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You can’t make homemade sourdough bread without a sourdough starter! Instead of buying it, here’s how to make your own sourdough starter at home.

close up image of sourdough starter in a glass jar with sourdough bread in the background

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A sourdough starter is a collection of flour and water that is allowed to ferment; the fermentation process creates a culture of wild yeasts. This culture is what ultimately leavens sourdough bread and gives it that characteristic sour flavor and that irresistible texture, as opposed to other types of bread, which are leavened with active dry yeast or instant yeast.

You can purchase sourdough starters online or even from local bakeries (or home bakers in your neighborhood!), but there’s no need to do that when you can just make it yourself at home. You’ll need a little bit of patience—you can’t make the starter and then make a loaf of bread right away!—but it’s the kind of kitchen project that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something big.

(Be sure to grab my sourdough bread recipe too!)

close up image of sourdough starter in a glass jar

Ways to Use This Sourdough Starter Recipe

Once you have a sourdough starter, you can use it to make all sorts of delicious things beyond bread! Here are some ideas:

  • Pancakes or waffles – Use your starter to make sourdough pancakes or waffles for breakfast.
  • Pizza crust – A sourdough starter is the perfect way to add a little extra flavor to your pizza crust.
  • Crackers – Use sourdough starter when making homemade crackers for an extra-flavorful snack.
  • Pretzels – You can make sourdough pretzels for pairing with your favorite mustard or cheese dip.
  • Focaccia – This Italian bread can made with a sourdough starter.
ingredients to make sourdough starter

Ingredients

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Unbleached bread flour – I use King Arthur flour. Bread flour has more gluten than all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or other whole grain flour varieties, giving the bread a chewier texture.
  • Whole grain rye flour
  • Water – If you’re using tap water, let it sit uncovered in a large container overnight. This step will allow any chlorine to dissipate. Alternatively, you can also use bottled or filtered water.
steps to make sourdough starter day by day

Quick Tip

If you have a kitchen scale, use it for this recipe! It’s important to be precise when baking sourdough bread, and a scale is far superior to measuring with cups and tablespoons.

How to Make a Sourdough Starter: A Day-By-Day Guide

Day 1

In a clean 8 ounce glass jar with a lid, combine 100g rye flour and 125g warm water. Stir to combine the flour with the liquid until it has a smooth consistency and let the sourdough starter rest on the counter in a warm place for 24 hours. 

Day 2

In a clean 8 ounce glass jar, add 75g of the mixture from Day 1 (throw away the remaining mixture, then clean and sterilize the jar to eliminate any bacteria), 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Stir everything together and rest the sourdough starter in a warm space for 24 hours. 

Day 3

In another clean 8 ounce glass jar, combine 75g of the mixture from Day 2 (throw away the remaining mixture, then clean and sterilize the jar), 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Stir everything together and rest the sourdough starter in a warm space for 24 hours. 

Day 4: Morning

In a clean 8 ounce glass jar, combine 75g of the mixture from Day 3 (throw away the remaining mixture, then clean and sterilize the jar), 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Mix everything together and rest the sourdough starter in a warm space for 12 hours.

Day 4: Evening

Remove all but a 75g portion of the starter from the jar, discarding the rest. Add 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Stir and let the sourdough starter rest in a warm space overnight. Moving forward, you’ll continue to use the same jar instead of moving to a fresh one. 

Day 5: Morning 

Remove all but 75g of starter from the jar, discarding the rest, and add 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Mix and let the sourdough starter rest in a warm space for 12 hours.

Day 5: Evening

Remove all but 75g of starter from the jar, discarding the rest, and add 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Stir and let the sourdough starter rest in a warm space overnight. 

Day 6: Morning

Remove all but 75g of starter from the jar, discarding the rest, and add 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Mix and let the sourdough starter rest in a warm space for 12 hours.

Day 6: Evening

Remove all but 75g of starter from the jar, discarding the rest, and add 50g of rye flour, 50g of bread flour, and 115g of warm water. Mix and let the sourdough starter rest the in a warm space overnight. 

Day 7 and Beyond 

In the morning, remove all but 20g of starter from the jar, discarding the rest, and add 30g rye flour, 70g bread flour, and 100g warm water. Mix, cover loosely, and let rest in a warm place for 12 hours. In the evening, repeat the same process. 

