How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch

It's so easy to make sourdough starter from scratch. Everyone says it's hard, but I was amazed at how fast and easy it is. And it costs almost nothing. You never have to buy yeast again! Using sourdough starter, you can make bread, pizza, and dinner rolls, as well as crackers, waffles, pancakes and more.

How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch

Jump down to the printable recipe below.

How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch

Why Use Sourdough Starter Instead of Commercial Yeast

For a number of reasons, I really prefer using sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast for baking bread, crackers, rolls, pizza, and other baked goods. Here are just a few of those reasons (I'll have to write more on this later because there are many more reasons):

Sourdough Bread Has Less Gluten

According to Stephen Jones, a wheat breeder at Washington State University, it's not the gluten, it's the way we make the bread that is causing all the gluten intolerance:

“It's not wheat itself,” he says, pointing to a 2013 study by the US Department of Agriculture that found “no evidence” of increasing levels of gluten in wheat over the decades. Rather, Jones believes that the true problem with bread is how we make it. In commercial bakeries, rising time has been winnowed from hours or even days down to mere minutes, thanks to fast-acting yeasts and additives. By contrast, the team in Jones' laboratory, located in a rural stretch along Puget Sound, lets dough rise for as long as 12 hours—and they've found that the longer it rises, the less potent the gluten that remains in the finished bread. (Source)

Wheat Has Prebiotics

Wheat flour contains inulin and oligosaccharides, known as prebiotics. Prebiotics feed the probiotics, or good bacteria in your gut, and aid digestion. In addition to wheat, prebiotics are also found in breast milk, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, burdock root, asparagus, garlic, onion, leek, banana, wheat, barley and rye (gluten-containing grains) are excellent sources of food for the good bacteria in the intestinal tract.

Sourdough is Lower in Phytic Acid, Which Means You Absorb More Minerals

Sourdough starter is much more efficient about fermenting the flour and breaking down the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. When you eat wheat, if the phytates are not properly broken down, the phytic acid blocks mineral absorption. Sourdough fermentation breaks down the phytic acid, and as a result, you

Sourdough Has More Vitamins and Minerals

Sourdough fermentation makes bread more nutritious as it makes vitamins and minerals more bioavailable.

How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch

Notes on Ingredients and Equipment Needed Making a Sourdough Starter from Scratch

You will need the following ingredients to make sourdough starter from scratch and keep it going in your kitchen:

  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B000YFB5NC” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Organic whole wheat flour[/easyazon_link] – I like to mill my own from [easyazon_link identifier=”B0049YK20Q” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]organic wheat berries[/easyazon_link] but if you don't have a grain mill yet, you can use organic whole wheat flour. You need to start your sourdough starter with whole wheat flour, but for maintenance feeding, you can use [easyazon_link identifier=”B004IN43SU” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]unbleached organic white flour[/easyazon_link].
  • Filtered water – spring water or filtered water that is filtered for chlorine and fluoride. If using spring water, make sure the brand you use is low in fluoride I use an [easyazon_link identifier=”B00I0ZGOZM” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]under-the-sink reverse osmosis filter[/easyazon_link] but a [easyazon_link identifier=”B00BWIX1EQ” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Berkey[/easyazon_link] will also work if you use the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00BWIX1EQ” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]fluoride filters[/easyazon_link] with it.
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B000WJMTNA” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Digital scale[/easyazon_link] – I use this [easyazon_link identifier=”B000WJMTNA” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]digital scale[/easyazon_link] daily for my sourdough starter and for those times when I need to lose a few pounds — I use it to weigh my food.
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B0176SPCYM” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Small bowls or ramekins[/easyazon_link] – I use [easyazon_link identifier=”B0176SPCYM” locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]these ramekins[/easyazon_link] for my sourdough starter, which do double-duty for making crème brûlée. Note: You need a bigger ceramic or glass bowl when you are first starting your sourdough starter because you can't fit a cup of flour in these ramekins.
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00IT77C98″ locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]Reusable plastic covers[/easyazon_link] – I LOVE these [easyazon_link identifier=”B00IT77C98″ locale=”US” tag=”cheeseslave0e-20″]reusable plastic covers[/easyazon_link]! I use them for my sourdough starter and lots of other things like soaking rice, beans and oatmeal. So much better than plsatic wrap! You will thank me later.

