Making A Sourdough Starter

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So, I’m really late to the sourdough starter party, but I’ve finally arrived. If you’re a beginner with no prior knowledge of sourdough, don’t worry. I was too. I’m going to walk you through the process of creating your very own sourdough starter from scratch, and it’s easy. I promise, don’t overthink this.

First Of All, What is Sourdough Starter?

A sourdough starter is a fermented mixture of flour and water that contains wild yeast and bacteria. It acts as a natural leavening agent for baking sourdough bread, giving it that distinct tangy flavor and airy texture.

A sourdough starter in a mason jar with a scoop of flour in the background.

Ingredients and Tools You Need

Flour: You’ll need whole wheat flour to start and unbleached all-purpose flour for feeding your starter.


I recommend using the King Arthur brand Whole Wheat Flour and All-Purpose flours – they’re great.

Water: Use filtered water to avoid chlorine, which can inhibit the growth of wild yeast.

Jar or Container: A glass or plastic container with a loose lid or cloth cover will work. It should be large enough to allow the starter to grow. Wide mouth mason jars make the perfect container for starters.

Food Scale: Precision is key in baking, so a kitchen scale is preferred for measuring ingredients accurately.

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your First Sourdough Starter

Day 1: Mixing

  1. Combine Ingredients: In your container, mix 60 grams of whole wheat flour with 60 grams of water. Whole wheat flour is great for the initial mix because it’s rich in nutrients that feed the yeast and bacteria.
  2. Stir and Cover: Stir until smooth, and cover the container with a loose lid or cloth. This allows gases to escape while keeping the mixture protected.
  3. Rest: Leave the container at room temperature (ideally around 70-75°F) for 24 hours.

Day 2: Watching

  1. Observe: By the second day, you might see some bubbles and notice a slight rise in the mixture. This is a good sign that fermentation is beginning. Let it rest for another 24 hours.

Day 3-6: Feeding

  1. Feed Your Starter: Discard about half of your starter, leaving roughly 60 grams in the container. Add 60 grams of unbleached all-purpose flour and 60 grams of water to the remaining starter. Mix well, cover, and let it rest for 24 hours.
  2. Repeat: Continue this feeding process daily. The starter should become more active, doubling in volume between feedings, and develop a pleasantly sour smell.

Day 7: Ready to Use

In most cases, the starter is ready on day 7, but this isn’t always the case. If the temperature is too low in your kitchen, it can take longer. It’s completely normal if it’s not ready on day 7. Just continue the daily feedings for another week (or even two). Patience, patience, patience.

  1. Active and Bubbly: Your starter should now be active, bubbly, and ready to use for baking. It should double in size within 4 to 6 hours after feeding.
  2. Maintain Your Starter: Keep feeding your starter daily if kept at room temperature, or weekly if stored in the refrigerator.
A jar of sourdough starter with a scoop of flour sitting next to it.

Tips for Success

Consistency is Key: Feed your starter at the same time each day to encourage regular yeast activity.

Watch the Temperature: Sourdough starters prefer a warm environment. If your kitchen is cold, find a warmer spot to encourage fermentation (70-75°F).

Use the Discard: Don’t throw away the discard from feedings. It can be used in pancakes, waffles, or cookies. I don’t recommend baking with the initial set of discards from the first week. Let the starter fully activate before using the discard for breads and goodies.

Questions About Sourdough Starters

If your starter isn’t bubbling, it may be due to cold temperatures or insufficient fermentation time. Ensure it’s kept in a warm spot and give it a few more days. Sometimes starters take longer to show activity.

Yes, you can use different types of flour like rye or whole grain flours. These can even add more character to your sourdough, but starting with whole wheat and all-purpose flour is recommended for beginners.

If kept at room temperature, feed your starter once a day. If stored in the refrigerator, you can feed it once a week.

Your starter is ready when it reliably doubles in size within 4 to 6 hours after feeding, has a pleasant, slightly sour aroma, and shows plenty of bubbles.

  1. At Room Temperature: If you bake frequently, keep your starter at room temperature. Store it in a container with a loose lid or cover to allow gases to escape. Feed it daily to maintain its activity and health.
  2. In the Refrigerator: For less frequent baking, the refrigerator is a good option. This slows down the fermentation process, requiring only weekly feeding. Make sure the container is sealed to prevent the starter from drying out. Before using it for baking, take it out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature, and give it a couple of feedings to reactivate.

I can speak from experience when I tell you that creating a sourdough starter is a hugely rewarding experience. It connects you to the age-old tradition of bread making. With a little patience and care, you can have a thriving sourdough starter that can last for years, and make countless loaves of delicious sourdough bread (or pancakes, cookies, pizza crust, and banana bread – go crazy!). Happy baking, my friends.

A sourdough start in a glass jar with a scoop of flour in the background.

Making A Sourdough Starter

By: Kristine Underwood
Learn how to make your own sourdough starter from scratch with this easy guide for beginners. It has simple steps, tips, and essential care for making your first sourdough starter.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Resting Time 7 days
Total Time 7 days 5 minutes
Course Bread & Muffins
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cup
Calories 200 kcal


  • 60 grams whole wheat flour
  • 60 grams filtered water


Day 1:

  • Combine whole wheat flour and water in a glass jar and cover loosely.
    60 grams whole wheat flour, 60 grams filtered water

Day 2:

  • Observe starter for bubbles, which may or may not be present. Let starter rest for another 24 hours.

Day 3-6:

  • Discard approximately half of the starter and feed with 60 grams unbleached all-purpose flour and 60 grams filtered water.

Day 7:

  • If your starter has doubled in size and has plenty of bubbles, it's ready to use. If the temperature is too cold in your house, the starter may take up to 2 weeks to activate and be ready to use.


  • You have two options, on the counter or in the refrigerator. If you store your starter on the counter because you bake often, you'll need to feed it everyday at the same time. If you store your starter in the refrigerator, you'll need to feed it weekly on the same day, at the same time.


*I don’t recommend baking with the initial set of discards from the first week. Let the starter fully activate before using the discard.


Serving: 1 cupCalories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 8gFat: 1gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 66mgFiber: 6gCalcium: 42mgIron: 1mg
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