Sourdough Starter

Bubbling #sourdough starter is fun and easy. Directions found at WholeIntentions.com.

Bubbling #sourdough starter is fun and easy. Directions found at WholeIntentions.com.

Keeping a sourdough starter isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just a few minutes a day will produce a happy, bubbling starter that creates beautiful breads, pancakes, and cakes. Below you’ll find basic instructions for a wheat starter.

Activating sourdough starter

Sourdough starter generally comes in two ways: a dried starter purchased online or a wet starter received from a friend. Either way, you’ll need your starter active and bubbling before you use it.

1. Pour dried starter crumbs or about 1/2 cup wet starter into a quart jar.
2. Add 1/4 c. water and stir well.
3. Add 1/4 c. flour and stir well.
4. Cover with a cheese cloth or paper towel and secure with jar ring or rubber band.
5. Let it set at room temperature (ideally between 70-85 degrees F) for about 12 hours.
6. After 12 hours, feed the starter again as directed in step #2 and #3. Cover and let it sit another 12 hours at room temp.
7. For the next 1-3 weeks, feed your starter every 8-12 hours:

  1. Remove about 1/2 cup of starter and pour it into a clean jar. Discard the rest of the starter. (Once our starter is fully active – after several weeks of feeding – we’ll keep this excess starter and use with simple recipes like pancakes, pizza crust, etc. But for now, this starter isn’t ready. You can discard it or add it to your compost.)
  2. Feed the starter in the clean jar
  • by measurement – 1 part starter: 1 part water: *scant 2 parts flour. (So if you have 1/2 cup starter you would feed it with 1/2 cup water and a little less than 1 cup of flour.)
  • by weight – 125 grams starter: 125 grams of water: 125 grams of flour.

*scant means ‘just a little less than’

After 1-3 weeks, your starter should be actively bubbling  and doubling or tripling in volume within 3-6 hours of feeding it. If not, continue to feed it by following directions in step #7 until it does.

Congratulations! You’re ready to start baking!! 

“Natural

Using active sourdough starter

Option A: frequent use

If you use your sourdough frequently – you bake every couple of days, have a large family, or your recipes calls for several cups of starter – you’ll use this option.

You’ll want to:

1. Keep your sourdough starter at room temperature (ideally between 70-85 degrees F).
2. Feed your starter every 8-12 hours exactly as you did in step #7 for the activating directions:

  1. Remove about 1/2 cup of starter and pour it into a clean jar. Keep the remaining starter covered and in the refrigerator. (This is great starter to use with pancakes, pizza crust, etc. Recipes below.)
  2. Feed the starter in the clean jar
  • by measurement – 1 part starter: 1 part water: *scant 2 parts flour. (So if you have 1/2 cup starter you would feed it with 1/2 cup water and a little less than 1 cup of flour.)
  • by weight – 125 grams starter: 125 grams of water: 125 grams of flour.

3. You’ll notice that 3-6 hours after you feed your starter, it will rise and double its size. It will stay there for a while, and then start to deflate. This is normal. You’re looking at happy sourdough starter. 🙂 During it’s peak activity is when you’ll want to take out the portion you need to bake with.

If you’re gone during the day and don’t know whether it’s risen or not, look at the sides of the container and see if there are streaks on the side. That is a good indicator that it’s risen and is now quiet again. If it’s not rising in the container, it won’t be able to raise your bread.

4. Make sure you feed it again after you’ve taken out what you need for baking.

Reminder: Don’t forget to feed your starter!

If you’re the forgetful type, keep your sourdough out where you can see it with a big yellow sticky note that says, “FEED ME!” Or put a reminder on your phone. If you don’t feed the starter often enough, it will not raise your products and will. eventually. die.

Of starvation.

