The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Anyone ever bought starter dough off someone locally?

riserofthebre4ds's picture

Anyone ever bought starter dough off someone locally?

I found someone selling their starter dough on craigslist but I'm a little hesitant because who knows if it's any good and I won't have any protection since they want cash. I was considering using a site like this one to look up the persons information but not even sure if it's worthwhile. 


Has anyone has success buying starter dough off someone locally, or should I just take the plunge and make my own (I'm a bit lazy and don't want to go through a zillion trials)?


breadforfun's picture

Over the past several years I have given away starter to anyone who asks, even more so since the pandemic. For someone to ask for money for something they are basically throwing away anyway seems rude to me, but I understand that you might not want to invest time in making your own.

I suggest that you do. There are many ways to do it in this forum, and I think making a whole rye starter is the easiest. Once established it can easily be converted to a wheat starter. You will learn a ton by doing it yourself. 



squattercity's picture

I just want to second what Brad said.

I, too, learned a ton by making (and almost breaking) my starter. Frankly, the experience is sort-of primal. The only thing I can compare it to is making fire from friction (something I've also done.) That act of creation gave me the confidence to bake more complex things and not to fear failure.


phaz's picture

Do it yourself - only takes a couple weeks. Enjoy!

Isand66's picture

I would be happy to give you some if mine depending on where you live.

JonJ's picture

Carl's friends will send you a starter if you send them a stamped self addressed envelope -

Ed Wood sells a diverse range of interesting starters - - and his site been discussed here before.

And you didn't say where in the world you are - but we're a fairly international bunch here and am willing to bet (!) that no matter where you stay there will be someone in your country who'll just mail you some.

Good luck!

Ming's picture

I would buy a SD starter if I were needing to have one but I would buy the best SD starter available not just from anybody off some listing. Kristen Dennis, a well-known baker around here sells one and her breads posted on IG would have most bakers die for. Linked below is her site. Good luck!

Fresh Sourdough Starter – Full Proof Baking

Abe's picture

But better? That would all be in the hands of the person using the starter. 

Ming's picture

Agree that the caregiver is the key to maintain a great starter but at least start with one that is proven to work with great results to show. 

GaryBishop's picture

I'd gladly give you one of my five starters and think most bakers would. I'd be hesitant to buy one from just anyone...

The King Arthur starter comes fresh and works great. I've used 4 of the starters from and they work great. Carlsfriends will send it to you for essentially free. 


breadmaking's picture

Use Carlsfriend they are excellent they will send you dried starter about 1/4tsp and you just need only a bit. Put is in a glass of lukewarm water and let it dissolve and thereafter you may add your flour. I still have some in my freezer. they will send you instructions to activate it.

But am trying  very hard to make my own with the help of TFL team

tpassin's picture

In the worst case someone gives you a dead starter (assuming it's not actually sick).  Your wouldn't know that, but the standard prescription is to keep feeding a starter until it wakes up and becomes active.  Starting with a dead starter and feeding/stirring it once or twice a day, you would probably notice good activity in several days to a week.  You would think "Good, I have woken up that dormant starter" but actually you would have created a new one.

So what the heck, just make one yourself already!

In the meantime, if you want to get an idea of what a long-fermented sourdough is like to work with and bake, make a standard dough but with 1/4 - 1/2 tsp (yes, *teaspoon*) of instant yeast and possibly add a tblsp of yogurt or yogurt liquid for better flavor.  Expect this dough to bulk ferment for 9 - 12 hours before it's ready to shape, depending on all the variables - room temperature, flour, hydration, etc.

Stonebake's picture
Stonebake (not verified)

Some years ago there was a post here from a micro biologist and she explained that the local LABs and the yeasts from your local flours quickly replace those of any starter you buy. She went through the maths and a lot more. 

I think it might have been a post by Deborah Wink. 

I once bought a starter sold by a company in California as a the Californian sourdough starter. I quickly reverted to my own usual starter within a couple of feeds or so. 

Starters are so easy to get going as well. I add a little rye flour which acts like a booster and gets them going quickly. Starting a starter is also fast when whole meal flour is used. Most of the yeasts are on the bran, very little in a refined flour. 

The French typically use fruit, usually apples, because the fruit has quite a lot of amylase in them which makes sugars available to the yeast. I have never found the need for that. 

tpassin's picture

I once made a new starter using a piece of apple included in the mix.  I probably crushed it somewhat but I don't remember any more.  The new starter developed well, and had a fruity flavor.  But the bread I made with it didn't taste or act any differently from my usual white flour starter.  The fruity odor faded away over a few month's worth of refreshments.  The starter always produced bread just like my standard one.

When I read a recipe or starter technique that has you doing things like starting with potatoes or fruit or whatever, I don't bother.  I just stick with my own.

Stonebake's picture
Stonebake (not verified)

Agreed, I do the same.

I thought it worth mentioning the 'French Method'.

I recently had a chat with a professional French baker about it. He shrugged and said 'it's just how we do it'. 

Which I thought was delightfully French. Chuckles.

phaz's picture

Water - flour - time - all ya need! Enjoy!

Dave Cee's picture
Dave Cee

from Grover Beach Sourdough and they readily gave me some starter when I asked politely.

clazar123's picture

Put your location info on your profile and see if there are any Fresh Loafers local to you to share-prob for free.