Flour + Water = Starter

Ah, summer… corn on the cob, lazy reading in the hammock, and… sourdough starter, of course!

Mature sourdough starter

I’ve been taking advantage of this warm weather to try raising some starters from scratch. I had done it before in a week-long class (in fact, that’s the starter I’ve been using for months), but we were able to keep our cultures at a constant 80 degrees F, and we added extra malt to jump-start the process. I wanted to see how it worked with just flour and water, in the warm but fluctuating room temperatures of my non-air-conditioned house in these beautiful early summer weeks in northern California.

Success! Raising a starter seems to be something that is perceived as mysterious, complicated, or hard. But in my experience, it’s not; it just requires attention and patience.

I did this a couple of times, once with rye and once with whole wheat flour. Both worked, but the rye worked better, so that’s the one I’m summarizing. (Note: this ends up as a white starter. The rye is just in the beginning, to get things going.)

Ready to try it?

Sourdough Starter from Scratch

Ingredients:

  • White flour (bread or all-purpose), preferably one that contains malted barley flour. Most white flours do, but some do not, especially if they are organic. Check the label.
  • Rye flour.
  • Water. I use bottled (not distilled) water because I don’t want the chlorine in tap water, and I do want the minerals that are removed by my water softener. If your tap water is not softened, you could let some sit out for a few hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. All the water should be at about 85F; the yeast you want to nurture likes warmish water. I heat a small amount of water in the microwave and mix it with room temperature water, checking it with an instant-read thermometer. If you don’t have one, the water should feel about neutral to the touch.

Equipment:

  • A 1-quart or larger container with a lid, preferably transparent and with straight vertical sides (this makes it easier to gauge the activity of the culture).
  • A kitchen scale. If you don’t have one, get one. In the meantime, I’ll give the approximate volume measurements. But just this once; really, weigh your ingredients! (I never said I wasn’t opinionated.)
  • An instant-read thermometer is useful for checking water temperature.
  • A rubber spatula or plastic dough scraper.
  • Transparent tape.
  • A way to heat water.
  • A warm(ish) place, preferably around 80F. The room I used fluctuated from low 70’s to mid 80’s. A room thermometer is helpful.

General process:

  • The stuff you’re growing is a “culture” before it is mature and stable enough to bake with, at which point it becomes a “starter.”
  • The volume measurements I’ve given do not corresponding exactly to the weight measurements, but the proportions are the same. Don’t mix weight and volume measurements.
  • You will initially leave the culture alone for 24 hours, after which you will “feed” it at 12-hour intervals; choose your starting time accordingly. I arbitrarily assume you’re starting in the morning.
  • Feeding involves removing and discarding a portion of the culture, and adding water and flour to what remains: first mix the culture and water together thoroughly, then add the flour and mix until thoroughly blended.
  • Before you begin, it’s helpful to mark the weight of the container on the bottom with a Sharpie, or note it elsewhere. Then when it’s time to discard some of the culture, you can just keep taking some out and weighing the container until you know that the remaining culture is the right amount. I do not wash my container between every feeding.
  • Contrary to a somewhat popular belief, it is OK to use a stainless steel spoon for mixing.
  • After mixing, use a spatula or dough scraper to squeegee the sides of the container so they’re nice and clean. This helps you see how much the culture has risen, and keeps things tidy.
  • When you’re done mixing, smooth the top of the culture flat as much as possible. Place a piece of tape running straight up the outside of the container, and mark the level of the culture. This is how you will know how much it has risen.
  • Replace the container lid when you’re done mixing. If it’s a screw on lid or mason-jar type, you may want to leave it a little loose to give accumulated gas an escape route. If it is a plastic snap-on lid, you can snap it tight; the lid will pop off if the pressure inside gets too high.

Day 1 AM:

  • Make sure your container is clean, well-rinsed, and dry.
  • Mix 100 g water, 50 g rye flour, and 50 g white flour (or 1/2 c. water and 3/8 c. of each flour.)
  • Leave the culture in its warm spot for 24 hours.

Day 2 AM:

  • Hopefully you will see signs of life. Has the culture risen a little? Are there any bubbles in it, even one or two? (These are sometimes best seen by picking it up and looking at it through the bottom of the container.)
  • Bubbles in culture after 12 hours

  • It is possible that you will see a large rise (50% or more) at this point. Don’t be fooled; this does not mean you’ve birthed a miracle baby. In the initial stages of a culture, a type of bacteria called leuconostoc may predominate; it produces a lot of gas and causes the rapid rise. This bacteria is not desirable, but not harmful either, and it will eventually die out as the beneficial critters settle in and the culture becomes more acidic. You may also notice that the culture has a rather unpleasant odor; don’t worry, this too shall pass.
  • (If you see absolutely no sign of life whatsoever, I suggest leaving it alone for another 12 hours before proceeding. If there is still nothing, why not forge ahead anyway and see what happens?)
  • Discard all but 75 g of the culture. Feed this with 75 g water, 25 g rye flour, and 50 g white flour (1/3 c. starter, 1/3 c. water, 5 teaspoons rye flour, and 1/3 c. white flour).
  • Set it back in its warm spot for 12 hours.

Day 2 PM:

  • You may see signs of activity, but the culture may be either more or less lively than what you saw this morning. Anything from a single bubble to a 100% rise is good.
  • Sourdough culture at 36 hours

  • Again, feed 75 g of culture with 75 g water, 25 g rye flour, and 50 g white flour, and return it to the warm spot.

Day 3 AM:

  • Your culture may appear dead, but it’s probably not. Don’t worry, just go ahead and feed as before.

Day 3 PM and every 12 hours thereafter:

  • Continue to feed as you’ve been doing. At some point things should pick up steam, and you will notice that the culture gets a little more vigorous with each feeding.
  • When the culture at least doubles itself in 12 hours and is looking nice and bubbly, start feeding with only white flour (75 g culture / 75 g water / 75 g flour). This happened for me around the end of Day 4.
  • Sourdough culture at 4 days

  • After about 5 – 7 days, hopefully you will observe that the culture can double itself in 8 hours or less, smells pleasantly sour, and is full of bubbles. Congratulations, you have raised a 100% hydration starter that’s ready to bake with! If you’re looking for a recipe, how about this Norwich Sourdough?
  • Norwich sourdough

  • At this point you can also start decreasing the amount of culture in relation to the feeding flour and water, and use room-temperature instead of 85-degree water. You have been mixing 1:1:1 culture:water:flour at each feeding. Now try 1:2:2 and see if the starter can still double in 8 hours or less.

I’ll say more about the care and feeding of my starter in a near-future post.

Post a comment » 336 Comments

  1. I’m so glad you posted photos.

    When I saw that you were going to post about your natural starter, I imagined that I was going to be coming in to agree that they’re really easy to build and that the bread made with them is fabulous.

    Now I’m thinking that this time I didn’t let mine get bubbly enough before trying to use it. The smell of my (non)starter is wonderful – reminiscent of very mild yoghurt – but the shaped bread just refused to rise.

    This is my second attempt. I tried in April when it was still quite cold. It started bubbling and then fizzled out. I blamed it on the cold.

    So this week when it was so insanely hot, I thought I’d try again. Like the first time, I began with rye flour, water and a tiny bit of honey. Then after the first day, I switched to using unbleached all-purpose flour and water for feeding. I soon had bubbles like yours. I thought everything was going correctly. But no.

    I made the bread; it rose(ish); I shaped it; it lay there and its only movement was to flatten out slightly.

    RATS!

    I want to blame it on the sudden cool front that swept in a couple of days ago. The temperature in the kitchen has dropped dramatically from around 27C to about 18C.

    But on the same coolish day that I began mixing the natural-starter dough, I also made regular bread, using commercial yeast (active dry) That bread rose like a fiend and those loaves are spectacular.

    RATS.

    -Elizabeth

  2. One more thing… I did not weigh my ingredients. Nor did I use a thermometer. RRRrrrrrr.

    Okay, okay. I’ll get out the scale…

    -Elizabeth

  3. [...] Susan (Wild Yeast) is an avid bread baker and has just posted about how she captures yeast. It is there that I learned the terms “culture” and [...]

  4. Thank you for detail info.
    I will try your method soon.

  5. Elizabeth: I think you had early leuconostoc; looks promising early on, but not good to bake with! I hope you keep feeding your culture and I think eventually it will turn into a good starter.

    Kim: You’re welcome. Please share how it turns out when you try it.

  6. I suspect you are right, Susan. When I cut sawed open one of the discs, there had clearly been some activity. There were a few bubbles. But in spite of baking for over an hour, the bread didn’t get done.

    I wish I could say it was satisfying breaking up the discs to put into the composter – but the bread was so hard that I hurt my hands… :-D

    I am feeding the culture now and hoping that I will soon see a bubbling mass like your photo.

    -Elizabeth

  7. [...] I must say that I do feel just a little foolish as I enter day 12 (or is it 13??) of my hunt for wild yeast. However, I can’t stop now! But… I wonder how much longer this is going to take…. * Susan (Wild Yeast) captures yeast. [...]

