Jump to Recipe

Attention, Patience & Care

Making a sourdough starter from scratch is like nurturing a new pet. It requires attention, patience, and care, but the result is incredibly rewarding. If you don’t have an active sourdough starter, no worries! Here’s how you can cultivate your very own from scratch. Once you are done use your starter to make this sourdough pizza crust recipe!


Recipe to Making Your Own Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Ingredients:

  • Whole grain flour (like whole wheat or rye) – They contain more nutrients and wild yeasts than all-purpose flour, making them ideal for initiating a starter.
  • Water – Ideally, use filtered water to avoid any chlorine which might hinder the growth of your yeast.

Instructions:

Day 1 – Initial Mix:

  • In a clean glass or plastic container, mix 1 cup of whole-grain flour with 1/2 cup of water. Stir until all flour is hydrated.
  • Cover the container loosely with a cloth or lid, allowing for air circulation.
  • Let the mixture sit in a warm place, ideally between 68°F and 75°F (20°C to 24°C).

Day 2 – Check and Feed:

  • Look for tiny bubbles on the surface or throughout the mixture. This indicates fermentation.
  • Discard all but 1/2 cup of the mixture and add another cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. Stir to combine.

Day 3 – Bubbling Away:

  • By now, you should notice more bubbles and a slightly tangy aroma. This is a sign of active fermentation.
  • Repeat the discard and feeding process: remove all but 1/2 cup of the mixture and feed with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water.

Day 4 – Almost There:

  • The starter should be more bubbly and have a stronger aroma.
  • Continue with the discard and feeding routine.

Day 5 – Active and Ready:

  • By this day, your starter should at least double in volume within 4 to 6 hours of feeding. It should also pass the float test: a small spoonful of the starter should float in water.
  • If it hasn’t reached this state yet, continue feeding daily until it does.

Maintaining Your Scratch Made Sourdough Starter:

  • Once your starter is active (Smells tangy and a small bit floats when placed in water), you can switch to feeding it with all-purpose flour if desired.
  • If baking frequently, feed your starter daily. If baking less often, store the starter in the refrigerator and feed it once a week. Always remember to let it come to room temperature and feed it at least once before using it in recipes.

Tips To Making The Best Sourdough Starter From Scratch:

  • Always use clean utensils and containers to avoid introducing unwanted bacteria.
  • If you notice any off or unpleasant smells, it might be a sign of unwanted bacterial growth. It’s best to start over in such cases.
  • A dark liquid (hooch) forming on top indicates that your starter is hungry and needs feeding. Simply pour it off and feed your starter.
  • With each discard, rather than throwing it away, you can use it in pancakes, waffles, or any recipe that doesn’t require a strong rise.

Frequently Asked Questions: Making Sourdough Starter From Scratch

Jump to Recipe

Why is my starter not bubbling or showing activity?

A lack of bubbles or activity in your starter can result from various factors: the ambient temperature might be too cold, the water might have chlorine, or the flour might lack sufficient nutrients. It could also simply be that your starter needs more time. Ensure you’re using whole grain flour and filtered water and that the starter is kept in a warm spot. Give it a few more days and feed it consistently.

What is the liquid on top of my starter?

The dark liquid is known as “hooch,” a byproduct of fermentation. It’s an indicator that your starter is hungry and needs feeding. You can pour it off or mix it back in, then proceed to feed your starter as usual. If the hooch is consistently forming, you might need to feed your starter more frequently. Here is some more information about the sourdough hooch.

Can I use a different type of flour for my starter?

Yes, you can! Starters can be made from various flours. Whole grain flours like whole wheat or rye are often recommended because they have more nutrients and wild yeast. However, once established, you can maintain your starter with all-purpose flour or even experiment with gluten-free flours.

How often should I feed my starter?

A starter kept at room temperature should be fed daily. If you store it in the refrigerator, feeding once a week is sufficient. Remember, the frequency might increase if your environment is particularly warm, as the yeast will be more active and consume food faster.

Why does my starter smell like acetone/nail polish remover?

The acetone smell is a sign that your starter is very hungry. It’s a byproduct of the yeast running out of food. While it’s not harmful, you should feed your starter as soon as you notice this smell. If the scent persists, consider feeding it more frequently.

How can I tell if my starter has gone bad?

