How to make sourdough starter -
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5 from 15 votes

How to make a sourdough starter

A recipe for a sourdough starter made with flour and water that you can use to make bread, pizza dough, waffles, pancakes, pretzels and much more, without any added yeast.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: How-to
Calories: 408kcal
Author: Vaishali · Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup bottled or non-chlorinated water
  • all purpose flour for feeding


  • Measure out the whole wheat flour into a large bowl or a crock (if you live in India, you can use whole wheat atta flour). The container you use should be large enough to hold the sourdough starter as it rises and bubbles. Also make sure you use a glass or ceramic or sturdy, food-safe plastic container.
  • Measure out the bottled or non-chlorinated, room-temperature water. Chlorine can inhibit the formation and growth of yeast, so it’s rather important that your water be as non-chlorinated as you can get it.
  • Now add the water to the flour and whisk together to mix well. You should not have any traces of flour.
  • Cover the sourdough starter loosely with a kitchen towel.
  • If the weather where you live is cold, place it in a warm spot, like on top of a radiator or in an oven with the pilot light on. It was rather warm here when I started George so I could leave him out on the kitchen table, but this time — with temperatures kissing the 40s — I have my new starter in the oven with the light on. Keep in mind that it may take longer for the yeast to develop in the starter in cooler weather.
  • Leave your starter alone for 24 hours. When you look at it, you might see some bubbles, or there may be none, especially if you are in cooler temperatures. Either way, mix the starter well with a whisk or fork, measure out half a cup of the starter, and discard* it. Although it might hurt you to do so, this “waste” is important so you can have a great starter in a few days’ time
  • After discarding a portion of the starter, add half a cup of unbleached, all purpose flour and 3/4 cup of non-chlorinated water. Use warm water (not hot) if you are working in cool temperatures, as I am. Mix well and again, leave in a warm place. You will start noticing that your starter lightens in color with the addition of all purpose flour.
  • By the third day you should see some activity in your starter and also a fruity aroma. Once again, discard half a cup of starter and add half a cup of all-purpose flour and 90 milliliters of water (1/2 of 3/4th a cup).
  • Continue the process for the next three days (try and do this at the same time of day– for instance, I began my starter Sunday morning, so I have to try and feed it around the same time every day, although an hour here or there won’t be amiss). Your starter should have started to thrive by now, rising after you feed it, and eventually settling down. King Arthur Flour, where I got my initial recipe, recommends discarding and feeding your starter twice after day 3, but I found that doing it just once was okay, especially since it was quite warm when I made my starter. This time, with cooler weather, I might feed the new starter twice depending on how it goes.
  • By the seventh day, your starter, if it’s healthy and bubbling, should be ready to use. When I made George, I used the “discard” portion of the starter to make waffles, and they turned out great. If your sourdough starter is still slow in developing, increase feedings to twice a day and continue to keep it warm. It will eventually strengthen.
  • Once your sourdough starter has matured, you will need to feed it once every week. I mix the starter well, take out about 1 or 2 cups of sourdough starter to bake with (or you can just discard it), and replace it immediately in the proportion of 1 cup of flour to 3/4 cup of water. For example, if I take out 2 cups of sourdough, I replace it with 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water. After feeding the starter, I leave it on the counter for a day, and then refrigerate it.


Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 86g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 436mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 1g | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 4.3mg