A Tradition in Family Baking

Sourdough Starter

5.0 from 6 reviews
Sourdough Starter
Making a starter at home today is relatively easy when using active dry yeast. Plan to prepare your starter a few days before you wish to bake so that it has ample time to develop. As you will see,starters can be made with white, whole wheat, and even rye flour, each imparting its own distinct characteristics to the finished bread.
Yield: 1 sourdough starter
  • 2 cups water
  • 3½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ tsp RED STAR Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  1. In a 4-quart nonmetallic container, dissolve yeast in warm water (110º to 115º F); let stand 5 minutes. Add flour and sugar. Stir by hand until blended. The mixture will be thick; any remaining lumps will dissolve during the fermentation process. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm place for 5 days, stirring 2 to 3 times each day. The starter will rise and fall during the fermentation period; it becomes thinner as it stands. A temperature of 80º to 85º F is best for developing the sour flavor. When the starter is developed, it is bubbly and may have a yellow liquid layer on top; stir starter before using. The starter can be used for baking or placed in the refrigerator for later use.

  2. To use the starter, measure out desired amounts as specified in the recipe. Let refrigerated starter come to room temperature before using; this will take about 4 hours.

  3. After using the a portion of the starter for a recipe, replenish remaining starter with 3 parts flour to 2 parts water (example: if you use 1 cup starter, add back 1 cup flour and ⅔ cup water) and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir until blended; some lumps may remain. Cover loosely and let stand in warm place for 10 to 12 hours or overnight. The starter will rise and become bubbly. Stir and store in refrigerator. If the starter is not used every week, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar to keep it active.

  4. This recipe is featured at My Kitchen Addiction.

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  1. Carol Stevens, you have the patience of a saint!

  2. I followed these directions, and everything was doing well, until about day 4 when the bubbles stopped completely. I ws trying to wait five days before using it, because it sounded like that would be best. What might have caused the bubbles to quit forming?

    • Hi Celia,
      Most like the yeast ran out of food (hence the lack of bubbles). Try feeding the starter with a teaspoon of sugar. It should start bubbling again.
      Happy baking!

  3. Hello I’m thinking of starting my own starter! My first time! My question is can I use Active yeast fast rising.all purpose? And get the same results?..
    Thanks for any information you can give!

    • Hi Ellen,
      You’ll love the flavor of homemade sourdough bread. You may use Active Dry Yeast or Quick Rise (instant) Yeast in the sourdough starter.
      Happy baking!

  4. Hi Carol,

    So I’ve got my starter smelling wonderfully and am ready to make a loaf of sourdough wheat! Is there a recipe you’d suggest now that I have the starter as I’m not sure if other recipes will take into account the size and makeup of my starter.

    Thanks much,


  5. 3rd day my starter is not doing anything no bubbles when I mix it it has bubbles then they go away did my starter die

    • Hi Jerry,
      Where are you storing the starter? If you are seeing bubbles then the starter should be ok. After the first 5 days, feed it a teaspoon of sugar. If you are not seeing bubbles after that, try letting it sit on the counter for a day. If no bubbles appear, you may want to start over.
      Let us know how things go!
      Happy baking!

  6. Hi,I’m new at baking. I was just wondering why would I want to replenish my starter? Wouldn’t I just want to use it up & make new starter? I don’t know? By the way I love learning from you. 🙂

    • Hi Georgia,
      As your starter ages, the flavor profile develops. The older the starter, the ‘better’ flavor it brings to your recipe!

      I hope you will find this information helpful.
      Happy baking!

  7. Question, if I do not refrigerate the starter and leave it out on the counter, what if anything do I need to change. I might (hopefully) be using it on a regular basis, I just need to know the feeding method if I don’t store it in the fridge. Thank you and I really enjoy your webpage.

    • Hi Mike,
      If you’re keeping the starter at room temperature, it’s recommended to feed it twice daily.

      We’d love if you send us photos of your sourdough baking adventures on facebook or instagram! (Links to our social media is at the bottom of this page.)

      Happy baking!

  8. The sourdough starter I’ve made in the past is more liquidy than this starter turned out. This (at least within the first hour, where I am) looks to mimick the actual sourdough dough that I make with the starter than the starters I’ve made in the past. Is this correct? I know it says above that the starter will thin out as it stands; but there is virtually nothing liquid about this right now…should I toss it and start over or give it time?

    • Hi Julia,
      If you’re sure that you used the correct ingredient amounts, I would give it some time. Let us know what you make with the starter!

      Happy baking!

  9. Question, do I need to feed and discard during the 5 days? Do I need to add any sugar? Thanks!

    • Hi Johnna,
      (Also responded via facebook to your question. 🙂 ) The only thing to do during the first 5 days is to stir it 2 to 3 times per day. Replenish it after you use a portion. If you’re not using it weekly, then feed it by stirring in 1 tsp. of sugar once every week or two.

      Happy baking!

  10. Hi! How frequent do i need to feed the starter with sugar? I keep mine in the refrigerator. Thanks

  11. This recipe really kickstarts the starter compared to most traditional ones you see out there. Sure, technically you only need flour and water, and in a couple weeks wild yeasts will do their thing, but adding yeast and a bit of sugar kicks everything into turbo. Fermentation was well underway after only about two days at 72F (you can really smell the alcohol, which is one of the main byproducts of yeast — don’t worry, it cooks off 100%, and storing it in the fridge after it matures retards alcohol production) I made this about a week ago, and just finished a loaf of sourdough bread. It’s damn near perfect! Give it another couple weeks to really mature, and I expect the sourdough flavor to only intensify.

    I like the results so much, I’m also going to brew some sourdough beer with it, too. Thanks, Red Star!

  12. Does this have more of a yeast flavor rather than regular sour dough? I’m trying to duplicate the flavor of yeast cakes that used to be available

    • Vickie – The difference with this sourdough starter is that you don’t have to wait for the ‘wild yeast’ start fermenting. The added yeast in this recipe gives the sourdough starter a faster start. You will get the same great flavor that you get with a starter that uses just flour and water (and wild yeast).

      Happy baking!

  13. I have used just the sourdough starter before when I’ve been reviving an old starter rather than throwing it out. It’s perfectly fine. The pancakes will be thicker and if you like them thin add milk to the batter.

  14. Hi I have three questions. In your sourdough starter mix it mentions replenishing remaining starter with 3 parts flour to 2 parts water, how much is a part? My second question is should you feed starter in those 5 days it’s fermenting? My last question I have a recipe that calls for 2 cups sourdough starter 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 egg, 4 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda and no flour. Does this sound safe to eat? Thank you for your time I will appreciate your comments Michael Filippini

    • Hi Michael,
      Thanks for your questions. The ‘replenish’ depends on how much starter you use for a recipe. Example, if you use 1 cup of starter for a recipe, then you replace it with 1 cup flour, 2/3 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of sugar. The flour amount is the same amount as starter that you removed; the water is 2/3 of the flour amount. Once it’s been replenished, allow it to sit at RT for about 12 hours for the yeast to become active again before it’s refrigerated again.

      The starter does not need feeding during the first 5 days, then it is refrigerated. Generally, if it is used at least every 2 weeks and replenished, it does not require additional feeding. If not, it can be fed with 1 teaspoon of sugar every week or two.

      As far as your recipe, it’s probably safe to eat, but typically the starter is only a portion of the bulk and additional flour is always added. I’m not sure if your recipe will actually make a dough.

      Happy baking!

      Carol Stevens @RSY

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