• Jennifer Nilsson

How to Make the Easiest Sourdough Starter Ever

Updated: May 24

(This post may contain affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.)

Today I am sharing how to make THE easiest sourdough starter ever. Seriously. EVER. No lie…. Hi, my name is Jenn and I have been a sourdough starter failure – until NOW.

Before we get too carried away here, a few disclaimers:

  1. I am terrible at reading all directions ahead of time (this may be one of the reasons I’ve failed in the past). And if the recipe is long or complicated, I miss steps (or ingredients – or both)

  2. I am NOT a technical baker – if your looking for weight in grams, this is not the recipe for you

  3. While I consider myself to still be a bit of a “newbie” in the sourdough world, I have had quite a few wins so that has to count for something, right?

  4. There are SO many ways to make a sourdough starter and even more ways to use it. This is just one and is very VERY basic. So if you’re like me and like basic but want results – this just might be the starter to get you going!

OK…now that you’ve been warned, let’s get into it!

THIS is one happy starter, folks!

bubbly sourdough starter in a jar

See those wonderful big bubbles? This is the scene that let me know that FINALLY my sourdough starter was the “real deal.” Those beautiful bubbles are telling me they are ready to get to work in making my next batch of bread dough rise.


I’ll admit it took me at least four tries with different recipes until I found the one* that worked for me – and even THAT recipe I changed up with what flour I had on hand instead of what it called for. Believe it or not, the temps in your house, how much moisture is in the air, and even the location of your home all have huge influence on sourdough starter activity.


It’s interesting to think that 2 simple basic ingredients – flour and water – can become the base of something so amazing. Not only is sourdough bread beautiful and tastes delicious but is also healthier than a standard white bread. More about that below.


So – What IS sourdough and What makes it so great?

Sourdough is probably one of the oldest and most basic of breads out there.

And even though the name says sour, homemade sourdough bread is MUCH less sour than the bread you find in most stores. Most commercially made sourdoughs include regular yeast and other ingredients to give it extra tang.


The process of creating a sourdough starter is as simple as mixing flour with water and allowing it to sit long enough for the naturally present yeast to become active. (You could also purchase a starter but having a hands-on experience right from the start is so much better and more fun, in my opinion. Before you give in and buy it, give the recipe below a try.)


There is some debate in whether wild yeast is captured from the air or if the yeast is already present in the milled grain (flour). Or even if the yeast actually comes from the baker’s own hands! Regardless of where it comes from, it’s there without the need for extra ingredients.

An active sourdough starter does take a little time and a bit of work before being ready to bake that perfect loaf. But the benefits of sourdough make the effort so worthwhile.

sliced sourdough bread on cutting board

Sourdough as a fermented food.

While your sourdough starter is gearing up to activate, you’ll need to feed it – and discard it – for a few days. The flour and water mixture – along with it’s naturally present yeast and bacteria – is actually in a fermentation process and it will need fresh “food” to eat. To feed your starter requires only to give it a fresh supply of flour and water. SO simple!


I personally incorporate fermented foods into my daily eating. Not only do fermented foods help to boost immune responses, they help to combat inflammation – something I have struggled with for years. Flour has always been a big trigger of inflammation in my system – which is horrible when you love bread as much as I do!


But I’ve found that I get NO adverse reactions to sourdough like I did with non-fermented breads made with regular yeast. This alone is enough reason for me to make the switch entirely to sourdough over other breads.


As I said in the opening warnings – I am still somewhat of a newbie in the sourdough world. But I am learning that sourdough starter can be used in so many ways – from basic breads to breakfast foods, desserts, and more.


One of the most recent recipes I’ve used sourdough in is for bagels. Once I have that down-pat, I’ll be sure to share the process. So be sure to watch this blog as I explore and share other recipes all stemming from the simple starter recipe below.

How to Make the Easiest Sourdough Starter Ever

Ingredients:

  1. All-Purpose Flour – Organic if possible

  2. Non-Chlorinated Water – we use well water, spring water or filtered water also work well

Instructions:

Step 1: In a wide mouth quart mason jar, mix 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup water. Stir very well, cover loosely (a coffee filter or piece of clean muslin with the jar ring to hold in place works great). Let sit on your counter for 24 hours.


Step 2. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water to the jar and stir well. The starter should resemble a thick pancake batter. If too wet, add a little more flour, if too thick, a little more water. Cover loosely and let sit for another 24 hours. After this second 24 hour period, you should see some small bubbles.


Step 3. “Discard” half of the starter (pour into a clean jar and save in your fridge – this can be used in other recipes, or feed to your chickens, or put in the compost pile), then feed again with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir, cover, and let sit for 24 hours.


Repeat step 3 as many times as necessary until the starter doubles in size in 4-6 hours of feeding it.** I like to use a rubber band to gauge activity. I place the band at the level the starter reaches after feeding. As you can see below, this starter is bubbling and SUPER happy and ready to make some bread! Look how far it’s risen!

jar of sourdough starter sitting on counter

Once the starter is bubbling and doubling after each daily feeding, it’s ready to use in all those wonderful recipes. This usually happens in about 7 to 10 days.

