How To Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch in 5 Days


You can always buy a super old sourdough starter on eBay, but if you have a little bit of patience, there’s nothing more satisfying than growing your own sourdough starter from scratch. All you need is 5-7 days (depending on the temperature in your home), some flour, and some water. That’s it!

When I was learning how to make my own sourdough starter, this flow chart really helped me out and gave me a clearer picture of the whole process.

So here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Get a 1-quart (or 1-litre) jar and weigh it. Write the weight down somewhere where you’ll be able to find it easily.
  2. Add 160g white wheat flour and 40g wholewheat flour to the jar. Pour 160g of water in. Stir well. Cover with a towel or kitchen paper and leave to ferment. Stir three times during the day to aerate.
  3. On day 2, 24 hours later, remove some of the flour and water mixture leaving just 100g inside (it will be easy to calculate considering that you know the weight of your empty jar). Add 160g of water and whisk it very well to dilute the starter mixture in the liquid. Add 160g of white flour and 40g of wholewheat flour again, stir well, and leave to ferment. Stir to aerate 2-3 times during the day. By the end of the first 48 hours, you should start seeing bubbles. If you don’t see them yet, just keep removing the excess and feeding until you see them.
  4. Keep removing excess and feeding daily with the same amounts of flour and water until the mixture starts expanding. In my case, it happened on the 3rd day, but it’s extremely hot where I live! If your temperature is cooler, it will take longer.
  5. Once the mixture starts doubling within less than 12 hours, it’s time to change to a feeding proportion of a mature starter. Leave only 50g of the starter, discard the rest, add 160g of water, whisk well, add 160g of white wheat flour and 40g of wholegrain flour, and stir to incorporate. If this mixture with less starter manages to double within 12 hours, you’ve got a winner! If not, just keep feeding it like this until it does.
  6. Feed the starter like the above (step 5) twice a day, morning and evening, to make it extra strong and active. Or if you really can’t wait, you can try to make your first sourdough bread in the meanwhile. If it comes out right, great! If not, keep feeding it until it becomes fully active.

That’s it! At this point your sourdough starter is fully active and ready for baking bread.

Maintaining Sourdough Starter

I prefer to keep the starter in the fridge between my baking sessions. In this way, I don’t have to waste flour to feed the starter, it saves me time that I would otherwise spend feeding it twice a day, and the starter is very healthy and happy in the fridge.

Once you feed it, wait until it starts developing bubbles on the sides and starts growing. When it grows by around 30%, place it in the fridge and keep it there until the next time you want to make bread. It will keep growing slowly in the fridge until it reaches its full potential (doubles in size). If you make the next batch within 3-4 days, simply take the starter out of the fridge and make bread with it straight away.

However, if you leave a little more time between your baking sessions, feed the starter around 8-12 hours before you want to make bread (it depends on how warm it is where you live, in my case it’s 8 hours) and wait until it reaches the highest point (or doubles). That’s when it’s ready to make bread. If you wait until it starts going down, the bread will be considerably more sour.

After using the sourdough starter up for the bread, discard any excess until only 50g remain, add the water, whisk well, add the flour, stir everything, and again wait for a few hours until it starts growing and then chuck it in the fridge until the next time. Maintaining the sourdough starter in this way is so effortless!

If you don’t like discarding the excess (I know I don’t), you can always make sourdough pancakes or cookies with it. They’re delicious!

You should never wash the jar between feedings. The yeast and bacteria in the sourdough will protect the jar from any mould contamination. If you ever see mould in your jar, you have unfortunately killed your starter and that’s the only time when mould can grow on the walls of the jar. If you follow the maintenance routine, it will never happen.

This is all I wanted to teach you about making your own sourdough starter from scratch at home. Hope yours grows strong and healthy, and enjoy your sourdough bread making!

Here’s my secret sourdough bread recipe if you want a divine loaf of bread that also happens to be low FODMAP.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!

Lots of love,

Vita xx


  1. Hello Vita,
    I would like to just use the white flour, can I just add up the two flour ratios of white and wheat to achieve the same results? Thanks!


    • Once the starter is fully active, then yes. But in order to start a starter from scratch, you need some of the wholegrain flour to feed the bacteria and yeast better. After the first week or so once it’s rising as it should consistently, you can transition to a fully white flour starter. xx

    • Teresa Roys says

      Is white flour just store all purpose flour? Could it be all freshly ground hard white wheat flour? or should some be freshly ground soft wheat flour?


      • It’s just refined wheat flour, also can be called all purpose flour. I’m not sure what you call hard white wheat flour where you live. Here we only have either wholewheat flour or refined white flour, nothing more. So I’m not sure what hard white flour could be. <3

  2. Odalys fernandez says

    Can you tell me the recipe in USA measurements like cups and tablespoons pls?

