Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you may want to try creating your own sourdough starter from scratch. Baking bread from scratch is satisfying in its own right, but when you’ve also had a hand in the creation of one of the most fundamental components, the leavening agent itself, you’ll feel an even greater satisfaction and connectedness to the process.

Are there kids in your house? This little science project is ideally suited to sharing with any children you can convince to join in. Culture their budding scientific minds while creating your own bread culture.

This video outlines one simple method that worked for me the first time I tried it. In the video, I give credit for this technique to Peter Reinhart. It has since come to my attention that Debra Wink, a chemist and accomplished baker, is the mastermind and author of this Pineapple Juice Technique. A lot of research and testing went into developing and refining the technique. The choice of pineapple juice over other juices is from much trial and error. Debra was kind enough to email her essay on the Pineapple Juice Technique. Click here for a printable copy of it.

As I mention in the video, the wild yeast spores and lactic-acid bacteria that give your starter its leaving properties are all around you. You are simply creating the conditions ideally suited for them to thrive and multiply. I used whole wheat flour in this recipe because fresh whole wheat flour may harbor greater numbers of yeast spores than ordinary all-purpose flour and so increase your likelihood for success. It worked for me, so you might try the same. If, at any time, you wish to transition your whole wheat sourdough starter to a regular white flour starter, it’s super easy to do so.

I’ve listed the ingredients and approximate steps here to save you the note taking.

  • Step 1. Mix 3 ½ tbs. whole wheat flour with ¼ cup unsweetened pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for 48 hours at room temperature. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. (“Unsweetened” in this case simply means no extra sugar added).
  • Step 2. Add to the above 2 tbs. whole wheat flour and 2 tbs. pineapple juice. Cover and set aside for a day or two. Stir vigorously 2-3x/day. You should see some activity of fermentation within 48 hours. If you don’t, you may want to toss this and start over (or go buy some!)
  • Step 3. Add to the above 5 ¼ tbs. whole wheat flour and 3 tbs. purified water. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.
  • Step 4. Add ½ cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 to 1/3 cup purified water. You should have a very healthy sourdough starter by now.

Notes: I do wonder if the fact that I bake all the time with a sourdough starter (and so theoretically have wild yeast floating around our house by the gazillions and covering everything we own) would increase the likelihood that I would have success creating my own sourdough culture from scratch. So I anxiously await feedback from anyone who attempts this process at home. (You’ll see a nifty little form below for comments and feedback. If you’re shy; you can use the Contact link at the top of the page. While I may report your (mis)adventures, I’ll keep your identity anonymous ;).

{ 1972 comments… read them below or add one }

roger November 28, 2013 at 8:48 am

I have just completed the first step of a hard cider project and have an abundance of yeasty apple mash, there was a posting using this as an sourdough starter, I cannot find this anymore on this other website, does anybody have any suggestions on the steps and ingredients to use this up. Thank you

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Anthony November 22, 2013 at 10:00 am

Second try is the charm. First one I started I got nothing on. I was thinking the flour was old, even though it was refrigerated. I bought some new flour, bought a pineapple that I cubed and let sit in the refrigerator for 2 days and used that juice mixed with some of the canned I had. Today I will transfer to glass jar, and remove a Tblspn to convert to a white bread flour. ( keeping the whole wheat also ).

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Anthony November 13, 2013 at 11:33 am

Does it matter if my whole wheat flour has been refrigerated or frozen ?

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Lesley November 13, 2013 at 11:55 am

Hi Anthony,
I freeze my whole wheat flour because it can go rancid fairly easily. I just brought what I was going to use up to room temperature before putting in my starter or bread dough.
I’m not very experienced at all this but it worked for me.
I would like to hear what others more experienced have to say.

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Breadtopia November 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

Sounds good to me :-).

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new to sourdough November 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Is it possible to use powdered citric acid instead of pinneapple juice? Or does it really matter aside from speeding things along? I want to start making sourdough starter. I have checked into buying from a few places but it seems no one is nut free so I must create my own. If I could use powdered citric acid, how would I know how much to use? The stuff I have is from Ball for canning. Thanks!

