Sourdough Starters Article -
Add a Comment

Sourdough Starters

Starters leaven and flavor breads, pancakes, biscuits--all kinds of baked goods, even chocolate cake!

Getting Started

Some of the best starters have been specifically developed to provide predictable results. Buying a tried-and-true starter is your best bet, although you can begin your own with very little trouble. Yeast and bacillus are everywhere in our environment, including the water and milled grains used to make most starters. It is possible to mix together just these two ingredients, and create a new starter in a number of days.

We have recipes for wild yeast starters, as well as a few made from  packages of active dry yeast. The starters made with these domesticated yeastes are more akin to a sponge--a "poolish" for French bakers, "biga" for Italian--in the beginning, and may require many months to develop the desired "tang" of a sourdough.

Recipes for Success

Regardless of the source of the yeast, there are a few things to keep in mind when making a starter from scratch.

  • Use non-chlorinated water: adding chlorine to your starter will almost certainly destroy the very organisms you are hoping to nurture. Use distilled or filtered water, or simply leave tap water open to the air for 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine.
  • Choose unprocessed grains such as whole wheat or rye flour for the best results when beginning a starter. You can switch to bread flour or all-purpose flour after the first few feedings.
  • Don't starve the yeast. This is a common mistake. Even if you do not see any activity, the starter must be fed every 24 hours in the beginning. Stop feeding the yeast, and you'll end up with a stinky gooey mess, as mold and "bad" bacteria take over your starter.
  • Store in a glass or ceramic container at room temperature, and cover with a loose-fitting lid or a piece of damp cheesecloth.

    Did It Work?

    Your starter should resemble a foamy, thick pancake batter; the aroma should be yeasty and slightly sour. Starters will sometimes separate into a clear liquid and a denser layer of flour. This is fine: just stir it together before using. If the mixture smells bad, is any color other than creamy white or slightly yellow, or has a furry mold colony, throw it out. Also, if there are no bubbles after 3 to 5 days, discard and begin again.

      Maintaining Your Starter

      Usually a feeding consists of stirring in amounts of flour and water equal to the amount of starter you have. For instance, if you have 2 cups of starter, stir in 2 cups flour and 2 cups water. This may have to be adjusted slightly to maintain the consistency.

      Tips for Refrigerated Starters

      Most home bakers store starter in the refrigerator. This slows down the growth of both the yeast and the bacillus. A refrigerator will keep your starter at temperatures between 36 and 38 degrees F (2 to 3 degrees C). Growth will slow quite a bit, but not completely.

      • Feed the starter right before placing in the refrigerator, and whip with a wire whisk to incorporate oxygen.
      • The starter will need to be fed once a week. If you will not be using it, discard half, measure, and feed accordingly.

      The starter should be fed at least once, and allowed to reach peak activity before incorporating into a recipe. (This will take about 6 to 8 hours.) For the best flavor, some bakers recommend building the starter up with several feedings in order to bring the yeast and bacillus to the highest possible level of activity. Since there are many thousands of organisms per gram of starter, you can use very small amounts of starter in this process.

      • Remove 2 tablespoons from your starter, and mix with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Continue feeding at 6 hour intervals until you have made enough starter for your recipe.
      • After the first feeding, maintain a ratio of 1 part starter: 1 part flour:1 part water per feeding, effectively doubling the starter each time you feed it.

      Professional bakers keep their starters at room temperature and feed at 6- to 8-hour intervals. This method produces a lot, and if you are not baking everyday you could end up throwing a bunch away.

      Feeding Tips

      • Room temperature is considered to be between 70 to 80 degrees F (21 to 27 degrees C). Cooler temperatures will tend to slow down growth, while warmer temperatures will speed it up. Take this into consideration when setting up a feeding schedule. You should plan to feed your starter every 6 to 8 hours when it is kept at room temperature.
      • Always feed the starter at the peak of activity, when the mixture is bubbling actively and is at its greatest volume. Do not wait for the scheduled feeding, especially if the volume is decreasing. This indicates that the yeast have run out of food, and are beginning to die off.
      • After feeding, whip air into the batter using a wire whisk to provide the yeast with a bountiful amount of oxygen.

        Freezing and Drying

        Freezing and drying are additional methods of storage--and they're also good insurance against losing an especially good creation. When the starter has reached peak activity, give it a mini feeding, about 1/4 of what you would ordinarily feed it. Freeze in an airtight container. To use, defrost at room temperature. Feed, and then use in your recipe when the mixture is bubbly and active.

