Well, OK, maybe not everything. But a little bit about sourdough and then how to start a starter.
If you’re not interested in the sciencey/history stuff, go ahead and just scroll on down to how to start the starter.
What is “sourdough” anyway?
The term “sourdough” is not just about what the bread tastes like, it also refers to the type of leaven used in the bread.
Ever wonder how people made bread before the cute little yeast packets showed up at the grocery store?
They used the natural, wild yeasts that are available in the air around us.
There are approximately 1,500 strains of wild yeast that have been named and classified by scientists, and they estimate that is only about 1% of the total number of yeasts.
The cute little yeast packets in the grocery store use only one of those.
Just a thought, but if God created all those different yeasts that can be used for leavening bread, wouldn’t it be better to use more than one?
Now I am not a scientist or a doctor or a microbiologist, and I don’t even play one on TV 🙂 , so I don’t know the answer to that.
But I do know that people made bread for thousands of years before the cute little packets made it on the scene.
In fact, in some European family owned bakeries, they still use the same sourdough starter that their great, great, great-grands used.
How does “wild yeast” work?
Basically, yeasts work by feeding off the sugars in the flour. The sugars go through a fermentation process which produces alcohol and gas.
The gas is what makes the bread rise.
The alcohol is what causes the “souring”, and prevents the growth of mold and bacteria.
The sourness of the final product is determined by how “liquidy” (is that a word?) your starter is, and how long the bread is allowed to rise.
It is also determined by which of the yeasts are more abundant where you are using your starter.
That’s why traditional sourdough breads taste different in different places.
As the yeasts feed, they grow exponentially. That’s why it takes about a week before your starter is ready to use.
The older your starter, the better it works!
OK, on to starting the starter.
Pin for later
To start a sourdough starter:
- a glass bowl or jar (I use a widemouth quart canning jar)
- 1 cup flour (you can use any kind of flour-white flour, whole wheat flour, spelt flour, teff flour, etc.)
- 1 cup filtered water
All you do is mix the flour into the water in the jar and scrape down the sides. It doesn’t have to be smooth, it’s OK to have lumps.
Now you need to cover it to keep out dust and stuff.
It also tends to attract fruit flies in the summer.
I use a paper coffee filter secured with a pony tail holder. You can also use a clean dishcloth. Or a napkin.
Just make sure that whatever you use allows the gases to escape, but doesn’t allow dust, fruit flies, or curious kitties in.
I also like the coffee filter option because I use a sharpie to write the date that I start it, and make a mark for every time I feed it.
Cuz sometimes I lose track of days.
But that’s probably just me. 🙂
After you mix it up and loosely cover it, put it in a warmish, out-of-the-way place so it’s not in your way all the time.
I understand the top of the fridge is a good place for some people.
I like to have mine a little closer to eye level so I don’t forget to feed it. Ask me how I know that.
Want the Convenience of All of The Sourdough Starter Instructions in ONE Tidy eBook?
The Care and Feeding of Your Sourdough Starter
About 12 hours after you start it, you are going to need to feed the starter.
It may or may not have started doing anything by then. Just feed it anyway.
To feed it, stir it down and add 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour.
I like to mix in the water first and then the flour. It mixes easier that way. Again, it’s OK if it has lumps, they will go away.
Don’t forget to scrape down the sides so none of it dries out.
In another 12(ish) hours you are going to feed it again.
This time, though, after you stir it down, take out about half of what’s in the jar and throw it out.
Add back in 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup flour.
Now, I know, I know, you’re thinking that throwing it out seems to be wasteful.
But it’s really important that you don’t starve your starter. You have to give it enough flour to keep it feeding for several hours.
If you don’t throw half of it out, you would need a ginormous container at the end of 14 feedings!
What to do with the sourdough “discard”
Luckily, there are several recipes that have been developed to use that discarded starter.
And yes, you can use the beginning-the-starter-but-not-quite-there-yet starter that you are taking out of the jar every time you feed it.