  8. [...] the bowl. When I mixed it, it was as high as the bottom edge of the sticker. Many thanks to Susan (Wild Yeast) for the hand-holding; here is a portion of her calm and kind reply to my shrieking “How do I [...]

  9. [...] finding Wild Yeast Blog raising a starter link ,I realized failure was due [...]

  10. Susan:
    Thanks for this post. Toying with the idea of making my first starter. I’d love to do it wild style!

    Bitsy question: On Day 1, do you keep the container sealed, or leave it exposed to air during that first 24 hours?

    Thanks, in advance!

  11. grrranimal, I leave the lid on the container always. I’d be worried about it drying out or catching flies if left open. Good luck with yours!

  12. Susan, have you had any experience with travelling by plane with your starter? I’m flying out west to visit family and am planning to take my starter with me. Because of the regulations, I’m going to have to put it in my luggage in the hold. I’d be much happier if I could bring it into the cabin of the plane with me…

    Yikes!! I hope it survives! I know I’ll be able to capture yeast again but I don’t really want to have to.

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. Defiinitely leave a lid on the container, grrranimal. We had an infestation of fruitflies recently (we foolishly left peach pits in the compost container under the sink! – they were great peaches though!!) and even though I keep our starter covered (except when I’m stirring in new flour) I found a fruit fly happily swimming around in the starter when I took it out of the fridge to feed it….

    I think fruit flies are relatively harmless though, so I just lifted out the swimmer and proceeded with the feeding by using part of the starter that seemed undisturbed. Everything appears to be normal now and I haven’t seen fruit flies in the starter since.

  13. Elizabeth, I have never traveled with starter. I think there has been some discussion on The Fresh Loaf about that, though.

  14. Thank you Susan… I think. I just read the thread and aaauggghhhhhhh it was all about the suitcase with the starter having been lost. Apparently, it finally arrived and the starter was still alive but just barely. Oh dear.

    If only I could carry it on the plane….

    Oh well, c’est la vie. If it doesn’t survive, I’ll just have to capture more wild yeast.

    -Elizabeth

  15. Elizabeth, why not just refrigerate your starter while you’re gone? Of course that means you won’t be able to dazzle the family you’re visiting with glorious sourdough bread, but at least the starter will be waiting for you when you get back.

  16. My husband really wanted me to take the starter with me so that I could make bread while we’re here. I did take it with me and double wrapped the container in two plastic bags and put it in my luggage to go in the hold of the plane. Good thing too. The starter was quite active and pushed its way out of the container, continued bubbling in the inner plastic bag and moved on into the second plastic bag. As soon as we arrived at my sister’s house, I fed it. The next day I built it up and there are now two loaves of bread on the counter. Interesting working in a foreign kitchen with foreign oven and NO bread stone!! (At least there is parchment paper…)

    I’m considering trying to take the starter on the plane with me when we fly home. The only thing I’m concerned about is that airport security will freak out when they see the bubbles. Not to mention that I’m uncertain whether it will be100ml when we get to the airport. What if it manages to bubble over past the 100ml limit while we’re in the taxi on the way to the airport?? (Wheee!!! …and people think travelling with pets is tricky….)

    -Elizabeth

  17. Elizabeth, I hope it all worked out well!

  18. [...] who had seen my question about travelling with a natural starter in A Year on Bread (or was it at Wild Yeast that she saw the question??) Whichever it was, she kindly answered to say: […] I mixed extra [...]

  19. I have been baking simple white breads for a few years . But recently started thinking about expanding my horizons.. and then I read about starters and sourdoughs and decided that I really want to try it. My question, I live in a little town in Russia, and I have never seen rye flour here, maybe I just don’t know what its called here.. Could I make a starter with white flour only?

    Danielle

  20. Danielle, I’ve never been to Russia, but I was under the impression that rye bread is pretty common there. I know the grain is grown in Russia. But if you can’t find rye flour the next best would be to substitute whole wheat. I have never tried it with only white flour but I think you could do it, I would just expect it to take longer than with the rye or whole wheat. Good luck!

  21. Thanks Susan. I found out what rye is in russian, now the only problem is to find it in the store. Apparently they only sell rye flour directly to the bakeries.

  22. My flour doesn’t say anywhere on it whether or not it has malted barley flour in it. If I wanted to add it in, how much should I use?

  23. Rachelle, if malted barley is not listed in the ingredients then It’s a pretty sure bet that the flour isn’t malted. I’m sorry I can’t advise you on how much malt to use; one reason I prefer the malted flour is because without the malt, flours vary in their enzyme content. With the malt (which is basically adding sprouted barley, which is very enzymatically active) you know the miller has adjusted it to the “correct” level (i.e., a range that works well for most baking).

    Danielle, I hope you were able to find the flour you were looking for and have gotten you starter off the ground!

  24. Thanks Susan! My starter is on its way nevertheless.

    Is malted barley flour the same as barley malt powder???

  25. oops sorry. I forgot to ask you… what flour do you use that has the malted barley in it? I’m using Bob’s Red Mill now, but usually use King Arthur’s for my AP flour. What do you recommend?

  26. Rachelle, I’ve never used King Arthur AP for bread, but I know of people who do, with good results. I believe it is malted, as is every other non-organic flour I know of. I have found three organic malted flours: Giusto’s Golden Haven (the one I’m currently using; I have to special order it from a local natural foods store), Heartland Mill unbleached all-purpose (available for order on their website), and one from Central Milling I found at Costco. All three have given me good results.

    I hope your starter is flourishing!

  27. Hi Susan,

    I am now entering day 14 of trying to raise this starter. There are enough bubbles everyday to keep me going, but nowhere near what you describe. At most, I think I’ve gotten a 20% raise. Should I keep going, or give up and start over??? Please help!

  28. Rachelle — Is your starter in a warm place? (That may be hard this time of year.) If not it may take longer to get going. It sounds like there are good signs of life — I’d keep it up and see what happens.

  29. Hi Susan,
    Thanks for your reply. Yes, my starter is in a warm place. I am keeping my starter in my oven (when its not in use!). The pilot light keeps it at a constant warm temperature. Since I last posted, my started has begun to pick up steam… it can double its volume in 12 hours. My next question for you is, should I begin feeding it only white flour (ie. leave out the rye)?

  30. Rachelle, yes, I would go with all white flour at this point if your goal is a white starter.

  31. Interesting! This is really helpful. I’ll have to crank the heat up in my apartment and give it a try!

  32. Sugarlaw, instead of cracking up the heat, why not try to find a warm nook, like in the oven as Rachelle suggests. Good luck with the starter!

  33. Mine is working out so WELL!!! Thanks for the TIPS!!!

  34. I was just going to write here about how my starter had finally taken off and gotten really active after plodding along for weeks in our cold upstate NY house. It did, and I made some very nice Norwich Sourdough the other day. Then, tonight while I was at work, disaster! My wife decided to cook something in the oven, where my starter has been living and growing. Now I have a gnarly molten mess of plastic and dead starter. I guess this is a good excuse to try your method now; my last starter was started using Peter Reinharts method in the BBA. I’ve been looking for an excuse to try yours, and here it is. I hope it won’t be too long before I can get going again. I had just convinced one of my cooks to start baking sourdough and promised him some of my starter.

  35. Dan, so sorry about your starter’s demise but I’m confident you can have a new one going soon. Sending good starter wishes your way…

  36. Hi Susan, thank you for this wonderful blog. I’ve raised a starter using your method and now, at the 4-day mark, it’s hit its stride.

    I have a question about using the starter (for example, when making your Norwich sourdough). At what point in the feeding/discarding cycle is it best to draw from the starter so that the resulting bread has the most yeast activity? Before feeding, after feeding (how long after?), or does it not matter?

    Thanks again — I tried to raise a starter a few months ago with lukewarm success, but your method has worked brilliantly.

  37. Tim, the starter should be used when it “peaks,” that is, it has reached its maximum volume and before it starts to fall again. My starter is fed twice a day; it peaks about 8 hours after feeding and holds there for about 4 hours before it starts to fall. It can be used any time in that 4 hours. I’m glad you starter is chugging along, and I’d love to hear how your first bread turns out.

  38. Susan,

    I came across your website while researching sourdough. You finally gave me the kick in the pants to try and capture my own local starter.

    I’m on day four, and it seems to be ready to bake with (at least to my impatient eyes), but I’m holding off for a few more days to make sure it’s really established.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dmoreno/2327351901/in/photostream

    Thanks for the tips and virtual hand holding.

  39. Finally, a sourdough starter that works! It’s actually sour!

    I think the success that I achieved from following these directions was a lot about technique. My house was a little cool so it took longer for things to progress, but the end result was super sour stuff!

    I’ve made two different breads using this starter, and I’m just amazed. Thank you!

