How to make a Sourdough Starter

Maybe you’ve wanted to make some sourdough bread but aren’t sure where to begin.  Well, the first thing you need is a sourdough starter and I’ve got great news for you – it’s not as difficult to make as you think.  If you follow the sourdough starter recipe I’m sharing with you today, you’ll be making sourdough bread in no time!

sourdough starter

I’ve made my own bread for years.  First I started with a bread maker, and then I got rid of the bread maker when I didn’t like the tiny loaves it made.  I needed much bigger loaves of bread to feed my growing family.

Over time I learned to make all kinds of bread products.  White bread, dinner rolls, my no knead artisan bread.  I’ve made other yeast products like pizza dough (that’s a weekly occurrence here) and cinnamon buns.

But you know what I stayed far away from?  Sourdough bread.  It just felt too complicated.  And let’s be honest, trying to keep a sourdough starter alive was just another thing I felt I wouldn’t be able to keep up with.

So, I stuck to my normal bread recipes and I saved my enjoyment of sourdough bread for when I visited friends who baked that kind of stuff.

However, this year I finally decided it was time to get over my fear of sourdough and figure it out.  And I’m a little embarrassed now that I waited so long because it turns out that it isn’t as difficult as I thought it was going to be.

Actually, it’s quite simple.

The truth is, compared to typical white bread, there’s just more steps and more waiting to it.  But it’s so worth it for that tangy flavor.  And once you’ve done it a couple times you’ll discover that the whole process becomes quite easy.

Making your own sourdough starter requires just two simple ingredients – flour and water. I’m going to show you the easy steps you need to take to create your own sourdough starter using 60 grams of all-purpose flour and 60 grams of water, over a period of 7 days.

Sourdough Starter Tools Required:


What you’ll need:

  • Digital kitchen scale
  • Wooden spoon
  • Glass jar (I use a large mason jar)
  • Piece of cloth 
  • Rubber band

How to make your own Sourdough Starter


Day 1  


  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 60g water


  1. In a clean glass or plastic container, combine 60 grams of all-purpose flour with 60 grams of water.  
  2. Stir vigorously with a clean spoon until the mixture is well combined and resembles a thick pancake batter.  Make sure you avoid using any metal spoons for this as it can interfere with the fermentation process.  I use a wooden or plastic spoon.
  3. Cover the container loosely with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, allowing airflow while preventing debris from entering.  I use a piece of clean fabric and I secure it loosely with an rubber band.
  4. Let the mixture sit at room temperature, ideally between 70-75°F (21-24°C), for 24 hours.

weighing flour on kitchen scale

Day 2

Ingredients for the first feeding:

  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 60g water


  1. After 24 hours, you may notice some small bubbles forming on the surface of the mixture. This is a sign that wild yeast is beginning to activate.  
  2. Discard half of the mixture (approximately 60 grams) and add 60 grams each of all-purpose flour and water to the remaining mixture.
  3. Stir well to combine, cover loosely, and allow it to rest at room temperature for another 24 hours.

Day 3-6:

Ingredients for daily feedings:

  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 60g water


  1. Repeat the feeding process from Day 2: discard half of the mixture and add 60 grams each of all-purpose flour and water.
  2. Stir well, cover loosely, and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
  3. By now, you should notice increased activity in your starter, with more bubbles forming and a slightly sour aroma developing.

Day 7:

It’s time to bake!

After 7 days of feeding and nurturing your sourdough starter, it should be lively, bubbly, and ready to use. Before baking your first loaf of sourdough bread, perform one last feeding.


  • 60g all-purpose flour
  • 60g water

Instructions for your feeding on day 7:

  1. Discard all but 60 grams of the starter.
  2. Feed the remaining starter with 60 grams each of all-purpose flour and water.
  3. Stir well, cover loosely, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours. Your starter should double in size and become bubbly and active.
  4. Once your starter is at its peak activity, it’s ready to be used in your favorite sourdough bread recipe.

You did it!  You made your own starter that you will be able to use again and again.  After the first seven days of creating your sourdough starter you will now be in what I like to call “maintenance mode.”

You will need to continue to feed your starter, but depending on where you keep it is how often you’ll need to feed it.  If you keep it on your counter you’ll need to feed your starter every 24 hours.  This is something you would do if you bake sourdough constantly.   But if you are like many of the rest of us, that’s just a little too much.

That’s why you’ll want to keep it in the fridge.  I store mine in the fridge and every Monday I take it out and give it a fresh feeding.  I will do this even if I’m not going to be using it that week.  

However, if Monday rolls around and I know I’ll be baking on Wednesday, I might put off taking my sourdough starter out of the fridge and feeding it till Wednesday that week. But overall I tend to feed it weekly.

