the best recipe for sourdough starter

The Best Recipe for Sourdough Starter

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What Did People Do Before Packaged Yeast?

Today, I am sharing the easiest recipe for sourdough starter that I’ve used.  It’s super simple and will have you baking your own delicious bread in no time!  Your friends and family will be so impressed, and you’ll have learned a new self-sufficiency skill.

Have you ever wondered how people made bread before packaged yeast was available? They simply learned how to make a yeast starter which can easily be accomplished  by mixing equal amounts of flour and water by weight.  I have had the best luck with either rye flour or whole wheat flour as these have more zinc and other nutrients to help speed up the yeast making process.

recipe for sourdough starter

What is Wild Yeast?

Before the days of running to the local grocery store for a packet of granulated active-dry yeast or instant yeast, we had wild yeast. In fact, we still have wild yeast. It lives everywhere — in the air, in a bag of flour, on the surface of fruits. So how do we capture it?  We follow this easy recipe for sourdough starter by simply mixing flour and water and allow it to bind to the yeast in the air. Easy-peasy!

recipe for sourdough starter

A Few Tips Before We Begin

Water that is high in chlorine and chloramine can hinder fermentation.  If you have city water, you may want to consider using bottled or distilled water.  If this is not an option, you can fill a large jug with water from your tap and let it sit on your counter uncovered overnight to allow the chlorine to dissipate.  However, if your city uses chloramine, this will not work. In this case, you would need to filter the water with a carbon filter designed to remove chloramine before attempting this recipe for sourdough starter. 

recipe for sourdough starter

Gather Your Materials

You don’t need a lot of materials to make a yeast starter, but a few things necessary are:

  • Glass Jar or pottery bowl. I prefer clear glass as it is easier to see when your starter is beginning to ferment (the bubbles will be visible through the glass). The jar I use has a hinged cover with the rubber gasket removed.  I close the cover but don’t latch it allowing just the right amount of air in.
  • Kitchen scale (optional)
  • Flour – Rye flour or organic whole wheat works best
  • A small whisk or a fork works ok too
  • Water
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How To Make A Yeast Starter

Starting a culture is very simple.  All you do is mix equal amounts of flour and water by weight.

If this is your first time making a yeast starter, I would recommend starting a small amount and building it up over days.  I like using a kitchen scale to get the proportions correct, but if you don’t have one, you can simply start by mixing three tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of water in a glass mason jar or pottery bowl.  This ratio seems to work, as these proportions of flour and water are close in weight.  Lay a cloth over the top and let it sit on the kitchen counter. The yeast present in the air will make its way to your flour/water mixture. It will then start growing and dividing. 

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recipe for sourdough starteer

Feeding Schedule

For the next week or so you will need to stir your starter once in the morning and once at night.  You will also need to “feed” your yeast starter by adding three more tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of water to your mixture each day.

In a few days, the mixture will become frothy as the yeast population grows. The froth is caused by the carbon dioxide that the yeast is generating. The starter will also have bacteria, lactobacilli, in it. This lends to the slightly acidic flavor of the bread by creating lactic acid. The alcohol that the yeast creates, and the lactic acid together are the source of sourdough bread’s unique flavor!

If you see a watery substance floating to the top, stir it. Sourdough bakers call this “hooch” and is completely harmless. 

At this point, you can do one of two things:

  • You can store it in the refrigerator to slow down the yeast. Then you will only have to feed it every 5 or 6 days.
  • Or keep it on the counter and feed it every day. However, unless you’re doing a lot of baking, this will quickly become too much.

Daily Feeding Process

At each daily feeding we will perform the following quick steps:

  1. Stir down your starter a little bit with your whisk or fork
  2. Add three tablespoons of flour and two tablespoons of water and stir
  3. Cover with towel or loose cover
This schedule will provide you with a reliable way to create your fresh yeast starter. Once you have a stable culture it will last forever if you care for it properly.  As stated earlier, if you don’t plan to bake frequently, just toss it in the fridge and feed it weekly.  

The Recipe for Sourdough Starter

Now that you have perfected the recipe for sourdough starter, it’s time to whip up a loaf or two that your whole family will be sure to love. When it comes time to actually bake some bread, all you have to do is add a cup of this live culture to the dough to provide the yeast needed to leaven the bread. You replenish the pot by adding back an equal amount of flour and water.  Your regular feedings will keep the culture alive.

sourdough recipe from starter

Best Beginner Sourdough Bread Recipe from Starter

Barbi Gardiner
This is a basic sourdough bread that doesn't require kneading or complicated measuring and techniques. It produces a delicious, hearty loaf, perfect for people (like me) desiring a more self-reliant lifestyle.
4.25 from 20 votes
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 12 slices



  • ½ cup active sourdough starter learn how to make sourdough starter
  • 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt


  • In a large bowl, combine the yeast starter and water.
  • Stir in the flour, and then add the salt.
  • Use a fork to mix everything together until it becomes stiff– then use your hands to bring the dough together to form a ball, but don't knead or overmix!
  • Place the dough ball in the bowl, cover it, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • After this resting time is complete, stretch and fold the dough a few times and reform it into a ball again.
  • Cover the dough with a clean dish towel and let it rise in a warm place overnight or until doubled in size (or about 8 hours).
  • The next morning (or after 8 hours), turn the dough out on a floured surface. Fold it over a couple of times to tighten it into a ball, then let sit for 15 minutes.
  • After this resting period is complete, gently shape the dough into a ball once more place into a well-floured proofing basket or a bowl lined with a well-floured dish towel. Remember: don’t add too much flour and do not knead the dough!
  • Cover and rise for 2-3 hours, or until doubled.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. If using a Dutch oven, preheat it in the oven for 30 minutes prior to baking your bread. 
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal in the bottom of a Dutch oven (optional, but this helps the bottom of your bread not to become over-browned).
  • Carefully dump the dough ball out of the bowl onto a sheet of parchment. Place the parchment and dough into the Dutch oven.
  • Place the lid on the pot and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the loaf is deeply browned and crispy on top. (For a less crusty finish, bake for the entire time with the lid on.)
  • Move to a cooling rack and allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing it.
Keyword bread, bread recipe, recipe, sourdough, sourdough bread, sourdough bread recipe, sourdough starter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Now Let's Bake Some Bread!

Now that you have learned the recipe for sourdough starter, it’s time to make some delicious bread.  Here is my favorite recipe for sourdough bread that is so easy to make. Easy Sourdough Bread Recipe From Starter.

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3 thoughts on “The Best Recipe for Sourdough Starter”

  1. Pingback: Simple HomesteadA Life of Simple Pleasures and Self-relianceEasiest Sourdough Bread Recipe for the Beginner Baker

    1. Barbi Gardiner

      Look for it to double in volume within about 4 to 12 hours after feeding – this timing can vary based on the temperature and the specific microorganisms in your starter. A ripe starter will also have a pleasant, slightly sour aroma, reminiscent of yogurt or ripe fruit, which is a sign of healthy fermentation.

      Another fun test is the “float test.” Take a small spoonful of your starter and gently drop it into a glass of water. If it floats, it’s filled with enough gas (a byproduct of the fermentation process) to indicate it’s ready for baking. Remember, though, this test isn’t foolproof; the truest signs are the visual doubling in size and the tangy, ripe smell.

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