  40. The flour I have been using to try to create my starter was frozen (precaution against flour bugs) before I began. Could this have killed or lowered the yeast population of the flour?
    I have leuconostoc at the beginning of each attempt, followed by starter that never really develops a good rise, just sits and bubbles. How long does the leuconostoc tend to slow the process down? Should I expect it to take a lot longer than predicted because of this ‘interference’?
    Thanks!

  41. Hi
    I had my starter from L?nda Collister’s ‘The Bread Book’
    4 years ago and been using the same starter for 3 years.
    Than one day I had a vacation for two weeks. I made a special container with towels for a comfortable travel. But in the hurry I left it behind. My precious had gone. I couldnt recover from that day on. anyway I had many tries after that without success. I finally used dried yeast to make a regular bread and saved some of it as a starter. It worked and been using it for the last two months. But my conscience is not clear as it is not from the scratch. Today I found Susans’s descriptions. I will have a go at the real thing again.

  42. Hola Susan,
    You know your always outdoing yourself and stirring up lots of questions.
    Do you think that bottled water is that pure? Some people say that it’s just glorified tap in plastic with lots of pretty shapes and ads? Is it that eco friendly? I use filtered from a britta filtered or even tap water, NY is the best, so they say? Great to see your like Johnny Appleseed sowing sourdough into the hearts and minds of I hope future bakers!

    Keep up the good work!

  43. Hi susan
    I started everything afresh and keeping a diary with pictures. Today is day one. Lets see how it goes.

  44. Hmm, I was sure I answered some of the older comments before but what happened? :-(

    Derrick, Jeff : Great to hear about your success!

    Bulent: Lots of luck with your new one.

    Cheryll: I’m not sure about the freezing. I freeze instant yeast but I’m not sure how wild yeast tolerate it. When I have gotten leuconostoc it has gone away after a couple of days at most. Although I can’t vouch for it from personal experience or give you specific instructions, you may want to try using pineapple juice to inhibit the leuconostoc. I think you can find directions by searching at The Fresh Loaf.

    Jeremy: You raise great questions and I admit I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with using bottled water from an environmental standpoint. Also I think bottled water is more susceptible to contamination because it’s not well-regulated. We drink and cook with plain old tap water but I have been reluctant to use it in starter or bread because of the concern that the chloramine (which does not dissipate when you let it stand like chlorine does) with which our city water is treated would inhibit the yeast. Also because our tap water is softened, so it doesn’t have all those minerals that the yeast like. I think it’s time to rethink this, though, or at least to do some experiments to see if the bottled vs. tap water really does make a difference.

  45. Hi Elizabeth, I’ve been using a slightly different recipe which says to feed every 24 hours instead of every 12 (which is a lot easier with my schedule), so I figured my times would take longer than yours, but…
    Today is Day 7. The first 2 days I had crazy leuconostoc and the third day it had settled down to not doing much, so I figured I was on the right track. But since then it has done nothing except bubble a tiny bit, not rise at all, and yesterday when I smelled it in the evening it smelled like nail polish remover! I figure this CANNOT be good. Could it be my water? I leave the tap water out on the counter to disperse the chlorine, but maybe it has the other chemical you mentioned that doesn’t. I live in Phoenix, so haven’t had any trouble keeping things warm (my house varies between low 70s to mid 80s this time of year). I’m thinking about starting over and trying your method. Any words of wisdom?

  46. Sorry, I was reading all of Elizabeth’s comments and wrote her name instead of yours, Susan! Brain freeze!

  47. Angela, the nail polish remover smell is acetone, and it’s a tipoff that you’re starving your starter. Try feeding it more often. I do not understand recipes that say to feed every 24 hours. I suppose they must work for some people but I’m not sure how.

  48. Susan, you can’t imagine what a relief it is to hear that this is a problem with a solution. I’m going to try to stick with this starter and feed every 12 hours as per your instructions and see if I can’t save it.

  49. Susan, I’ve fed my starter twice since I wrote you and also increased the amount (but same proportion, of course), and it exploded into a super rising, crazy, wants to take over my house, starter! Yesterday I was mourning its death and now it’s doubling itself in 8 hours. Thanks so much!

  50. Angela, I’m glad I could help!

  51. Ok, I have a dumb question. How does the wild yeast get into the flour/water mixture if you keep the lid on the container? I thought you were to leave the flour/water mixture exposed to the ambient air and the wild yeast floated from the air into the mixture. Is it already in the flour?

    Thanks.

  52. Peter, not a dumb question at all. Yes, the yeast arrive on the flour. The idea that yeast are “captured” from the air is a common misconception; although there are yeast in the air, on our hands, everywhere, the ones that like to eat grain are on the grain in the first place. That’s also why using fruit (grapes is a common one) to start starters is not necessary: even though there are yeast on fruit, the ones on the grain are the ones we care about.

  53. Susan, thanks. I’m taking advantage of a Manhattan heatwave and have begun my starter this evening.

  54. Susan,
    I’m currently on day 4 of my starter. Things have been going nicely (or at least, i hope so), there’s always some sort of activity after feedings (the culture grows about 30-40% after feedings, and there are always plenty of bubbles). My main concern though, is that I don’t think the yeast has started to grow yet. It still has a very strong, sour, pungent smell, reminiscent of vomit (not appetizing at all). Is this normal? I was expecting the bacteria to die out, but the smell doesn’t seem to be diminishing in the least. Having said all that, I’m very glad to have found your blog, and I’d like to thank you for posting all of these wonderful instructions and recipes. I also have to comment on the beautiful photography, whomever’s taking the pictures sure knows how to capture the essence of all your breads.
    Peter, I’m in the tri-state area and have also been taking advantage of our heatwave (105 degrees is a bit much, though).

  55. Peter, I hope your starter is thriving!

    Javi, sorry if I’m too late with this — I’d keep going. It sounds like you’re still in the leuconostoc phase but it should die down soon, I’d think. The Fresh Loaf is also a great place to seek starter advice!

  56. hi susan,

    i’m on day 3 of my starter and this morning when i went to discard half and feed, the starter smelled TERRIBLE. i mean it smelled like baby vomit.

    it looks great, definitely doubled in size overnight but that smell is atrocious. is this the leuconostoc phase and will it eventually become the sour smelling starter that i’m used to?

    i’m using whole wheat organic flour and spring water.

    thanks!

  57. Kristin ~ Sounds about right. I’d stay with it.

  58. Hi, after stumbling onto the site I decided to have a go with mixing up a starter. I decided to begin upon arriving home and mixed up Day 1 last night, about 9 p.m.

    After the 24 hour period, I noticed a few bubbles, and fed it. Now it’s been just hours on into Day 2, and I notice there’s been considerable rise to about nearly double, a lot of foam on top, and some kind of liquid at the bottom of the jar. I am using whole white wheat and tap water. Should I be worried? What should I do?

  59. Well, the next day, it went back to not doing much, but I am continuing to feed it every 12 hours. I see bubbles on the top today. That’s encouraging.

  60. Shad, sounds like you’re on the way! Keep feeding every 12 hours and watch what happens.

  61. Hi, I thought I would update the progress on my starter I have named “George”. Well, I’ve been feeding him every 12 hours, and this morning, discovered lots of foamy bubbles, and track marks down the container, appears that it doubled. I have begun feeding with white flour as of this morning, and have found that stirring the batter really well helps oxygenate the starter. So am I looking for it to now double in 8 hours before it’s ready?

    Oh, I’ve also been using a glass container. To allow for a little air escape, I had my husband drill the tiniest hole in the center of the lid, and I place it onto the jar snug. Seems to be working.

  62. Ok, got up to feed the starter this morning at 10:00 a.m., and when I saw it, it was very, very bubbly. I dumped some, stirred it really well, and fed it. It is now nearly 1:00 p.m., and the starter has doubled in size. Is it ready?

  63. Shad, sounds like it is. You’ll probably want to start feeding it more now (see last bullet point in the post).

  64. My starter is alive! Yesterday I made some english muffin dough–it doubled in 4 hours. When I feed the starter now–I feed it with a 50/50 mix of unbleached bread flour and whole wheat flour–it doubles in about 1 1/2 – 2 hours in a small lunch cooler. Yikes! I have divided it and given some away today. I am sooooo happy. I am going to feed it some more, and freeze some as a backup. Thanks, I am so excited.

  65. For anyone else who comes in via Google and doesn’t want to search for the article on how to maintain this starter, it’s over here:

    http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/

    Just thought I’d spare anyone else the trouble :-)

  66. Just a tip on the water..

    If your water is treated, pour some into a large container and leave uncovered in the fridge for a day. The refrigeration process will remove most of the chlorine.

    Also, sunlight will do the same thing.

  67. Here’s my simple approach to this. Hasn’t failed me yet, even here in the uncooperative Northwest . . . .

  68. When I use the sourdough to bake the bread, does it taste sour?

  69. Angela, most sourdough do breads do taste at least a little sour — and some very much so, depending on how the starter is maintained and how the final dough is made. How to make bread more or less sour is a popular discussion topic and there are varying opinions on this — do a search at The Fresh Loaf and you’ll find quite a bit.

