The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Any suggestions about first time Sourdough starter?

katelove's picture

Any suggestions about first time Sourdough starter?

I have read that it is best to buy a commercial starter (sourdough) if you are new to opposed to starting my own.  Any advice or suggestions?  Early experiences of those doing it awhile?

Thank you,


SulaBlue's picture

Every starter I tried before has failed - usually due to something fuzzy growing on top. Once I tried the pineapple juice method I was finally able to get a starter to grow without going all funky on me.

LindyD's picture

Like Kent, I mixed flour (bread flour) and water, refreshed it daily, added a touch of organic rye flour now and then, and watched it grow.  Took about two or three weeks to really hit its stride, but the culture is still going strong nearly two years later.

bassopotamus's picture

My starter is about 3 weeks old and quite strong. It started with rye flour and pineapple juice and is quite vigorous. IT was easy, never done it before.

arzajac's picture

You can use just flour and water, if you want to keep it simple.  Any other ingredient(s) will maybe speed up progress, but it's not essential to growing your own starter.


ClimbHi's picture

If you decide to go with the commercial first, I got one from King Arthur Flour that has worked well for me for about a year now. I also got their starter crock for storing it, which I like.

Pittsburgh, PA

Soundman's picture

Hi Katie,

Debra Wink's "pineapple juice solution" was easy for me and worked the first time. Here's a link to the recpie in Part 2:

Here's the "recipe" extracted from the above story:

Day 1: mix...
2 tablespoons whole grain flour* (wheat or rye)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice, orange juice, or apple cider

Day 2: add...
2 tablespoons whole grain flour*
2 tablespoons juice or cider

Day 3: add...
2 tablespoons whole grain flour*
2 tablespoons juice or cider

Day 4: (and once daily until it starts to expand and smell yeasty), mix . . .
2 oz. of the starter (1/4 cup after stirring down-discard the rest)
1 oz. flour** (scant 1/4 cup)
1 oz. water (2 tablespoons)

Once you have an active starter, feed it twice daily at a ratio of 1:2:2 or 1:3:3 (starter : water : flour, by weight, not volume) and you'll be on your way. I think you'll find it's fun, not scary, and it works.


SulaBlue's picture

That's -unsweetened- juice. Just the plain stuff.

I started my spelt starter with a freshly squeezed orange, as that's the only acidic juice I happened to have on hand since naval oranges were on sale for 45 cents a pound :D

xaipete's picture

I'm having great success with my PR starter (pineapple juice) esp. after Debbie helped me tweak up the tang.


ehanner's picture

I agree with David above. Debra Wink gave us a very easy and repeatable method to make your own sourdough starter. There are many ways to grow your own but her method is clean and has a high likelihood of success in a short time. Within a week or 10 days you can have a powerful natural starter with a very nice flavor.


flournwater's picture

What you use to prepare your first sourdough starter (flour and water, flour and pineapplel juice, etc.) is, IMO, less important than the way you manage the process.  Using clean (I sterilize mine) plastic and/or wood vessels and utensils rather than metal is important.  Allowing for air to to move between the inside and the outside of the "incubator" while keeping a lid over it, maintaing a proper temperature, avoiding chemically treated water (purifying it or obtaining commercially produced purified water) and feeding it at the right time with the right proportions of ingredients is worthy of more study than the simple basic ingredients you use.

I had a lot of sourdough starter failures.  Using this method/recipe I found immediate success:


I have used this method with AP bleached, AP unbleached, and Whole Wheat flour and it produces a perfect starter every time.  No need for fancy and expensive specialty flour. 

So, if you've never done it before, I'd suggest you try this one.



Maverick's picture

I have to say that the metal thing is partially a myth. I say partially because if you use stainless steel (non-reactive) utensils and/or bowls, then you are fine. Aluminum, tin, copper, etc. used to be the norm, so the instructions always said to avoid metal. I believe this has to do with the acid in the sourdough reacting with the metals. So go ahead and use that stainless steel spoon if you want (easier to clean and sterilize IMO).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I don't know if you've experienced this, but, after working with onions and garlic, if you soap up your hands and then rub them on stainless for a minute, the odors will be greatly reduced.  It's a fun trick, but could the same happen with sourdough?  I keep a sourdough for the flavor and aroma, putting it together for a longer time with stainless (anyone of 25 varieties) would defeat that purpose don't you think?  I do use a SS spoon or fork to stir and find there is not a problem but I don't like the idea of letting my starter or dough stand or rise in Stainless Steel (unless separated by a thick coat of oil.)

Glass if fine as long as it is not crystal.  Porcelain and stoneware ceramics are also good.  I use plastic and small big mouthed salsa jars.  Some woods actually kill or greatly reduce bacteria and yeast.


Maverick's picture

There doesn't seem to be a lot of scientific data available on the whole stainless steel removing garlic smells thing. But the things it seems to help with are sulfur based. If your sourdough smells like sulfur, it probably needs to be tossed. Even if it did remove odor, it would be so minimal that it wouldn't matter.

Personally I like glass for storage anyway so I can see the starter working. But I do mix with a stainless steel spoon, and occasionally use SS bowls to mix it before going into the glass container.