The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Some advice on sourdough please :)

megatronalpha's picture

Some advice on sourdough please :)

So, last week I started my very first sourdough starter. I used 1 1/2 cups flour, and 1 cup water (halving my recipe since I was using a honey container.) Well, I apprehensively put it in my new born's room, which at the time was the warmest place in the house from the recommendation of my wife. This was after I had read a post (I think it was from this site) about how someone made sourdough and the jar lid exploded off. Well, I didn't want that, so I moved it to the kitchen.

The next day, T took the lid off, smelled it, it was rather sour. So I added two tablespoons Organic All Purpose Flour (which was the starter as well,) stirred and went about my business. Came back to check it, and to my surprise it as rising. So I stirred it. Checked back in about... 30-45 min and it had rose again, to the top of the lid. So I stirred it, and halved it into another container.

On the Third day, it smelled like I had covered stored someones vomit instead of flour, and it had the "hootch." So, that day I actually got rid of it.

I started again this time with 1/4 cup all purp flour, and 1/8 cup + 2 tsp water. I let it sit for 2 days, stirring 3 times a day. On the third day I took out some starter, measured the weight to roughly 5 grams, then added 5 grams flour and water. Stirred, put it away, stirred two more times that day. Today, I believe it is the 4th day of the new starter, it smells pleasantly sour, unlike the putrid smell from before, but isn't really rising. The temperature in South Korea (Where I am currently living) has dropped some, it is cooler these days then it was a few months/weeks ago. So yesterday I added 2 tablespoons flour to the mix to feed it, as I guessed it was hungry from the hootch (which I stir back in because I figure if I want to keep the liquid at 100% I should do that.) My starter isn't really dry, it's more like pancake batter. It is bubbling, just not rising. Is this a problem? Does it HAVE to rise? When will I know if its ready? My wife says (butting her nose in) that she looked up the recipe and some have said it only takes two days. I know this depends on flour and conditions of the house etc. So, what's going on?

Thanks any and everyone!

LindyD's picture

Welcome, megatronalpha, to TFL.

The good folks at King Arthur Flour have written a excellent primer for bakers new to sourdough.  It can be found here:

The article also contains a link on how to create sourdough:

And how to feed and maintain it:

Hope you find it helpful.

dabrownman's picture

patience and then a little more patience.  Keep feeding and then after a week you should have something.  Next time, if this fails,  use whole wheat or  whole rye flour.  Joe Ortiz method works very well too.

FlourChild's picture

Yes to what the others have said, it often takes a week or so to get a wheat starter up and running.  Keep at the feedings with a goal of feeding shortly after it has reached peak activity.  It may take as much as two weeks to get it to a stage where it is rising predictably between feeds.

Good luck!

jackie9999's picture

Sadly, a few years back, I lost my starter due to misuse...I started again using the method that many here recommended,

The pinapple juice solution,

I knew what I was looking for this second time around.  Don't be fooled by the quick rise you see in the first few takes a good week (in my case the 8th day) before it will work for won't be very sour but that comes in time.