  70. Shalom from Israel. Thank you for your wonderful step-by-step instructions. I am currently on day three of growing my own pet yeast. It’s looking good, exactly as you write (thanks so much for letting me know that although it may “look” dead on the 3rd day am… it’s probably not) but now I am panicking as to how I am going to keep this alive…
    It’s bubbling on 3rd day pm. I keep reading your instructions over and over but am not feeling confident. I think that raising children is easier than raising yeast 8)

  71. Hiya, great blog. Came across your blog and been learning heaps, the pix are a great inspiration esp. since I’m a breadmachine type of baker. Anyway, I’m in my 3rd day of your Starter. Things are going well (smelly & blubbly). I hope to try your Nordic Sourdough bread in 5 days time. In meantime, can I ask (i) How do i or can i slow things down to a 24 feed as I find the 12-hour baby a little too much work? (ii) Also, I read your note on how to maintain a Starter, could you pls let me know how to refridgerate it and bring it back to ‘life’? I probably bake bread once a week. TIA.

  72. javapots, think of feeding as hosting a dinner party. The amount of food you need to provide depends on how many guests you have (i.e., the amount of starter you start with) and how hungry the guests are (i.e., how long it’s been since they last ate). If they haven’t eaten for 24 hours you need to feed them more (about twice as much) than if it’s been only 12. This will produce a more sour starter though. You may want to maintain a stiff rather than a liquid starter if feeding only once a day. And while getting your starter up and running I recommend feeding twice a day. To bring back to life after refrigerating, just take it out and start feeding it as usual. It takes a few feedings before it’s lively again. You’ll have to experiment and see how long your particular starter takes to revive.

  73. I have been working on this starter for about 5 days now. Night 3 I have a 50% raise, but since then only some bubbles. Last night, nothing, not even a bubble! Do I keep going or start over? Smells right, and I am measuring ingredients. Still using Rye…. any ideas?

  74. Also, I’m wondering if I can use the excess I’m taking out every 12 hours for something else now, or only once it’s an active starter? I just don’t like throwing all that away. Thanks :)

  75. Susan, I would keep going. Make sure you’re keeping the starter warm (where I live that’s harder this time of year than in the summer). You can add the excess to bread but it won’t be ready to raise your bread until it can raise itself.

  76. [...] the beautiful herb pattern on her Roasted Garlic Bread, not to mention that she put me on the right track to get our wild yeast to actually work. Susan even swayed me into getting a digital [...]

  77. I haven’t read everything here yet, but it looks good so I will in a bit. But I wanted to say, in case no one else has, that the reason the rye flour worked better may be because, as a friend who has taken baking classes and who advised me to use it said, it has a lot of wild yeasts in the flour itself so it’s almost guaranteed to work. I tried it, and it worked pretty well, but when I tried to feed some of the excess with white flour it took a while before that got going, even though re-feeding with rye flour gave a nice burst of activity. Whole wheat also worked as a feed right away. But that pesky wild yeast just wasn’t interested in the white flour for whatever reason.

  78. Susan, just stumbled on your blog looking for an answer to my starter query – your photos look great! My culture (white organic flour, water, red grapes) had a huge amount of activity in the first 20 hours – more than doubled, very bubbly, quite smelly, it was in a pretty warm place. I’m now thinking it is the early bacteria you mention above. My recipe says to wait for 10 days before starting to feed, but I was tempted to start feeding it now based on that activity.

    What do you think? Shall I wait the 10 days called for, because this initial bacteria will likely die down and I need to wait for the right yeasts to develop, or should I start feeding now? I have moved the culture to a cooler spot.

    Thanks!

  79. Hi, can anyone give me some advise please. I am on day 17.. and quite desperate. I have been following instructions and the initial 4 days were fine – all according to plan. Then the culture really went flat apart from the tiny bubbles that were visible when I remixed in order to feed each day. The smell is sour but not yeasty. And the culture does not rise at all!!… surface bubbles are visible but then the mixture tends to start to separate very very quickly and within about 12 hours.. liquid has separated off on the two (with the remaining slightly foamy bubbles)… Do I keep on feeding or abandon the attempt. At what point do we decide this is hopeless. Incidentally, I have tried the trick suggested on The Fresh Loaf of adding a 1/4 tsp of apple vinegar to lower the ph but it has not made any difference so far…………. any comments welcome.

  80. [...] manner. Check out her site. It’s pure, uncensored food porn. We read how she creates her sourdough starter, and maintains it. Wait a second. This sounded easy. And [...]

  81. hey man thanks for the info

    i´m in a thrid world country and cant get my hands on rye will just flour and water work? its a great temperature here, would putting a bit of yeast in with the flour and water work well? i can get some refrigerated yeast.

    thanks

  82. Just ran across the site….great info! Noticed the question on “air travel with starter?” I have done it many times between homes in Florida and SF Bay Area. What has worked for me is to save a spice bottle (plastic). Get the starter active a couple of days before travel. Let it calm down. Put inside plastic bag and send in checked luggage. Alternatively, make some dried starter chips if you have time on the other end to reactivate.

  83. Can you please post a starter using air-borne yeast, possibly like the potato-water type recipes that were used for the famous San Francisco style sour doughs? I have been looking for a good recipe, and have an outdoor adobe bread oven, and health prevents me from eating the regular yeast breads. Thank you.

  84. Been thinking about starting one of these “pets” for a while. Brilliant instructions, thank you.

  85. Fantastic blog, Susan!

    I have my first starter going and after looking promising is now not looking good. There has been an abrupt cooling of the temperature here, as we go into winter. Until now, the temp has been mild.

    I’m wondering how you go about maintaining a constant warm temperature when it’s winter – or is it just not possible to begin a starter in cold months? Is there any workaround to this dilemma (heated containers, or something like that?)?

    Would be grateful for your advice.

    Cheers
    R

  86. Dove Mejorado, the yeast really come mostly on the flour, not from the air. The starter described here is a “wild yeast” starter.

    Ross, I have only attempted starter starting in the summer. Maybe a heating pad or hot water bottle around the container?

  87. Susan, you are a Sourdough Saint!

    A web search sent me to you when I was first looking into making a starter, but didn’t have much of a clue as to what I was doing.

    Today is day 5, and I woke up to the acetone smell. I had begun another starter off the main one last night, hoping SOMETHING would start to do some bubbling that would last more than 15 minutes with a not-unpleasant, yet not fermenting smell. I was bad from the get go, in that I put 3 oz. of an oatmeal stout in my original liquid, and used a combination of bread flour, with a bit of soy flour, semolina flour, and just a dash of rice baby cereal (yes, I know…).

    So, I saved 1/4 cup of “Barry” and “Barry Jr.” and fed Barry a nice breakfast of 1/2 cup flour, and 1/4 cup bottled water. Barry Jr. still had a huge lump of his starter food from last night in the middle, so I just stirred the dickens out of him. His hooch was a pale golden color, not (sadly, “Oatmeal Stout”) dark brown, although both are pale creamy in body color.

    Well, an hour and a half later, Barry is still just kind of sitting there, but I will feed him again tonight.

    But Barry Jr., who just got a good stir, has gone nuts. He has doubled since I stirred him, and if he keeps this up, I’m baking with him this afternoon!

    I would have tossed both of them and started over, “cheating” this time with commercial yeast, which, for all my weird adjustments to the process, is still one line I didn’t want to cross…

    So a GIANT “thank you.” My enthusiasm is renewed, and I’ll let you know how things turn out.

    You are truly wonderful for being here to answer, soothe, and motivate all of us who are new to this. Just to have someone to turn to and SHARE the ups and downs of “the first time.” Thanks again SO much!
    ~Kizzle

  88. [...] I’ve done an experiment with sourdough, but I wasn’t fully happy with it. Next time I’ll follow this post from Wild Yeast about how to raise a starter. [...]

  89. Thanks for the prompt response, Susan, and the suggestions re the heating pad/hot water bottle.

    I’d just like to check something at this point, if you don’t mind, before I try your starter warming suggestions. Am I correct in assuming that once you have a mature, active starter, it can be fed and continues to stay active enough to use for baking sourdough breads regardless of how cold the temperatures are?

    Or is it the case that you just can’t keep a starter active, no matter how mature it is, if the temperatures are cool-to-cold (say, in the 32 – 60F range)? If this were the case, I guess there would be no sourdough baking in winter…anyway, would be appreciative of your clarification.

    Cheers
    Ross

  90. WooHoo, Houston, we have sourdough!
    Little Barry Jr. went hogwild, so I fed him again and made my first loaf of sourdough bread yesterday afternoon. It came out a bit tough crusted, although once you cut *sawed* through it, it was nicely chewy.

    The flavor was indescribable. I still don’t have it down right, but the taste shows me why the quest is SO worth the worries and wait…

    So I am a Starter Virgin no more. Yay!
    Now I just have to work at making this Sourdough Beastie work his magic in a somewhat predictable fashion!