This recipe for Sourdough Waffles is one of my favorites.
So, about every 12 hours, you need to get rid of about half of what’s in the jar, and feed it again.
I do it in the morning when I get up and at night before I go to bed.
Is that exactly 12 hours?
But that’s OK, sourdough is really quite forgiving.
Even if you don’t think it’s doing much, just keep feeding it.
It may or may not at some time form a layer of clearish-yellowish-brownish liquid either on the top or bottom. And even sometimes in the middle.
That liquid is called “hooch” and is the alcohol forming.
If there is a lot, that can indicate that it’s not getting enough flour at feeding time. So if it happens every time, give it a little more flour.
Just stir the hooch back into the rest when you feed it.
It might be kinda smelly, but that is OK too. The smell and the color will depend on what kind of flour you are using.
My whole wheat starter smells different than my white flour starter.
If you miss a feeding, all is not lost! Just pick up where you left off.
I like to mark the lid every time I feed it because you need to feed it at least 14 times before it’s ready to use.
By then, the yeasts will have multiplied to the point where there is enough to make the bread rise.
After about the third or fourth day, you should be able to see bubbles forming in the starter.
This may start happening before that, but should definitely be happening by the fourth day. If not, you probably need to start over.
After about the fifth day it should be filling the jar 1/2 to 3/4 full between feedings. The process can sometimes be slower if your kitchen is cold, so keep that in mind.
I started a new starter this morning so I could take pictures to show you what it may look like at each stage.
I’ll post them every day until we get to the point when we can actually start using it.
Then I’ll post some recipes and suggestions on what to do with it. You’d be surprised at what all you can do with a sourdough starter!
Just know that after it is strong enough to use, you can keep about a cup of it in the fridge and only feed it once a week.
I don’t want you to think you’re going to be feeding it twice a day for the rest of your life!
So, ready for some pictures?
12ish hours later:
It happened to be warm in the kitchen today, so things got going pretty quickly. I don’t remember hooch and bubbles before the 1st feeding before. So if you don’t get any, don’t worry.
Tomorrow I’ll give you an update on the starter, and some ideas on what you can do with it besides bread.
Here’s some sourdough recipes to whet your appetite:
I am having a terrible time getting my bread to rise on the second rise. First rise works great but my bread is always flat. What am I doing wrong?
Hi Linda. That is a great question! Bread can be tricky sometimes. There are 2 things that I can think of right off the bat that might be occurring. The first is that the starter is not active and bubbly when you begin your bread. The other, and probably more likely, is that the bread is rising too long on the first rise. It needs to just barely double in size before you shape it for the second rise. If the first rise is too long the yeast will already have converted everything it can to gas, which means it has nothing left for the 2nd rise. Next time you make bread, see if either of those is the culprit. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
I make bread’s for a living, and people of been asking for sourdough bread! I also love sourdough bread but I’ve never tried a starter. If this works well I will need to make 12 to 15 loads a week. So will I throw out half each time or can I start another jar and have several jars going at once? Thanks for your help
Hello Suzanne! Sounds like a wonderful way to make a living! You can have several jars going at once. I use a gallon jar to build the starter up in when I’m going to have a large bake.
Rebecca R says
Can you use bread flour ; and how ,
Yes you can use bread flour. You can just follow the directions as written. 🙂
THanks Cery, I had my suspicions but you have confirmed it! Thanks for your help. I’m going to go try a little baking!
Awesome! Let me know how it goes! 🙂
Rosa Maria Alao. (porto Portugal) says
I just saw your recipt oday!
My english has a low level but I think I understood the important parts and Im going to try soon this surdough. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.
When I wS a child I remember womans in the family and neibgours doing bread iat house. Eveyone do it!
Hello Rosa! What a great memory to have. I’m glad you found it helpful If you have any questions, please ask! Blessings!
Gladys Sullivan says
Thanks for this recipe and detailed info cant wait to try it.l am also a follower of Jesus. Good to know your doing this.