        Alternatively, spread starter in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow to dry at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. To restart, crumble dried starter in warm water, and begin regular feedings. Store frozen for up to 6 months or dried for 2 to 3 months. Incidentally, sending dried starter through the mail is an excellent way to share it with a faraway friend or relative.

          lara s.j 
          Jun. 25, 2009 10:12 pm
          thank you for posting the sourdough bread starter i love to eat sourdough bread with or without butter now i can make the bread again thank you
          Jul. 1, 2009 6:13 am
          I've been looking for a good starter and this sounds like it. I'll be starting one today. Thanks.
          Rose Gagnon 
          Jul. 8, 2009 10:09 pm
          The thing I like about the Amish starter is that you can freeze it. I use to make a potato water starter which was pretty fragile. It couldn't be frozen for long but it made excellent bread. I had to keep it in a warm place though so I'd put it on top of the water heater in one house, atop the stove in another. I had a warmer oven in one stove in a house we rented so that was perfect! I really love sourdogh. My children were allergic to store bought milk as am I so it's been fun! Getting enzymes into your diet is important and if you are constantly making sourdough and yogurt, there are enzymes floating in you air so it becomes easier!
          Jul. 22, 2009 1:32 pm
          My starter was a little "flat" on the 5th day. I added 1/4 cup each of flour and sugar. That got it bubbling again and lessened the odor of stale beer.
          Jul. 29, 2009 5:09 am
          These are excellent tips on making and maintaining a sourdough starter. I started with sourdough culture about 6 months ago. It was usable in about 7-10 days but it actually took about 3 weeks for it to get that true sourdough flavor. (I made a starter with a teensy bit of Fleishman's yeast to get off to a predictable start). There's nothing like actually making and maintaining a starter to get you in the ballgame! As with any new endeavor....give yourself time to learn the smell and appearance of your starter: how much flour and water to add each time. Is it a little flat? A pinch of sugar or tablespoon of dehydrated potatoes will revive it. Give your starter a name, like a pet, and maybe you'll remember to feed it once a week (if you don't bake weekly). I now buy flour in 25 lb. sacks cuz I make so much makes a wonderful gift. Try making one of the no-knead breads with it. Easy-peasy! has excellent videos on the subject.
          Aug. 3, 2009 3:18 pm
          A beginner here. Just received my first bread machine. I am trying my hand at my own starter. My question: How much of my own (liquid) starter would I use in lieu of the bread machine recipes which call for dry yeast ? Thank you so much.
          Aug. 4, 2009 6:00 am
          I made this stater about 4 weeks ago. I love it. I do the baking of the bread in the family. I used Whole Wheat flour for my starter. I keep mine in the fridge and feed it once a week. I use the starter that I take out in things like English muffins,pancakes and banana bread. I hate to throw out good food. I also will save my throw out starter in the fridge in another container till I want to use it. Sorry Anna I have never used a bread machine to do my sourdough as I do free form loaves.But I am sure that if you use your machine to do the kneading for you then take it out it should be fine with the regular recepies.
          Aug. 6, 2009 11:10 am
          I grew up in Calif. eating sour dough french bread. Since I have been on the east coast I have not found any bread with that special twang as back home does. I am going to try this method to see if I get what I am looking for. Sure Miss that twang. Oh, that starter in Calif area goes back to the civil war thats how old the starter is.
          Sep. 23, 2009 6:59 pm
          I should have been clear above: add the ale to the bread you're making, not the starter. Starter should only have flour & water, never anything else.
          Sep. 27, 2009 12:09 pm
          The feeding should be water and flour based on weight, not volume. Thus, if you are adding 1 cup of flour, add 3/4 cup of water. I use tap water that has been sitting out for 24 hours, same as stated in the instructions above, to get rid of the chlorine. (I'm a cheap skate) If it's taking a long time to get really active starter, you can still use it. I make waffles with mine. Find a sourdough pancake recipe and either make pancakes or waffles. The consistancy of my starter is much like a pancake batter - maybe a tad bit thinner. My BF loves the waffles as most commercial items with flour in them, like bread, upset is digestion but these do not.
          Sep. 27, 2009 5:03 pm
          I just received some starter from a friend but found out they have been adding milk to their starter for 20 yrs. My first loaf did not taste soury!!!! Can this starter be saved? Please help!
          Dec. 5, 2009 8:37 pm