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Lesley November 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Hi,
Im fairly new to bread making and using these sites. Im not sure if Im supposed to receive your question on my email. I don’t have the expertise to advise you about citric acid. All I know is that the pineapple juice worked for me. On previous attempts at rye flour culture I had problems around the third or fourth day. When I started a new rye culture with the pineapple my culture took off by the third day and I just kept feeding it. I checked it this morning in the fridge and it is still bubbly. I also used the procedure on some whole wheat culture that wasnt doing so well and it took off too.

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new to sourdough November 11, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Thanks Lesley! I appreciate your input. Hopefully someone will know more about the citric acid :) With my allergies pineapple juice just may not be an option…would take a few hours or more of research to figure that out.

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Lesley November 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

There’s a recipe for rye starter just using rye and water. Rye seems to start easier. It’s the”weekend baker”. This is the one I started with but it seems overly fussy about weights and measures. You can change the rye to whatever you want after it gets going. I think the thing is –use only filtered or spring water(no chlorine). When I did the recipe above with whole rye it became active very quickly- first day of second step. Maybe it would work if you just use water and follow this recipe with rye to begin with??

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Lesley November 12, 2013 at 1:53 am

Sorry for that last comment. I tried to send you a short video from youtube but it didnt work.

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Lesley November 12, 2013 at 1:37 am

For ‘new to sour dough’
I found this – looked really easy to follow and made sense to me. This is very much like I started my first rye culture. Nothing but flour and water.

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Lesley November 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I’m using whole rye flour and it’s the evening of first day of step two. The starter has holes and bubbles now. Should I go ahead with step 3 or wait 24 or 48 hours?

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Bill November 7, 2013 at 11:48 pm

I think that you should go to the next step.

The same thing happened to me and my thinking was that the starter is alive and ready to be fed.

Now that you’re up and running, if you haven’t watched it I recommend the video Managing Your Sourdough Starter.

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Jen November 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Hi, trying to make my first starter with just the flour-and-water method, and it looks right but smells a bit like cheese. I’ve heard good starters should smell like beer. Mine is only five days old, is it just too young or is there something else wrong? Thank you for your excellent articles and videos!

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Heather Joy November 1, 2013 at 2:45 am

I wasn’t convinced that my starter was all that good until the final feed when, fortunately I had placed it on a plate, it bubbled over. My first attempt at the bread making part was not without its problems, the dough was too wet to stretch and fold and then I over proved it but still cooked it. I’m not sure what sour dough bread is supposed to taste like, I’m assuming the clue is in the title and that it is supposed to be somewhat sour. Mine tastes like a very cheap natural yogurt with a hint of vinegar after taste that seem to over power everything I eat it with but is this how it’s supposed to be, is this because of the freshly juice pineapple juice I used for the starter, or because I couldn’t do the stretching and folding or because it was over proved? It sort of tastes ok ish but I’m not sure the time, effort and expense is worth that little reward.

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Aspiring Bread Maker November 1, 2013 at 10:25 am

Heather,
Hang in there. I am only new to this myself, but I am loving using sourdough rather than yeast not only for the wonderful health benefits but also because bread baked with sourdough stays fresh so much longer–the next day, rather than getting stale, the bread is still soft and fresh–love that!

My first loaf tasted really sour as well, because I totally let the dough over proof. You might just try the basic recipe (I’m referring to the 100% Spelt Sourdough recipe) but with an extra two tablespoons of starter added, only do one stretch and fold (don’t worry if your dough won’t stretch) and only let it proof for about 6 hours, and then, right before forming your loaf to put it in the oven, stir in one or two teaspoons of non-aluminum baking soda. I get a fairly dense loaf this way, but it’s delicious, much less sour, and adding the baking soda helps tremendously! Below are some more tips I gathered around the internet for a less sour loaf:

• Promote more lactic acid and less acetic acid by making sure your starter isn’t too thick–use more water. Also, do less kneading mixing, as this works oxygen into the starter producing more acetic acid sourness.
• Be sure your bread dough has enough water as well–the more moisture, the more lactic acid (milder).
• Feed the starter 4-12 hours before using in recipe (and preferably 24 hours before as well). Feeding every 12 hours produces a less sour starter. The sooner you use it after feeding, (like 4 hours later), the less sour. You can take 1-2 tablespoons from the base starter, and then start feeding it a day or two before baking with it.
• Keep starter “unrefrigerated” at least a couple days before baking with it, as refrigeration slows down yeast activity, which allows the bacteria to flourish producing more sour acids. –Though, one man says keeping it out unrefrigerated and unfed for a few days will produce a more sour starter, but a less sour bread…warmth kills a sour taste.
• Shorten the fermentation/proofing time of the bread…the longer it proofs, the more sour.
• Don’t proof overnight in the refrigerator–this allows for more sour flavor.
• Use more starter–this will allow for a shorter fermentation/proof, which means less sour.
• Add a little baking soda to the recipe but do so only before forming the loaf to stick it in the oven, otherwise, I find my dough doesn’t rise as well.

