The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Help with sourdough starter

mdrdds's picture

Help with sourdough starter

I need help with sour dough starter. I tried to use the starter in the CIA book for artisan breads. I could not get it to work. Than I tried the starter recpie in the Bakers apprentice. It worked for a while than it died after I froze it and it couldn't be revived. Ive tried different things from different books to no avail. I'm really confused. HELP!! Mike Robinson

K.C.'s picture

At the top left corner of the page is the search field. There are countless threads on starters.

Here's an excerpt from the article that is here:


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)

Organic is not a requirement, nor does it need to be freshly ground.

** You can feed the starter/seed culture whatever you would like at this point. White flour, either bread or a strong unbleached all-purpose like King Arthur or a Canadian brand will turn it into a general-purpose white sourdough starter. Feed it rye flour if you want a rye sour, or whole wheat, if you want to make 100% whole wheat breads. If you're new to sourdough, a white starter is probably the best place to start.

On average, yeast begin to grow on day 3 or 4 in the warmer months, and on day 4 or 5 during colder times of the year, but results vary by circumstance. Feed once a day, taking care not to leave mold-promoting residue clinging to the sides or lid of your bowl or container, and refer back to the different phases to track progress. Once you have yeast growing (but not before), you can and should gradually step up the feeding to two or three times a day, and/or give it bigger refreshments. This is the point at which I generally defer to the sourdough experts. There are several good books on sourdough which address the topic of starter maintenance and how to use it in bread. Just keep in mind that the first days of the seed culture process have nothing to do with developing flavor or even fostering the most desirable species. The object is simply to move through the succession and get the starter up and running. The fine-tuning begins there. Once yeast are growing well, choose the hydration, temperature and feeding routine that suits you, and the populations will shift in response to the flour and conditions that you set up for maintenance.

fish4food1's picture

KC:  Thanks for the great information.   I will move to just white flour.

LeeYong's picture

defintely try the pineapple juice method... worked for me.

Good luck and your new starter monster!

Happy baking!

Stephanie Rose's picture
Stephanie Rose


I just became a new member and I want to say that I LOVE this site!  I've been reading through it the last several mornings with a cup of coffee.  I'm so excited to get started.

I have a starter that I have been feeding for 5 days now.  It is a 100% hydration starter recipe that I got from  It is smelling nice but only a few bubbles when I check it.  It is not rising at ALL.  It doubled on the second day and hasn't since.  I am on a 12 hour feeding schedule and hoping for the best.  My ratio is 1/3 cup starter  1/3 cup water 1/3 cup white flour  5 T. Rye flour

Do you have any tips for me or words of encouragement?  Should I start over?  It seems healthy enough (although I am very inexperienced with this sort of thing).  I've always just been given a healthy starter from friends and manage to kill it after a few months.  At what point can I be confident about using this starter in a recipe?

Thanks for any tips you might have:)  I'm excited to join this wonderful world of bread baking!!


placebo's picture

I don't really see the point of feeding a starter if it isn't showing goods signs of activity. If it's not very active, it stands to reason there's not much yeast there. Every time you feed it, you dilute what little there is, and you may not be giving the yeast a chance to establish itself.

What I would try is this. On your next feeding, split the starter in two. With one half, keep following the procedure you've been using. With the other half, just give it a mix every 12 hours or so. When one finally gets going, you can toss the other one.

The main thing though is be patient. It can take days for the starter to get going. My friend who got me into sourdough baking said it took 14 days for her starter to show any signs of life!


mdrdds's picture

You just have to be patient. The method above works well and I have baked some beautiful loaves of SourDough with it. As some one once said in the end mother nature will win out and you'll get your yeast. Give it time.

elissabee's picture

Are you using tap water or spring water? I was having trouble getting a starter to "start" and then it occurred to me that the chlorine in tap water was to blame. Switched to spring water on day 5 and now on day 7 I'm feeding it twice a day because it's expanding so much.

mdrdds's picture

I use tap water. With my current starter and it has not been a problem. But having said that , water quality is different in different parts of the country ie.. Hard vs soft and the amount of chemicals in the water so I suppose that could have an effect. I'm in north Jersey and tapnwater works fine.