          Hi Tracy I believe your starter can be saved, just omit the milk and continue feeding flour and water until the milk is pushed out. For a beginners tutorial on creating a starter from scratch, see:
          Dec. 25, 2009 7:39 am
          i'm starting,i'm looking for idieas. I now wished i listened to my dad, he was a baker and he always had starter. for ever i could smell the starter in the kichen and i knew no matter where my adventures had taken me, i knew i was home ! i'm 50yrs old now and i wished i listened.
          Jan. 6, 2010 2:19 pm
          Hi I am looking for a bread recipe made with sour whole milk. My mother use to make it all the time in the winter. I know she used flour and can't remember what else. she would leave it along for a few minutes and bake it the same day. Please if anyone knows of such a recipe let us know. Thank you
          Jan. 8, 2010 8:58 am
          I'm currently trying to get a sourdough starter going - have had to throw my first "try" out once already as it got moldy, & now I'm trying it the second time. I'm using Potato Buds (spose to be flakes), Warm Water & Sugar. It's spose to sit on the counter for 3-10 days before feeding & using. Right away the next morning i had two small clusters of bubbles (3/4" clusters) & nothing has happened since. I don't see anything rising (floating up) up from the bottom either. Should I wait longer or go ahead & feed it & use it?? It's just on it's second morning. Thanks!
          Jan. 15, 2010 10:50 am
          I am thinking of creating a starter. I have a friend that brews his own beer and uses different cultures,thinking of getting some from him. Does anyone have thoughts on using a culture other than commercially available yeast(ie fleishmans).
          mary b. 
          Jan. 24, 2010 5:53 am
          I can't seem to find the quantities of ingriedents to make the starter for the sourdough . Love your recipes.
          Jan. 27, 2010 5:13 am
          Ha Ha! Poor me! Why didn't I look for this article before? I tried to make starter at home and when it was foamy I thought this has gone bad and we may end up in have poisoning!! So I threw all that. I will start again. I am laughing at me after reading this article...
          Mar. 6, 2010 6:58 am
          Thanks for all the great comments. I started my second starter (but first I cared about) a month ago and have had surprisingly great success with almost everything I've made. I have been working from my mom's 26-year old cookbook from Alaska magazine, which gives a great discussion. I decided to experiment with freezing the starter and this week had to finally use it because I forgot to set aside starter last week. I started feeding it on Wednesday and have continued feeding it in our utility closet. I am concerned, because although it is bubbling well, it has a vinegary smell instead of the pleasant sourdough smell of my other batches. Do I need to be concerned or is this normal?
          Apr. 27, 2010 6:04 am
          I have been making sourdough bread from a starter for 2 or 3 months now. It comes out wonderfully except for one thing. I have a problem with the baked loaves having an air pocket on the top of the loaf. I do not know if I am over kneading or under kneading, or if the kneading is even the problem. I use my stand mixer with a dough hook to mix and knead the dough when I make the bread dough before the first bulk rising. When I form the dough into loaves, I usually try to knead by hand about 50 times for each loaf. Anyway, can anyone help?
          May 6, 2010 5:09 am
          Linda- Not sure, but may be as SIMPLE as using a serrated knife to make slash(es) across top of loaves (about 1/4 inch deep). This is where the majority of rising occurs in the oven before the increasing heat finally kills the yeast and locks in the baked loaf shape. Slashing the top puts your "signature" on each loaf, and prevents the air pocket on top. One other possibility is that you're not forming your loaves "tight" enough. I personally do not "re-knead" after the final rise when forming loaves. Just work the dough with hands to get the shape I want...either by rolling out to a flat rectangle (for traditional loaves) then pinching and rolling into a very tight loaf, seam on bottom; or by "mushrooming" my dough into an even more traditional round loaf, leaving any uneven surface to be the loaf's bottom. A few quick slashes and into the oven! Bon Apetite!
          May 17, 2010 11:14 am
          Thank you, Mays24. I'll try some of your suggestions.
          May 18, 2010 2:25 pm
          Hi Linda, I just read in a yeast bread article that if the top crust separates then the dough was underproofed. That happened to me. :(
          May 20, 2010 7:40 am
          hope003, how did you correct the problem? Thanks
          Jun. 5, 2010 1:00 pm
          Can somebody tell me how to replace the amount of starter needed intead of yeast? I am new to bread making but would like replace the yeast in recipes with a starter?
          Jun. 7, 2010 2:39 am
          Hey, bakers - twice it's been asked for the substitution amount for starter instead of yeast - someone must know and it seems like it should be a simple answer - I'm sure many would like to know - anyone?....