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Heather Joy November 1, 2013 at 10:43 am

Thank you for that, it may be a week or so before I attempt another loaf as I used all my spelt flour making the starter and my first loaf. I also struggled to translate the oven temperatures but I will not give up, I may have lost this particular skirmish but I have not yet lost the fight.

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Aspiring Bread Maker November 1, 2013 at 10:52 am

Yay!! One tip for keeping around flour is to grind it yourself if you have a high powered blender. The spelt berries will last forever without going bad–I try to always have a few bags on hand for making flour with, because I bake almost daily.

I learned, I think at http://www.gnowfglins.com, that baking at a lower temperature helps preserve nutrients, so I bake my bread at 350 for one hour.

I know I make all kinds of mistakes when I make my bread, but so long as it gets a chance to healthfully ferment and tastes good, I’m happy with it, and it’s fun knowing I have more to learn and look forward to down the road. :)

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Heather Joy November 1, 2013 at 10:59 am

What’s 350 in English?

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Aspiring Bread Maker November 1, 2013 at 11:02 am

Sorry Heather! I bake at 350 degrees, and that would be about 177 celsius. :)

Glenda Daniels October 28, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Hi, I have successful making my starter out of pineapple juice and spelt flour and WOW the bread tastes great, even my kids love it. Then I killed my starter. I have since made another one. Do I feed my starter before I put it in the fridge for a rest or do I feed it when I get it out. Can you point me in the right direction for how to look after your starter. All I have read is too vague and I am unsure how to look after it.
Cheers Glenda

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PaulB October 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm

I don’t know about everyone else, but I feed my starter (or at least try to) about every two weeks or less if I haven’t baked for awhile.
After I feed it, I keep it out on the counter for a few (4-5) hours or until doubled in size and then put it in the fridge. I find that feeding it the day before I prepare my dough brings out a bit more flavor, but it can be used in the same day if there’s an emergency.
Even Eric has shown that the starter can go quite awhile before feeding the starter. Check his videos. If it’s been quite awhile since feeding, you might need to feed it a couple or more times just to get it nice and lively again.

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Bill November 1, 2013 at 10:50 am

I agree with PaulB about feeding your starter and letting it double before you put it back in the fridge.

I make bread once a week and I do bring out the starter the day before and feed it and let it double a couple of times before I use it. I also use far more starter than is called for in the recipes, mainly, I suppose, because I like playing with the starter.

I recently left my starter in the fridge for a month. It took me about three days to revive it. I would feed it and it would get bubbles but not double. A couple of feedings like that and then on the third feeding it seemed to wake up and it doubled as expected.

The Managing Your Sourdough Starter video was a great help to me.

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Maria October 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

Hi,
Its my second time to try my own starter after my first one was not successful…I added 1 1/2 cup flour and 1 cup water and tossed 2 red grapes. In day 2 itself it had many bubbles….looked really nice. I started feeding my starter from day 3….on my adventure and am very excited too…

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Heather Joy October 23, 2013 at 1:55 pm

48 hours in and despite the fact that it shouldn’t be showing signs of life it is. I’ve feed it this evening using the fresh pineapple juice that I juiced to start it on Monday. I am very encouraged by what I’m seeing so I thought I’d share it with you.

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Aspiring Bread Maker November 1, 2013 at 10:28 am

Thank you for sharing this Heather! Makes me want to give it another attempt for fun… :-)

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Heather Joy October 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

This is my first attempt at bread making and today I started my sour dough starter. I’m using spelt flour and freshly juiced pineapple, my reason for this is because I am a dedicated juicer and wanted to see if my starter would work with the fresh juice. Fingers crossed that it works.

