Sourdough starter: How to make it and tips and tricks

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Written By DerrickCalvert

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Sourdough starter can be difficult to make and require careful attention. We have put together a guide to help you make your own starter and keep it alive for every bread-making success.

How can I make a starter sourdough?

Sourdough starters, also known as yeast, are what give sourdough bread its distinctive flavour and texture. This guide explains how to make a starter and keep it healthy.


All starters are different. Some take seven days, others take four weeks, and some take longer. It is important to persevere and let it happen.

These are the things you will need

Digital scales, a container (preferably, a glass bowl/jar with fitted lid, approximately 600ml), and good quality wholemeal flour or strong white bread flour.

How to:

This guide provides a step-by-step daily plan that can be used at any hour of the day.

After adding flour and water, stir the mixture thoroughly, scraping the sides and then mixing it all together. Cover the bowl with a towel and place it on the counter. You will be asked to take out half the contents. If you’re not allowed to, remove the starter by hand. Don’t throw it in the sink.

Day 1: Add 50g flour to 50ml water. The mixture will thicken if you use wholemeal flour. Cover the container with a loosely fitting lid. Leave the container on the counter.

Day 2: Add 30g flour to 30ml water and stir.

Day 3: The mixture may appear to bubbles and may smell eggy, cheesy, or wheaty, if you’re using whole-grain flour. Mix 30g flour with 30ml water. Stir and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Day 4: Your starter might smell vinegary now. This is normal. Take half the contents out and add 30g flour and 30ml water. Stir and then leave.

Day 5: Although your starter might appear less active or bubbly now, it’s all part of the process. Keep going and building your starter’s strength. Mix 30g flour with 30ml water. Stir and let it sit.

Day 6: Take out half the contents of your bowl. Mix 30g flour with 30ml water. Stir and continue to cook as before.

Day 7: The mixture should be bubbly and should respond to each feed. White flour starters look great at this stage, bubbly and even volcanic. Wholemeal flour starters are more texture-oriented and have a smoother surface. Mix 30g flour with 30ml water. Stir and let stand.

Is my starter ready for use?

Once your starter has grown and become active, it is ready for use. You can check if it is ready on day 7. If not, you can repeat the process from day 4 to ensure that the starter grows at a steady pace.

You want a starter that responds to being fed. This means that the starter can lift your dough, giving your bread a nice rise.

When it’s ready, seal the lid tightly and place it in the refrigerator until you are ready. You no longer have to discard or feed the starter.

How to use your starter

Mix 30g flour with 30ml water in a bowl. Stir it until it becomes a thick batter. Mix it well until no dry flour remains. Cover it with a lid and let it react to become active.

When your starter is doubled in size, take out the amount you need to make your dough. Then, replace the lid and put your starter back in the fridge.

Top tips for making sourdough starter

Sourdough starters are resilient, hardy and require very little attention.

They don’t require constant feeding or worry about what the future holds. They can be used for many years, and produce hundreds of loaves from a small amount of starter. These tips will ensure that your starter is strong and healthy.

Your starter should only be fed when it is needed.

Keep your starter in a tightly sealed container in your refrigerator between baking.

If your starter has a dark, murky layer of water at the top, it is hungry and not damaged. Continue stirring and feeding as usual.

Your baking results will be affected by the flour you use for sourdough starter. Make sure to use the highest quality, strong flour for your starter.

Happy and healthy starters are the key to success. To achieve this goal, keep your starting weight at less than 100g and feed it all. Don’t worry about portion sizes or ratios.

Making sourdough is difficult due to heat. Don’t allow your starter to get too hot. Keep your starter at a good consistency for scotch pancake batter. A weak starter is one that is too thin.

To thicken your starter, add more flour. This can be done as many times as necessary. As you get older, your starters become stronger and more useful.