The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Accelerated Sourdough Starter?

SDbaker's picture

Accelerated Sourdough Starter?

Hello everyone, I am almost home after having been away for 3 months..without my baking books.  This site has been a great way for me to stay connected to my bread baking.  Prior to leaving, I was working through the BBA and yeasted breads.  I am looking forward to firing up the oven soon upon my arrival and working on sourdough..after buying some new flour (3 months too long?). 

Question: is there a way (gasp) to acclerate a sourdough starter, like have something to use in a day or two?  I'll begin a traditional starter too, but have a week off and would love to bake instead of staring a tiny bubbles..  any suggestions?

Thanks as always,


sourdough-guy's picture

Hi, I don't think there is a really quick way but try this. Buy some fresh organic berries wheat and rye, soak them for 24 hours and then mash them in just enough water at 75F to make a paste, then set aside and try to keep the 75F. Feed after 24 hours, throwing half away, with more mash made in the same way, then after 24 hours just feed with flour. Okay this has already take you three days and you're no closer but by the next day you should be much closer. 


Next method, with your fresh organic berries grind them up and add enough water to make a paste, meanwhile soak the berries for the next feed in 24 hours, this will save you a day, I haven't tried this but it just struck me as a good compromise and might be worth it in the end. 


Next method, Use your freshly ground berries or good organic flour and add a spot of diastatic malt this is what soaking the grains is about, malting. Then carryon as above. 


Since time is of the essence, try a second batch adding some pineapple juice, don't worry about any smell from the none pineapple one this is just incase it works quicker. 



gianfornaio's picture

Why not start with half? I've never quite understood this. I can certainly understand if you find yourself with too much, but is there a reason that starting larger would help the whole process?

bwraith's picture

You can manage any culture, whatever the consistency, with frugal techniques that save on flour. Once the culture is refreshed, you can manage it so you virtually have no waste at all.

You can also use very small amounts when you are getting a culture started, which will save on flour. However, before the starter is really completely fresh and ready, a lot of refreshments will have been done. If you figure that to get to a reasonably stable culture takes about 2 weeks, and that you feed it on average twice per day over that period, and that you feed it by doubling it each time (very conservative, I think doubling it is not enough for twice per day except very early in the cycle) then you would get 2 raised to the 28th power (i.e. double the weight 28 times) increase in weight or 268,435,456 times the weight. If you start with a fairly difficult to measure and mix tiny amount of 5 grams of culture, you would have well over a million kilograms (1.342 metric tons) of culture by the end of two weeks. Or, if you want to end up at the end of the two weeks with 250 grams of fresh culture, you'd have to start with about a microgram (1 millionth of a gram) of culture.

On the other hand, if you throw out half 28 times over the period you're getting the starter going, then you would throw out 14 times whatever starting volume you use. A reasonable amount to work with that isn't too difficult from a measurement and handling perspective is about 50 grams. So, using that amount, you would throw out 700 grams of culture, or 350 grams of flour or a 12 oz of flour, which isn't that much to throw out.

Sorry if I made an arithmetic mistake up there, but it's really just for fun to think about what doubling the culture implies in terms of amounts.

I agree that trying to write frugal techniques into a starter recipe when you're trying to just explain the basics to someone is tough and probably confusing, too. For one thing, a lot of problems can result from making measurement mistakes when working with tiny amounts. However, frugal culture management techniques are very useful once the culture is fresh and active, and even beginners will appreciate the reduction of waste that comes from refrigeration of tiny amounts of "mother culture" followed by reviving the culture and building the exact amounts needed for a recipe.

jmcbride's picture

You might want to try going to a local bakery and seeing if they will sell/donate some starter.


ehanner's picture


If I recall you are deployed with the Navy? I'll be happy to send you an express package of starter so you can cook sourdough right away. Just let me know when you will be home to receive it. Decipher the address below and send it off the forum.

Thanks for your service.


(ehanner at gmail) dotcom

SDbaker's picture

Eric, many thanks for such a thoughtful gift.  As it happens, a member of the freshloaf community who lives in San Diego took me under her wing and contacted Floyd to share contact info and some of her starter upon my return!  As a backup, I've since learned KA sells a starter for about 5 bucks. 

 Thank you again!

 the humbled by everyone's generocity, SDbaker