Hi Gladys! So glad you found me. Come back and let me know how it goes for you. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Blessings!
I would like to know if you can use self rising flour?
Hi Jeanette! Unfortunately, self rising flour will probably not work to start a starter. Since it has baking powder and salt in it, that may interfere with the growth of the wild yeasts. I know for sure that salt will inhibit the growth of yeast, but I’m not sure what percentage of the self rising flour is salt.
Everything I’ve seen in the past has said to not use it with sourdough. Sorry.
Thanks for stopping by!
Is bleached flour ok to use, or do I need to dump it and start over with unbleached?
Bleached flour works just fine. No need to start over! 🙂
My son and I are gluten free. Can I use gluten free flour to make this recipe?
Yes! You can absolutely use gluten free flour. I have never used one personally, but my friend Wardee from Traditional Cooking School dot com has some great articles about gluten free sourdough. Here’s a link to starting a gluten free starter.
Barbara jenny says
Finally, a straight forward process, not confusing to make starter. Thank you.
New bread baker!!❤️
Hi, so I’m gluten intolerant. Do you think coconut flour would work??
Yes you can make gluten-free sourdough starters. I have never used one before, but my friend Wardee Harmon over at Traditional Cooking School has some great articles about gluten free sourdough. Here’s a link to starting a gluten free starter.
Hi, first thank you for taking the time to give us so much informational. My question is: when I’m at the stage of throwing out half of starter mix, can I keep it to start another batch? Doing several of these for friends, would be much more frugal if I could use it to start another. Thank you
Hi Carol! I’m glad you have one started! You’re gonna love it. 🙂
You can absolutely start another batch with the discard! What a great thing to do for your friends!
Suzy Harrison says
I’ve struggled with availability of gluten free bread . Think it’s time To give sourdough a go . You have been very informative. Thank you. Looking forward to my new adventure.
Welcome Suzy! Let me know how your adventure goes. If you have any questions feel free to ask. Blessings!
Mick Emery says
I threw out half the starter at my 1st 12 hours & fed. Will it still turn out okay, or should I start over?
It will be just fine! 🙂
Is this starter for sourdough recipes only?
Or is there a different starter for just regular dinner rolls/bread. Etc.
Hi Phyllis! This is only for sourdough breads. Most yeast added breads don’t call for any kind of starter.
Jillian Hopkins says
I have found plenty of information on growing a starter but not on how to use it. How much would you add to a bread recipe?
Hi Jillian! The last part of this series has my go-to bread recipe. Every sourdough recipe is a little different, so I really can’t give you a definite amount. Mine uses 2 cups of the starter. Hope that helps some!
(1) Before the 14th feeding, approximately how much starter should I have by measurement in my jar?
(2) on the 14th feeding do I only remove 1 cup from jar?
(3) If so, do I feed the jar 1/4 cup water and 3/8 cup flour and continue feeding it for future use?
I guess I am not reading it correctly on the 14th feeding
Hi Jan! On the 14th feeding, it’s ready to use. So you are not going to remove anything from the jar. You need to build up enough in the jar to use in the recipe with about 1/2 cup left over to keep it going. Sorry if that was confusing.
Regina Lane says
I guess I am confused on how to build it up for recipes. I have done the 14 days and am ready to bake but all the recipes I have seem to require more or all that I have. And the once I pull out all bot the 1/2 cup do I start adding 1/4 and 3/8 again?
The last post in this series has the instructions on how to build up the starter so you have enough to use. You will need to follow that process so that you have how ever much you need for your recipes.
With the amount that you have left, you can start feeding it again the way we have been every day, or you can leave it in the fridge for a week between feedings.
So what I’m not understanding is if you’re constantly taking out half of what you have in the jar how do you ever end up with 2 1/2 cups of starter in order to make a loaf of bread?
