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sourdough starter help please!!

cappy's picture

sourdough starter help please!!

 does anyone  have a sourdough starter in or near Fresno,  CA?? I just got a gift of a bread machine and the packaged stuff just isn't the same as fresh.  Or, does anyone want to explain to me about starting my own starter?  I'd MUCH prefer someone else's tried and true product... Help please!! 

A new  disabled amateur bread maker!! :)

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Friends of Carl

Of course, you can give them a few bucks too if you like.

By the time mine came, I had a vigorous homemade starter, so I never activated it. 

It is kind of fun to make your own. I followed the directions at King Arthur Flour using King Arthur Organic All Purpose Flour and filtered water.  The only thing I did differently was after a few days of "2 a day feedings" and not getting my starter to double in a timely fashion, I stuck with 1 a day feedings until it started doubling reliably.  At which point I stuck it in the fridge and it continues on to this day. [Only 4 months or so old]

rexineffect's picture

OK, if you want to make your own, which I think is most is what I did.

The pinapple juice method didn't work, the just flour and water sitting for 5 days(or catching wild yeast) didn't work, ummm... seems like I had tried other methods too....

BUT the one that did work good for me and was pretty easy was:

taking about 2 tbls of all purpose unbleached white flour, just over a tbls of tripple osmosis filtered warm water(or just some bottled water) and a pinch of active dry yeast(which I did proof first by disolving in some of the warm water with a little pinch of sugar) putting it in a plastic container with a loosly fitted lid and setting it on my counter.

counter was at about 72F for about 48 hours.

after 48-60 hours i started to feed.

i started the feeding with doubling my starter(had about 2tbls starter,fed 2tbls flour and water, then had about 4tbls starter, fed 4tbls flour about 2 tbls water) for about 3 days

then i started feeding 1part starter, 2-3 parts flour and 2-3 parts water for 2 days(which caused starter to start tripling in size)

once it got to about 2 cups of starter i started to discard so i always ended with about 2 cups of starter after feeding.

so at this point we have 2 cups of starter thats been on the counter for about a week, fed about 5 times.

i cooked with it at that point and it worked great and was actually pretty sourdough tasting.

then i started the refrigeration feeding method, and left it in for a week, now this is where i am at with my stater, yesterday i took it out of the fridge and fed it 1part starter 2 part flour 2 part water and it trippled perfectly in 6 hours.


its an awesome starter and worked great, great sourdough flavor, great rise and smells wonderful.


now, i left out a lot of this method, smells at certain stages, looks, consistency and when I did it I got this sort of information from reading mostly on here how starters should look/smell as they progress.


I ended with a 100% hydration starter but started with a little more runny of one. 100% hydration is actually pretty stiff, not really runny at all, but when i started it was a little runny, i would bet around 125% hydration


So... if this is all confusing tell me. I will come right back and write you a 1, 2, 3 step method that is really clear and i can get you pictures of how it should look. starters are fun and it was awesome when I finally got one working!

ElPanadero's picture

If you can get hold of some rye flour then I suggest this is the quickest and most reliable flour to create your own starter from.   Here's what I do:

1. Take 150g rye flour and mix with 100g bottled mineral/spring water, mix to a paste and leave for 24hrs at room temp.

2. Now take out 75g of the starter and discard the rest

3. Add 75g rye flour and 50g mineral water to the 75g of starter, mix and leave for 12 hrs

keep repeatng steps 2 and 3 until you start to see air bubbles/pockets appearing in the mix.  Keep going until the mix rises and doubles in size by itself reliably.  This will take anywhere from 2-5 days usually depending on your flour, water and room temperature.

I have read elsewhere that it is not advisable to put bakers yeast into the mix to try to give it a boost because bakers yeast contains a different strain of yeast to the wild yeasts that we re trying to cultivate. Neither should you think about adding anything else like sugars, honey etc because they can add bacteria and other organisms that will compete with your wild yeast and hamper its development.   Just stay with rye flour and water and time and patience is all that is required to achieve your end result.

Once you have established a working rye starter you can then use some of it to create a white starter.  For this take 75g of the rye starter and add to it 75g white (AP) flour and 75g water.   Leave 12hrs, then take out 75g of the mix and add another 75g white (AP) flour and 75g water and keep repeating.  Note we are using the same volumes of flour and water and starter here (1:1:1) because the rye starter is already established and active.  You will find the mix goes white pretty quickly as you add more and more white flour and it will become ready and active much quicker because it had the advantage of being started from the ripe rye starter from the outset.   If you like you can do the same with wholewheat flour and spelt flour to give you 4 different tasting starters if you are feeling adventurous !