          Jul. 2, 2010 4:50 pm
          There's no place to click to save to my recipe Box!
          Jul. 9, 2010 11:52 am
          My sister-in-law and I "share" starter,back and forth.This goes on for months and gives one incentive to home bake(you don't want to be the one to break the chain) And it's an excuse to share the baking and tips and socialize
          Aug. 14, 2010 7:05 am
          I used to make my own bread 25 years ago and have just started again. The starter i used back then had molasses. I think it was 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water & 1/4 cup molasses. Can anyone tell me for sure?
          Aug. 17, 2010 12:37 am
          I found out by accident that using soy milk for part of the water makes a good base for making your own starter, mix with a good quality flour, cover, place in a warm spot and feed as mentioned in the earlier instructions.
          Aug. 28, 2010 4:06 pm
          after I get my starter,what is the next step for making the sourdough bread?
          Sep. 1, 2010 3:14 am
          Just a comment on feeding tips: this is a fermentation process, anaerobic, yeast spores don't need oxygen - so "whipping" with a wire whisk (wire? - metal?) should not be necessary... Thanks to rkg for the idea about soymilk
          Oct. 4, 2010 1:27 pm
          Have read all posts, as I've had a starter and used it mostly for pancakes but now wanted to try bread in a bread machine. But, this is interesting reading. I got my starter from a senior citizen in Montana. She got it from her mom, it's that old. Her instructions to me were to use milk to feed. Also, she showed me how, if you forget about it and come back to mold or actual yeast on top, you skim off with a spoon (rinsed in hot water after each careful swipe), get rid of half the starter and feed the other half, wash container well before you add new starter. She uses crockery to store and puts it in fridge. I have noticed how weather and room temp affect mine from time to time but it doesn't have to be complicated. Mine is great, I've brought it back from this kind of near-death many times. Never have gotten sick and works beautifully. Family loves it.
          Oct. 20, 2010 3:16 pm
          I'd really like to make my own bread every week. As I have plenty of experience with using dried yeast, I'd like to try to use a starter for making bread. I have two problems though, the first is that we tend to like sweet breads in our house as well as sourdough, so how do I make a sweet dough starter? All I can find are sourdough ones. Secondly, I can't find anything on the amount of starter to use versus the amount of dried yeast. As I have several family favorite holiday bread recipes, this would be an important thing to know. Anyone have any answers or solutions?
          Dec. 23, 2010 5:16 am
          rayce's - I use my sourdough starter in sweet bread recipes. Just one cup of starter' 6 cups of flour, 1/2 cup suger, 1/2 cup corn oil, 1 1/2 cup of warm water , 1 tbsp of salt and I add an egg or 2. Put dough in greased bowl,and let rise about 12 hrs, punch down, DO NOT KNEAD for sweet breads.Then roll out for cinn. rolls,etc.add ingred., cut and let rise again, then bake. Add icing while hot from oven. For icing I make simple recipe of: 2 cups powdered sugar 2 tsp vanilla milk to spread
          Dec. 24, 2010 7:23 am
          I found a good looking oat bread recipe but calls for 2 t yeast. How much starter would I substitute?
          Jan. 12, 2011 3:34 pm
          This is more of a question than a comment. I see that you are instructed to use a glass or ceramic container to store your starter, however i was wondering if a plastic container would work. Thank you for any answers.
          Jan. 13, 2011 8:03 pm
          Some people worry that pastic may leach into the starter. A sweet starter is amish friendship bread, but the following method should work for sweet yeast bread recipes as well as substituting starter for yeast in recipes. I have been baking bread and english muffins with a wild starter(using flour and water only) that I started last May. Before that I was a beginner who only had used a bread machine(I've now given the machine away). I keep the starter in the fridge and once a week feed it by pouring 1 cup into a quart jar and adding 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. The remaining starter I use to make bread without using commercial yeast. I follow regular yeast recipes but add a step. I add 1 cup liquid(from the recipe),sugar (if the recipe calls for it), and two cups flour to starter and let it rise double. After the rise I add the rest of the ingredients minus 2 cups liquid (1 from the starter the other added previously), sugar, and 3 cups flour (starter and 1st step). This has worked
          Jan. 18, 2011 3:26 pm
          someone asked about how to replace yeast with sourdough starter...i read somewhere 1 cup sourdough starter replaces 1 tbs of yeast or 1 pkg....just adjust the fluids and flour to compensate.....i find it works well
          Feb. 2, 2011 5:47 pm