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Aspiring Bread Maker October 21, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Let us know how it goes Heather! I’m curious to know if it works out for you using spelt flour (that’s all I bake with these days…I even make sourdough spelt chocolate chip cookies!). And welcome to the wonderful and rewarding world of bread making!

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charles October 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm

He is another one, I did 3 this weekend but the first looked as good as these and disappeared before I could get a pic.

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charles October 7, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Here is some pics of the bread I made this last weekend. One was a Rosemary, Olive, and Roasted Garlic that I used the Olive Parmesan recipe posted here and a 3 year old starter I found neglected in the back of the fridge that I was able to revive. The other was the basic sourdough recipe posted here but I cut back to a 1/2 cup of Wheat flour and added more white flour and 2 TB of Gluten hoping to get larger holes and my new grape starter. I went 14hr on first proof and 3 hr on second rise.

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charles October 5, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Well an update on my science experiment with the grape starter. I had a small disaster strike when I was getting ready to start feeding with flour. I was in a hurry to leave the house and decided I could do this before I left. Unfortunately the bowl slipped and I spilled most of it over the counter and myself! My wife cleaned up the mess while I cleaned up and I was so upset but my wife pointed out I still had some juice left in the bowl. It was a quarter cup about so I weighted it and added 1/8 cup of water and 1/8 cup of flour after 4 days I had about 8cup or 2# of healthy starter! At this point I have been maintaining the starter by dumping 1/2 of it and adding new flour and water. I put 1pint in the Fridge and today I am going to bake my first loaf.

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john currie October 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

hi eric ,is there any truth in what I have just read in a very old book on starters that to check if your starter is viable put 1 tbls. of starter into a jug of water and if it floats then it is viable?
kind regards john currie.

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john currie October 9, 2013 at 3:23 am

the reason I asked the question, was that my bread has not that sourdough tang I usually have.

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Aspiring Bread Maker October 9, 2013 at 10:56 am

John,
I had just the opposite problem, so I googled how to make sourdough less sour, and I found lots of tips on making it more sour as well, so you might check on google too. :)

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john currie October 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

thank you very very much for replying, and did as you advised and got my answer from “sourdoughhome”. a great site. regards john currie

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Anna October 4, 2013 at 10:48 am

My husband bought dried started flakes at the health food store for me to try. ( I won’t mention the name because you said if we were trying these take them back to get my $ back! Ha ha) I had already started it before landing here and as you mentioned I feel so unsure about what I am doing even after watching the videos. I will say that after watching your first two, starting then maintaining starters I feel better about what is going on. The first day the package said to make it then feed twice. In 4 hrs then 4 hrs later. Each time you scoop out 1 cup starter to dump and add 1/2 c water and 1 c bread flour. The second day it had bubbled out of the container and onto my stove. Huge bubbly mess. I ran up to big box store and bought a larger container and poured what was in the container into new washed vessel. I figured Id count what had spilled out as 1/4 cup and did the math. I kept dumping 1 c out 1x day and adding 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c water per directions. Kept in oven to keep free of drafts. Watched videos and dumped out huge layer of hooch then fed with 1 c flour and only 1/2 c water since it was very watery compared to your starter. In warm oven for the night with my new batch of no knead fridge dough. I have small bubbles this morning ! It’s not going crazy like on Monday. I’m wondering if it needs to be warmer this first week? Our room temp is low to mid 70s. Any tips? Suggestions? ( I’ve asked husband to order your starter kit for me- featured on Gwen’s nest plus Id like to try the pineapple juice starter as well to have several kinds / flavors to choose from) my husband is a home brew geek so I think the various yeasts in our home might bring interesting results)

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ngreene October 4, 2013 at 7:26 am

I’m on day 3-4 of my starter… I added the second helping of ww flour and pineapple juice yesterday. This morning, it had done overnight what it’s been doing – looks like it is separating and has a few possible bubble looking parts. When I stir it, it is very soupy. Should I add more flour to see if that helps things along? I really don’t want to have to throw it out!

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Breadtopia October 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

Yes, exactly, just add more flour to stiffen it up.

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Marisa September 30, 2013 at 7:48 am

Can I use fresh pineapple juice instead fo the canned version as well? Thanks

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Breadtopia October 2, 2013 at 9:13 am

Either one is fine.