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How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch


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How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch
How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch
Print Recipe
Servings
1 sourdough starter
Servings
1 sourdough starter
How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch
How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch
Print Recipe
Servings
1 sourdough starter
Servings
1 sourdough starter
Ingredients
  • Large bowl (glass or ceramic)
  • Whole wheat flour (organic, ideally freshly ground)
  • Filtered water (filtered for chlorine and fluoride, room temperature)
  • Digital scale
  • Small bowls
  • Plastic covers
  • All-purpose white flour (organic, unbleached - for feeding)
Servings: sourdough starter
Instructions
  1. Stir together whole wheat flour and filtered water in a non-reactive container. (I use glass or ceramic.)
  2. Cover the container loosely (I use a reusable plastic cover).
  3. Let the sourdough starter mixture sit on the counter at room temperature (ideally at least 70 degrees) for 24 hours.
  4. 24 hours later, discard half the starter (4 ounces). You can throw it away or save it in the fridge for waffles, pancakes, or crackers.
  5. Add 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup filtered water.
  6. Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
  7. You should see some bubbles by the third day. You may also notice a yeasty aroma. It's now time to begin feeding the sourdough starter twice a day, about every 12 hours.
  8. Each time you feed the starter, weigh out 1 ounce sourdough starter (I use my digital scale). Discard or refrigerate leftover starter. To the 1 ounce starter, add 1 ounce whole wheat flour and 1 ounce filtered water. Mix together, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 12 hours before repeating.
  9. When the sourdough starter doubles 1-4 hours after feeding, it's ready to bake with. This could take a few days (as it did for me) or as long as two weeks. It has a lot to do with the temperature in your kitchen. My kitchen was 79 degrees when I made my sourdough starter, which is a perfect temperature. If it's cooler, it will take longer for your sourdough starter to be ready. If it's warmer, it could happen more quickly.
  10. To maintain your starter, feed 1 ounce of starter with 1 ounce of flour (you can use either white, unbleached flour or whole wheat flour) and 1 ounce filtered water every 12 hours (twice a day). This is if you want to keep your sourdough starter active at all times, which makes it easy to bake whenever you feel like it.
  11. If you prefer, you may want to store your sourdough starter in the fridge and either (1) feed it once a week or (2) just leave it in the fridge until you a ready to use it. Either way, it will take 1-2 days of twice-day feedings to revive the starter and get it active enough for baking. Note: If you need more starter, you can increase the amount you feed (say 2 or 4 ounces of flour and water instead of 1 ounce each).
Recipe Notes

FEEDING YOUR SOURDOUGH STARTER
1 ounce sourdough starter
1 ounce unbleached flour or whole wheat flour (preferably freshly ground or sprouted flour)
1/2 cup water (filtered for chlorine and fluoride, room temperature)
(If you need more starter, for example, if you are doing bulk baking and freezing your bread, you can increase these amounts)

Should you store your sourdough starter in the fridge or store on the counter and feed twice a day? It all depends on you and how much you are baking. If you only bake once a week, then storing in the fridge is the best way. If you bake a few times a week or daily, keep it on the counter. Think of feeding your starter twice a day like brushing your teeth.

Why do you need to discard half the starter? If you don't discard, you end up with too much starter. Also, it helps to balance the pH. Thirdly, this gives the yeast more food to eat (fresh flour) each time you feed it, and this keeps your sourdough starter healthy and bubbly.

Do we need to use whole-grain flour to make the sourdough starter? You can use white flour after the sourdough starter is active, but for starting the sourdough starter, you should use whole grain flour because it has more wild yeast than white flour.

What if your kitchen is too cold? If your kitchen is below 70 degrees (F), look for a warm spot for your starter. You can set it on top of your refrigerator, on top of a water heater, or on a [easyazon_link identifier="B010CCIP2A" locale="US" tag="cheeseslave0e-20"]reptile mat[/easyazon_link].

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Ann Marie Michaels

I have 25 years of experience in digital and online media & marketing. I started my career in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, working at some of the world’s top ad agencies. In 2007, after my first child was born, I started this little food blog which I grew to over 250K monthly unique website visitors and over 350K social media followers. For nearly 15 years, I've helped my audience of mostly moms and women 25-65 cook for their families and live a healthier lifestyle.

 The year after I started the blog, I founded a blog network in the health & wellness space called Village Green Network. I started the company on my coffee table and bootstrapped the business to over $1.3 million in annual revenue within 5 years. During that time, I helped a number of our bloggers become six figure earners. After being censored on almost every social media platform for telling the After being censored on almost every social media platform from Facebook and Instagram to Pinterest and Twitter, and being deplatformed on Google, I am now deployed as a digital soldier, writing almost exclusively about politics on my blog Cheeseslave.com. Because who can think about food when we are fighting the second revolutionary war and third world war? Don't worry, there will be more recipes one day. After the war is over.

8 thoughts on “How to Make Sourdough Starter from Scratch

  1. I’ve been using my latest Sourdough starter for the last 6 months, baking bread at least every other day. Sooooooo wonderful :). And Sourdough toast is fabulously easy nourishing snack.

  2. I have not been able to create a starter using just water, there must be something, eg chlorine, in the water that inhibits the bacteria. So I used milk instead of water and it works GREAT – I have created a super sourdough starter !

  3. It is winter so I wanted to keep my starter warm and put it in the sun. Will direct sunlightthat kill the starter

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