          The general rule of thumb I've seen for the amount of starter you should use in your bread is 20-40% of the final weight of the dough. This usually means you'll have to build up your starter as part of the process of making the bread.
          Feb. 25, 2011 8:41 am
          thank you for all the great comments and suggestions.I just stared my first batch of starter,using the 1/2 cup method and wheat flour.I am so glad I found this,I have been wanting to make yeast bread from scratch.have made no-yeast bread,divided it before baking and it made great bread bowls for soup.I can hardly wait for it to be ready!
          Apr. 1, 2011 11:45 pm
          Everybody, you should try some sourdough starter in your favorite pizza dough recipe! Sourdough pizza is absolutely THE BEST EVER!!! You'll never want a pizza without it again! The sharp twang of sourdough so much complements the sharp twang of the tomatoes (or tomato paste) in the marinara sauce, especially with a bit of olive oil. My pizzas always include Oregano, Italian Seasoning, garlic powder, dried minced onions, and a sprinkling of some Fennel Seeds. The cheeses are ONLY: shredded Mozzarella, and a mixture of shredded Parmesan, Romano, & Asiago. Then my favorite toppings. TONS of flavor!
          Apr. 2, 2011 5:55 pm
          It's also fun making sourdough rye bread. The neat part about baking your own bread is being able to make something you just can't buy ANYWHERE. Of course only half of the flour in it should be rye, it needs the gluten in all-purpose flour to rise well.
          Apr. 17, 2011 10:47 am
          King Arthur Flour Co. has a starter for sale on their website for about $6.50. I bought it after killing my homemade starter, and it is wonderful! My first loaves are delicious!!
          May 1, 2011 10:34 am
          I used the whey from kefir to make the started and I feed it kefir water. It works well.
          May 22, 2011 11:22 am
          Someone gave me a commercial sourdough starter.....Gold Rush. After only 24 hours I have foam thru out the mix and a small amount of brown liquid. The instructions said to let the starter set for 7 days....but this seems like a long time...I live in a very warm climet. Do I feed this mix even though it has not sat on the counter for 7days.thanks for comments and help
          May 23, 2011 1:52 pm
          My family is hooked on sourdough bread!! This morning I was making some whole wheat bread and cinnamon buns! My starter has been in this family for 8 years and still going strong!! My husband says he likes eating healthy!! Then slathers on the peanut butter and jelly!!
          Jul. 27, 2011 6:41 am
          Help please. I have a few questions regarding feeding the starter. At feeding tips you say: "•After the first feeding, maintain a ratio of 1 part starter: 1 part flour:1 part water per feeding, effectively doubling the starter each time you feed it" But if you have 3 parts you make 3 times the starter, not double. nd you say that you should feed the strater at peak, this is after 6-8 hours. But also you say that it needs to be fed once per day. How is correct? Thank you for answer.
          Sep. 7, 2011 5:18 am
          Why can't I save this? I love the article, but the save tag was not vusible. Love your site.
          Oct. 16, 2011 2:40 pm
          i have tried several times to make my starter ,having problems getting a second rise to my bread. what am i doing wrong? Do you lrt starter ferment before feeding or what ? i guess i am a slow learner but i dont give up to easy.
          Oct. 27, 2011 6:04 pm
          I've been using the same starter since 1991. I made it from a pkg, according to the directions feed it milk not water along with the flour. After quite some time it was not coming to life, I started a new starter a year ago, saving 1/4 c of the old starter to maintain the original starter. It is now fantastic, bakes great, and I have given some away to others. I'm going to try the drying and freezing method to transport and save more. Try the Oregon sourdough brochure for great recipes!!
          Oct. 30, 2011 10:34 am
          I cheated and bought my starter from King Arthur Flour because I have "caught" sourdough at many different places across the country and the local yeast truly matters. The best sourdough we started was in the Adirondacks... The KAF starter is ancient and very close to the Adk starter... Loved this article for reminding me of new ways to refresh it when it has been hidden in the back of the fridge almost too long... Enjoy!
          Oct. 30, 2011 11:03 am
          I forgot to mention that if the liquid forms on top that is discolored and slightly black, you should pour it off and add equal parts of fresh water and flour, and, as this entry suggests, mix it well to incorporate air. The yeast will still be plenty sour but you will rejuvenate your starter and save your efforts. Enjoy!
          Nov. 4, 2011 3:28 am
          Can someone tell me how often I have to feed my sourdough starter(about 400g) if i bake 1 or 2 loaves a week and how how much to feed it each time? If I want to use it after refrigeration, what must I do? Must I feed it night before I use it? How long can I refrigerate it? Many thanks!