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Donna September 27, 2013 at 11:10 am

Dear Breadtopia,,,after I have made the starter as you described,,you say now you have sourdough starter,,,,do I make bread with it then and no more starter or do I feed it? How do i feed it and keep it going? Put in frigerator or leave on counter,,,,sorry, beginner

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Breadtopia October 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi Donna,

See if this page answers most of your questions: http://www.breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management/

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Dani September 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm

I did try making sourdough starter using only the ambient yeasts in my house. It worked. I got encouraging activity within three days. But it took three months to really develop a good flavor. It was very bland and tacky for the what seemed like forever. But it kept bubbling so I kept feeding it. I was able to make a really nice boule before it got way too hot to bake in my house. Overall it was a good experiment.

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Mario September 24, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I am on my third day (second stage) of my starter and it appears to be pretty active already. When i went to stir it, it had grown and has bubbles already. Is it necessary to wait another 24 hours before continuing to the next step?

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Breadtopia September 24, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Hi Mario,

You can go to the next step now. Sounds like it’s doing very well.

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Lalie September 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I just finished step 4 for the starter. Mine turned out great.
I didn’t have pineapple juice on hand so I used juice from a can of fruit cocktail for the first step and some juice from mandarin oranges for the second step. My starter looks and smells great :). Thank you for the recipe!
Do I now put the starter in a container and refrigerate it until I need it?
How much starter do I keep in the jar after using some and then how much flour do I use when I refeed it and when do I refeed?
If I missed this on the site somewhere I apologize.

Lalie

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Lalie September 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Nevermind…I just saw How to Manage your starter to the left of the article. I just should have looked harder.

Thank you
Lalie

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Dennis September 24, 2013 at 11:28 am

I live in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I followed the pineapple recipe and it started about 8 hours into step 2 (about 56 hours from the beginning). After the first 48 hours I placed the container on a towel to keep it off the cold countertop and placed it near a sunny window. I will follow up with how the bread turns out.

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Aspiring Bread Maker September 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I thought I’d try making a starter with whole grain spelt flour, but it didn’t catch on. The third day, it didn’t get stirred as much as it needed to, and that may have contributed to its lack of success, but I thought I’d share my experience in case anyone else wanted to try a spelt starter.

I have happily ordered the starter kit and will gradually add in spelt. :-D

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charles September 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Just started another batch of sourdough starter using instructions from Beth Hensperger Grape Yeast Starter recipe. Its the right time of year and the grapes from my field are organic and very ripe with some on the bunches turned to rasins. Lucky this year no rain so grapes have no mold, last year starter spoiled as grapes had mold. I placed juice in stainless steel bowl near a sunny window. 3 days and I could smell the yeast when I opened the front door! Tonite will strain the juice and feed with the water flour mixture.

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COLC September 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I had not thought of a seed mat, what I uses is a grain bag (used for my aching back) warm it in the microwave, place the dough alongside it in the microwave, it keeps just the right temperature, for a prolonged rise I just reheat when required.
Sometimes I place only the dough in the microwave with the door ajar to keep the light on, it works fine.

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Aspiring Bread Maker September 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Another great share, thank you COLC! My mom heats up a rice bag every night in the wintertime for her feet before going to bed. They stay warm for a long time, so I can see how this would be great! Will keep this in mind!

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Danielle Bussone September 11, 2013 at 9:10 am

I neglected my starter, which I’ve been nursing for over a year, and finally murdered it. Starting over, I tried Reinhart’s pineapple juice method. Something I’ve discovered is that my house is too cold to produce decent leavening, in starter or in the actual bread-making process. I came up with a simple solution which works perfectly with bread and activates my starter a day early. I recall it did that last time as well. I bought a seed starting mat which basically just takes the chill off my granite countertops and allows the yeast to do it’s job. My starter is perfect! This time I’m going to dry or freeze some as a backup.

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Aspiring Bread Maker September 15, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Thank you for sharing that–what a brilliant idea!!

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Erin September 16, 2013 at 8:17 am

do you know about what temp or how warm the mat is? I have thought of using a heating pad on low covered with a towel to help my starter but wonder if that is too warm.

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Cassandra August 29, 2013 at 5:42 am

I haven’t baked in ages. But I think my starter was a text book case. It had a few small bubbles by the end of step one and was very excitable by the end of step two. I started step 3 last night and this morning, about 8 hours later, the starter is very foamy and more than doubled in size. It’s looking and smelling great! I will commence with step 4 tonight and hope to make some bread this weekend.

