How To Make Sourdough Starter From Scratch in 5 Days

making-sourdough-starter-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

Comments

  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!

    MJ

    • 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

  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

  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!

    Love,
    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.

    • Also the same amount and the same proportion. 100g white flour, 100g wholegrain flour, and 200g of water. That’s how I maintain my starter these days. If you want a very mild flavour, try to feed the starter before baking and then wait until it grows only by around 50%. Then make your bread. it makes a huge difference. <3

  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 http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/25663/maintaining-starter

    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

Trackbacks

  1. […] sourdough starter – you can either make your own or buy it on eBay. I have a couple of them: Diego and Barnaby. Yes, you’re supposed to name […]

  2. […] 1 cup sourdough starter (mine is 80% organic white wheat and 20% wholegrain spelt, 80% hydration, here’s how you can make a sourdough starter from scratch in 5 days) […]

  3. […] 1 cup fresh and fully active sourdough starter (mine is 80% hydration, here’s how to make your own starter from scratch in 5 days) […]

  4. […] sourdough starter (here’s how to make your own from scratch in 5 days, and also read below for more […]

Make my day and leave a comment!

*