          Dec. 26, 2011 11:57 am
          Does anyone have a "sour milk " starter recipe? Years ago a friend gave me one, and it made the lightest bread and rolls!! It starts with letting milk set at room tempter until bubbly and seperated. Then you add flour etc? If you use it often enough it isn't 'sour' in taste. Thank you for your info.
          MT Baker 
          Jan. 7, 2012 12:29 pm
          MinnMom, I am looking for an older Montana sourdough starter. You got yours from a Montana senior citizen? Any chance I can get some from you?
          Jan. 12, 2012 6:14 pm
          wow. I just got an eye-opening discussion on a subject I thought was extinct. Think it maybe something to get back into. Where is the best place to start???? HELP
          Jan. 16, 2012 12:13 pm
          I have multiple sourdoughs that I feed and have used for about 30 years. I do a lot of reading, I get the benefit of users. The next thing I wanted to address is the dark liquid that will occasionally gather at the top of the starter. I have never poured it off; the dark liquid is actually a mixture of water and alcohol produced by the starter. Stir the liquid back in, stirring well and feed it.
          Jan. 29, 2012 4:48 pm
          Thanks for all the information here. Recently bought a bread machine and I was having problems with my bread rising. Your comment about using non-chlorinated water solved my problem. A few more good loaves and I will be ready to jump into the adventure of a sourdough starter. Filtered water of course.
          Jan. 29, 2012 4:50 pm
          By the way. Have you ever heard of mixing starters? I saw a few posts about sharing starters, but if I have a good one and a friend has a good one, could they be mixed? Especially if each had a desired characteristic?
          Feb. 5, 2012 11:46 am
          I have recently received a starter mix that has been in use for over 40 years. The feeding instructions I have been given calls for 1 cup each of flour and milk & 1/4 cup of sugar. Unless I'm missing something much of what I've read calls for only flour and water to be added. There can' t be problem with my instructions because the dough is excellent. The recipe I was given for cinnamon buns is the best I have tasted. I'm just wondering if there are others who feed with flour, milk and sugar vs. Water and flour. ..... Thanks Pj
          Feb. 11, 2012 10:02 am
          I just started Irish starter using potato flakes flour and water...
          Mar. 7, 2012 11:49 am
          Do u have to cover the starter mix after u make it or just leave it uncoveredfor 48 hrs.Thanks.
          Mar. 7, 2012 11:52 am
          Could l get your cinnamon bun receipe .
          Apr. 3, 2012 8:56 am
          My immediate family doesn't much care for sourdough but I love it. With me being the only one who likes it does make frequent cooking with it a little difficult. I tried maintaining my sisters 38 year old sourdough that she shared with me and promptly killed it. Now I'm getting ready to make starter out of wheat flour as this sounds like it might be a little healthier.
          Apr. 27, 2012 5:06 pm
          Interesting thing about most of these posts is that if you take them in their aggregate you can see that nearly anything goes. There ain't no 'recipe' and no right way to do things. Look out for anyone who says 'never' or 'always'! Folks have been making sourdough bread for thousands of years because until this past century, there was no common source of yeast for home bakers. So, it can't be that hard. So, read the above comments, get the gist of them, and go for it. I feed my sourdough some sugar every coupla days and throw in some flour and water occasionally and that works for me.
          Jul. 4, 2012 11:52 am
          I've tried most the starters here and most are good if not excellent but I was looking for a real old style flavor and found it. Just search for Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter. Free to anyone for the postage and I might suggest a small donation to help with their costs. A real American treasure for sure. PA
          Man Cook 
          Aug. 11, 2012 3:25 pm
          Looking for recipes for "Salt Risen Bread" Starters. No potatoes, no sourdough, no modern ingredients after WW2 Eastern Kentucky recipes
          Aug. 17, 2012 5:08 pm
          just started my starter 7 days ago and its really thin and not very bubbly. should i add more yeast or just be patient and wait a little longer?
          Aug. 24, 2012 1:15 pm
          great info. thanks!
          Sep. 2, 2012 7:07 am
          fyi, if you use a small amount of packaged yeast to make a starter it is called a biga not sourdough. Over time the wild yeast content will grow causing it to become more sourdough-y but a biga can be used fairly quickly (I'd recommend between 8-24 hours). For those that don't have the dedication to deal with a true sourdough starter, this is a great alternative. Do a search for more details. Here the wiki for preferments:
          Sep. 2, 2012 7:07 am

