The Fresh Loaf

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Best sourdough cultures to buy

MasterChef's picture

Best sourdough cultures to buy

Hello, i'm from Italy and next month i will fly to NYC for a short vacation.

I would like to start sourdough bread and i'll buy a sourdough culture to be ready when i'm back home.

There are several types of sourdough starter (french, sanfrancisco..) , wich one could be considered the most flavour and easy to mantain ?

It's important to buy  cultures with no flavor additives and  absolutely no  Baker's yeast inside.

You know any place in New yORK ?

Thank You.

MasterChef's picture

I've heard that some cultures were born 200 years ago thats for sure better than a new one.

Second i need something ready to use cause for christmas i've some request from my friends.

In any case could u give me some link just to start myself with a culture ?

Thank you.

RobynNZ's picture

Hi there

Go to the top of the page, you will find in the black banner: Home, Forum, Lessons, then Handbook. Under handbook, click bread basics, then ingredients, then sourdough starter.  That will take you to an easy to do method for making a starter. 

It would be a good idea to read the following too:

The last one is  a daily record (with photos) comparing use of water only and pineapple juice in making a sourdough starter.

It is true it takes a bit of time for the starter to reach its full potential, but if you follow the procedure outlined, it will be making good bread before Christmas. Actually opinion varies regarding the age of a starter. Some people choose to start a new one from time to time while others like their 'old' starter.

Make good use of the search box top left too, there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from the archives.

Have fun!



JoeV's picture

Dried starter is your best option to get a starter going, as it transfers easily. I keep a couple of ounces of my dried starter in a sealed jar in the freezer in case of a disaster. I also give it away to anyone who wants some (complete with directions) by sending me a self addressed stamped envelope. I can be contacted by e-mail at

I would like to clear up some confusion about regional starters like San Francisco sourdough starter. The flavor imparted in your bread formula by the starter is unique to the geographic location of the starter. If you get a sample of SF starter and move it to Milwaukee, within a week or so the flavor will change to that of a Milwaukee starter. This is because the micro orgamisms in starters are constantly dying and being replace by airborn yeast organisms at the home of the starter. There are different ways of altering the flavor by changing flour, etc., but at the end of the day, the starter and its flavor is unique to where you store your starter. Even when the pioneers crossed the country, thier starter "evolved" in flavor as they moved west. The SF starter is very unique in its flavor, because of its geographic location. If you took that starter to Idaho it would not taste the same within a week or so.

In short, it matters not where you get a starter from, as it will become your own flavor very soon. It's more important to get a dried starter or a fresh sample of an existing starter. You could try contacting a local bread bakery and see if they would sell or give you some of their starter. You only need an ounce or two to get going.

ehanner's picture


Would you have any evidence to back up your statements about the flavor of starters becoming adapted to the region?

This is one area where we should park the old wives tales at the door. There isn't much science on the side of those who want everyone to believe that only San Francisco can make "that" bread. It's a great bit of marketing but, that's all it is.

And what of Dr. Ed Woods, who claims he has exotic cultures from around the world? Tested and verified in laboratory studies.

And what about the La Brea Bakery in LA winning the best sourdough bread blind folded challenge, 2 years in a row?

It's complicated.


wayne on FLUKE's picture
wayne on FLUKE

I just ordered some Carl Griffith's 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter. He started a tradition of giving it away and his friends have continued in his memory. It has been in his family since 1847. Check it out.


Royall Clark's picture
Royall Clark

Thanks for the link Wayne. I just may give that a try! I've got the pineapple starter but it wouldn't hurt to have this just to compare to!



rottenfood's picture

The topic of which starter always presents the question of do they retain their regional taste enhancing characteristics. In my area, mild tang has been the best I can do, while friends near San Diego have to work to tone it down.

Either the culture persists with it's characteristics - cause the bacteria continue propagating, or they are overwhelmed by the continual introduction of different bugs.  There seems to be no definitive evidence to show which it is. Has anyone come across studies that speak to this?

Many Thx.


logdrum's picture

In either C & C or BBA, he mentions the isolation of a culture from SF that includes the designation "sanfranciscus" or something like that. He goes on to make the assertion that eventually, all starters become regional.