The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter Temp Mechanism

  • Pin It
CountryBoy's picture

Sourdough Starter Temp Mechanism

It is my understanding that the proper temp for growing sourdough starter is in the 78-80 temp range.  However my house and rooms in winter do not go above 70 degrees.

So do people have sensible inventions or ideas as to how one can achieve that temp range for the nurturing of sourdough starter?

PS: And I have already tested the temps above the fridge and such places.



nbicomputers's picture

if your oven has a pilot light which should keep it warm enough

if not is there a light in your oven the light bulb on will make some heat

if it does not you could get a drop light from an auto or hardware store and use a 60 - 100 w bulb and place the light in your oven being careful keep the light far enough away from your starter

remember the ez bake ovens for kids baked cookies and small cakes just with the heat of a 100w bulb

hullaf's picture

I use my microwave as a mini-environment to get the temperature just right. I boil a cup of water, then put the starter next to it, put a do-not-open sign (privacy please?) on the door and leave it. I also put in a instant read thermometer in a jar of water to check the temp every hour or so (and if need be heat the water again.) I think some posts here have talked about using a cooler too as the "mini environment". Good luck. My house is always below 66F in the winter time, I was raised in Wisconsin.   Anet

Mike Avery's picture
Mike Avery

People have been making sourdough for thousands of years, and for most of that time there really wasn't any effective temperature control.  While a warmer temperature will help, it's not essential.  It'll just take a bit longer to get going at lower temperatures.


How low can you go?  I wouldn't get much below the mid 60's while starting a starter, but that's just a shoot from the hip guess 



ShirleyT's picture


I live in the East Bay, about 20 miles east of San Francisco. I am too cheap to turn the heater on in the winter so the temperature in my house often drops to 60 degrees at night and barely budges from that during the day. I keep my 12 year old sourdough on the kitchen counter. It has not suffered any bad side affects from these cooler temps. My breads turn out beautiful every time!

CountryBoy's picture

Thank you for the feed back on this.


halinva's picture

I'm absolutely new at this and have purchased several books on sourdough as well as a bread machine.   One of the books, which concentrates strictly on sourdough recommends that proofed starter be kept at 85 degrees for 24 hours.  That is pretty hard to do.  Does it really matter that much?

I think I recall that 70 or so years ago my parents used to have a crock that they used to keep on a shelf.  And if I'm not mistaken it contained sourdough starter.

I would appreciate some input on this.


Hal (on the York River in VA)

PS:  I'm really glad that I ran across this great website!

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

"One of the books, which concentrates strictly on sourdough recommends that proofed starter be kept at 85 degrees for 24 hours."

This probably falls under the category of a type II sourdough---one used for acidifiying and flavoring dough, but not so much for leavening. Do the recipes also call for some commercial baker's yeast?

I think most people here use type I sourdough, which is the more "traditional" kind, maintained at room temperature with frequent, or "continuous" refreshment. This keeps the yeast vigorous enough to raise the dough without added baker's yeast.

Both are sourdoughs. But they are different styles, with different microbial profiles, and probably different flavors as well.

ermabom's picture

I am a relatively new baker (started in April 2007) but I created more than one sourdough starters last year and have two going right now. My house is not more than 70 degrees in the kitchen unless I am baking and the oven is on. I have had no trouble with the starters. They just take longer to mature in the winter than they did in the summer when it was closer to 80 in the house.

It is a good thing I didn't over analyze all this when I started or I would have been too scared to try sourdough baking :-)