When you are just getting started it’s important to make sure your starter has enough to feed on so the yeasts can multiply. If you didn’t discard half the jar, the amount of starter would get out of hand pretty quickly. But after the starter is ready to use, you will build it up so there is enough to use.
In the last part of this series there are directions on how you build up the starter along with the recipe that I use for just a basic sourdough loaf.
Hope that helps!
Catherine L McNeal says
I’m a newly retired nurse that loved to make sourdough starter and breads. I’m going to the kitchen now to get my starter started. Thanks for all the information.
Hello Catherine! I’m so glad you are getting a starter going again! Happy baking!
Unfortunately I fed my starter at 11:30 AM can I let it go till 5 AM OR 6 till I feed it again? I won’t be able to stay awake till 11:30 tonight. I
Hey Lori! That happens all the time at my house. lol Just feed it again before you go to bed. Better too often, then too seldom.
Carol B. says
I just started my sourdough starter on 3/3/19, I have been feeding it every 12 hours but I missed a feeding at 12 am as I just couldn’t wake up to my alarm so at 6 am I stired it down and feed it then I disgarted 1/2 of it when I should’ve removed it before feeding..
will it still be ok?
And can I used the diisgard next time to star a new starter for my sister, and also would that be counted as day 1?
Hope that makes sense!
Thank you for this wonderful recipe!
Hi Carol! I’m so sorry for the delay in answering your question! Sourdough is pretty forgiving and it recovers quickly after a missed feeding. Just feed it a little extra if you miss one.
You absolutely can gift some of the discard! Depending on where you are in the process, that’s where your sister would need to start. So if you are on day 5 of the feedings, the other person would also treat it like it was day 5. After the starter is established, even the discard would be ready to use by someone else after a feeding.
Hope that helps!
After you use it and keep a half cup to keep going do you need to feed the half cup or just put in fridge? Then what do you do with the refrigerated starter when you need to prepare for another bake? Do you feed and put in a warm place or feed and put in fridge?
Those are very good questions! I’m sorry I didn’t make that clearer in the directions. If the starter has been fed in the last 6 hours or so, go ahead and put it in the fridge. If it’s been longer than that, feed it again and wait about 2 hours before you put it in the fridge.
Depending on whether the starter needs to be active for what you are making, like the bread for instance, you need to remove the starter from the fridge and let it come to room temp. That usually takes about an hour for me. Then feed it. After it’s active and bubbly it’s ready to use. That can take a few hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen. After you’ve done it a few times you will be able to better gauge how long it will take.
I hope that cleared things up a bit!
smaeell . iran says
Hello. I tried several times. Unfortunately, however, it does not form properly and becomes fluid.
In some villages in Iran, they still use sourdough, and this is amazing for me. I also love the sour dough, and in the end I will surely succeed.
Anyway, thanks for your advice
Hello! Try adding more flour to the starter. Different flours absorb water at different rates. It should be quite thick. Let me know if that works for you! Blessings!
Ashlee Happy says
Hello!! I was wondering on the temperature of the water that I will be adding?
Hello Ashlee! Warm or room temperature water is usually the best. As long as it isn’t cold or hot you’re good. Too cold will put the yeasts to sleep and too hot will kill them. So just stay away from the extremes and you’ll be alright. Blessings!
When making bread my starter becomes very runny. What to do?
Hello Veronica! A runny starter usually is a result of not enough flour. Add more flour than you normally would when you are building it up to use so that it’s quite thick. Let me know if that helps! Blessings!
I was wondering could I use a gallon glass jor to make my sourdough starter in instead of a quart jar. I remember my mom using one for her staters?
Hello Kathy! You can absolutely use the a gallon jar. I use one myself if I’m going to have a large bake. Blessings!
Barbara Castleman says
I read your entire information. I am confused. What kind of yeast and how much to use for the starter. Thank you
You don’t add any yeast to the starter. The yeast is in the air and it is captured with the flour/water mixture. As the yeast begins to feed on the flour, it multiples.
Sorry for the confusion!