    • Sourdough bread can’t really be made using such measurements because it’s not exact enough. Different flour can have completely different volume and weight. All good sourdough bread recipes also have grams. You really need to invest in a kitchen scale if you want to make bread successfully. xx

    • Its hard to believe the most powerful country on the planet is exclusively unique in its confusing over complicated weight and measurement system

  3. Hello dear Vita ~

    You have inspired me to make my own sourdough! I’m so excited, I have all the things you recommend, and am almost done getting my starter ready. However, I just realized the starter I bought doesn’t say “gluten free” (though I am, which is why I have to make my own bread now). The company (“Cultures for Health”) offers a specifically “gluten free” version of starter made from rice.

    Did you have to make sure your starters were specified “gluten free”? Or does the gluten just get eaten in the bread making process? I am hoping to be able to use this starter, but don’t want to test it on myself – when I eat gluten I get agonizing cramps that last for 24 hours 🙁

    Thanks so much for being!

    Sarah in Omaha NE (USA)

    • Hi Sarah, I’m not gluten free, so my starter or bread aren’t gluten free either. Sourdough fermentation does break down the gluten and theoretically it could be safe for people with gluten intolerance, but some people still react. it’s definitely not 100% gluten free. Hope this helps! Thanks so much for reading! <3

  4. Hi Vita! I just started my starter and find that with the measurements you’ve provided my starter is really dry. Is it ok to add more water? So rather than 160g, use 200g?

    • Hi Corina, yes, you can use 200g of water, just keep that in mind when you’re mixing the bread because you might need less water there if your starter is more liquid. xx

  5. Kerry-Ann Laube says

    AMAZING! mine turned out perfect and tasted bloody amazing, thank you very much for sharing your recipe 🙂 It was worth all the hard work for sure! 10/10!!

  6. I wanted to make a new sourdough starter, and your recipe was interesting. However, I get a firm dough, rather than the liquid mix I usually get, using your amounts. Is that how your sourdough look?
    Usually I will use about 150 g of flour all in all and 200 g of water.

  7. While maintaining the sourdough starter. How much flour and water do you feed before you put it into frig. And since I will be baking once a week, how much flour/water do I feed 8-12 hrs before baking? My house is 70-72 f. I would also like to keep the sour taste as least sour as possible.

  8. Thank you for your guide. There are so many different ways that tells you how to maintain your starter and it’s nothing but confusing. I read this and it just cofused me so much

    About your method mz question is if I plan some pause between baking. like 5-7 days. I should store just 50 grams of starter in the a fridge and then feed it with 160g of water and 160g of flour 8-10 hours before baking right?

    • The truth is that sourdough starters are very resilient, so pretty much anything you do, as long as it’s fed regularly (at least once a week), it will do great. That’s why there is such a variation of methods. It doesn’t really matter! Do whatever works well with your schedule. 50 grams might not be enough to keep in the fridge though. You can try my current method that I’ve been using for a very long time now. When I want to make bread, I discard any excess starter until only around one tablespoon remains, then I feed it with 200g flour (100g white flour and 100g wholegrain flour) and 200g water. Once the starter is around 50% expanded, I take 200g out for the bread and put the rest in the fridge until the next time (that’s around 200g of starter remaining). Next time I want to bake bread, I again discard most of it until there is a tablespoon left and repeat the feeding process. In this way, I discard a minimal amount of starter each time, but there is enough in the jar to keep it strong and very much alive, even if I don’t bake for 10 days sometimes. Hope this helps! xx

      • Hi Vita, 2 questions:
        1. When I will know that the starter is around 50% expanded as you indicate above?
        2. After feeding, till that point(50% expanded) do I keep the starter out of the fridge or in?
        Thank you

        • I usually put an elastic band on my jar at the level where the starter is as soon as I feed it. In that way it’s very easy to track the growth. Keep it out of the fridge until it expands as much as you need. Once you use it, put it in the fridge until the next time. <3

  9. Hi!! I just made my starter and was curious if you weigh the water or did you mean to use ml measures? Also, with your exact ratios, my starter was very dry and not all the flour incorporated so I added a tiny bit more water to make it all wet. Was that okay?

  10. Have you tried making a spelt starter/sourdough? it’s recommended for those of us on low FODMAPs. Thanks,

  11. Quick question! When you get to the point of putting the starter in the fridge, do you use an actual jar lid or do you still use the paper towel? I think it’s probably the latter, but just want to make sure. Thanks!

  12. Emi Stankova says

    with hashimotto we can,t eat gfluten .

