Are you looking for an easy sourdough starter recipe? Only two ingredients and a few minutes a day will give you a sourdough starter that you can use to bake delicious, naturally leavened bread in about 7 days!
We have a new website, Little Spoon Farm, dedicated to sourdough recipes for beginners and home bakers. It includes our updated tutorial for making a sourdough starter. It's even easier than this one! We've got a bunch of beginner's sourdough recipes to choose from too!
Full length video tutorial - How to Make a Sourdough Starter
Sourdough Ingredients and Tools
- Flour - I suggest using a 50/50 mixture of whole wheat and all purpose flour. Mix the two flours together in a large bowl and then store it in a quart size mason jar for easy access.
- Water - You can use filtered water or you can do what I do. I fill a jar with tap water and then let it sit out for an hour to allow the chlorine to dissipate. Then it is ready to use without hurting the growth of the yeast. The goal is to use water with no chlorine.
- Glass jar with a loose fitting lid - I use 19.5 oz. Weck Jars because I like the glass top that comes with it. It's very convenient and easy to clean. I keep two of these jars on hand so that I can switch to a clean jar when I feed my starter. You can also use a wide mouth pint sized mason jar with a canning lid placed on top or a small bowl with a plate placed on top. You want the mixture to be able to "breathe" while it is cultivating.
- Spatula - I use the Oxo Spatula for mixing my starter. This particular spatula is super strong so it makes stirring a stiff batter really easy and it's a breeze to clean. You can also use a wooden spoon or any spatula you have on hand.
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons - You will need a variety of different sizes.
- Kitchen Scale - This is not necessary but highly recommended if you want to get serious about baking. Once you start baking sourdough bread with your starter you will want one of these scales in your arsenal of tools. In this tutorial I am going to give both types of measurements so if you don't have a scale at this point it's not a problem!
* The temperature of your house is important when creating a sourdough starter. As a reference ... At the time I created this starter, my kitchen remained about 65 degrees throughout the process. If your kitchen is colder, it could take longer and if it's warmer, the heat can help to speed up the process.
Patience is key when developing your sourdough starter!
How to make a Sourdough Starter
1. First thing in the morning ... in a glass jar, combine the following:
- ½ cup flour
- ⅓ cup filtered water
2. Use a spatula to vigorously stir the flour and water together until there are no clumps.
3. Scrape down the sides of the jar, cover with the loose fitting lid.
4. Set the jar in a cool, shaded spot for 24 hours.
On the morning of Day 2 you may or may not see bubbles on top of the starter.
1. In the morning stir the starter to incorporate air into the mixture, scrape down the sides of the jar and cover with a loose fitting lid.
2. Set the jar in a cool, shaded spot for 24 hours.
Check the starter for signs of activity. As you can see in the pictures from the morning of Day 3 below ... it should be bubbly! The starter has risen some overnight.
Starting on the morning of Day 3 and until the starter is ready to bake with ... we will start discarding and feeding the starter every morning and give it a maintenance feeding every night before bed.
You will only use 3 tablespoons of the starter in the morning and discard the rest.
AM - Discard and Feed
1. To a clean jar add the following:
- 3 tablespoons STARTER (40 grams)
- ½ cup of the FLOUR mixture (80 grams)
- ⅓ cup of filtered WATER (80 grams)
2. Stir vigorously with a spatula until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the jar and cover with a loose fitting lid.
3. Let sit for 12 hours.
PM - Feed
1. To the jar of STARTER add:
- 2 tablespoons of the FLOUR mixture
- 1.5 tablespoons filtered WATER
2. Stir vigorously with a spatula, scrape down the sides and cover with a loose fitting lid.
3. Let sit for 12 hours.
On the morning of Day 4 the starter is very active. This is evident by all the bubbles on top and on the sides of the jar. It has almost doubled in size which is a very good sign!
Use the same AM and PM schedules from Day 3. This is the schedule you will follow until you have a strong starter!
You can see that the starter is nice a bubbly which means it's active. The yeast still need to multiply in order to give the starter the boost it needs to rise bread.
The starter rose overnight and fell back down but it is still not strong enough. Keep going!
Today we will feed and discard as usual in the morning. About 4 hours after the feeding we will do what is called a "Float Test" to see if the starter is ready for bread baking.
4 Hours Later on Day 7
As you can see in the picture on the left, the starter has doubled in size in 4 hours since the morning feeding. I performed a "float test" by dropping a tablespoon of the starter into a jar of room temperature water. The starter floats on the top of the water which indicates that it is ready to bake!
If the starter does not float don't worry ... keep up the daily schedule until it passes the test. It might need an extra day or two depending on the temperature of your house!
Do NOT forget to save some of your starter BEFORE you incorporate it into the dough!!
Day 8 Sourdough Bread!
I used the starter from Day 7 to make this loaf of sourdough that was fermented overnight and baked on the morning of day 8 using my Beginners Sourdough Bread Recipe. The crust is a nice golden brown and super crispy!
Look at this amazing open crumb!
Step 3 ~ Maintaining a Sourdough Starter
Head on over to my full tutorial on Sourdough Starter Maintenance! Learn how to maintain it daily or weekly and how to store a back-up!
Also, check out my Beginner's Sourdough Bread recipe. It's perfect for the home baker!
How to Make a Sourdough Starter
- whole wheat flour
- all-purpose flour
- filtered water
- Day 1 - First thing in the morning ... in a glass jar, combine the following: ½ cup flour, and ⅓ cup filtered water. Use a spatula to vigorously stir the flour and water together until there are no clumps. Scrape down the sides of the jar, cover with the loose fitting lid. Set the jar in a cool, shaded spot for 24 hours.
- Day 2 - In the morning stir the starter to incorporate air into the mixture, scrape down the sides of the jar and cover with a loose fitting lid. Set the jar in a cool, shaded spot for 24 hours.
- Days 3-7 - Morning - Discard and Feed To a clean jar add the following: 3 tablespoons STARTER (40 grams), ½ cup of the FLOUR mixture (80 grams), ⅓ cup of filtered WATER (80 grams). Stir vigorously with a spatula until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the jar and cover with a loose fitting lid. Let sit for 12 hours. Evening - Feed To the jar of STARTER add: 2 tablespoons of the FLOUR mixture and 1.5 tablespoons filtered WATER. Stir vigorously with a spatula, scrape down the sides and cover with a loose fitting lid. Let sit for 12 hours.
- Day 8 - Perform the float test by dropping 1 tablespoon of starter into a bowl of room temperature water. If it floats, it is ready to bake bread. See my Beginners Sourdough Bread Recipe. If it does not float, continue to discard and feed every day until it passes the test.