          Sep. 30, 2012 9:28 am
          To Pa's kitchen. Thank you for the info on the oregon trail starter. Just made my envelope to go into the mail tomorrow. Can't wait to get started :D!
          Dec. 28, 2012 7:06 pm
          Hi to all. This to PJ: Years ago I baked several loaves of bread - all kinds, including sourdough - about 4 times a week. [Also made rolls, English Muffins, bagels, and many kinds of yeast cakes. All this came to an end when my kids left for college and then my husband died. Now I am going to start again. Was trying to recall my earlier approach to starter. I thought I recalled beginning with 1cup milk & 1 cup flour. Seeing all the talk of water here was making me doubt my memory. So PJ - I was happy to read your post. Now I am sure it was milk.
          Mar. 2, 2013 12:52 pm
          I had a Sour Dough Starter Years ago but it wasn't kept in the ref. I kept it on a shelf over the stove or on the counter. Never in the ref. Is this the same starter? I lost my recipe after moving and have never seen it again.
          Oct. 3, 2013 11:16 am
          I used your advice to store my sourdough starter. I cultivated my own version using San Francisco Sour Dough Starter and 1847 Oregon Trail SD Starter as its parents. I have pampered it for a over a year now, using your methods, altho I find whipping my "starter food" in causes some gluten tendency. I dry mine by painting it on waxed paper on cookie sheets and putting it on a proof setting in my over until crispy. It breaks up easily and then I powder it with a spice grinder. I have tried leaving it out to dry on cookie sheets- it molds. And the warm setting on my oven destroys it. I consider it more of a flavoring than a leavoner. We LOVE the flavor but like a less dense bread. We have it all this way! Use a regular bread recipe, replacing some bread flour with your soughdough "Flour" and boy oh boy that's heaven! Wanna trade starters?
          Oct. 3, 2013 11:18 am
          BTW, when I say "regular bread recipe", that includes the yeast.
          Feb. 8, 2014 1:06 pm
          glad to find this but am curious. you mention to use a wire whisk to incorporate extra oxygen. thought the metal utensils/bowls messed up the starter. just checking. I don't want to mess it up. please advise
          May 14, 2014 4:11 am
          I started my sourdough starter three days ago from a recipe. This recipe calls for me to make the sponge with one cup of starter and I did that this morning. I used one cup of starter and replaced that with one cup flour and one cup warm water. It amazed me that after stirring the replenished mixture that it foamed and bubbled out of my glass container. I am so glad that I happened upon this article. I did not know what to do with the saved starter. Thank you,Linda
          Subscribe Today!

          In Season

          Grilled Burgers For the 4th
          Grilled Burgers For the 4th

          Check out our collection of almost 200 grilled burger recipes.

          Potato Salad On the Side
          Potato Salad On the Side

          A cookout isn't complete without a big bowl of potato salad. We have hundreds for you.

          Subscribe Today! Only $7.99
          Subscribe Today! Only $7.99

          Delicious recipes, party ideas, and cooking tips! Get a year of Allrecipes magazine for $7.99!

          Related Videos

          How to Bake Your Sourdough Bread

          See how to bake San Francisco-style sourdough bread.

          How to Knead Your Sourdough Bread

          Turn your sponge into bread dough and give it a good kneading.

          Is Your Sourdough Starter Alive & Well

          Discover the signs that reveal your starter is properly nourished.

          Recently Viewed Recipes

          You haven't looked at any recipes lately. Get clicking!
          Quick Links: Recipe Box | Shopping List | More »
          Argentina  |  Australia & New Zealand  |  Brazil  |  Canada  |  China  |  France  |  Germany  |  India  |  Italy  |  Japan  |  Korea  |  Mexico

          Netherlands  |  Poland  |  Quebec  |  Russia  |  SE Asia  |  United Kingdom & Ireland  |  United States