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Cassandra September 2, 2013 at 6:36 am

Well, I guess I should have taken pictures, but the bread is almost all eaten by now. I made a very basic loaf. It has a thick crust which I like, but my family doesn’t as much. It mostly gets eaten as French toast, or open-face grilled cheese. Also warm with butter. Oh, I love that sour taste.

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Maxina September 2, 2013 at 9:43 am

I used to be the only one eating it to but that changed fairly quickly……..

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Sara August 23, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I started making my first starter on Sunday and it looks good so far. It is now aromatic, bubbly and even popped the lid open overnight. I did find a little patch of white mold growing on the side of the container yesterday but just scraped it off and added the flour and water as directed. Hoping to bake tomorrow!

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kt August 17, 2013 at 10:01 am

So, I mixed water and flour, fed and mixed over a course of days. Now I have something rather frothy that smells sour. Now, to make bread: how do I modify a typical recipe (the kind that uses commercial yeast) to make bread? Do I eliminate the salt and sugar from the recipe? Do I just use water and flour?

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Christopher Dobney October 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

No, use the original recipe. Keep in mind that the starter is quite wet, so you’ll need to modify the amount of flour or liquid accordingly, depending on the recipe. Also keep in mind that starter gives a much slower rise than store-bought yeast, sometimes as long as 10-12 hours or more.

For myself, there are more than enough bread formulas using a starter (or pre-ferment) that I really don’t feel the need to adapt any recipes from dried yeast.

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Denise August 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

Hello – have been experimenting with your wonderful recipe for a while now but wonder why you don’t put any oil in – all the bread recipes I’ve made before use a tablespoon or so…? also, had to chuck the last starter away (that had been resting in the fridge) as it developed a layer of ‘beer’ on the top!! – could I have saved it? Also(!) do you advise buying a ‘cloche’? – my loaves are a little flat.
Thank you for such an interesting site.

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Breadtopia August 18, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Oil in bread makes the crust softer. If you like a softer crust, add oil. If you want a crispier crust, leave it out.
Starter can be very hearty so you might have been able to save your starter. Adding some flour and water might have told you. Maybe next time.
Baking in an oblong cloche or any vessel with sides to shore up the dough can be helpful in forcing an upward rise.

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Jim August 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I have made two lots of sourdough bread from a recipe that incorporates yeast as well as sourdough starter. It is very useful if you do not have the lots of time to spend on baking. I do get the sourdough taste as well as the convenience of quickly made bread. I am still learning as I work anyway so I will progress to full sourdough in due course.

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Simon August 3, 2013 at 6:55 am

I follow your method but use plain flour. Now I am in the 4th day, few bubbles only. I am not sure if it is due to winter here. I start another starter using wholemeal flour. Hope it will work for me. I will keep the APF one for another 2 days. Any comments?

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Bill August 4, 2013 at 5:43 am

Wet starter is one cause of fewer bubbles. The gas escapes without forming bubbles. Try adding just a little bit more flour.

Good luck!

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Simon August 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Thanks. In fact, yesterday, I found my starter REALLY bubble and frothy as I add a little bit more flour and purified water the night before. And now my babe is alive! I take out about 3/4 cup of starter and feed the same amount of flour and water in and make some holes on the jar I transfer to. Am I doing the right things. Can I use the 3/4 starter to make my first Sourdough bread now?

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Bill August 4, 2013 at 10:48 pm

It sounds like your starter is ready to use. I keep my starter in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. I bring it out the day before I am ready to make bread and feed it once to double the size or twice to quadruple the size.

If I’m not making bread, I bring it out once a week, feed it and leave it out at room temperature until it puffs up.

I like the sealed jar because it guards against contamination. However, if you grow too much starter it might break the jar or at least pop off the top.

I have a three cup glass measuring jug with a snap on rubber top for making large amounts of starter for special projects.

It’s summer here in Spain and we don’t have air conditioning in our flat. My starter growth and bread rising characteristics are different than they were last winter, more aggressive.

Be sure to watch the video on Drying Sourdough Starter for Long Term Storage. It’s pretty easy to do. After drying it and leaving it in the freezer for a few months, I took some of mine out and revived it to make sure I had done things correctly. Doing this every few months protects you from having to go back to square one if something happens to your working starter.

