rise.

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing or booking through these links earns us a commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you.

Is Sourdough Bread Healthy?

Sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index than regular bread. The fermentation process helps to lower the glycemic index. health benefits make it an excellent and healthy bread choice. Its top benefit? Sourdough bread has a low glycemic index and can help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels lower, which can prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.

Materials For Sourdough

Glass Jar or Bowl

I like to have two glass jars on hand to be able to keep the jar as clean as possible. I like to transfer the starter every day into a clean jar. If you are using a Mason Jar, I would recommend the wide opening jar as it makes it easier to add the flour or Weck Jars are other great choices. Of course, you can always use what you have on hand. Glass jars are a great way to keep on eye on your starter and get a visual of the bubbles and growth.

Kitchen Scale

I love my kitchen scale. It is great when you want an accurate measurement. Although you could use measuring cups they aren’t always precise when measuring flour.

Spatula

A silicone spatula is a must when feeding your starter. It is easier to clean than a wooden or metal spoon. I recommend that you wipe the excess starter from your spatula with a paper towel and discard it in the trash. You don’t want the starter accumulating in your kitchen drain as it will clog it.

Rye Flour

I prefer to use rye flour. If you don’t have rye flour you can use a good quality whole wheat flour.

Sourdough Starter Ingredients

  • 1 cup (113g) rye flour
  • 1/2 cup (113g) cool water*
sourdough starter

Sourdough Starter Steps

Day 1 Morning

 Combine the rye flour with the water in a non-reactive container. Glass is recommended. You can use a glass bowl or even a mason jar. Just make sure that the container is large enough to hold your starter as it grows.

Mix the water and flour thoroughly; making sure all the flour is mixed in. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature for 24 hours. If using a mason jar, I like to place a coffee filter over the opening and secure it with an elastic band.

Day 2 Morning

You may or may not see activity in the first 24 hours. You may see some growth and bubbles but don’t worry if you don’t. Discard two spoonfuls of the starter about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on the growth. Add to the remaining sourdough starter 1/2 cup of rye flour and 1/2 cup of water.

Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature.

Day 2 Evening

Repeat the same process from the morning. Discard two spoonfuls of the starter about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on the growth. Add to the remaining sourdough starter 1/2 cup of rye flour and 1/2 cup of water.

Day 3 Morning

You should start to see some activity with your sourdough starter. You will likely see some bubbling, expansion and an aroma. Repeat the same process as Day 2. Discard two spoonfuls of the sourdough starter about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on the growth. Add to the remaining starter 1/2 cup of rye flour and 1/2 cup of water. Discard any remaining sourdough starter. Let sit at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.

Day 3 Evening

Discard two spoonfuls of starter about 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on the growth. Add to the remaining sourdough starter 1/2 cup of rye flour and 1/2 cup of water. Discard any remaining sourdough starter. Let sit at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.

Day 4 Morning

Repeat day 3.

Day 4 Evening

Repeat day 3.

Day 5 Morning

You should start to see a lot of growth. The sourdough starter should have at least doubled in volume. You’ll also see lots of bubbles. The sourdough starter should have a tangy aroma. If your sourdough starter hasn’t risen much and isn’t showing lots of bubbles, repeat discarding and feeding every 12 hours on day 6, and day 7, if necessary until you create a risen and bubbly sourdough starter. 

Day 5 Evening

Repeat day 5 morning.

Day 6 Morning

Your sourdough starter should be ready to use on day 6 or day 7. Repeat Day 5 morning step.

Once the sourdough starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Discard all but 1/2 cup. Feed as usual. Let the sourdough starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface. 

The Float Test

If you’re not sure if your starter is ready you can try the float test. A lot of people swear by this. Place a teaspoon of your starter in a full glass of water. If it floats then it is ready to make bread. To test it, place a teaspoon of starter in a glass full of water, it should float. If it does, you can make bread. At this point, if it does not double or pass the float test see notes below.

Baking With The Starter

Remove however much sourdough starter you need for your recipe — typically about 1 cup is called for in recipes. If your recipe calls for more than 1 cup of sourdough starter then give your sourdough starter a couple of more feedings without discarding any until you have enough for your recipe plus 1/2 cup to keep and feed again.

How to Maintain My Starter

Transfer the remaining 1/2 cup of sourdough starter to a clean jar or whatever you are using to store it in the long-term. Feed this reserved starter with 1 cup rye flour and 1/2 cup water, and let it rest at room temperature for several hours before covering it. If you are using a jar with a lid, screw the lid on loosely.

Store your starter in the refrigerator, and feed it regularly. Feed it with 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water once a week.

sourdough starter

Troubleshooting your Starter

  • The starter should smell sweet and tangy, and not “bad”.  If your starter starts to smell unpleasant, it could have grown some bad bacteria. I would personally throw it out and start over.
  • Don’t overfeed your starter. Keep an eye on your starter to ensure it is growing. You can mark your jar with a marker or an elastic band.
  • If there is liquid on top of your starter, you can either pour it out or stir it in. If it has a really foul smell, your starter could have gone off.
  • In the first feeding, you can add a tablespoon of maple syrup or grape juice (or any sweet juice) to raise the acidity level. Everyone has different methods. Play around with it.

Starter Questions

Why do you need to discard half the starter?

I know, I know. It seems like such a waste to throw out. You will be tempted to keep it but you will end up with so much starter that you will eventually have to throw it out.

If you don’t want to throw out the excess starter, you can use the discarded starter to bake waffles, cakes, muffins, and even a pizza crust.

What temperature should I keep the starter in?

If you live in a colder environment your starter will likely grow slower. Find a warmer spot for your starter. I know of people who keep their starter in the stove with the light turned on. Just don’t forget that it’s in there and don’t turn on the stove! You can also place your starter on top of an appliance such as the stove or refrigerator.

What if I forget to feed my starter?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you forget to feed your starter, it’s not the end of the world. Just continue on with the regular feedings.

Can I use tap water?

I would recommend using filtered water. There is probably chlorine in your tap water and this can inhibit your starter’s growth. If you don’t have filtered water you can use bottled water. Some people fill a container with tap water and let it sit overnight on the counter to let some of the chlorine to evaporate. I haven’t personally tried this method.

Show Me Your Sourdough Starter

I hope this encourages you to start on your own science project in the kitchen and make your own sourdough starter. If you do, please let me know how it turns out.

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY THESE RECIPES:

Like this post? Please share it on social media using the share buttons below.

SOURDOUGH STARTER
sourdough starter
sourdough starter
sourdough starter

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

shares