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How to make sourdough starter

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I didn’t make a sourdough starter for sourdough bread for a long time because it was intimidating. There were so many people out there giving so many tips – bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers – everyone made it look like a complicated process, overly involved process and it scared me.


I bake and I love to bake, but cooking is more of my thing. Baking always seems so precise and sourdough bread with its sourdough starter seemed to be the most finicky kind of bread. I like to taste as I go normally and that doesn’t work so well with dough.


But, I finally took the plunge and guess what? You don’t need a book to tell you how to make a sourdough starter. You don’t need to watch hours of Youtube. Here are some simple lessons I learned in starting my sourdough starter that will help kick off your journey of made-from-scratch baking.


How to make sourdough starter

What is Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is a mixture of water and flour that you use to make sourdough bread and other sourdough bread-like products. Instead of using a packet of yeast from the store, sourdough is made via a fermentation process and uses a naturally occurring lactobacilli (lactic acid) and yeast that’s living in your environment.


Here’s how you make it

Day 1: To start your sourdough starter you need a cup of water and a cup of flour.  You want to mix it together in a glass bowl and leave it on your kitchen counter. Ideally, leave it closer to the oven so when the oven is on it’s a bit warmer. The heat will help to make the natural yeast more active. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, cheese cloth or put a lid on loosely. You want the starter to have access to air. It’s alive, after all.


Day 2: Remove half of the starter and discard it. Add another cup of water, flour, mix and cover lightly. This is how you feed your sourdough starter. Ideally, you want to do this at the same time each day.


Day 3: Remove half and discard it. Add another cup of flour and water each. Mix and then lightly cover. You’re probably already starting to see bubbles in your starter! This is good. This means it is active.


How to make sourdough starter



You may also see a watery liquid called Hooch. Technically, it’s alcohol but it’s naturally produced by the yeast. It also means the sourdough starter is hungry and you may want to feed it earlier or feed it multiple times a day (which I don’t recommend doing until Day 7 because you’ll fly through the flour).

You can just skim it off the top and continue to feed as normal. I found that moving my feeding time up helped to reduce the amount of hooch. You really want to make sure you are feeding at least once every 24 hours to avoid it. I recommend feeding at the same time of day, every day.


How to make sourdough starter


Day 4: Remove 1 cup of the Sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour.


Day 5: Today is the day you can start using your sourdough starter discard. I like to make crackers with mine. My cracker recipe requires 1.5 cups of sourdough starter. So, when I want to make crackers, I remove 1.5 cups of sourdough starter and then add 1.5 cups of flour and water each. If you don’t want to make anything, just keep removing a cup of the starter and then adding a cup of flour and water each.


Day 6: Remove 1 cup of the Sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Mix and cover.

How to make sourdough starter

Day 7: Remove 1 cup of the Sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Mix and cover. This is the first day you can attempt to make sourdough bread if you want to. However, I recommend waiting until at least Day 10.


Day 8: Remove 1 cup of the Sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Mix and cover.


Day 9: Remove 1 cup of the Sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Mix and cover.

How to make sourdough starter

Day 10: Remove 1 cup of the Sourdough starter. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of flour. Mix and cover. You could try to make sourdough bread this day. That said, I waited until Day 13. Here is the recipe and process I used to make our’s.

How to make sourdough starter

After Day 10

After Day 10 if you want to slow your starter down, stick it in the refrigerator. The coolness delays the active process within the starter and it won’t grow as quickly. Then, you only have to feed it once a week too.

I recommend this for anyone who is not a baker. Unless you use it every single day, you’re going to go through A LOT of flour and it will start to feel really wasteful to just throw away the starter discard.


Using the sourdough starter once it’s on ice

When you want to use it, take it out of the refrigerator, remove the starter amount you need for your recipe, feed it that same amount in cups of water and flour and then stick it back in the refrigerator. That’s it.


The type of flour

You can really use any kind of flour. Most purists will tell you to use whole wheat, unbleached flour. I use bread flour. It’s what I had available the day I wanted to begin my sourdough starter and since we are under a stay at home order here in Michigan flour has become a scare commodity.


However, after watching Patrick Ryan on YouTube ( a beautifully, short video on how to make sourdough) it gave me confidence to try with another type of flour. Based on the way my bread has turned out, I can say he was right.

How to make sourdough starter


So that’s it, friends. Does it still seem as intimidating as it did when you first started reading this? I hope not!


Storing sourdough starter

Here’s a few great containers for storing your sourdough starter:


For more recipes from scratch, click here. To see the sourdough bread recipe and process I used, click here. Lastly, you can find my delicious Butter Parmesan Sourdough Crackers made from sourdough discard here.