    Barry Sr. went in the fridge, freshly fed, to stay handy and age a bit. Barry Jr. has been fed for the evening and will once again give up the majority of his growing bulk (already tripled from the refeed after the loaf earlier!) for Sourdough Belgian Waffles tomorrow morning!

    I read that the most common mistake for sourdough newbies is not feeding it enough the first week. Better to cut back the size and feed it twice daily if you’re concerned about flour, but more food seems to have done the trick for me once Barry went into “acetone” mode. It was your statement about that meaning he was hungry that came up in the search engine. Thanks again for being here!

    ~Kizzle

  91. Someone save me. I think I have “sourdough-itis!” The Belgian Sourdough Waffles were fabulous! I see why people swear off any other kind after eating them! Barry Jr. is huge in the fridge, Barry Sr. is almost doubled, and JUST for fun, I decided to take a cup of the water I had been soaking pinto beans in, and whip a cup of flour into it, because I had read that in India, they use the water from “black udal,” a type of lentil bean, to make sourdough. I read on one site that this water is like “water on steroids” for sourdough starter…It looked like a jar of flour water (I didn’t weigh the flour, just lightly filled the cup by “sprinkling” the flour into it), and I didn’t feed it, just vigorously stirred it every 3 or 4 hours before I went to bed, because the flour kept settling to the bottom, with the water all on top (It was WATERY)…

    That was yesterday afternoon, about 16 hours ago. I got up this morning, and could not believe my eyes!
    Here is a picture of “Pinto” this morning:
    http://s10.directupload.net/images/090525/r86gnmc3.jpg

    Now THAT is a FAST Sourdough starter! It smells like beans, very subtle, but NO sour tang at all. It smells like beans and flour water, to be honest…But the doubling in size shows me something is going on. Whether this is “legitimate” sourdough activity, or some other chemical / wild beastie infestation, remains to be seen.

    I’ve stirred Pinto, threw out all but 1/2 cup, and simply whisked in 2 Tbs. of flour, because he’s still so runny and watery…We will see in a day or so. But still…After 5 days of angst to get “Barry” and “Barry Jr.” off the ground, less than 24 hours IS encouraging!

    I suggest Bean Water over Potato Water, anytime! (but that doesn’t mean much, because I’m pretty clueless, here!)

    Have you ever used bean water for sourdough?

    ~Kizzle

  92. Kizzle, thanks for sharing your sourdough adventures! It’s so exciting to start to be able to see the payoff, isn’t it? I haven’t used bean water, I’m strictly a flour and water type myself. :)

  93. [...] (I’m so tempted to discard most of it and then feed it 1:1:1 — 1 part starter, 1/3 part rye flour, 2/3 part white flour, and 1 part water by weight. Say what?) [...]

  94. Hello…unfortunately this process was a total failure for me. And that does not happen to me frequently. I am on day 4 with no more than a few bubbles since the initial activity after 24 hours. I am very disappointed.

  95. Hello Susan,
    I am very happy to have found your blog. Thank you for sharing your recipes and experience with sourdough.
    I tried making sourdough using your method, and I have a problem. My starter seems to double when I feed a mixture of rye and white flour, although it doesn’t look as bubbly as yours. It doubled, but never tripled so far. The problem is, when I feed only white flour, it starts to lose liveliness. It has some bubbles still, but if I keep feeding just white flour, it just gets less and less active, and never doubles. Then when I go back to feeding part rye again, it seems to recover.
    I’ve tried like 3 different types/brands of white flour, but the results were always the same.
    I’ve actually tried making sourdough with other methods such as the Barm in Peter Reinhart’s book, but I had the same problem. When I fed rye or wholewheat flour, my starter looked bubbly, but when I just fed white flour, it just lost action.
    What do you think is the problem? Is my starter just not developed right? Should I feed something like vinegar to boost the yeast?
    I’m really hoping you could give me some clue on this.
    Thank you so much.

  96. Susan,

    Your site is great and very informative. I like the tone of your writing. Thank you!

    I have a question, please.
    Should the starter looks like batter for pancakes or more like a dough? I weight my ingredients, but not sure that the consistency is right.

    Thank you!

  97. [...] At this point, I decided to try and switch Bud to a mix of 1/3 rye and 2/3 white flour in water in a ratio of 1:1:1 (starter:water:flour) by weight, the method that Susan of Wild Yeast describes for capturing a wild yeast starter. [...]

  98. Hi –
    I followed your recipe for a sourdough starter and a week later had a strong one going. I baked bread with it and the loaf rose beautifully. When I tasted it, I was surprised by the flavor – it’s not at all sour! In fact, it’s borderline sweet.
    I used a really basic recipe with no sugar, so I’m curious as to why my bread didn’t have the sourdough tang I was hoping for….
    Do you have any suggestions for how I could encourage a sourdough flavor?
    Thanks -

  99. Kay, why not just do what works for you and continue feeding a combination of rye and white flours? Try 5% rye to 95% white, see what happens.

    Anna, immediately after feeding the starter will have the consistency of a thick paste or wet dough. In a few hours, at its peak, it should be light like the gooey interior of a perfectly toasted marshmallow. If it is soupy, it is overfermented and should have been fed sooner.

    Jen, try this recipe and see how you like it:
    http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2008/11/05/more-sour-sourdough/

  100. Hello Susan,

    Please excuse me if I posted this elsewhere… I can’t seem to find where I posted it… I thought it was here.

    I’m wondering why feeding sour dough starter means getting rid of part of it first? What’s the reason?

    One reason I ask is that if I have say 300 grams, and I want to increase it to make lots of bread, how do I go about doing this, if I’m always removing? Or, wait a second, can I just feed the starter a lot more? And if so, I suppose I need to give it more time to eat all that additional flour (ie- more than 12 hours?)

    Thank you so much for the care put into your site!

    Pietro

  101. [...] YeastSpotting, sharing her version of Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough and her fabulous post on raising a starter, and Bill for his excellent post on starter basics via The Fresh [...]

  102. Just wanted to respond to an old discussion about making starter with rye flour that had been frozen – I’m here to tell you that it works fine. After five days, using flour that had been frozen and room temp bottled water, I have a lively, clean-smelling starter.

    Thanks for your clear description of the process, Susan -tomorrow I bake sourdough bread!

  103. [...] process that is an adventure in and of itself, but is well documented on many sites, such as here, here, or here. The specifics may differ, but the idea is always the same: you need to create a [...]

  104. Hi,

    I had been looking for a good starter recipe for some time and after reading through your instructions, I gave it a go. Two days in and things are looking good. I just have one question. Do I remove all but 75 grams of the culture every time I feed or only for the first two feeds?

    Thanks!

  105. Bernardo: every time. Good luck with yours!

  106. [...] and let stand uncovered at room temperature. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, follow this link for a great lesson on how to make [...]

  107. [...] process that is an adventure in and of itself, but is well documented on many sites, such as here, here, or here. The specifics may differ, but the idea is always the same: you need to create a [...]

  108. So, I have been playing around with a new sourdough culture for a few weeks, however, when I started it(and to this day) I just kind of eyeballed the amounts of flour and water used at feedings. Now in my readings here and elsewhere, I have found some recipes that call for a 100% hydration. Is there a way to change my unknown starter hydration to a known quantity?

    Thanks,
    Greg

  109. Greg, just start feeding your starter with equal amounts of flour and water (by weight) from now on. After a few feedings, it will be a 100%-hydration starter.

  110. I have lost my old starter not to long ago and will start a new one with your method tonight. My question is we travel quite a bit at times. Sometimes just on the weekends but sometimes also longer. How long can I refrigerate the starter and do i bring it back by simply feeding it like usual? thanks so much for your wonderful website and all that information.

  111. Hello! I’m fairly new to baking bread, in that I’ve only ever helped my mom make friendship bread from scratch every winter. I’ve just started making the starter, and am just completed the AM part of day 3 (I started in the evening) and accidentally forgot to take all but the 75 grams of starter out… what do I do? Start over?

  112. Thanks Susan, will do that.

    Greg

  113. I have had a starter going for a week but it is still not strong enough to make bread.I have visited other sites that suggest it can take months.The longer the better it gets.

  114. Hi Susan; I found your site while reading the comments on the Chews Wise baguette page; thanks for all the info.

    A question: I’m nearing the end of my fourth day, and after the first two days of big growth (due to the leuconostoc, I guess), the starter has been pretty quiet, only rising at most 1/4″ (and that’s being generous; more likely 1/8″). Is it possible that I’ve already killed it and should start over? Could I have possibly overheated the water that I use when feeding? I only heated if for a few moments in a microwave, but I didn’t actually measure the temp. There are some small bubbles at the end of each 12 hour rest, but they’re pretty minimal. I’m just wondering if I should keep at this batch or start over. Thanks.