At this point your starter will be rising and falling in a predictable pattern. Continue your twice-a-day feeding schedule. The sourdough discards can be poured down the drain, or you can use them to make pancakes, waffles, etc. (If you do a Google search for “sourdough discard recipes,” you’ll find lots of ideas!)

sourdough starter in a clear glass jar

FAQs

How long does it take to make sourdough starter?

It usually takes around 7 days to make a sourdough starter from scratch. However, this will vary depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen.

What is the ideal temperature for making sourdough starter?

The ideal temperature for making sourdough starter is between 70-80°F (21-27°C), or around room temperature.

How often do I have to feed sourdough starter?

You should feed your sourdough starter at least once a day, and preferably twice a day. However, if you are not using your starter regularly, you can stretch the feeding to every other day.

Can I skip feeding my sourdough starter?

If you are not using your starter on a regular basis, you can skip a feeding or two. However, if you plan on using your starter soon, it is best to keep up with the daily feedings.

How do I know if my sourdough starter is peaked?

A peaked starter is one that has doubled in size and then fallen back down. To test if your starter is peaked, scoop out a small amount of starter and drop it into a bowl of water. If the starter floats, it is peaked.

More DIY Kitchen Staples

Sourdough Starter

You can't make homemade sourdough bread without a sourdough starter! Instead of buying it, here's how to make your own sourdough starter at home.
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Cuisine: American
Author: Kasey Schwartz

Ingredients  

  • 300 grams unbleached bread flour (1¼ cups)
  • 400 grams whole grain rye flour (2½ cups)
  • 800 grams water (3½ cups)

Instructions 

  • Day 1: In a clean 8oz glass jar, add 100g (8 tbsp) rye flour and 125g (½ cup) warm water. Stir with a small spatula to combine. Let rest in a warm space for 24 hours.
  • Day 2: In a clean 8oz glass jar, add 75g (¼ cup) of the mixture from Day 1 (throw away the remaining mix and clean & sterilize the jar,) 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space for 24 hours.
  • Day 3: In a clean 8oz glass jar, add 75g (¼ cup) of the mixture from Day 2 (throw away the remaining mix and clean & sterilize the jar,) 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space for 24 hours.
  • Day 4: (Morning) In a clean 8oz glass jar, add 75g (¼ cup) of the mixture from Day 3 (throw away the remaining mix and clean & sterilize the jar,) 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space for 12 hours.
  • (Evening) Remove all but 75g (¼ cup) of starter from the jar (discard the rest) and add 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space overnight. Moving forward, you’ll continue to use the same jar instead of moving to a fresh one.
  • Day 5: (Morning) Remove all but 75g (¼ cup) of starter from the jar (discard the rest) and add 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space for 12 hours.
  • (Evening) Remove all but 75g (¼ cup) of starter from the jar (discard the rest) and add 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space overnight.
  • Day 6: (Morning) Remove all but 75g (¼ cup) of starter from the jar (discard the rest) and add 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space for 12 hours.
  • (Evening) Remove all but 75g (¼ cup) of starter from the jar (discard the rest) and add 50g (⅖ cup) of rye flour, 50g (⅖ cup) of bread flour, and 115g (½ cup) of warm water. Mix everything together with a small spatula and let it rest in a warm space overnight.
  • Day 7+: (Morning) Remove all but 20g (3 tbsp) of starter from the jar (discard the rest) and add 30g (4 tbsp) rye flour, 70g (½ cup) bread flour, and 100g (8 tbsp) warm water. Mix thoroughly with a small spatula, cover loosely, let rest in a warm place for 12 hours. In the evening, repeat the same process. At this point your starter should be rising and falling in a predictable pattern. Continue to feed with the previous ratio twice per day.

Notes

*If using tap water, let it sit uncovered in a large container overnight. This step will allow any chlorine to dissipate overnight. Alternatively, you can also use bottled or filtered water.
Keyword: sourdough starter
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

Hi, I’m Kasey, Founder of All Things Mamma – where I am dishing up family favorite recipes that are easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients. Plus – tips and tricks for living your best life!

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