MARY MCAVINCHEY says
One of my starters had mold on the top. Is it still good or do I need to toss it and start over?
Hi Mary! If there’s mold it’s usually best to toss it and start over, unfortunately. Once it starts blooming on the top that means that it’s got tendrils down into the starter and will continue to grow.
Bertha Hicks says
I started with organic rye flour because organic unbleached was not available and it did great the first day and grew to the top I got rid of half and then used unbleached flour to feed it the second day and it did grow and I ot rid of half and iron my 5th day but it doesn’t have very many bubbles and it didn’t grow as much as the first day,is some thing wrong.
Hi Bertha! It’s possible that everything is fine are there are just some temperature fluctuations going on. Check how thick the starter is. If it’s thin, add some more flour at each feeding. Some flours absorb more liquid than others and it just may need a little more.
Thank you for this sourdough starter. I have been looking for the recipe since I let mine die. Thanks again.
Question: Can I use the Amish recipes for sourdough bread I’ve had forever?
Hey there, Karen!
The Amish recipes should work out perfectly! I’m glad you found me!
Is it important to use non-metal utensils to stir it with? Or does it matter?
If I use a spoon, it’s a wooden one so I don’t damage the jar. But I mostly use a stainless steel whisk. Non-reactive metals are preferred, but just stirring with something else won’t hurt it.
Instead of tossing out half of the sourdough starter, can I add twice as much flour and water to feed it so I will have more?
The problem with not discarding half is that you will end up with WAY too much starter after 14 feedings.
I really hate to throw out the starter, too. There are several recipes on the site for using the discard, though. Maybe give those a try. 🙂
I’m a beginner. So after the starter is complete, then what. I need recipes
Once your starter is complete, there are recipes for plain bread loaves, English muffins, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, no knead brioche, waffles, and pretzels.
I will be adding more as we go along. Just use the search function and type in sourdough.
Hi! Not sure if you are still responding to these comments/questions but my starter is not doubling in size. It’s growing a little bit (thanks for the marker trick) I am on feeding 12. It has not been very warm here. Any suggestions? Lots of bubbles. I started warming my jar up a little and it helped but it’s for sure not doubling. Can’t wait to start making some bread!! Have a great day!
Hi there Rosalee!
It can sometimes take longer depending on weather conditions and the type of flour being used. Even with the same type of flour, there can be differences between brands.
It sounds like it’s doing just fine. Just keep feeding it. The more it’s fed the stronger it becomes. 🙂
June Eckert says
I have never worked with sourdough starter but I intend to try it; especially now. I was wondering how you gauge the amount of starter to use? Is it based cup of flour to 1/4 cup of starter?
I don’t know that there is a ratio like that. When I develope recipes for the starter I just have to play with it until the consistancy is correct.
If you feel comfortable plying with it, I say go for it! You might find that there’s a ratio that works! 🙂
JoAnna dennison says
Do you use plane flour or self risen flour?
I use plain or all purpose flour for pretty much everything. Occasionally I’ll use bread flour. But I never use self rising flour.
Ashlan Hogan says
Hi I was just wondering if it’s ok to use metal to mix sourdough starter? I’ve had a different starter before that said metal kills it but it wasn’t exactly sourdough. It was the Amish friendship bread.
A lot of metals will react to the acid in the sourdough and give it an off flavor. I recommend stainless steel or wooden utensils because they don’t react.
I also recommend staying away from plastic. It scratches easily and can harbor bad bacteria in the scratches.
Fun fact: most wood has anti-bacterial properties that will kill germs even in scratches in the wood. Isn’t that cool?
I’ve had a starter before and was told to feed it sugar and instant potatoes. Does this sound familiar to you?
I have heard of people adding things like that to starters before. But it’s completely unnecessary.
It can possibly speed up the process of yeast multiplication depending on other factors like temperature, humidity, and what type of flour you are using.