That’s a horrible way to go. (Please feed your starter. :))

Option B: Infrequent use

If you’re not planning to use your starter very often, you can store it in the refrigerator. When you do want to use it:

1. Take the starter out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature.
2. Feed it every 8-12 hours for the three days before baking:

  1. Remove about 1/2 cup of starter and pour it into a clean jar. Keep the remaining starter covered and in the refrigerator. (This is great starter to use with pancakes, pizza crust, etc. Recipes below.)
  2. Feed the starter in the clean jar
  • by measurement – 1 part starter: 1 part water: *scant 2 parts flour. (So if you have 1/2 cup starter you would feed it with 1/2 cup water and a little less than 1 cup of flour.)
  • by weight – 125 grams starter: 125 grams of water: 125 grams of flour.

Need a sourdough vacation?

Going on vacation? Or maybe just need a sourdough vacation? You can:

Option A: Dehydrate or dry your starter and store it in the freezer.

Option B: Keep your sourdough in the refrigerator, but maintain it by feeding it once a week:

1. Remove about 1/2 cup of starter and pour it into a clean jar. Keep the remaining starter covered and in the refrigerator. (This is great starter to use with pancakes, pizza crust, etc. Recipes below.)
2. Feed the starter in the clean jar

  • by measurement – 1 part starter: 1 part water: *scant 2 parts flour. (So if you have 1/2 cup starter you would feed it with 1/2 cup water and a little less than 1 cup of flour.)
  • by weight – 125 grams starter: 125 grams of water: 125 grams of flour.

3. Cover it and let it sit for a couple of hours to get bubbly. Then return it to the fridge for another week.

Excess sourdough starter? What to do. . .

When you take out 1/2 c. of sourdough to feed your starter, you keep the remaining starter in the refrigerator. Some folks discard it down the drain, but I just can’t get over the feeling that I’d be wasting it.

This is the perfect sourdough starter for recipes that don’t necessarily need to rise, or which use baking soda or powder to do most of their rising action.

We love to use it for a simple recipes like:

Want to learn more? Check out this video by GNOWFGLINS:

 

 

Shared with: A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa, It’s A Keeper, Momnivore’s Dilemma, Sorta Crunchy, Healthy Home Economist, The Prairie Homestead, Make Ahead Meals For Busy Moms, The Girl Creative, Motivate Me Monday, Skip To My Lou, Hartke is Online, Real Food Forager, Blessed With Grace, At Home With K, Cooking Traditional Tuesdays, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Women Living Well, Blue Cricket Designs, The King’s Court IV, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Gluten-Free Homemaker, The Thrifty Home, Raising Homemakers, This Chick Cooks, Nourishing Gourmet, Real Food Whole Health, The Shabby Nest, Life As Mom, Mom Trends, Coastal Charm, Vintage Wannabee, Time-Warp Wife, Confessions of A Frugal Mind, Far Above Rubies, Celebrating Family, Premeditated Leftovers, Rook No. 17, Milk & Cuddles, We Are That Family, Tip Me Tuesday, Food Corner, Make Your Own Mondays, Chef in Training, Kelly The Kitchen Kop, Flour Me With Love, The Modest Mom Blog, Little Natural Cottage, Real Food Freaks, Comfy in the Kitchen, Growing Home, Deep Roots at Home, Our Simple Country Life, Raising Mighty Arrows, Food Renegade, Our Simple Farm,

Paula
I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 20 years, homeschooling mom of 6 earthly children, reluctant cook, chocolate-snatcher, and health and fitness coach at WholeIntentionsFitness.com. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher' with a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it.
Paula
Paula
Paula

Latest posts by Paula (see all)

About The Author

Paula

I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 20 years, homeschooling mom of 6 earthly children, reluctant cook, chocolate-snatcher, and health and fitness coach at WholeIntentionsFitness.com. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher' with a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it.

36 Comments

  • Jesalynn

    Reply Reply November 2, 2011

    Thanks for stopping by Homemaid Expressions! It was nice to "meet" you! It looks like we might have a lot in common! I will enjoy following your blog!
    Jesalynn

  • Paula

    Reply Reply December 14, 2011

    Hi Jesalynn,

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Kim

    Reply Reply January 2, 2012

    Oh, I'm happy I stumbled across your blog, I've subscribed to your posts and look forward to reading them. I blog about the Mediterranean Diet which is very similar to what you blog about. Hope you'll come check it out. I love keeping a good sourdough starter around. The bread is so amazing… Sadly I got a little lazy with mine and let it go to far. Something to start up again for the new year.