A healthy starter should have a tangy, pleasant aroma, similar to yogurt or ripe fruit. If your starter develops an off or rancid smell, mold, or an unusual color, it might be contaminated. In such cases, it’s best to discard and start fresh.

Can I use tap water to feed my starter?

Ideally, you should use filtered or dechlorinated water. Chlorine in tap water can hinder the growth of the natural yeast and bacteria in your starter. If you only have tap water, consider leaving it out for a few hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate before using.

How do I know when my starter is ready to bake with?

Your starter is ready to bake with when it can double in volume within 4 to 6 hours after feeding. The “float test” is another indicator: drop a small spoonful of the starter into a glass of water; if it floats, it’s ready to use.

Can I share or gift my sourdough starter that I made from scratch?

Of course! Sharing a starter is a wonderful tradition. Simply give a portion of your active starter to a friend along with feeding instructions. Your friend can then continue to feed and maintain their own starter, and perhaps even pass it on!

Remember, every sourdough starter is unique, developing flavors and characteristics based on its environment, the flours used, and how it’s cared for. Embrace the journey and enjoy the delicious rewards!

Sourdough Pizza Crust
A delicious pizza crust that is slightly tangy, a little chewy, and full of the air bubbles that we've known to love in our sourdough bread. With only a few ingredients you will have the perfect pizza crust to use now or store for family pizza night.
View Recipe
sourdough pizza crust pizza on a marble table

Caring for Your Scratch Made Sourdough Starter When You’re Away

Life happens, and sometimes you might need to step away from your daily routines, including tending to your beloved sourdough starter that you made from scratch. Whether you’re jetting off on a vacation or simply have a busy schedule ahead, here’s how to ensure your starter remains viable during your absence.

Short-Term Absence (Up to a Week):

Feed It Well Before Leaving

A few hours before you leave, give your starter a fresh feeding. Make sure it’s well-mixed and has a thick, consistent texture.

Refrigerate

Once fed, place your starter in the refrigerator. The cold environment will slow down the yeast’s activity, reducing its feeding requirements.

Long-Term Absence (Several Weeks to a Few Months):

Thicken the Starter

By making your starter more dough-like (using less water during a feeding), you can reduce its feeding frequency. A thicker consistency means slower fermentation.

Refrigerate

Store the thickened starter in the fridge. In this dormant state, it can survive for several weeks without attention.

Optional – Dry the Starter

If you’re unsure about the duration of your absence, drying the starter can be a great option. Spread a thin layer of active starter on parchment paper and let it air dry. Once fully dried, break it into flakes and store it in an airtight container. When you return, you can rehydrate a portion of the flakes with water and feed with flour to revive your starter.

After Returning:

Check The Sourdough Starter for Signs of Life

Once back, check your starter. If there’s a layer of hooch (dark liquid), it’s a sign your starter is hungry. Pour it off or stir it back in.

Feed Your Starter

Feed your starter as you normally would – equal parts water and flour. For dried starters, add water to the flakes first and let them soak until they dissolve. Then, feed with flour.

Observe and Feed Again

Depending on how long you’ve been away, your starter might need a few feedings to regain its former vigor. Look for signs of activity like bubbling and doubling in volume.

Resume Baking

Once your starter is active and bubbly again, it’s ready to be used in your recipes!

Remember, sourdough starters are resilient. Even if your starter seems sluggish or weak after a long absence, with a bit of care and regular feeding, it can often bounce back to its bubbly self in no time! Making sourdough starter from scratch is fun and makes everything that much tastier.

Sourdough starter from scratch recipe in a glass jar with sourdough pizzas in the background

Sourdough Starter

Best step by step recipe for making Sourdough starter from scratch at home! With your own starter you'll be baking bread, pizzas & more!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Feeding Time 5 days
Total Time 5 days 5 minutes
Course dinner, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 Starter
Calories 190 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 5 cups Whole grain flour
  • 2 ½ cup Water use filtered water to avoid any chlorine which might hinder the growth of your yeast.

Instructions
 

Day 1 – Initial Mix

  • In a clean glass jar (volume capacity of 3 cups or larger) mix 1 cup whole grain flour with ½ cup water. Stir until all flour is hydrated.
  • Cover the jar loosely with a cloth or lid, allowing for air circulation.
  • Let the mixture sit in a warm place, ideally between 68°F and 75°F (20°C to 24°C).