But I prefer my starter without added stuff. 🙂
Thank you for this tutorial. So I started with 100% Whole wheat flour and then made pasta with the same flour and now I don’t have enough of the wheat flour. Is it okay for me to use white flour for feeding my sour dough starter when I started with wheat flour?
Pretty much any kind of flour works. It’s not a problem to mix and match.
I brought some sourdough yeast for starter dough. Do I just add that in the beginning when I’m making starter dough? Or how do I make my starter with the packet of sourdough yeast?
What you probably purchased is a dehydrated starter. So you won’t need to follow this tutorial. Just follow the instructions that came with it to rehydrate.
Tracey Moore says
Just double checking my math: you wrote that we are to feed the starter 1/4 cup of water and 3/8 cup flour…but then you added the details that you re-use your 1/4 cup measure but fill it half way with water – so it’s 1/8th, not 3/8th of a cup, yes?
Additionally, how much time lapses between feedings? Do you feed your starter twice daily – am and pm?
Sorry for the confusion! I use the 1/4 cup measure and fill it up with flour and then fill it up again half way. That’s where the 3/8 cup comes from.
I feed it twice a day. Once when I get up, and again before bed. So it’s roughly 12ish hours. It doesn’t have to be exact. 🙂
Hope that helps!
This sounds great! Does being at a higher elevation call for any adjustments tp the recipe? Thank you
You don’t need to make any adjustments for getting the starter going.
I have never baked at a high altitude before, but I found a website with instructions for adjustments. Just in case you need it, it’s here: https://www.wheatmontana.com/content/high-altitude-baking-how-make-your-recipes-work-mountains
Hope that helps!
Kathy Dittmaier says
Hi, did I understand the AP flour isn’t good for this sour dough starter? I have done the 14 feedings. I have had the hooch, but no bubbles. Is it dead? Should I throw this out and get another type of flour? Thank you!
AP flour is great. If there aren’t any bubbles there’s not enough yeast. Try feeding it a bit more each time.
If there was a lot of hooch, that can indicate that it wasn’t getting fed enough.
Hope that helps!
Ashley G says
I just started this tonight, very excited! As you stated, once its strong I can keep a cup’s worth in the fridge and feed once a week. How much do you feed if there is only 1 cup remaining? It is the same amount as the above recipe?
You can start out feeding it the same amount. If it doesn’t get bubbly it may need a little more flour. Different flours absorb different amounts of moisture so you might need to tweek it a little.
I’m going ti try the starter for the Sour Dough Bread. Need a recipe for the sour dough bread. Could you send it to me. Thanks
The basic bread recipe is included in the last part of this series.
You can find it here: https://www.backtoourroots.net/sourdough-101-part-the-last-bread-recipe/
I made it through the first 14 days! At first it was doing great, but as time went on it doesn’t smell as sour and it doesn’t rise like you’ve talked about. How do you know if it’s okay and ready to use?
The only way you really know is to give it a try. Since the yeasts multiply exponentially, as long as it was getting fed regularly, it should be good to go.
Of course, the older a starter is, the stronger it becomes.
One thing to check is hw much hooch is being produced. If it’s a lot and makes the starter really thin when you stir it back in, it may not be getting enough to eat. Try adding a little more flour when you feed it and see if that gives you more bubbles and rising.
Lindsay M says
Do you have the recipe for a regular sourdough loaf using this starter? The waffles, English muffins, and cinnamon rolls look delish, but I thought I’d stick to plain bread for my first time using the starter. I’ve seen other recipes out there for sourdough starter bread, but if there’s a recipe to use with this specific one, I’d prefer to use it. I’m on day 3 and the wait is killing me! The perfect Stay At Home activity through the pandemic.
The basic bread recipe is in the final installment of this series. You can find it here: https://www.backtoourroots.net/sourdough-101-part-the-last-bread-recipe/
I’m glad you’re giving it a try!
Sandra Cleveland says
I am on my 14th day. Starter is very thick and has some bubbles on top but no sour dough smell. How do I know if this starter is okay?