  • Paula

    Reply Reply January 2, 2012

    Hi Kim,

    Thanks for stopping. I checked out your blog – it's great! You're right, we do chat about the same things – healthy eating, whole foods, etc. It's so nice to find others who share your passion. 🙂

  • Deana@CountryMommaCooks

    Reply Reply January 2, 2012

    Found your site at the Barn Hop and have joined…Lots of great stuff..be back soon….Stop by and visit me when you get a chance
    Deana @ http://www.countrymommacooks.com

  • Buffie

    Reply Reply January 2, 2012

    Thanks for the post! I'm inspired to start another starter. I had to "let mine go" a few years ago. I really miss my sourdough pancakes!

    Love your blog,
    Buffie
    http://papercuts4u.blogspot.com

  • Paula

    Reply Reply January 3, 2012

    Deana@CountryMommaCooks – thanks for stopping by. From the looks of your site, we have a lot in common. Glad to meet you!

    Buffie – Sourdough pancakes are hard to beat, aren't they! Thanks for coming over!

  • Shay

    Reply Reply January 3, 2012

    Thank you for sharing! I have been meaning to make sourdough bread for a while. This was very helpful. Shay http://raisingdieter.blogspot.com/

  • Jill@RealFoodForager.com

    Reply Reply January 3, 2012

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-january-3-2012/

  • Paula

    Reply Reply January 3, 2012

    Shay – glad to see you again! Hope your sourdough making is successful!

  • Jen

    Reply Reply January 6, 2012

    My goal in 2012 is to get my SD to work! Mine always looks and smells great. But after baking it is hard as a rock and dense!

  • Paula

    Reply Reply January 8, 2012

    I had that problem too. I'd think "what in the world am I doing wrong!?" You can check out my page on Troubleshooting Sourdough and see if any of those tweaks help out.

    Here's to a great sourdough in 2012!

  • Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

    Reply Reply January 10, 2012

    Oh, this is such great info. Thank you for sharing. A few blog friends and I introduced a new challenge idea yesterday and it would be so fun if you want to join. One of the challengers is going to be trying to make homemade bread! If you have a second, check in at http://thespacebetweenblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/imagine-the-impossibilities-challenge/ to learn more, and feel free to email me if you have any questions!
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

  • Shannon, Food Channel Editor, Momtrends.com

    Reply Reply January 11, 2012

    Loved this one too. Sometimes the neatest part of the Friday Food links is the stuff I learn. I had no idea how to do any of this.

    Thanks for linking up to Friday Food on Momtrends.com!

  • April @ The 21st Century Housewife

    Reply Reply January 16, 2012

    This is such an informative and interesting post! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience of sourdough starters with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  • Jenn Erickson

    Reply Reply January 16, 2012

    I've been wanting to get a starter, well, uh… started! Thank you so much for recipe! Can't wait to try it! Featuring your post on my Facebook page today too!

    Jenn

  • Ange

    Reply Reply January 16, 2012

    So cool that I ran across your blog about a sourdough starter. I'm going to start making my own bread, and I've been curious about starters ever since I read the book, "How to bake a good life". I look forward to getting more information from your blog.

    Ange

  • Amy

    Reply Reply January 20, 2012

    great post with lots of info…Thanks for sharing
    Midweek Fiesta

  • Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures

    Reply Reply March 25, 2012

    Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! 🙂

  • Lisa @ Flour Me With Love

    Reply Reply April 3, 2012

    This is wonderful information Paula! Thanks so much for sharing at Mix it up Monday 🙂

  • from maggie's farm

    Reply Reply April 25, 2012

    Very helpful and detailed for a sourdough beginner. Great teacher! Thanks

  • Fascinating! Thank you! -Marci

  • Lori

    Reply Reply October 15, 2012

    Which culture did you purchase through Cultures for Health?

    • Paula

      Reply Reply October 15, 2012

      It’s their whole wheat starter called Desem.