  115. Hello
    I’ve only just found your blog and I really like it. Can’t wait to try a bit of everything. I have a question about the flour. Were I live (Sweden) there is no flour with malted barley to be found. This is used in various food industries, but not really available to the public. I understand that it’s beneficial to the fermentation process. Could I use something else to get the same boost/effect? Thanks. Madelene

  116. [...] Wild Yeast: Flour + Water = Starter [...]

  117. [...] So Elizabeth has been growing a pet according to WildYeast’s instructions. [...]

  118. Hello Susan,

    I live in Alabama, it is December here. I am using a cylincer glass tube for my starter. I just put the flour and water in it. I have never done this before and i’ve never baked fresh bread. The only thing i have ever baked from scrach is pecan pie. So i’m very new to all of this. I have a few questions.
    #1. Do i keep my “pet” on the counter without a lid till it becomes a starter?
    #2. I heard when the starter is used it is sweet tasting. Is this true?
    #3. I only had all purpose flour and I used bottled water. One cup of each. I blended with a wire whisk. Is all this ok to start off with?

    Thanks, Cathy

  119. Hi Cathy,

    It’s December here in California too :)

    My method is not the only one for raising a starter, but it is the only one I’ve tried.

    1. I recommend a lid so things don’t dry out and you don’t catch flies.

    2. My starter tastes sour.

    3. I recommend a portion of rye or whole wheat flour because it gets things fermenting faster and better. Also, I recommend equal parts flour and water by weight, not volume. If you don’t have a scale, figure 230 grams per cup of water and 130 grams per cup of flour, so you need more flour than water by volume.

  120. I guess i meant its cold in Alabama when i said December. Cold to me anyway. lol

    Ok well i guess i need to restart right? And is this starter good for making sweet breads and cinnamon rolls too?

    Thank you very much for all your help! It is greatly appriciated

  121. I’ve got a question for you. I would need a 50% hydration starter for the panettone recipe you have. Do I just add half of the water an fall this recipe??

  122. Karin, I’d make a starter from scratch at 100% hydration (these instructions), and then convert it to a stiff starter: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/12/07/stiff-starter/
    I don’t have any experience starting a stiffer starter from scratch, so I can’t really advise you on that. Good luck with the panettone!

  123. I couldn’t wait until the warm summer months to make starter, and I didn’t want to heat a whole room to 80 degrees–so I came upon a solution that may be of interest.

    I put my starter in my Sanyo fuzzy logic rice cooker set on the “Hold Warm” function. It is exactly 80 degrees. I’ve also used my rice cooker on it’s pre-soak setting to rise bread at 74 degrees.

    I’m sure every rice cooker varies a bit but it’s worth experimenting with.

  124. Barbara — brilliant! Thank you.

  125. Hello Susan, I just stumbled across your blog and all i have to say is WOW, Everything here looks so amaaazing! , I actually just started some dough for a traditional russian sourdough, ive been raising my yeast for a few weeks now and looks excellent, i just mixed up my dough and its resting in the fridge untill tomorrow morning to bake them off. Im a horticulturalist at heart but ive been a baker for a few years and i just cant go long without crafting some bread, there doesnt seem to be anything more satisfying! anyways im rambling! just wanted to say hello, and let you know how envious i am of your baking wish i was a neighbor! hahaha, anyways thanks susan!

  126. Hi,

    Your info is very informative to me – a newbie at the seed culture thing. I’ve posted questions under Seed Culture Gone A-Rye. I think the temperature in the house is not warm enough. I’ll have to wait until summer to try again. Otherwise I’d have to crank up the heater and that would make my rye loaf the most expensive bread!

    Cheers,

    Kathleen

  127. Dear Susan,

    I just made my first starter after looking up various ways on Youtube. I mixed 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water and let sit. Seemed simple enough but when I looked at it a few minutes after the flour had settled at the bottom leaving a clear layer of water on top!!! I figure it must be something to do with the flour I use. It’s basic all purpose white. Please help.

    Georges

  128. “Feeding involves removing and discarding a portion of the culture, and adding water and flour to what remains:”

    I have been bothered by this for some time: Why do you remove part of the culture? What not simply add fresh ingredients in the same proportion? What is the science here?

    Thanks

  129. Eric, it’s not so much science as math. Every time you feed, you triple (or more) the amount of starter you begin with. If you didn’t remove any, you’d soon run out of space to put it all.

  130. Love all the great info on your site! I was wondering…is it possible for a culture to go bad/become unsafe? Say, if a well-meaning but somewhat forgetful amateur was to have begun the process on Sat morning, but left for work this (Mon, day 3) morning without feeding it? Yesterday the star….culture had a yeasty smell. Today it smelled not so nice, and looked like it had separated some. The smell isn’t too strong, and perhaps is a good sour smell, but with the forgotten feeding it makes me nervous. Thanks!

  131. I’m very excited – I’ve been growing my first sourdough starter over the past few weeks, and today I baked my first loaves of sourdough! I’m so amazed that it worked out so well, everything seemed to go to plan!

    Your website is fantastic and has reassured me I’m on the right path… Congrats on a great site!

  132. Hi there,
    Really need some help with my starter. I am getting the acetone smell that some people encounter. I’ve tried feeding twice a day, but it’s not really making much difference. I empty most out, refresh (upon which it smells fine, obv), and then in a few hours it’s giving off the smell again. It is growing, however, with no problems at all, doubling in 8 hours maybe, so all nice and active. But more feeding doesn’t change the smell. Should I be feeding more than twice a day? It feels like wasting good flour after bad at the moment. It’s been about two weeks smelling like this, by the way. I had read that if this is the strain of yeast that is dominant (the one producing the smell), then no amount of feeding will help. Should I try baking with it? Or will the smell transfer itself into the taste?

    Thanks!

  133. Ben, you might need to feed it more at each feeding. Once my starter is established, I feed it between 2.5 and 5 times the amount of flour per amount of starter, depending on the seasonal temperature (less in winter, more in summer), and with an equal amount of water.
    http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/

  134. thanks Susan. at the moment, I’m adding 30g of rye and 70g of white flour (plus 100g of water) with each feeding. so more than that?! On the verge of canning it and starting again, but the fact that it’s doubling in size so well (if giving off this smell) is keeping it out of the bin. would it be unwise to to try baking a loaf with it do you think?

  135. [...] If you’d like to read more about sourdough, here are some of my favorite sources: Sourdough Basics by S. John Ross Sourdough Home Wild Yeast Blog [...]

  136. It’s somewhat discouraging.
    I’m on day three, it seems to have petered out (no bubbles or activity) and smells horrible.(Like cheese)

    But looking at the previous comments, Susan seems to encourage people to preserver through it.

    I’m just curious, what would be a legitimate reason to toss the culture out? What would be some warning signs of failure in this endeavor?

  137. preserver = persevere

  138. Found this site through a magazine; I’ve had a starter going for about a week now from potato water, multi grain flour and a couple teaspoons sugar. It smells like beer? And it separates somewhat; after I stir it, it goes crazy again. I hadn’t been feeding it but somehow it raises about 4-6 inches every afternoon when kitchen gets the sun. I fed it today but used white flour & little sugar.

    I will follow your advice and feed twice daily but my question is: why do you discard most of the starter daily only to build more? Wouldn’t it be better just to add to it? I don’t understand the theory behind this.

    Thanks.

  139. [...] the things we’ve made as we go.  The process we followed to raise the starter can be found here.  The basic idea is to mix together equal parts (by weight) of flour and water, and let it sit on [...]

  140. [...] Sourdough starter // http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/13/raising-a-starter/ [...]

  141. [...] May 1, 2010 by labelleaurore I am following this site step by step, to make my bread starter : [...]

  142. Just curious, is it necessary to discard the unused portions at the various stages or can they be used to make additional starters?

  143. Hi Joe, yes, I suppose the excess portion of culture could be split off and fed with, say, rye or whole wheat flour to make those starters.

  144. Hi Susan!
    i made a starter before and it smelled TERRIBLE!! it smelled like vomit! so i threw it away. i started another and i let it out fore 2 days and i feed it today but before i fed it it had a lingering smell of vomit also. i use unbleached flower and water from my brita filter. is there anything im doing werong or is it normal?

  145. I have a question about what to do with the starter once you think it is done. Do you keep it in the icebox and how long will it be good in there. Can you freeze it?
    Love your site!! Thanks!!
    Gisela

  146. Dino, the starter can smell unpleasant in the first few days when the “bad” bacteria, leuconostoc, are proliferating, before the acidity of the starter eventually kills them off. After that it should smell sour but not stomach-turning.

    Gisela, here’s my post on how I maintain my starter: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/

  147. Thank you soo much Susan! Your the best

  148. Hi Susan,
    Day 5 and not much is happening, there are small bubbles on top, but it smells quite unpleasant and it often separates with murky water settling on top. Should I continue or start again? I’m in the UK so it’s never too warm! but my kitchen is not drafty or cold.

    Thanks

  149. Hello I am new to making a sour dough starter and I notice that when the starter is ready to use it consists of 75 gr of starter, 75 gr of water and 75 gr of flour for a total of 225 gr of sourdough starter. The article then goes on to say you are ready to make bread.The Norwich sourdough requires 360 gr of starter, how does this add up?

