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Sourdough Starter Recipe

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Fresh flour and water are all you need to make a sourdough starter, also known as levain. Bread and other baked goods can be leavened with the starter instead of commercial yeast as it grows rich in active, live cultures as it is fed. The starter’s bacteria impart a delicious, mildly sour flavor to the bread that can’t be achieved with commercial yeast.

There are a lot of options for how to make a starter, which can be overwhelming. But fear not, for this is a straightforward sourdough starter recipe that even a novice can master.

Ingredients for this dish

  • For the best results, use whole wheat flour in the starter. It’s rich in nutrients and microbes, so fermentation happens quickly. However, after you’ve kicked off the starter with whole wheat flour, you should switch to all-purpose flour for subsequent feedings if you want your gluten to develop properly.
  • Be sure to only drink filtered water at all times. If you use tap water or water treated with chlorine, you risk eliminating the good bacteria in your starter or preventing a healthy one from forming.
  • For the best results, use unbleached all-purpose flour in recipes calling for all-purpose flour. Flour microbes are killed off during the bleaching process, making it more difficult to create a sourdough starter.


For the Starter:

  • ▢½ cup whole wheat flour (60g)
  • ▢¼ cup filtered water (60g)

For Each Feeding:

  • ▢½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (60g)
  • ▢¼ cup filtered water (60g)


  1. First, place the whole wheat flour in a sterile glass jar (at least a pint in size).
  2. Second, pour the water in and mix it with the flour until it is completely incorporated. The jar should be left uncovered in a warm (75-80F) place for 24 hours. If the starter hasn’t developed bubbles by the time you check it, give it another 12 hours to a full day to ferment.
  3. Throw away half of the starter, reserving about 60 g. Stir the water and all-purpose flour together in the container. Cover loosely and leave in a warm place for another day.
  4. After the starter has risen, divide it in half and feed it with the same amount of flour and water again. Cover the starter loosely and let it sit until it has doubled in size.
  5. Repeat steps 5 and 6 the following day, discarding and feeding the starter.
  6. Take one last dump, then fill up.
  7. Your starter is finished rising and can be used at this point. You can put it to good use by following my recipe for homemade Sourdough Bread.
  8. Eight, you should refrigerate your starter for long-term storage. Toss out and feed once more before putting away. Just until the starter begins to rise, place it in a warm spot, cover tightly, and place it in the refrigerator. Keep the starter healthy by feeding it the same way once every two weeks, discarding and replacing the flour and water. The yeast’s metabolism will slow in the cold, resulting in a more gradual fermentation of the flour. Just throw it out and feed it normally when you’re ready to bake again. The sourdough starter needs to rise to twice its original size, so put it somewhere warm. Follow the recipe’s exact instructions.


  • Watch for indications that your starter needs food. A starter that has doubled in size usually indicates that the yeast is nearing starvation (or fresh flour). After the starter has doubled in size, if it begins to shrink again, this is a sign that it is “hungry” and needs more flour. Now is a great time to give it food! If you wait any longer than a few hours, the yeast will begin to die. Overfeeding a starter happens when you don’t give the yeast enough time to multiply between feedings. Only feed it after it has nearly doubled in size or shrunk back down again.
  • Too much time in the fridge or on the counter can cause a clear or grayish liquid to rise to the top of your sourdough starter. Alcohol, also known as “hooch,” is produced when yeast is allowed to finish digesting freshly milled flour. You can discard it or add it back to the starter and stir it up before feeding.
  • The aroma of your sourdough starter should be fruity and slightly sour. If your starter has a funky odor, it could be because you used an unclean jar or because bad bacteria made its way into the mix. If this occurs, you’ll have to begin again from the beginning. Discard your starter and begin again if you notice any discoloration or mold on the surface.
  • Be sure to use freshly milled flour. The flour you make ought to smell nice and sugary. I suggest using new flour if the old one has gone bad.
  • The starter thrives when fed with warm water because it absorbs more nutrients. However, the cultures in the starter may be damaged or even killed if exposed to hot water.
    Since the feedings call for equal parts water and flour, a scale is essential. A scale will guarantee precision and uniformity.
  • A warm spot for your starter can be created in a cold kitchen or during the winter by placing it inside the oven with the light on. The light switch, not the oven! The light’s warmth will keep the starter nice and toasty.
  • The expansion of the starter can be monitored by placing a rubber band or a strip of masking tape around the jar. Rubber bands are convenient because they can be rolled up and down the jar, but masking tape is better for making detailed notes and keeping track of time.
  • A glass jar is ideal for the starter, in my opinion. Keep the acid in the starter away from copper or aluminum to prevent any unwanted reactions.


How much time do you need to prepare a starter?

The whole thing takes about 7 days on average. The sourdough starter recipe, however, requires patience. It may take two weeks or more for the starter to be ready to use in baking, especially if you live in a cooler climate.

Do I need to start over with a new starter each time I feed it?

Every time you feed your starter, you should dump out some of the excesses so that the amount stays manageable and the acidity stays in check. To maintain a healthy microbiome, discarding is recommended. Since the discard hasn’t had time to develop into a mature starter, I wouldn’t recommend keeping it while you’re in the process of making your starter.

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