Sourdough Starter FAQ

Many of my bread and dough recipes call for Sourdough Starter.  Here are some tips for starting your own and keeping it alive!

  1. How to make a Sourdough Starter.  Get yourself a 1 quart Mason jar (no lid needed) 2 rubber bands, 1 square of paper towel and either an empty water jug or a bottle of distilled water.  You will also need bread flour and either whole wheat or rye flour. The day before you want to begin the starter, fill the water jug with tap water and leave the top off – this lets the chlorine dissipate; after 24 hours you can cover the jug.  Day 1 of starter land put 1/2 cup of your jugged water, 1/4 cup of bread flour and 1/4 cup of rye or wheat flour into the Mason jar.  Stir well with a spoon.  Use one rubber band to mark the top of the starter.  Fold the paper towel in half and use to cover the Mason jar – secure the paper towel with the other rubber band.  Keep the starter in a warm place in your kitchen.  Feed it again with the same ratios of water and flours in 12 hours – I do 8 am and 8 pm feedings.  The next morning, pour a little of the starter off.  Feed again, stir, cover and wait 12 hours.  Feed, stir, cover.  Repeat again in the morning, pouring a little off, feeding and stirring.  You will do the twice a day feedings for 5 days.  Then the starter is ready to use!  After that, you can switch to once a day feedings and also pick one of the flours to feed with.  The feedings should still be equal amounts water and flour.  I use rye flour because I like the taste.
  2. How to store your starter if you are not baking at least twice a week.  If you only plan on baking bread or making waffles or whatever you like once in a while, your starter can live in the fridge.  The day before you want to bake, take it out, feed it and let rest for 12 hours, feed again, rest at least 2 hours and you are ready to go.  After you make your recipe, feed the starter and pop it back in the fridge.
  3. If you made too much starter.  Bake a lot!  Or just pour some into the garbage.  But I like to make sourdough waffles or pancakes with the extra.
  4. If you don’t like the brown color of my rye and whole wheat starter.  Use half bread flour and half “white whole wheat” flour.  You need the whole wheat to have a healthy and happy starter.  We all need some fiber once in a while!
  5. If your dough does not rise as much as you wanted it to.  Add a 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast to the dough of the next batch and keep up with the sourdough.  It grows stronger the longer you keep it and feed it.