Thank you so much for visiting today! I hope you’ll come back soon to see what else we are up to at Sugar Maple Farmhouse.

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  1. Amber Myers

    I will have to try this out for sure. I love sourdough bread. Normally I buy from a store but I might have to make it from home to see how it turns out.

  2. Heather

    Thanks for sharing this! A lot of people have started making sourdough lately- this is great timing!

  3. Jen

    Seems like I need to hop on this trend. I’m seeing it everywhere. Looks kinda fun!

  4. Lisa Joy Thompson

    I’ve never made sourdough starter. I’ve always had someone give me the starter! Thanks for the recipe! Can’t wait to try it!

  5. Liz

    Seems like everybody and their mother has been making sourdough lately! Might have to jump on the bandwagon.

  6. melissa Chapman

    I was not familiar with the nuances of sourdough starter and how you can use it for crackers and bread after a few days. I do love a fresh bread so i will try and make this soon.

  7. Jamie

    I always hear people talking about this, but never really knew what it was. Thank you for the great info!

  8. Tasheena

    I’ve always wanted to try making sourdough. Looking forward to giving this a try

  9. Heather

    I had no idea it took so many days! It’s fun to watch it change.

  10. Brianne

    Oh wow! I had no idea that sourdough starter didn’t actually use yeast! All this time, I’ve been trying to buy yeast to make sourdough bread. LOL

  11. Pam

    Someone has always given me sourdough starter so I’ve never tried to make it before. It doesn’t seem intimidating though so it’s time to give it a try!

  12. Tara Pittman

    This is something I need to make. I have all the ingredients also

  13. Amy Desrosiers

    This bread looks so beautiful! I would love to make my own starter to bake up some fresh loaves.

  14. Jazmin

    Will definitely be trying this one out! I’ve always wanted to be able to make my own bread at home! Next up is pasta!

  15. Marta

    I think a lot of people begin sourdough without knowing how much dedication it takes to stick with it. It’s not for the faint of heart

  16. Kathy

    I need to try this out soon. I love making homemade bread. It is so good. I’m going to save this so I can try making it later.

  17. Lisa Martin

    I adore homemade bread. There is something about it that takes me back to my childhood.

  18. Meagan

    This is actually something I’ve been super curious about!!! Quarantine seems like the perfect time to give it a try!

  19. Kita Bryant

    I have always wanted to try this. I think it would be a ton of fun to bake sourdough.

  20. Yana

    This looks great will have to try it thanks for such a great recipe!

  21. Catalina

    wow! With your step by step tips it seems so easy to make it at home. I must try it!

  22. Toni

    I will definitely give this a try! Thank you!

  23. Gervin Khan

    I have never tried to make a sourdough, it’s not easy for sure but I would love to try it hope it will turn good as yours.

  24. Cyndi Buchanan

    This looks so easy. I’m planning on making homemade bread this weekend.

  25. Wren

    This is one thing I want to learn to make. I adore sourdough!

  26. Talya Stone

    I totally hear you – I have also been intimidated by the sourdough hype but you made it sound so simple thank you I’ll have to give this a try!

    • Rachel Quenzer

      Thank you! Good luck!

  27. Amanda

    I honestly never knew it was so easy to make one. Looks like I have a project for the next month of quarantine…

  28. Tami Qualls

    You changed my perspective on making sourdough bread. I’m going to give it a try.

  29. Sarah Bailey

    I have heard a lot of people talking about doing sourdough starter of late – I’ve never been sure how to do it myself but I might have to try it now.

  30. Raina

    Great info! I see everyone making these right now and had no idea how!

  31. Maria

    Yum yum! I love sourdough. Such amazing bread and all the fermentation makes the bread much healthier for you.

  32. Rena

    I always wondered how that was done. I love sourdough bread but I’ve never tried to make it myself.

  33. Shayla Marie

    Love this post! I’ve been making sourdough bread off an on for years, and I’ve made my own starter before but it’s quite the process for sure. So much healthier though! I was going to start my own this spring but a friend brought me some so I wouldn’t have to.

  34. Sarah

    This is great. I love baking things from scratch

  35. I’ve always wanted to try how to make sourdough! Thanks!

  36. vidya

    thank you so much for this step by step post with so much information… i am definitely going to be trying this soon as i get my hands on some flour 🙂

  37. Jasmine Hewitt

    this is super helpful, love how the instructions are laid out, i wanna try this!

  38. Flossie McCowald

    I am so glad you shared this! Will have to share w/my friend who loves homebaked bread and can get flour right now, but not yeast!

  39. NICOLE

    I have always wanted to make this! Thanks for the tips!

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