Sourdough Starter

This easy Sourdough Starter Recipe will have you making your own homemade bread with your own starter before you know it. A step by step from start to finish.

starter dough starter ready to use

What you do you need?

You are going to need, all purpose, bread and or whole wheat flour (rye flour works well too), chlorine free water (bottled or filtered), a scale – because I think working in grams is best for bread, a thermometer, a glass bowl (1 1/2 quarts or 1.2 litres) or even a jar with a lid.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Flour – bread or all purpose (unbleached)
  • Water – lukewarm

How to make it

Day 1

  • In a medium bowl or jar add the flour and the lukewarm water. Mix well cover loosely with plastic wrap or place the lid on the jar, but do not close it. Leave the container on the counter for 24 hours.
Mixing the flour and water in a bowl.

Day 2

  • Add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.
mixing the flour and water in a bowl.

Day 3

  • Add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.
Bubbles starting to show.

Day 4

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter and then remove half of it and discard. Add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

Day 5

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter then add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.
Lots of bubbles in the starter dough.

Day 6

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter and then remove half of it and discard, add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.
day 6 & 7 before and after feeding.

Day 7

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter and then remove half of it and discard, add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.
day 8 starter dough before and after feeding

Day 8

  • Stir the starter, remove 55 grams and add the flour and water to it, mix well. Let sit 12 hours. Again remove 55 grams and add the same amount of flour and water, let sit 3-4 hours, the starter will be ready to use. If you don’t want to use it, then refrigerate it.

What is the best room temperature for the starter?

The starter should be kept in a warmish room, the best temperature would be anywhere from 70-85F (21-30C). You may not see any bubbles on the second day but do not despair, all is good.

Why is Whole Wheat or Rye Bread used in a starter?

Because they have more nutrients for the starter and apparently ferment more actively, rye flour is just easier to work with because it has a lower gluten amount which just makes it easier to stir. For this starter I used bread flour, although you can substitute some of the bread or all purpose with Rye or Whole Wheat.

What is the liquid on the starter?

This liquid is called “hooch”, you can discard it or you can stir it back into the starter mixture. I stirred mine back in.

Why is there a crust on top of the starter?

This is caused by too much air getting into the starter, this happened to me when I covered it with a paper towel.

If your starter develops a crust, you can just stir it back in or remove it and continue. Covering with a lid (but not tightly) or plastic wrap should keep this from happening.

Why is the starter dough discarded?

The starter is discarded so that there is less flour need to maintain it. If you just added the same amount of flour each time you refreshed the stater (without removing any starter), you would eventually come to a point where the added flour is not enough to refresh the starter and it would starve.

The sourdough starter is not a real starter until it is about 3 to 5 days old and sometimes longer. It takes time for the organism balance to grow.

What to make with discarded starter

Lots of people, me included would rather not throw away food, and that goes for discarded starter, here are a few ideas that you can use with it.

A fast and simple one is frying it, sprinkle with your favourite spices and fry in some oil. You could share it with friends (well not now but in the future).

Or you could refrigerate it and keep adding the discard until you have enough for a recipe. It will last up a week in the fridge.

What to make with discard

What to do when the starter is active

First of all make sure your starter is active, when you see a rise and fall in your starter at about the same time each day, it should be strong enough to use. When creating a new starter, this is usually after 5-8 days.

Once the starter is active the first thing to do is give it a name, yes people name their starters. Then you can refrigerate the starter especially if you plan on baking bread about once a week. If you plan on baking everyday then the starter should be kept on the counter. And fed 1-2 times a day.

starter dough starter ready to use

When storing in the fridge

To feed your starter once a week, start by stirring the starter then removing ¼ cup (50 grams) and discarding the remaining starter. Then feed it with 1/4 cup (50 grams) water (chlorine free – filtered or bottled), 1/2 cup (50 grams) all purpose flour (unbleached).

Lightly cover the container , let it sit at room temperature for about 2-3 hours or until light and bubbly. Then put a tight lid on the jar and place it back in the refrigerator. 

This should be done weekly even when not baking with your sourdough starter. Although I have let mine sit in the fridge for 2-3 weeks without a feed and it’s was fine. It just may need to be fed a couple of times before it is active enough to use.

How to bake with a refrigerated starter

To start baking with your refrigerated starter, first remove the starter from the fridge there will probably be no activity since it is dormant, if there is liquid on top then either remove or stir into the starter either way be sure to stir the starter, then leave 1/2 cup (120 grams) of starter in the jar, discard the remainder, then add 1 cup (125 grams) of flour (all purpose, unbleached) and 1/2 cup (125 grams) water.

Stir well, cover lightly and place at room temperature for 12 hours then repeat the feeding, until it has almost tripled in volume.

Remove the amount you need for your recipe, then feed the remaining starter as about, leave it at room temperature for about 2-3 hours then refrigerate. Repeat as above whenever you wish to make fresh bread.

Freezing the starter

So if don’t plan on baking very often, maybe once a month, then the best place for your starter would be the freezer.

Before you freeze it you should feed it one more time, let it sit and grow a few hours, stir it down and then separate it into smaller containers if you wish (about 50 grams each).

Freeze it, then when you are ready to bake with it, you can just remove 50 grams at a time, place it in the fridge to thaw, remove it from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of hours then feed it with the same weight in flour and water (lukewarm) let it sit until it doubles in size (could take up to 24 hours). Then it is ready to bake with.

Sourdough starter in a glass jar ready to use.

I hope you enjoy making your own homemade Sourdough Bread as much as I do. Enjoy!

More Sourdough Recipes to try

starter dough starter ready to use

Sourdough Starter

Rosemary Molloy
This easy Sourdough Starter is all you need to make delicious homemade bread and other baked goods. Nothing better than a Natural Starter.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Resting Time 8 d
Total Time 8 d 10 mins
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 1 starter
Calories 289 kcal

Ingredients
  

DAY 1

  • 50 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 50 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY 2

  • 30 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 30 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY 3

  • 30 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 30 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY 4

  • 30 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 30 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY5

  • 30 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 30 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY 6

  • 30 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 30 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY 7

  • 30 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 30 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

DAY 8 X 2

  • 55 grams flour (all purpose or bread un bleached)
  • 55 grams lukewarm water (85F/30C) (chlorine free – filtered or bottled water)

Instructions
 

DAY 1

  • In a medium bowl or jar add the flour and the lukewarm water. Mix well cover loosely with plastic wrap or place the lid on the jar, but do not close it. Leave the container on the counter for 24 hours.

DAY 2

  • Add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

DAY 3

  • Add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

DAY 4

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter and then remove half of it and discard. Add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

DAY 5

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter then add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

DAY 6

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter and then remove half of it and discard, add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

DAY 7

  • Today you should be seeing lots of bubbles and there should be a slight sour aroma. Stir the starter and then remove half of it and discard, add the flour and water, mix well, cover loosely with plastic wrap, place in a warm area and let rest 24 hours.

DAY 8

  • Stir the starter, remove 55 grams and add the flour and water to it, mix well. Let sit 12 hours. Again remove 55 grams and add the same amount of flour and water, let sit 3-4 hours, the starter will be ready to use. If you don't want to use it, then refrigerate it.

Nutrition

Calories: 289kcal
Keyword sourdough starter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

2 Comments

  1. Hi Rosemary,
    Thanks for your recipe. How do you use the starter once refrigerated ?
    Also how do you keep the starter alive and top it up once refrigerated? Thanks

    1. Hi Trinette, all that information is in the blog post. Look under “When storing in the fridge” and “How to bake with a refrigerated starter”. Hope that helps. Let me know. 🙂

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