Day 2 – Check and Feed

  • Look for tiny bubbles on the surface or throughout the mixture. This indicates fermentation.
  • Discard all but ½ cup of starter and add another 1 cup flour and ½ cup of water. Stir to combine.

Day 3 – Bubbling Away

  • By now, you should notice more bubbles and a slightly tangy aroma. This is a sign of active fermentation.
  • Repeat the discard and feeding process: discard all but ½ cup of the mixture and feed with 1 cup flour and ½ cup water.

Day 4 – Almost There

  • The starter should be more bubbly and have a stronger aroma.
  • Continue with the discard and feeding routine.

Day 5 – Active and Ready

  • By this day, your starter should at least double in volume within 4 to 6 hours of feeding. It should also pass the float test: a small spoonful of the starter should float in water.
  • If it hasn’t reached this state yet, continue feeding daily until it does.

Maintenance

  • Once your starter is active, you can switch to feeding it with all-purpose flour if desired.
  • If baking frequently, feed your starter daily. If baking less often, store the starter in the refrigerator and feed it once a week. Always remember to let it come to room temperature and feed it at least once before using it in recipes.

Notes

Tips:

Always use clean utensils and containers to avoid introducing unwanted bacteria.
If you notice any off or unpleasant smells, it might be a sign of unwanted bacterial growth. It’s best to start over in such cases.
A dark liquid (hooch) forming on top indicates that your starter is hungry and needs feeding. Simply pour it off and feed your starter.
With each discard, rather than throwing it away, you can use it in pancakes, waffles, or any recipe that doesn’t require a strong rise.

Short-Term Absence (Up to a Week):

Feed It Well Before Leaving

A few hours before you leave, give your starter a fresh feeding. Make sure it’s well-mixed and has a thick, consistent texture.

Refrigerate

Once fed, place your starter in the refrigerator. The cold environment will slow down the yeast’s activity, reducing its feeding requirements.

Long-Term Absence (Several Weeks to a Few Months):

Thicken the Starter

By making your starter more dough-like (using less water during a feeding), you can reduce its feeding frequency. A thicker consistency means slower fermentation.

Refrigerate

Store the thickened starter in the fridge. In this dormant state, it can survive for several weeks without attention.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cupsCalories: 190kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 6gFat: 1gSodium: 3mgFiber: 6gCalcium: 1mgIron: 2mg
Keyword 2 ingredient, bread, dough
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recipes to Try Next:

Baked Mac and Cheese
The ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe is all about balance: the perfect combination of tender pasta, rich, creamy cheese sauce, and a hint of spices. The sharp cheddar cheese provides a tangy, full-bodied flavor, while the Parmesan adds a salty, savory depth. The spices, such as mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika, add a subtle warmth and complexity. The result is a dish that's comforting, satisfying, and deeply flavorful.
View Recipe
baked mac and cheese recipe in a 9 x 13 casserole dish garnished with paprika and parmesan cheese
Alfredo Pasta
The Alfredo pasta recipe delivers a rich, creamy, and satisfying flavor profile. The sauce, made primarily with butter and heavy cream, creates a velvety and indulgent base that clings to the pasta. The minced garlic adds a hint of pungency, while the Parmesan cheese brings a sharp, delightful element to the mix. A pinch of nutmeg adds warmth and complexity to the sauce, while the fresh parsley gives it a pop of color and a hint of freshness. The result is a dish that is deeply comforting, yet surprisingly unique.
View Recipe
fettuccine alfredo recipe garnished with parsley and parmesan cheese in a white bowl on top of a cloth napkin.
Pesto Pasta
Pesto pasta is a symphony of fresh, vibrant flavors. The sauce is aromatic and robust, with the sweet, slightly peppery basil providing the backbone, while the garlic and cheese add depth. The olive oil brings everything together, adding a lush, silky texture that coats the pasta beautifully. The result is a dish that's rich yet light, hearty yet refreshing—a delightful meal that keeps you coming back for more.
View Recipe
basil pesto pasta recipe on a white plate garnished with basil leaves.
Baked Tuna Casserole
This tuna casserole recipe delivers a comforting medley of flavors, combining the creamy, rich cheesiness from Velveeta and the savory, heartiness of white albacore tuna, all layered within tender elbow macaroni noodles. The addition of cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise brings depth and creaminess, while a hint of lemon juice adds a subtle zestiness that cuts through the richness, and a crispy, buttery Ritz cracker topping provides a satisfying crunch for contrast.
View Recipe
Tuna Casserole Recipe topped with Ritz crackers and baked to perfection
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
The spaghetti aglio e olio recipe is a celebration of simplicity, and its taste is a testament to this. The first thing you'll notice is the aromatic, slightly sweet flavor of the garlic, beautifully mellowed out by the heat of the sautéing process. This is complemented by the kick from the red pepper flakes, which adds a touch of heat without overwhelming the dish.
View Recipe
Optimized-Pasta aglio e olio recipe
Spaghetti Carbonara
The beauty of the spaghetti carbonara recipe lies in its harmony of flavors. The dish is rich and creamy, but not heavy. The egg yolks and cheese create a creamy, luxurious sauce that clings to each strand of spaghetti, while the guanciale provides a salty, smoky contrast.
View Recipe
authentic spaghetti carbonara recipe made with guanciale and topped with freshly ground black pepper in a white bowl
Rice Pilaf
Rice Pilaf is a dish that's greater than the sum of its parts. The technique of sautéing the rice in butter before adding the broth results in each grain becoming enveloped in a nutty, toasted flavor. The onions and garlic add a savory depth, while the broth infuses the rice with a rich, hearty taste. The final result is a dish that is full-bodied, comforting, and layered with flavors.
View Recipe
Rice pilaf recipe in a white bowl on top of a napkin with a spoon placed on the right side
Mashed Potato
Mashed potatoes are a symphony of textures and flavors. They’re creamy, buttery, and delightfully fluffy. The best mashed potatoes melt in your mouth while providing a gentle backdrop for other ingredients, such as gravy or roasted meats.
View Recipe
Mashed Potato Recipe in a white bowl with russet potatoes in the background