  13. Sabira Sharif says

    Hi, thank you for the recipe i can’t wait to try it, but im a little confused what do you mean by white whole wheat flour? Isnt white the opposite of whole wheat, or do you mean all purpose flour (plain flour)? Are these stong bread flours or just whole wheat all purpose? Thanks x

    • White wheat flour is just refined wheat flour or all purpose flour in other words. You can also use strong bread flour if you prefer. As long as it’s white, aka refined. xx

      • Sabira Sharif says

        Thank you so much for the fast reply :). Does it make any difference to the starter if i use bread flour instead of all purpose? And also for your sour dough recipe, will it make a difference to the bread or the method if i use strong bread flour?

        • Not really, you can use whichever you like. It matters more for making actual bread because strong flour will give more airiness and more oven spring than regular all purpose flour. I use whichever I had at hand. xx

  14. Hi Vita!
    Thank you for all the great info you have put up on the web! I am making a starter and am wondering how you “whisk” the 160g water into the 100g of Starter remaining each day in order to “dilute” it. My starter was so elastic and glutinous that I had to use a two pronged meat carving fork to try to incorporate the water. Even then it wasn’t evenly mixed in and today I put the 100g of Starter and the 160g of water in the Thermomix to get the starter to dilute. What tool do you use to “whisk it very well to dilute the starter mixture in the liquid”?

    • I use a Dutch whisk and just mix vigorously for maybe 10 seconds, that’s it. The starter should dissolve in water very easily. <3

      • Thank you for your prompt reply, Vita! I tried my Dutch whisk but it is 8.25cm across, a fairly big one, and too big to get past the lip of my jar so I’ve transferred my starter into another wider mouthed jar. Will be a lot easier from now on! Thank you! I also tried a bit more water in the starter and that helped too- got that info from your blog Comments which were also helpful. I really appreciate that you take the time to answer our queries!

  15. I am going on holiday for just over two weeks. Will the starter be ok or will I have to start again when I return home?

  16. Hi! I’ve been making sourdough bread using this recipe for some time not and it is really foolproof! I didn’t have my own started, so I decided to give ut a try several days ago. I’m currently on day 3. It diubled in size on day 2, so I was wondering if that is normal. I started feedingbit twice a day today, however, I noticed a “milky”, soury smell today. Do you know why that might be? I just fed it again and I moved ut into the fridge. Do you have any advice?

    • What do you mean by milky soury smell? Does it smell like vinegar? If that’s the case, it means there is more lactic bacteria than the yeasts, so feeding it frequently for a few days would sort it out. Perhaps it’s very warm in your house and it was getting fermented too much throughout the whole day? <3

      • I would say it smells more like yogurt – I suppose that’s lactic acid too. If started doubling in size on day 3, then I started feeding it every 12 h, however, now I do have some bubbles on the side, but the started is barely growing. I decided to start all over again. I’m really deterimend to make it work! Thank you for all your advice!

  17. Hi there. Today is my third attempt at making sour dough. I get different results each time but it is still not right. I feed my starter and it grows but I have read on a number of websites that to test your starter put some in some water and it should float. My doesn’t. Does this mean that I am doing something wrong and that is why my bread is not working because my starter is not right. (I have done everything you said)

  18. I have just realised that I have been using self raising flour in my starter. Should I be using plain?

    • Yes, it must be plain. The baking powder or soda in the self raising flour could definitely interfere in the growth of the starter. Also don’t worry about the floating. I’ve never tried to float mine. If it doubles after feeding, it’s good to go! xx

  19. Can you freeze the starter? What do I do if I am gone for longer then 2 weeks?

  20. Hi Vita, I am on the fourth day in and the starter is looking good. Not doubling yet, but definitely increasing ~50%.

    The instructions for day two way to stir to aerate 2-3 times during the day. Is that something I should keep up beyond day two? i.e., should I be stirring between feedings over the long term?

    Or is whisking at the time of feeding sufficient? I kind of hate to aerate between feedings as it knocks down the growth/bubbles…

    • Hello Bryant! Firstly, I’m so sorry for replying so late. I hope your starter is bubbling strong and happy by now. 🙂 No, you only need to stir during the day at the beginning. Later on, it’s enough just to mix it while you’re actually feeding it. <3

  21. Diane Gray-Norris says

    I am fructose intolerant. Is this starter and bread all right for me to start making. Can I use white bread machine flour or is all purpose flour wiser to use. I have tried to get info from different sites but having a problem understanding a lot of what they say. Thanks

  22. Diane Gray-Norris says

    I cannot find whole grain flour in Canada so what different flours can I combine to make whole grain flour

Speak Your Mind