The smell isn’t a big indicator or the strength of the starter. And different flours will make the starter smell a little different.
If there are plenty of bubbles it should be ready!
Let me know how it goes!
Linda Minogue says
I’m looking for an easy sourdough starter recipe that uses whole wheat flour and bottled water..So sorry I’m new at this..
You can use straight whole wheat flour if you want to. You will need to add a bit more water though, because whole wheat adsorbs more water than white flour does.
BRENDA HILD says
I read all your comment and learned a lot from them. Question: If I started my starter using a different recipe than yours, will it hurt my starter if I mix it, using your recipe with the flour to water ratio? Or should I just start a fresh one using your recipe? I can’t wait to try your sourdough bread recipe. Thank you.
You can just keep feeding the one you have. There’s no need to start over.
Hi. Just wondering if it needs to be filtered water? Or can tap water be used?
Tap water works just fine unless you filter it for drinking. If you do, I would use filtered water.
Thank you for your sourdough starter recipe. I’m about half way there now. I just way to be clear. Once I’ve completed the 14th feeding. I keep a cup of it in a jar in the fridge. Feed it the same way once a week, by discarding half. And it should last forever? And keep it refrigerated all the time? I appreciate your guidance. I really want to get this right. I’m super excited to bake my first loaf of bread.
You are correct. The starter will last forever as long as it gets fed regularly. Enjoy!
Thank you for this recipe! I can’t wait to try it, but I am unclear about where to store the starter during the first 14 days. Sounds like it does NOT go in the refrigerator. True? Thank you!
That is correct! I leave mine either on the counter or on a little shelf I have in my kitchen.
Thank you for this information. I had read about starter being around for many generations, now I know how. If I want to make more like in a gallon jar, when do you start throwing some of the starter away and how much? Once you get 14 days, do you have to use most of it for bread or can use some for bread and start feeding gain? I m guessing you don’t have to start over @ 14 days or how else would it be passed from generation to generation.
I wouldn’t start the starter in a gallon jar. You would have to feed it so much more and then still throw out half. I would wait until the starter is ready to use before having that much.
In the last post in this series (the one with the bread recipe) there are detailed instructions on how to build up the amount of starter for whatever you are wanting to bake. And for my sourdough routine and how I keep it fed and active while I’m baking on most days.
And you always need to leave a minimum of about 1/4 to a 1/2 cup or so of starter so you can continue to feed it and use it for ever.
Hope that helps!
Hello. Thanks for all the helpful information. I am a newbie to making starter. Looking forward to trying it and trying new recipes. I have typically made my bread in my bread machine. Can starters be used in bread machine recipes? Thanks for your input.
I don’t have a bread machine, but I don’t see why it woudn’t work in one. The rising times are different though, so you might need to add some regular yeast unless you can stop the machine until it’s risen enough.
Hi, thanks for your sourdough starter guide. I started mine 4 days ago and I can see some bubbles. Does that mean I can use it now? And do I need to test it in water to see if it floats. Thanks!
Because the yeast multiplies exponentially, it needs to be fed about 14 times before there is enough yeast in it to make things rise. So continue with the feeds for a full 7 days.
I’ve never heard of testing it in water, so I’m not sure what that tells you. Sorry.
Elizabeth Orwick says
HI There – I have a question about feeding times. Do I feed it every 12 hours for the first 7 days then how much and how often do I feed if I am leaving it out on the counter. Thanks for the awesome recipe.
That’s correct, twice a day for 7 days. Then as you use it, you need to leave 1/4 to a 1/2 cup to continue with.
If you want to continue to leave it on the counter you will need to continue the twice daily feedings. If you keep it refrigerated, you can feed it once a week.
There are more detailed instructions about that in the last post in this series that might answer your questions better.
Does the flour I use to make my starter matter in regards of the flour I will use to make bread and other baked goods? For instance if I use white flour for my starter can I make whole wheat bread with it?
