The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough Starter Temp Mechanism

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 



CountryBoy's picture

Thank you for the feed back on this.


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 :-)


CaGa15's picture

I have been thinking about it for a week.  I have a plug in coffee warmer that you sit your cup on to keep it warm.  I started with glass and ended with wood.  Everything to reduce the heat to 75 degrees which I think would be a good environment for the starter.  If I had some time I would come up with something but I think we are on the right track!  There are big glass bells that could create a Terrarium from the 70's but there is Condensation.  There must be some people who could help us come up with a simple solution with the correct environment!  How about that!


tricky's picture

I created a very low tech warm spot and I would include photo if I could.  I purchased a hanging light fixture like the kind used to keep chicks  warm. They are very inexpensive.   There is an aluminum hood and it can take any watt bulb that you need.  I'm using a 40 watt appliance bulb.  I hung it with a coat hanger (low tech) over a cupboard door and this hangs directly over my container with the sourdough that is sitting on the counter top.  If the ambient temperature is cool I can increase the heat by draping a piece of tin foil around the bottom of the hood.  I could send a photo of you want one.    Vickie