  150. Stephen, when you want to make bread with your starter you will generally need more of it than what you maintain on a day-to-day basis. To increase the amount, just start with more starter and feed in the same starter:flour:water ratio. More information on maintaining a starter is here: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/

  151. Thanks for the quick reply Susan. I went to the link provided and now everything makes sense. I am excited to get going on making some sourdough bread.
    Thanks Again
    Stephen

  152. Hi Susan,

    I’ve been attempting to make a starter for about 5 days now. Initially I think I had some leuconostoc (it was super bubbly and smelled pretty bad). After about Day 3, that went away, but nothing is really happening anymore, just a few small bubbles and not doubling itself in any way. Should I scratch it and start over? Feed it more? Switch to all white flour? Help!

    Courtney

  153. [...] 2 – good stuff in the air here, and the flour I’m sure! There are detailed directions HERE. I found the directions after “starting” and used only water and whole wheat flour, [...]

  154. My mom has always told me that warm water equals rising for yeast.. but it cant’ be too hot and that you have to beat it with a wisk. I never believed her until I couldn’t get my yeast to rise and tried it, and it turned out great. Thanks for the confirmation!
    -Amy
    Elements Papers

  155. After 2 complete failures trying to create Dan Leader’s liquid levain I followed your instructions and 5 days later have a lovely levain. This makes me so happy! Using Dakota-Prairie rye and white flours. Thank you.

  156. [...] my sourdough starter, I will be following the instructions from this post on Wild Yeast [...]

  157. Susan, I have been making a spelt bread with 100% spelt flour, 100% hydration starter, 25% rye, 75% white with mixed results. In the successful loaves I take the starter at 12 hours after it has leveled off, unsuccessful loaves starter at 8 eights or less and still quite bubbly. I am finding spelt dough to be an enjoyable workout but needing 15 – 20 minutes of kneeding for proper gluten development. (I am not an olympic kneeder). Any thoughts?
    Thank you.
    Sam

  158. Hi susan
    Thanks a lot for your excellent Recipes .please guide me how can I make a good pizza dough?
    thanks in advance

  159. Hi Susan. I started toying with cultivating yeast abaout a year and a half ago. It took three attempts at 5-7 days each to achieve success.I used that starter all year, but neglected it in the end and discarded. I mixed almost 1 cup of bread flour, one cup of water and about an eighth of a cup of whole wheat flour, on Saturday afternoon, at about 2:30, and on Sunday at about 6:00 pm this new starter was full of bubbles, frothy and doubled in size. Not knowing how to proceed, I refridgerated it this, (Mon) AM. Won’t get home till about 5. What should I do? Take out and feed? I was amazed at the immediate results.

  160. Kim, I don’t recommend refrigerating a culture (starter-in-progress). Early bubbles are a sign of bacterial activity, not of a mature starter. I recommend the method above, where you keep the culture in a warm location and feed twice a day with equal parts water and flour by weight.

  161. Susan, great site. Quick question. I live over in Pleasant Hill and was wondering if it ever gets too cold to start the starter? Is there anything special I should do with the starter this time of year? Thanks again.

  162. Hello, I have been reading this for a couple days now and am quite interested. I do have one question. I understand how to make the starter but what I dont understand is how to keep the starter. Do people use half the starter for bread and then put more ingredients in the starter to keep it going. Like the one person said “I have a starter for 3 years” how is tht possible? Please be detailed as possible and ANYONE can answer. My goal is to make bread everyday.

  163. Chris, yes, the starter must be fed regularly to perpetuate it. Here’s how I maintain mine: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/

  164. [...] get started than with a sourdough?  I did some research online, and found a great resource over at Wild Yeast.  This is step 1 of my bread journey, and I’ve been faithfully feeding the starter every 12 [...]

  165. Thank you Susan! I follow your instructions with 1 exception, I used Wheat instead of Rye. So far, Day 1 is a total success! It was bubbly and grown just a little. I’m onto stage 2(1st feeding) now and we’ll see how it goes! So far I’m please with the results.
    I leave my starter in a room that is 78-80 degrees perfectly.

  166. I’m an English rose just starting my adventure into wild yeast sourdough bread. Last week I mixed 50% white bread flour with 50% whole wheat bread flour and some water, walked round my kitchen mixing ’till it looked like thick paint. I left it by my Aga in a Kilner jar for 24hrs and little bubbles appeared. Just a few. After a week of throwing 50% and adding 50/50 plus water every day I now have a lovely bubbly mixture. I had ups and downs all week but now it smells divine. I think I will keep going for another week to increase the activity and bake my first loaf then. Wish me luck my doughy friends!!

  167. Dear Susan,

    I missed the “24 hour” rest period at the beginning and started feeding after the first 12 hours. Is this OK?

    Thanks!

  168. Hello Susan,
    Thank you for your blog, it helps me. I learn from it, I’m inspired by it and I enjoy the beautiful breads you make.
    My questions is: when (in days) do I feed my sourdough. I have a good sourdough. But since a few days there is a little bit of moist on top, it smells fresh and sour. I stirred it and it looks ok. But this morning it still has a bit of moist. What do you think I sould do?

  169. What does g stand for -grams i am just going to translate my recipe, and i will know i am just a beginner at this but i am going to learn.

  170. Blanca, yes, g is grams.

  171. Hello Susan,
    I have a few starters, but I have had one of them for about 1 year and it makes excellent sourdough. I keep it in the refrigerator most of the time since it started showing signs of blue.
    This is my process..after I retrieve the starter from the refrigerator, I feed it and let it peak before I use it and it is white and smells wonderful. However, if I continue to feed the starter and leave it out at room temperature, portions of the starter will turn blue. I then throw away as much of the blue tinted starter as I can, feed it, and place it back in the refrigerator where it will turn white again (no blue).
    Do you know what is causing the blue in my starter? Is it mold?
    Regards,
    Brent

  172. Wow, this is an oldie but goodie! Stumbled upon this thread as I’m getting into the art of baking bread. I started my starter on Friday night so I’m on day 3… it was rising nicely on Sunday morning but in the afternoon, i followed the usual feeding and this morning it looked dead, I fed it again in the morning and in the afternoon still looks dead. It smells sour so I’m assuming i’m on the right track but it’s no longer growing. Should I give it one more day and if it doesn’t grow do I restart?

  173. Hi Susan,
    I just discovered your blog through a friend of mine–I am delighted! I have a starter I’ve been cultivating for about 8 months (original recipe from James Beard’s ‘American Cookery’). I’ve made bread (at least) weekly or fed the starter if I wasn’t able to make bread, and now I have A LOT of starter (I’m guessing a little over a gallon)…I am wondering if there is a way of dividing or reducing a starter? Perhaps you’ve written of this elsewhere? Can you point me in a direction? Thank you so much–I look forward to further exploring and following your blog!
    -Sarah

  174. Sarah, I generally maintain only about 100g of starter at a time, except for the feeding immediately before baking, when I need to build it up. Here are some posts about maintaining a starter, and why you need to discard or use part of it every time you feed it:
    http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/
    http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2010/03/05/use-it-or-lose-it/

  175. ??????? ?????????? ?????? ??? ??? ??????? ??????? ???? ?????????

  176. [...] yeast and harnessing their power seemed a little tricky, but armed with detailed instructions from Wild Yeast I seem to be having some successes. 7 days in today I have a sour smelling starter that doubles in [...]

  177. Sarah – Does your bread turn out to be quite sour? I would imagine that a lot of acid has built up in your starter the way you are keeping it.

  178. Susan,

    I just started a new starter after my first one went bad. I am one week into it, got distrcted for a day, and now it has a strong acetone smell. As I have seen you instruct others, I have been feeding more often, at least every 12 hours, with 1 cup AP flour and 1/2 cup water added to about 1/2 cup starter after I dump the rest. How long should I expect before some turnaround? I am seeing lots of bubbles and a good rise that lasts for several hours.

  179. Hi Susan, is it normal for there to be very little rise after the switch from the 30% rye flour diet to the all white flour diet? It was easily doubling itself easily and was quite bubbly before the switch, but now it only rises about 20% and it doesn’t seem to be picking up steam. I have checked and confirmed that my white flour contains malted barley flour and I am using spring water so chlorine is not the issue. Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

  180. Hello!

    Would you by any chance know how on earth did the early pioneers learn that there was yeast in the air? I would love to know the answer!

    Thank you in advance! :)

  181. @Caitlin The yeast you culture comes from the grain not from the air. People had been culturing yeast long before the early pioneers, certainly in ancient Egypt and perhaps even prior to that.

  182. [...] by step guide to this recipe in Portuguese. I can’t thank Susan enough for the recipes of both the starter and the bread. I baked two loaves, it is the best bread I have ever baked and possibly the best one [...]