Thank you for all of the information. I’ve thought about making sourdough for a long time but have never done it. I’m ready to try!
I’m so glad you decided to give it a go!
The flour really doesn’t make much difference. You can use any flour in the starter or in any of the finished products.
I find the white flour starter to be the most versatile, so that’s the one I stick with. I use it for whole wheat breads and I’ve even made pumpernickle with it!
Question I am on my 7th day of my starter and I am having a problem with how it is working.. I do not have the bubbling you show in your pictures. It is bubbling but not to double in size. Is it possible that it’s due to a colder climate? If so any suggestions you a can on how to better improve my results?
It could very well be the temperature. Is there somewhere warmer that you can put it?
If it’s very cold I will put mine on the stovetop and leave the light on above it. And sometimes I wrap it in a towel. I have even used a heating pad on it’s lowest setting for a short period just to warm it up before wrapping it in a towel.
I hope one of those methods works for you!
Can you use Einkorn flour? If so, do you still use the same amounts of water and flour?
Einkorn flour works really well with sourdough. I would start out with the same amounts, but you might need to adjust the water a bit. Some flours absorb more or less liquid than others do.
You want to keep the starter fairly thick. If it gets really thin and runny add more flour.
Hello! I’m excited to try this out! I used to make sourdough bread but my starter would get runny and my bread was flat. I’m hoping that with your instructions and advice I’ve read in the comments, that my bread will be more successful. I have another recipe for a starter that calls for about a tablespoon of honey. Do you know if this method would work? Maybe I’ll try both starters side by side and see the difference for myself.
If your starter got runny that usually indicates that it wasn’t getting enough to eat. Try adding more flour than you were at each feeding.
The honey helps to get things kickstarted a little, but it’s not necessary. It won’t harm anything if you want to add some, though.
I’ve never used anything other than the method I use in the post so I don’t know how much of a difference it might make.
Hope that helps!
Ok, I have the sourdough starter going. This is probably a dumb question, but I’m going to ask it anyway. I actually have a couple of questions.
Do you consider a feeding each time you feed it or is it 14 days feeding it twice a day? I’ve either had 9 days with 2 feedings per day or I’m on the the 15th feeding as of this morning.
The second question. All the recipes I see to use the discard usually calls for a cup of starter. I barely get a 1/2 cup, is this normal. Or do I take that discard and add more flour and water to it to get the cup.
I sure hope you’re still reading your comments, I need help.
Thank you in advance.
No dumb questions! Each day there are 2 feedings. So at the end of 7 days, you should have a total of 14 feedings.
To get more discard, just add more flour and water when you feed it. You only need to keep about 1/2 cup after it’s ready to use. And then you will build it up from there the day before you are going to bake.
So take out what you need for the recipe and then feed it the amount you need so you have 1/2 to 1 cup left over.
Let me know if that didn’t make sense! lol
I’m starting a buckwheat sourdough starter. It’s gluten free.
Kristen that’s sounds interesting! I’ve never made a buckwheat one. Let us know how it goes!
Hi exactly how many loafs can be made at one time ; I made bread years ago and made like 3 loafs at a time ; that’s how I’d like to do again ; so what instructions do I need for this
The recipe in the last post of this series gives you all the instructions. And it makes 3 loaves. SO that should work out perfectly for you!
Thank you for the detailed instructions but I’m not sure if I’m doing this right after 9 feedings. After the first 2 or 3 feedings I saw hooch either on the top or in the middle of the starter but don’t see It anymore after 3rd feeding. The volume raises quite a bit after the first 2 or 3 feedings but now it stays at the same level every time I’m ready to feed it again. There are lots of tiny bubbles on the surface of the starter though since the beginning. It’s the first time I’m doing this just want to make sure I’m on the right path.
As long as you are seeing bubbles, the starter is still working.
It might need a little more flour to get the volume you had before. Try adding a bit more flour (couple of tablespoons) each feeding and see if that helps.