*if your starter does NOT have bubbles and activity, you might need to start again – but don’t give up just yet! It took me several tries to get the starter as active as you see above and it was worth all the failed efforts to know what truly works. **this recipe is based off from the simple sourdough starter recipe by Jill Winger

Notes that can help make your starter a success:

  1. Fermentation works best n a warm space. Ideals temps are in the 65°F to 85°F range. If your kitchen is cooler than 65°, the top of your refrigerator might be a good spot – I actually keep mine on the fireplace mantle when cold winter days make my kitchen temps drop.

  2. Be sure to use ONLY non-chlorinated water. Distilled water is basically dead water, so avoid using it. Opt for spring water if you must buy it.

  3. Have patience – seven days is the SHORTEST period a starter will most likely be ready in. A fully active starter at it’s highest potential can actually take up to a full month. Keep going. The wait is worth it!

  4. If you are fermenting other types of foods – be sure to keep them separated by at least four feet to avoid contamination. When first starting out, my starter failed and it might have been I had them too close to my carrots or water kefir at the time.

  5. Wide mouth quart mason jars are wonderful for housing your starter.

  6. You truly do NOT need to be super exact in your measurements. If you use a little too much or too little flour or water, chances are this recipe WILL still work.

How to store your starter once it is fully active:

If you plan on using your starter a few days a week: you can store it on your counter and feed it daily. To do this: “Discard” pour or scoop out all but 1/2 cup of starter. (see step 3 above for ideas of how to use this). Feed your starter with 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir, and let sit. (this is basically a 1:1:1 ratio – 1/2 cup starter equals approx 4 oz by weight as does 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water – but again, nothing too technical here.)


If you plan on using your starter once a week or less: you can keep your starter in the fridge. It will still be active, but at a much slower rate. It will still need fed, but only once a week. To do this: discard and feed as you normally would, cover with a lid, then place it into your fridge. A plastic lid like this works well.


To wake a cold starter for use: Remove your jar of starter from the fridge at least 24 hours before using. Discard half of the starter and feed at the 1:1:1 ratio. Repeat every 12 hours until you see it being fully active, super bubbly, and doubling in size within a few hours of feeding. I’ve read this can take 3 or 4 rounds of doing this but mine has been ready to go within two.


bubbly sourdough starter in a jar

The Easiest Sourdough Starter Ever

This super simple sourdough starter recipe will have you creating beautiful loaves of bread in no time!

Keyword: Fermented Foods, Sourdough

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour – Organic if possible

  2. 1/2 cup Non-Chlorinated Water – we use well water spring water or filtered water also work well

Instructions


Step 1: In a wide mouth quart mason jar, mix 1/2 cup flour with 1/2 cup water. Stir very well, cover loosely (a coffee filter or piece of clean muslin with the jar ring to hold in place works great). Let sit on your counter for 24 hours.


Step 2. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water to the jar and stir well. The starter should resemble a thick pancake batter. If too wet, add a little more flour, if too thick, a little more water. Cover loosely and let sit for another 24 hours. After this second 24 hour period, you should see some small bubbles.


Step 3. “Discard” half of the starter (pour into a clean jar and save in your fridge – this can be used in other recipes, or feed to your chickens, or put in the compost pile), then feed again with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 cup water. Stir, cover, and let sit for 24 hours.


Repeat step 3 as many times as necessary until the starter doubles in size in 4-6 hours of feeding it.* I like to use a rubber band to gauge activity. I place the band at the level the starter reaches after feeding. As you can see below, this starter is bubbling and SUPER happy and ready to make some bread! Look how far it’s risen!

Notes

  1. Fermentation works best n a warm space. Ideals temps are in the 65°F to 85°F range. If your kitchen is cooler than 65°, the top of your refrigerator might be a good spot – I actually keep mine on the fireplace mantle when cold winter days make my kitchen temps drop.

  2. Be sure to use ONLY non-chlorinated water. Distilled water is basically dead water, so avoid using it. Opt for spring water if you must buy it.

  3. Have patience – seven days is the SHORTEST period a starter will most likely be ready in. A fully active starter at it’s highest potential can actually take up to a full month. Keep going. The wait is worth it!

  4. If you are fermenting other types of foods – be sure to keep them separated by at least four feet to avoid contamination. When first starting out, my starter failed and it might have been I had them too close to my carrots or water kefir at the time.

  5. Wide mouth quart mason jars are wonderful for housing your starter.

  6. You truly do NOT need to be super exact in your measurements. If you use a little too much or too little flour or water, chances are this recipe WILL still work.

Let me know in the comments below:

Are you ready to try this simple recipe? What recipe would you like to create from your starter?

Pin it for later!

#sourdough #sourdoughstarter

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