Give One of These Desserts a Try:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Popsicle
In our Strawberry Banana Smoothie Popsicle recipe, the combination of strawberries and bananas offers a delightful dance of flavors. The bright, tangy sweetness of the strawberries balances perfectly with the smooth, creamy undertones of the bananas.
View Recipe
Strawberry Banana Smoothie Popsicle Recipe on a square white plate with whole strawberries in the background
Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicle
Most of us have graduated from the regular sugar-water popsicles and yearn for a frozen delight that is a smidge more sophisticated. This is where our Blueberry Cheesecake Popsicle recipe comes in—an exquisite blend of nostalgia and the refined flavors we've come to appreciate in our adult years.
View Recipe
Blueberry Cheesecake popsicle recipe on a square white plate surrounded by blueberries
Orange Creamsicle Popsicle
The first taste of this creamsicle popsicle recipe is a burst of refreshing orange that is bright and full of zing. This tanginess is then beautifully contrasted by the smoothness of vanilla-infused Greek yogurt, which brings a luscious creaminess to the palate. The subtle sweetness of the banana and honey balance out the tang of the orange, making for a perfectly harmonious treat.
View Recipe
Orange creamsicle popsicle recipe sitting on top of a square white plate next to slices of orange
Creamsicle Pie
This pie perfectly mirrors a Creamsicle popsicle, with sweet vanilla and tangy orange notes intertwining harmoniously. The cooling effect from the chilled pie elevates the refreshing nature of the dessert, making each bite a delicious relief from the summer heat.
View Recipe
Orange Creamsicle Pie recipe on a wooden table
Affogato
The Affogato is a delightful Italian dessert recipe that is simple to make, yet incredibly satisfying. Perfect blend of espresso and gelato.
View Recipe
affogato italian dessert recipe which contains a scoop of vanilla gelato in a small glass cup with espresso surrounding the scoop of gelato
Instant Pot Caramel
The simplest way to create a delicious caramel dip that pairs perfectly with everything. This instant pot caramel recipe is a go to that makes hosting a party or making a date night snack a breeze.
View Recipe
Instant Pot Caramel Recipe inside of a white bowl being spooned out with a wooden spoon
French Toast
At first bite, French toast is a symphony of contrasts. The exterior is golden and crisp, while the interior remains soft and custardy. The subtle sweetness of the egg mixture is enhanced by the caramelization that occurs during cooking, adding a hint of richness. Vanilla and cinnamon infuse the toast with warmth and depth, while the tangy fruitiness of the syrup provides a bright counterpoint. The result is a dish that's comforting yet sophisticated, familiar yet surprising.
View Recipe
French Toast Recipe on a white plate topped with powdered sugar and a raspberry syrup