Making a Sourdough Starter!

Sourdough baking is an incredible baking adventure and it can begin in your kitchen today. It is an art and it is so rewarding to pull a crusty artisan or a soft sandwich loaf out of the oven. In the post we will begin in the very beginning of sourdough, starting with the first tablespoon of flour and water to make a starter. We will take you through the day by day steps to have a successful baking experience.

No-knead Sourdough Bread

The first step is getting a good high quality flour. The best flour I have found is the King Arthur Brand. In the professional sourdough baking world this is one of the top flours. I, personally, have tried many different types of flour to feed my starter but keep coming back to this brand. A high quality flour is a must to have a successful baking day. If you would like more of an explanation on flours check out this post. I use our well water for feeding my starter and for mixing bread. DO NOT use chlorinated water as it will kill your starter. Spring water and bottled water will also work. I use either a glass measuring bowl with a lid or thes Princess House Glass bowls with lids. I allow the starter to set uncovered for 8 hours and then I cover it so it doesn’t get a hard crust on top.

The nutritional panel for both flours.

Day 1: In a large container with a lid, combine 6 cups King Arthur Bread Flour and 6 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour. This will be you flour mixture to only feed your starter. When making your bread dough you will use all whole grain wheat flour and not any bread flour. Starter Day 1: In a separate glass bowl/jar combine 1 tablespoon of the mixed flour and 1 tablespoon water. Stir well. Set the bowl on the counter uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly. Reserve the remaining flour in a tight container to feed your starter.

This is what your starter should look like on Day 1 after it has been mixed.

Day 2, Left–starter 24 hours after is was mixed. We have 1 bubble. Right–starter is fed 2 tablespoon of our reserve flour mixture and 2 tablespoons water. Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly. I just lay a lid over top or you can use a coffee filter.

Left–we have a puffy looking starter with bubbles 24 hours after the last feeding. Right–I fed the starter 3 tablespoons flour and 3 tablespoons water and put it in a 1 cup jelly jar. The band is where the starter in now and will give us a point of reference to see if the starter rises at all in the next 24 hours.
Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly.

Take note of the left picture, there are bubbles but there is also hooch which means the starter is getting hungry. Center picture shows there are bubbles but it has not risen at all from the amount it was when we mixed it. This shows it is a young starter. Day 4 feed–I removed 2 tablespoons of starter and discarded the remainder in the compost. I fed the reserved 2 tablespoons of starter, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons water.
Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly. I do not keep the discard starter because it doesn’t have enough bacteria/fermenting properties, yet.

Left picture–the starter has just a few bubbles, it has a bit of hooch, and has thinned out quite a bit. This is the time when you wonder if you are getting anywhere. Today I fed it 2 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon water. This has thickened it up–right picture. Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly.

Left picture–we see a few bubbles and no hooch which is a good sign we are getting enough of food there. Today I did not discard any starter. I fed it 3 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons water. Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly.

Left picture-lots of bubbles and starter has doubled in size. Today I removed 1/4 cup starter and fed it 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons water. I discarded the remaining starter to the compost. Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly.

There is a lot of bubbles but the starter has thinned out quite a bit and separated. See the layer of hooch in the picture on the left. I poured the starter into a dish (center pic) and you can see the separation. Today I fed the starter 1/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. It thickened up a bit but tomorrow we may need to add just a bit more flour if it gets to hungry until out feeding time. Allow to set at room temperature uncovered for 8 hours. Cover lightly.

Take a look at the picture on the left. The starter has doubled but in 10 hours has fallen again. Today I fed it 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons water, picture on right. This thickened it up quite a bit and let’s see if this will give it enough of food for 12 hours.

This starter was fed and within 6 hours had risen and fallen again. This tells us it is time to feed our starter twice a day. The starter does not have enough of food to rise and hold its peak for 8-10 hours. If you make bread with a starter like this your dough will rise but will fall in a short time giving you dense loaves.

Day 9-21 of starting a new Starter : I am now feeding my starter twice a day. I remove 1/4 cup starter and feed it 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons water. The remaining starter I reserve in a jar in the fridge to make pancakes, waffles, and biscuits or any recipe that using an extra leavening agent like baking soda or baking powder. The reason I did not save the discard before this is because it did not have enough bacteria/fermenting properties, yet.

Pancakes are a wonderful way to use up discard. I added Lily’s Chocolate Chips to a few pancakes my children.
The starter on the left is my mature 6+ year old starter and the one on the right is only 3 weeks old. They were both fed exactly the same. In 6 hours they both had risen but the mature starter had risen higher and had larger bubbles than the new starter.

I will continue to feed my starter twice a day and save the discard in the fridge. You can use it for bread at 3 weeks old but to get a nice loaf I would add 1- 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast for loaf. This will assist in the rise and the bread will still be on plan because the starter is fermenting the dough. At this time I do not refrigerate my starter until 4 weeks old but feed it twice a day. A new starter will starve much quicker when stored in the fridge than a mature starter. If you do put your starter in the fridge at 4 weeks old it MUST be fed every 4 days. When you make sourdough items always remember to save starter to feed for more sourdough items. Your starter will last for years and years if properly cared for.

Check out this blog post on using my new 4 week old starter and my mature 6+ year old starter to make 2 loaves of bread.

No-knead Rye Bread and White Whole Wheat Bread
Honey Oat Sourdough Bread
Sourdough Pizza
Sourdough Cinnamon Rollsh

This is the method I use to make my THM-friendly E sourdough bread. However, Pearl and Serene do recommend that we use all whole grains (purist) in both the starter and the dough. There is a recipe for a rye starter/bread in the THM Cookbook. While using some white bread flour in the starter is more of a personal choice on THM, I find that it works great for me for me and my family since it makes wonderful, soft fluffy bread that they will eat.

This post has affiliated links, if you purchase items through these links, I receive a small commission but your price doesn’t change. Your purchase help support this blog, keeps new recipes coming, and assist with our move to a mission outreach of our church. Below are a few of my favorites listed under the affiliate store I purchase them. King Arthur flour can be purchased at Walmart, Amazon and in large chain supermarkets.

You will find many more recipes in the spiral bound 600+ page Around the Family Table Cookbook. All recipes are sugar-free and label with the correct fuel. Books can be purchased using this link. I do send small jars of mature sourdough starter at your request and I ask that you cover the cost of shipping/packing. PM me if you would like to receive a small jar of mature starter. You may also request a small jar of free sourdough starter with the purchase of a cookbook.   Buy It Now.

19 thoughts on “Making a Sourdough Starter!

  1. Pingback: Two Starters – Two Loaves | Around the Family Table – Food. Fun. Fellowship

  2. I’ve ordered the book and would love some starter. I’m really trying to figure this out. Lol. I loved bread baking before THM.

  3. I would like to get a jar of your starter if you could let me know how best to go about it. Once I get it, do I follow the directions above to keep it alive? Thank you.

  4. Today I started my sourdough stater, I don’t understand if I need fed only onc a day, this where I don’t understand after 8 hrs I only need cover the starter.

    • I will add it to your order. Your order will come in 2 packages due to difficulty getting USPS supplies.

    • yes, just cover it. It needs time to ferment the flour the first fee days when there isn’t much bacteria.

  5. When you are feeding the starter twice a day, are you removing a 1/4 cup of the starter at both feedings? Or do you only remove a 1/4 cup with one of the feedings?

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