The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can I make a starter from an existing Sourdough loaf?

Carabiniero8's picture

Can I make a starter from an existing Sourdough loaf?


Our bakery down the street makes delicious sourdough bread. I've been buying from them for years, but now the thought occurs to me that perhaps I can harvest the starter from the loaf itself and bake my own sourdough bread?! Is this a crazy idea? If not, how do I go about doing this? 

Thank you,

Starter Newby

Mebake's picture

Hi, Starter Newby

Sorry to say, but No, you can't! Bacteria and yeast die at baking temperatures. You can make your own starter, though. There are plenty of helpful tips on this site on how to make your own sourdough starter. Use the search button on the top right.

Share your results with us!


mariana's picture


If you like their bread, it's because their recipe (bread formula ) is good. Starter is a minor influence, really, just like a choice of yeast for bread (fresh yeast, dry yeast, raisin water yeast , etc). 

You can use their bread to create a starter (or ask them, bakers, for a tiny amount of their starter or raw dough). 

You will need about a pound of their bread, i.e. 350-400g sourdough bread. Break bread into pieces, add warm water (30-32C) to cover, mix well. Keep it in a warm place (35-38C) for 36 hours. Then strain liquid from this mixture and use it. Add rye flour to the strained liquid, mix until homogeneous, and keep, covered, at 35-38C until the starter is ready, which could take from 6 to 24 hrs. 



hanseata's picture

I'm sure Mariana's idea of fermenting the bread would work.

I always keep a piece of old dough in the fridge (cut off from a bulk fermented dough) for Bauernbrötchen with Old Dough, and when I have leftover stale bread, I toast it and add it to some doughs as aromatic ingredient.



PetraR's picture

Oh that is a great Idea with the old dough.

I love Bauernbroetchen.

Carabiniero8's picture

Interesting. Thank you for all the advice. It seems that at least two of you think it IS possible to recover a yeast starter culture from a baked loaf. Going away on a trip next week, but when I get back perhaps I will try this with one of their loaves and a bread recipe from this forum, or get up the courage to ask for a piece of ready made dough. 

If they are willing to give me a piece of dough, would it be rude to also ask for the actual bread recipe? 

The reason I think that the starter culture has a lot to do with the way the bread tastes is because our local paper ran an article on all the bakeries in town (there aren't many), and they focused a lot on this particular bakery's San Francisco sourdough loaves, the crowning jewel of the business, which the owner obtained from San Francisco. I can't remember if it's the writer of the article or the owner, but one or the other underscored the fact that the unique and delicious taste is due in large part to the excellent, authentic starer obtained in S.F. I've been eating these loaves for 4 years now and can attest to the fact that they are indeed quite excellent and unlike any other sourdough I've tried.