  • Kim

    Reply Reply December 1, 2012

    I just wanted to let you know that it easy to make your own starter with wild yeasts from the air. It’s a great way to ” buy local” so to speak. I noticed in your blog that you seemed hestitant about harvesting wild yeasts, so i just wanted to share my experience.
    I used to worry about the bad yeasts from candida overgrowth taking over and somehow yucky it up into a cocktail of unhealthy slime. In fact, I found out my newborn daughter and I were battling a yeast issue was thru sourdough starter . I mixed flour and water in a jar and in less than 24 hours had a bubbly starter! It usually takes a 4 days to a week.
    Anyway, I dumped that starter in the compost and dealt with getting our thrush / candida under control. Two years later, I was ready to slowly introduce sourdough back into my life.
    This time when I mixed the flour and water it took about five days to get a bubbly starter.
    Sorry to ramble, my point is i think that the wild yeasts in your environment are breaking down those sugars in the and leaving you with helpful bacteria specific to your environment. Now, of course , I could just be telling myself that! I do think also even if you order a starter from somewhere else, perhaps the wild and
    dominant yeasts will take over anyway!
    So, thats my weird advice about wild yeast sourdough starter. My aim was not to creep folks out, but instead to encourage to at least try wild starters.

  • megansmith95

    Reply Reply November 9, 2014

    I’m interested in trying a sourdough starter, but I’m wondering how this can be ok for the candida diet. If yeast is the problem then isn’t sourdough almost as bad as regular yeast? I’m just starting the candida diet and trying to find good alternatives to bread and such. Sourdough would be great, but I’d like to know for sure that it won’t just make my problems worse. Thanks!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply November 12, 2014

      Hi Megan,

      That’s a valid concern – and one I wondered about myself when I read it in Dr. Bakker’s book, Candida Crusher.

      Sourdough is a fermented food – and pure sourdoughed bread (the kind where all the flour added to the recipe has about 24 hours to sour) is better than the kinds of recipes where you add a cup of sourdough to a bunch of flour, mix it up, and then bake.

      The fermenting allows the flour and water mixture to become rich in lactic acid and is helpful to the development of good probiotics in your gut.

      Dr. Bakker’s book states, “Many people are concerned that bread like sourdough which does contain natural and wild yeasts, will encourage their yeast infection. I have not found this to be the case with patients in my clinic. . .”

      Let me know if you have any more questions. 🙂

  • Karman

    Reply Reply November 16, 2014

    Thank you so much for putting out the information about pizza crust and sour dough starter! Do you have a recommendation for which starter to buy from the link in your post? I went to that website and there are so many choices!! Thank you!

    • Paula

      Reply Reply November 18, 2014

      It depends on what you’ll be feeding it. I feed mine with hard winter red wheat, so if you do the same you might try the organic Einkorn or the hard white wheat as they’d be closest.

      But no matter what you start out with, say an oat starter, if you feed it wheat, it will eventually become a wheat starter. I just try to match the starter I buy with the closest to what I intend to feed it with.

      Hope that helps!

      • Karman

        Reply Reply November 18, 2014

        Yes it does help! Thank you so much for the quick reply! I’m feeling overwhelmed because this is so new to me. After I posted my question, I actually went to a different site, (from your site) http://www.culturesforhealth.com/, and I am leaning toward buying DESEM SOURDOUGH STARTER. It’s great to know that there’s some versatility and helpful advice when needed! Thanks again!

  • Amy

    Reply Reply October 17, 2016

    I’ve tried my hand at making my own starter, but I’ve only tried Rye. I think I’ll attempt to make it with Spelt. Of course, it’s a small amount of starter when you begin with just a couple of tablespoons of flour and equal parts water. Are the recipes that use several cups of starter easier on the digestion than the other kind?

    • Paula

      Reply Reply October 20, 2016

      Ideally the recipes that call for starter and then a period (24 hours is best) of fermenting is easier on your digestion. Some recipes call for a bit of starter and you bake it right after mixing it. That really does nothing health-wise, just gives it a sourdough flavor.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field