If you’ve left it in your fridge for a longer time you’ll need to revive it.  Do this by taking it out and feeding it after about an hour of letting it sit on the counter.  Then, give it another feeding after 12 hours.  

Once you notice it rising and becoming bubbly on top, it means it’s active again.  If it’s still not doing that, I’d feed it every 12 hours for another day or two.

Close up of bubbly sourdough starter


Typically it takes about seven days, but if your house is cooler it may take longer.  I spent two weeks feeding my sourdough starter before I used it the first time because it was winter and my house was on the cold side.  If you have an insanely warm home, it may ferment quicker.

Knowing when your sourdough starter is ready to use is the key to baking delicious bread. Look for signs of activity, such as bubbling and expansion, within a few hours after feeding. A mature starter will increase in volume and have a pleasant smell with hints of tanginess.

Bubbles are super important and a key sign that your starter is active. Timing is key; typically, it reaches peak activity 4 to 12 hours after feeding, depending on how cold or warm your home is.


When I’m going to bake with it I’ll take it out of the fridge, feed it right away, and use it around 4-6 hours or so after that.  Once I use the sourdough starter I will feed it again before putting it back in the fridge.


No, you don’t. You only need to toss out half of the starter in the first seven days of creating it.  After the 7 days you can just add equal parts of flour and water.  60 grams is what I like to keep it at.  

However, eventually you’ll end up with too much excess and you’ll need to get rid of some of the starter because it’ll become too much for the 60 grams of flour and 60 grams of water you add and won’t be as bubbly and active and happy as you want it.  

Basically, I don’t like to do too many feedings without discarding some. Which leads me to my next question.


That happens to everyone who bakes sourdough bread.  Don’t worry, there are a ton of recipes you can make that use sourdough discard starter.  

That means that most of these recipes don’t require you to feed the starter before you use it.  One of my favorite ways to use discard is in a Dutch baby pancake, but there are many other discard recipes like muffins, pizza dough, and more.

Just make sure when you are using discard that you leave enough good sourdough starter to keep it going strong.  I suggest leaving at least a cup of starter to work with for your future sourdough needs.  

I like to use discard when I have enough discard to use that will still leave a cup of starter behind.


The float test is a method to gauge the activity of a sourdough starter. Simply drop a small amount of starter into a bowl of room temperature water. If it floats, it’s ready for baking. If it sinks, it needs more time to develop.  Including this test in your baking routine can help ensure successful sourdough bread every time.


When I first tried to make sourdough starter I found  a lot of info telling me to use distilled water because they said the treated tap water would kill the active starter.  However, I talked to a local friend who had been making his own sourdough starter for years and he always used tap water with no problems.  And so, I decided to try it with tap water and had good results myself.

That being said, if you make a starter with your tap water and find it just doesn’t seem to be working, try distilled water and see if that changes things.  

I did read one story of someone who couldn’t grow a healthy starter and then when they stopped using their tap water and switched to filtered water it finally worked!  

So, keep that in mind, but again, I’ve had great success with my water straight from the tap.  

Another idea is to let your tap water sit on the counter overnight to reduce the chlorine level before using the water.  


While I feel like sourdough starters are quite resilient, the beginning stages of making one can be finicky.  If your house isn’t warm, or you forgot to feed it in those early stages, it can cause your starter to not develop. 

However, many people have stories about their first starter not working so while I know it’s frustrating, I’d encourage you to start over and try again!


What I’ve discovered is that there isn’t one way to making a good starter.  Many people have had success in various ways – hence the question just before this one on what type of water to use.  

Before I ever tried making sourdough starter I thought that it was an exact science and one misstep in the whole process meant it would be a disaster and would fail.  That just isn’t true.

For sure there are ways that will cause a sourdough starter to fail, but with a little bit of patience the entire process is quite easy and forgiving.  So, don’t feel overwhelmed by the differing opinions.  

Just try the best way that works for you.  It may take a bit of trial and error, but if you stick to it you’ll become a pro at homemade sourdough bread in no time.

Making a homemade sourdough starter from scratch is a simple process yet it is so rewarding.  Especially when you make that first loaf of bread! 

And now, I have a fun fact to leave you with.  Do you know that many people name their sourdough starter?  Mine is named “Fernandough” and while I’d like to be able to take credit for that catchy little name, it’s quite a popular sourdough moniker.

There are whole blog posts dedicated to giving you ideas for what to name your sourdough starter.  I had a hard time choosing between “Fernandough” and “Sourdough Sam” but I wasn’t sure my husband, whose name is Sam, would be happy sharing his name with a jar of fermented flour and water in my fridge.

I hope after reading this you feel confident to tackle some homemade bread the sourdough way.  You can do it and the end result will taste so good!

Now that you have your starter, why not try your first loaf of sourdough bread with this recipe?

bubbly sourdough starter with flour

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