Starting A Sourdough Starter

This recipe works best with Turkey Red or Red Fife Heritage Wheat white or sifted flours.

1/4 C Heritage flour

1/2 C water (non-chlorinated) – use well water or bottled spring water.  If you use filtered city water it is best to let it sit out for 24 hours before using to evaporate any remaining chlorine.  Luke warm is the best temperature, not greater than 1oo deg F.

The mixture should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter.  Mix by hand and leave on the counter with a loose cover over it.  A warmer place on your counter where the temperature is 70-75 deg F is best.

Each of the next 5-6 days, take out half the mixture and throw it away and add equal amounts of flour and water (1/4 C each) maintaining the batter-like consistency.  Mix this together, again adjusting the water and flour mixture to do so.

Somewhere around day 5-7, bubbles should start to appear and there should be a yeasty smell. Now you can start building up the amount of starter for use in bread recipes.

If it looks like the starter is actively working, don’t throw any of it away.  Just add 1/4 C of both water and flour as before and mix well by hand.

Next day:  add 3/4 C flour

Next day: 1 C each

Now you should have enough starter to take 8 oz out to start a levain – see our recipe for sourdough bread.

Estimate the amount of starter you have remaining and add enough flour and water to double it in size.  This is not a critical measurement at this point. Maintain the starter’s quantity in the future based on how often you plan to bake bread. Build up the volume if you are planning to bake, and halve and maintain it if you’re not planning to bake for awhile.

If you are going away for a week or two, take 1 Tbsp-size portion of starter and add flour until it is a stiff dough ball. Place the dough ball in a small jar and cover the ball with flour.

When you return, take the ball and add water and flour like you’re just starting out, but this time it should grow into a usable starter in a few days.

See our sheet for maintaining a sourdough starter.