One last thing. It has helped me to watch each of the videos several times to pick up things I missed the first time.

Good luck with your first loaf!

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Sabrina August 23, 2013 at 1:56 am

Hi Bill, I also live in Spain and am trying my 1st starter.
It’s very warm in our home and I was surprised to see how quickly the rise came. I’ve attached a photo of the starter in a jar with some liquid at the bottom of the jar and am wondering if this is normal. Should I be stirring it more often? Thanks, Sabrina

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Karen July 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm

When I went to add step 3, there was mould growing :(
Going to try again!

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Morgan July 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Just started mine today I’m afraid I over stirred my starter. Anyone know if this is possible?

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denny July 27, 2013 at 9:20 pm

anything’s possible. some things are a lot less likely than others. overstirring is near the mddle of the pack, which in an infinite lst makes it very unlikely.. did you get an active starter?

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mark June 27, 2013 at 4:09 am

Started my starter back in november, still going strong after countless loaves of bread, thanks eric

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Jim June 26, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I have made a starter using this method. It is now about a month old and I am making my first loaf now, having been baking other projects. The starter was a little slow and I feared that it had failed but no, after the last feeding it invaded the kitchen. Thanks for the good advice. I will post a photo of the results.

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Kendra June 14, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Maybe I am asking a dumb question here, but I acquired a starter from a friend of a friend and the instructions she gave me were simply giving me the link to your site but I’m not sure if I am supposed to always keep it in the fridge? I haven’t baked with it yet, since I just got it yesterday, but I would like to know how often I need to feed it, do I keep it in the fridge, and is an air tight container ok or will the gasses cause it to burst? Please help!

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Breadtopia June 16, 2013 at 11:43 am

Hi Kendra,

This page should help you more: http://www.breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management/

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Valentina June 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm

Can I use sourdough starter for no knead ciabatta and pizza dough or it really needs instant yeast?

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Breadtopia June 16, 2013 at 11:58 am

Yes, you can. Just might take longer to rise and be a bit heavier.

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Valentina June 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Hi, I just wanted to ask:
How many hours after I feed my sourdough starter I can use it for baking?

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Breadtopia June 16, 2013 at 11:57 am

Depends on how much you feed it, how healthy it is to start with, and the room temperature. But typically a few hours after feeding.

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Mariam June 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I made sourdough starter using Nancy Silverton’s method from her book “breads from the la brea bakery”. My starter is alive and I can see a lot of bubbles but it is not strong enough to make the bread rise as well as the dry yeast does. I have baked with it only a few times. I love the taste of it but not sure about the strength. Any ideas of how I can make my starter stronger? Thanks.

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Brian June 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I think sour dough and dry yeast are two completely different animals. I notice when I use dry yeast, it acts quickly and aggressively. For me sour dough is much slower.

I like to use a bread machine. When I use sour dough instead of the dry yeast, I have to add several hours of rise time in the middle of the cycle.

Other recipes I do, I might let the dough rise over night.

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Greg July 28, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I made strongly sour sour dough starter on my first attempt. Then I tried modifying it with different flowers and now it’s not as sour so I will start over and leave it as is.

To make the sour SDS I took the all purpose flower and purified water on a field trip to the best bakery in my area. With the heavy smelling yeast breeze coming off the ocean and across their open kitchen door, I opened my car windows and stirred the dry flour for 10 minutes then mixed in the water to capture the sour sour.

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Breadtopia July 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Wow

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Greg July 28, 2013 at 1:06 pm

I just remembered, I actually made two starters that day at the commercial bakery parking lot. One with APF the other with Italian Semolina flour. I later mixed them together as I could not tell any difference in bread taste.

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Mike afonso May 24, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I made sourdough starter at home it only took 4 days

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COLC May 7, 2013 at 5:40 am

A good place to start is on this site; check out the Sourdough Rye recipe and video, I use this recipe frequently both the starter and yeast method to much acclaim from guests.

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Neus May 7, 2013 at 12:57 am

Anyone knows where to get a equivalences table for using starter instead of regular yeast?

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Breadtopia May 7, 2013 at 4:35 am

If there is such a thing, I’m thinking it would not be reliable as there are way too many variations in starter strength and consistency from one persons culture to another.