Whether or not you are able to get hold of somene else's starter I would encourage you to give your own starter a go for both the experience and the satisfaction of being able to do it.

Good luck.

rexineffect's picture

"I have read elsewhere that it is not advisable to put bakers yeast into the mix to try to give it a boost because bakers yeast contains a different strain of yeast to the wild yeasts that we re trying to cultivate. Neither should you think about adding anything else like sugars, honey etc because they can add bacteria and other organisms that will compete with your wild yeast and hamper its development.   Just stay with rye flour and water and time and patience is all that is required to achieve your end result."


I read the exact same thing. The reason I disregarded these types of comments was because I just couldn't get any other method to work. And keep in mind, I did do it this way with no problems at all and it's now a great starter.

I did pick up some rye flower yesterday, I think I will start your method tonight with rye and try it. Do you really think it is necessary to start with such large amounts of rye flour in the beginning just to discard so much the very next day?


Thanks for new method!


EDIT: I didn't see you eventually convert to a white flour starter. I want to leave it as rye starter for some rye breads, do you know what to do in that case? Do you have a confirmed method for rye starter, I assume just dont add white flour, keep using rye, right?

ElPanadero's picture

Sorry for any confusion in my part. Yes, the method above creates a Rye Starter and so yes, you just keep feeding that with rye flour on a normal maintenance regime. But as you saw, I also used a small portion of that rye starter, once fully active, to then start to build (seed) a white wheat starter.

There are lots of reasons why people experience difficulty creating starters with just flour and water and nothing else and many times it is the water. Whether you think your tap water is good or bad, for the purposes of eliminating problems it is best to use bottled water for this short process of creating the starter.

In terms of the quantities I am using they are already scaled down. Many other methods would use much much more. The idea is that there are only so many "yeasties" in a given quantity of flour and what you're trying to do is hold a party and invite as many of them as possible to it and once they are in, close and lock the door so they can't get out. If you only invite the "yeasties" from a small amount of flour the party isn't going to be very big, maybe a couple of sherrys and a game of charades ! If on the other hand you start with a large quantity of flour and invite all those yeasties to the party you'll get a veritable rave !

This is why in the first pass we start with lots of flour and let the party rave on for 24hrs allowing those yeasties to mingle, get to know each other, exchange phone numbers, go on dates with each other, get "jiggy" with each other and multiply. By the end of the first party you have more yeasties than you started with in that same volume of starter. So when you discard much of it and just take 75g of it for the next party, that 75g already has a good population of yeastie "ravers" and they'll all be hungry and wanting to gorge on more drink and canapes which is where the added flour and water comes in.
Each feed is a party and for each party you want to start off with a higher population of yeasties.

So, yes, at the start you do want to be using reasonable quantities of flour. The more you start with the quicker the process ought to be, but as you say, no-one likes waste so we try to find a happy balance. 75g of starter really isn't a very big amount and will fit nicely in a jar and still have the space needed to double in size.

As for your starter which was grown using bakers yeast, I would think that might have different qualities to a pure wild yeast starter as, at least from the outset, you will probably have grown and multiplied bakers "yeasties". That would likely produce a different overall taste. Over time the wild yeasties in there might have taken over the bakers yeasties and left you with a normal starter but I couldn't say. It might taste and smell differently to normal wild yeast starter. On a similar vein, as an experiment I once created a "starter" incredibly quickly using raisins. I put a handful of raisins in a jar, covered with water so the jar was 2/3rd full of water and left it. In just 1 day it started to bubble, in 2 days it was very active. I then used this active "raisin juice" (minus the actual raisins) as the water to create a starter, so I just added flour and of course I very quickly had a "starter". HOWEVER . . . what I had produced was not a wild yeast starter. I had cultivated the bacteria or yeasties from the raisins and the result was a ferment that most certainly would produce lots of gasses but which smelled incredibly sweet. So it wasn't going to give me a sour taste in breads as a wild yeast SD starter would. You can make all sorts of ferments / "starters" from lots of different things but in each case I think you are producing something different so it depends what you are setting out to create. Over time the constant adding of flour to these things might eventually turn them into wild yeast starters but if that's what you wanted from the outset then better to just use flour and water in the first place imo.

Anyway, I hope some of that helps