Looking for an easy, sourdough starter recipe for beginners? Adapted from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, follow my no-nonsense guide for practical tips, tricks, and ongoing care- anyone can do it.
- For best results, it’s always a good idea to weigh your ingredients in baking. However, when creating a starter using measuring cups is fine.
- Only a small amount of whole wheat flour is used to jumpstart the fermentation process. If you don’t want to commit to a large bag, smaller bags are available in most grocery stores. Alternatively, you can use all purpose flour only.
- You will also need one large 3/4 L jar, or something of similar size (I use this one.).
Day 1: Make the Starter
Combine 60 g (1⁄2 cup) of whole wheat flour and 60 g (1⁄4 cup) of water in a large jar. Mix with a fork until smooth; the consistency will be thick and pasty. If measuring by volume, add more water to thin out the texture if necessary. Cover with plastic wrap, reusable wax wrap, or a lid and let it rest in a warm spot, about 75-80 F, for 24 hours.
*Tip: Looking for a warm spot? Place your starter on a cookie sheet inside the oven (turned off) with the light on for an hour or two (it can get hot in there, so keep you eye on it!). Center rack is best. You can also use a proofing box set to your desired temperature, or a microwave with the door ajar and light on.
Day 2: Look for Bubbles
Check to see if any bubbles have appeared on the surface. If you don’t see anything, it’s okay. The bubbles might have appeared and dissolved overnight while you were sleeping. You don’t have to do anything else now. Rest the starter for another 24 hours.
Day 3: Feed Your Starter
Remove and discard approximately half of your starter from the jar. The texture will be very stretchy.
Add 60 g (1⁄2 cup) of all-purpose our and 60 g (1/4 cup) of water to the jar. Mix with a fork until smooth. The texture should resemble thick-ish batter or plain Stonyfield yogurt at this point. Cover and let rest in your warm spot for another 24 hours.
*Tip: During the creation process, and even after your starter has been established, a dark liquid might appear on the surface and throughout the culture. It has a very stinky smell, similar to rubbing alcohol or gym socks. This liquid is called “hooch” and is an indication that your starter needs to be fed. Any time you see this liquid, it’s best to remove it along with any discolored starter present.
Days 4, 5 & 6: Keep on Feeding!
Your schedule should look like this:
- Day 1: 60 g flour + 60 g water = 120 g starter
- Day 2: Do nothing
- Day 3: Remove & discard half of the starter/ 60 g starter + 60 g flour + 60 g water = 180 g starter
- Day 4: Remove & discard half of the starter/ 90 g starter + 60 g flour + 60 g water = 210 g starter
- Day 5: Remove & discard half of the starter/ 105 g starter + 60 g flour + 60 g water = 225 g starter
- Day 6: Remove & discard half of the starter/ 112.2 g starter + 60 g flour + 60 g water = 232.5 g starter
- Day 7: Remove & discard half of the starter/ 116.25 g starter + 60 g flour + 60 g water = 236.27 g starter
As the yeast begins to develop, your starter will rise, and bubbles will form on the surface and throughout the culture. When the starter falls, it’s time to feed it again.
Day 7: A Sourdough Starter is Born!
By now, your starter should have doubled in size. You should see plenty of bubbles, both large and small. The texture will be spongy, fluffy, and similar to roasted marshmallows (think: s’mores). It should smell pleasant, and not link stinky like gym socks. If these conditions are met, your starter is now active and ready to use! Please keep in mind, if your starter is not ready at this point which is quite common due to temperature issues (too cold), timing, and other factors, continue the feeding process for 1-2 weeks or more. Be patient!
The very last step is to transfer your starter to a nice, clean jar. In keeping with tradition, you can also name it and please do! My starter is called Dillon, after my oldest boy.
Wondering if your starter is ready to use?
When your starter is fully active, do the float test. Feed your starter, wait for it to double in size, and then drop a teaspoon of bubbly starter into a jar of water; if it floats to the top it’s ready to use.
If you bake often, store your starter at room temperature (feed it 1x-2x a day to keep it active). If you plan to bake only once in a while, store it in the fridge to preserve its strength (feed it 1x a week).
How to Feed Your Sourdough Starter for Ongoing Care
- Begin by removing and discarding about half of your starter.
- Replenish what’s left in the jar with fresh flour (use all purpose flour) and water.
- Cover loosely, and let it rise at room temperature until bubbly and double in size. Once it falls, the bubbles will become frothy and eventually disappear. Then you’ll know it’s time to feed your starter again.
- Feed your starter everyday (1x-2x) if it’s stored at room temperature. Feed it 1x a week if you keep it in the fridge.
- PS: If you miss a feeding, don’t worry- your starter is not going to die. It might look ugly (and smell horrendous) but it usually just needs a few feedings to perk back up.
Keywords: sourdough, sourdough starter, beginner sourdough starter