Sourdough starter and commercial yeast don’t really behave all that similarly either. Probably the best you can do is start by taking a wild guess at the quantity and see how the converted recipe turns out, and then make adjustments with subsequent attempts if necessary.

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Eric May 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Hi – I didn’t use your technique, but instead used this one:

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Sourdough-Starter-Without-Yeast

In other words nothing but flour and water. It’s worked like a charm, and 48 hours later 2 cups of ingredients were overflowing out of a 4 cup container. Helped a lot that I left it on the windowsill on a sunny Sunday afternoon (when I could keep an eye on it) to bring the temperature up a little.

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MAkai June 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Hi There,
Thanks for the link! Just wondering how your starter is doing currently? Did it survive well? Did it work well consistently?
Cheers,
Makai

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Verne May 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Okay, it has been a week now and the Rinehart’s
starter barely has any bubbles but the one on your website is bubbly and beautiful. Not a problem at all, I am at the 4th stage now and ready to transfer to my jar and put in the frig. The first thing I am going to make is English muffins, hopefully I can take a pic and send it to you. If not (thinking positive here ) couldn’t figure out how to do the picture thing, not that the muffins failed. Wish me luck..:-)

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Verne June 1, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Ok here are the English muffins boy did they raise and taste good too.

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Jamaal May 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Starting the process now will give day-by-day updates to see what happens. Thanx Eric.

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Peggy April 28, 2013 at 2:15 am

I have tried your sour dough starter and I want to know how to have the bread really taste of sour dough like you get in San Francisco. I have tried 3 types and still no sour dough flavor. I have even tried using 2 cups of sour dough starter in my recipes still no really sour dough flavor. any suggestions or recipes.

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Meg May 28, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Hi Peggy,
In my experience the quality of the taste is really a matter of luck. If your wild yeast imparts a strong flavour you’re among the lucky ones. Many sourdough starters don’t have a particularly strong taste. Some people share their starters and if you hunt around you may be able to import one with a strong flavour but there are no guarantees.
Like you, I found my results were fairly bland. I compensate by mixing home grown natural yoghurt into my bread. It gives it a nice sour hit and I still avoid those horrible commercial ‘sour dough’ things that are usually just yeast and flavouring anyway.

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Meg May 28, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Oh interesting: as a result of your question I went hunting and found this link: http://pinchmysalt.com/how-to-make-sourdough-bread/
The author says that the longer you leave the ‘sponge’ to ferment, the stronger the sour taste will be! Now I’m off to make some bread!

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Helmar May 29, 2013 at 5:39 am

Additionally you might want to try Christine’s two-starter-method: http://www.breadtopia.com/make-your-own-sourdough-starter/comment-page-27/#comment-255876

I always ferment my doughs quite a long time with excellent results. After mixing the dough goes right away into the fridge for 1 – 2 days. At a convenient time I fetch it for the rise (12 – 18 hours, depends on the recipe). Afterwards I put the dough back into the fridge for another 3 – 4 days until baking.

I bake once a week. Since Christine’s suggestion I use two starters, each biweekly. (Just split my original starter, now cultivating one with 100% whole rye flour, the other one with 50% whole rye and whole wheat flour each.) The starters are always left in the fridge and will only be fed directly after use.

Each starter is about 160 grams, I normaly take 50 grams (for 600 grams of flour), dispose of a little retaining half the starter (about 80 grams). Then I feed it with 40 grams of flour and 40 grams of water (100% hydration) and put it right back into the fridge. It will sit there untouched and unfed until next use, unless the next use would be significantly later than a fortnight.

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Verne April 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Ok I am starting my second round here, first used Reinharts recipe not very good luck. So an trying the one on your website we’ll se. Actually I made one about 2 yrs ago and it was great but I left in in the frig for at least a year or more and did not do anything with it, (I’m bad I know) tried to revive it and was doing ok then all af a sudden my liquor started turning juat a bit yellow I knew I had had it then. So then I started Reinharts recipe and I am not sure so now I am doing the one that worked for me the first time , wish me luck. I will be in touch good or bad news..

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Col April 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I have made a light Rye starter 100% hydration and notice that whilst it does not have an abundance of bubbles on the surface the interior is completely “cobweb” like, does this mean it is ready? it is also thicker than my other starters should I use more water?

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