  183. Dear Susan
    I am totally green about all this so please bear with me.
    1.The first thing I would like to understand is why do I need to remove a portion of the starter and then feed it. Why cannot I feed it as is?

    2. I have read “raising a starter” and the ‘maintenance’ articles and again I cannot grasp the reasons or science behind the fact that you had 1:1:1 ratio and ended up with 1:6:6 but normally you maintain 1:4:4, why do this what is wrong with 1:1:1?

    3. What is behind ‘doubling in size in 8 hours’, what is achieved by this? What is wrong with 12 hours?

    4. If the starter is doing so well why end up throwing most of it away and reducing it to only 10g!!!

  184. Emanuel, this is why you need to discard a portion of the starter: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2010/03/05/use-it-or-lose-it/ . With a mature, active starter, feeding 1:1:1 is not enough for the starter to go 12 hours until the next feeding. The yeast will run out of food and start to languish and die. A sign that this has happened is that it becomes soupy and very sour smelling.

  185. Susan I thank you for your reply. Tell me is it possible for me to control how sour the culture is that is can I make it more sour or less sour, how?

    Also your concern with your home made
    Thanks
    Emanuel

  186. Continuing with the last sentence your concerns with lead presence from your home made LA Cloche Brick Oven, was that from the eye bolt, nuts and washers?

  187. Susan, you refer to your starter as 100% hydration: if a recipe requires 80% hydration how do I change your starter to reflect this?
    Thanks
    Emanuel

  188. [...] My starter is almost a year old now! For directions on getting going with a starter this blog is quite helpful. I was very hesitant and nervous about my starter in the beginning. Also, on the third day is [...]

  189. I’ve been making sourdough in a machine for some time now (Panasonic) and my starter stays in the fridge for a week since I only make 1 loaf. I add 125gm rye to 250ml of warm water + 1 tbsp of sugar to the fridge starter, mix and leave covered for 24-36 hours with a bit of stirring in between at normal room temperature. The bread is made with 300ml of starter, 450gm (white 200/malted 200/rye 50) flour, 150ml water, 1.5 tsp salt, 1.5 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 x 7gm sachet instant yeast. It is pretty much foolproof and tastes mildly sour with a crisp crust.

  190. Hi Susan. I have been on a starter mission, partly because I miss home (I’m from SF too), and mostly because I miss Tartine bread, so, I’m trying to recreate Chad’s loaf down here in L.A. (I moved here a year ago).

    Anyway, I’m perplexed. I followed Chad’s instructions to a T, and I still get no rise and fall. Plenty of bubble action, and the starter tastes really sour. It smelled sour the second day, really sour, and now it only ever smells mildly sour.

    I began my starter Tuesday April 12th, still no rise and fall. Just today, as an experiment (I’m actually feeding two starters just so I can experiment), I fed one of my starters with 100% AP, the other I am still feeding with a 50/50 mix of wheat and white flour per Tartine bread books instructions. Both are bubbling nicely, but none of this swell!

    I use room temperature water (which is around 85 degrees, it’s been warm in L.A.), and I am using bottled water now (I used tap a couple of times, but lost activity, then read that chlorine can kill a starter). My flour is good quality. At first I covered the starters with a towel, but today I decided to experiment with covering and am using plastic wrap. Still great bubbling, but no swell! What gives?

    Also, I just started the culture you outlined on your website using rye. It’s only day two, but so far I have great bubbling action, no swell. Using all the ‘rules’ that you set out, so no mysteries. I am hoping to get a good swell by at least the 4th day, and I’m going to follow your direction. I may have to seek your advice again in another 5 days if I get no swelling from the culture/starter.

    Please advise about the other two that I have, if you could.

    Thank you!

    Francis-Olive

  191. [...] At first I aspired to make sourdough bread using only wild leavening – meaning, instead of prepackaged yeast, I would use a starter built up from just flour and water, left to ferment and “bloom” over a series of days and weeks.  I’m proud to say that I’ve built a rather ripe and potent starter over the past few weeks, and encourage you to do so as well.  How does one do that, you may ask?  The short answer is: mix 1 part flour to 1 part filtered water in a wide-mouth jar, let it sit out at room temp until bubbles form, and BLAM-O, you’ve got a starter.  The long answer can be found here. [...]

  192. TIP:

    For people in colder climates, like the UK for instance, I tend to keep my starter in the oven with the light on. The light generates enough heat to keep the oven at a nice temperature for making starter.

    I sometimes heat the oven a its lowest setting (remove the starter first) for a couple of minutes, then place the starter back inside…

  193. [...] Eu am urmat indicatiile de aici: http://www.io.com/~sjohn/sour.htm http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/13/raising-a-starter/ [...]

  194. Dear Susan,

    I have been using my starter for the past 14 months with great success. It’s simply a champ lifting all your breads with ease. Last week I forgot to feed it for four days. And I forgot to refrigerate it too. The smell is eye popping. I have tried to re-feed a small quantity into a larger amount of new water and flour but no luck. I’m assuming a certain type of yeast or bacteria took hold and its time to start over. Or should I just keep feeding and holding my nose?

  195. Sam, you could probably keep feeding it to bring it back eventually, but it’s probably faster to just start a new one. Good luck!

  196. [...] wild yeast [...]

  197. Strange to see someone mix rye and wheat in one sourdough.

    Here in Norway, the perception of many excellent bakers, is that these are two separate forms of sourdough. So we only make pure wheat sourdough, and pure rye sourdough.

    The first is used for light breads, and the second for dark breads.

  198. Hi, great tutorial, but I have mine that has been going for about 4-5 days (I kinda forgot…) and it smells absolutely AWFUL! I spiked it with some lemon juice, straight out of the lemon, on the last feeding hoping that it would help boost acidity and kick start the yeast. However now it smells like a acrid sweat and decay. There is yeast since there are bubbles coming. How long, if ever, will it take to fix this?

  199. Brady, I’m guessing you killed the yeast with the lemon juice. (Bubbles do not necessarily indicate yeast; bacteria produce gas, too.) I’d start over, following the instructions here. Depending on your flours and environmental conditions, it may take longer than 5 days.

  200. Nice article and very great tips and helpful site. I am very happy because this is a different site.

  201. Hi Susan!

    I love your tutorial! I just started a rye culture a few days ago, based on The River Cottage Bread Handbook’s version (1 cup flour/1 cup water), and while I’m watching with fascination the process it’s going through, I was concerned about the smell that was coming off the culture in the initial stages- it smelled like sewage. But as I read here, and a few other places, it’s to be expected as the good bacteria takes over and seems to be going away as I feed it fresh cold water and cold flour. It’s a comfort to read that here, believe me, I thought I raised “George” incorrectly.
    One question, however: While you feed it twice daily, you only divide it once per day? I’m a little confused on that point as it’s the 3rd day for my culture and I have divided it twice. Thanks so much, and I really appreciate the tutorial

  202. KitchenGeisha, each time you feed you need to discard a portion of the starter. For mine, I discarded all but 75 grams each time I fed it.

  203. Thanks, Susan! I appreciate the help!

    As much as I hate to do it, I think I’ll have to start feeding him whole wheat flour as I’m running out of rye. Next tine I’ll start with smaller amounts of flour and water, 1 cup of each is just too much.

    Thanks again for the help!

  204. What a helpful page. Thank you.

    From a biologist’s point of view, the yeast starter about which you post is one of the most helpful things a human can do for his or her body. The genetic diversity of those critters that grow wild on rye kernels is thousands of times the genetic diversity of grocery store yeast.

    Science is learning more and more about how important our Intestinal microflora are. Our century old germophobia has hurt the cause of health.

    Eat em up!

    Jerry

  205. Hi!
    I just started your starter yesterday and have followed in with the day 2 instructions, just wanted to ask if you carry on throwing away all but 75g after the first day whilst feeding the culture?
    Thanks for the article, it’s very interesting
    Grace

  206. oops sorry just noticed you answered this above

  207. Thanks for such a wonderful website, Susan! I tried my hand at starting a sourdough culture this weekend. I’m a bit worried that I have the undesirable bacteria (rather than wild yeast), so was hoping to hear your thoughts. Here are my results so far:
    Day 1: Followed your directions exactly. It is quite warm here, the culture sat on our warm porch for the first 24 hours.
    Day 2 AM: The culture had quite a few bubbles and had risen maybe 10%.

    Here I am now 5 hours later and the culture has taken off all of a sudden. It has almost doubled in size! Given that your tutorial suggests that it should take upwards of a week to double in less than 8 hours, does this suggest that my results might not be from the desirable yeast? I am wondering if I should add only white flour at my next feeding, or if I should stick with the plan. Thanks for your help!

  208. Nicole, it does sounds like your culture at this point is dominated by the undesirable bacteria, but if you keep feeding as outlined above, the good guys should prevail within another day or two.

  209. I successfully “bread” my own culture from flour and water only and have been baking with it now for 5 months. Everything I know about sourdough has all been learned and researched on the internet in that period. I live in Scotland and the weather is not conducive to “sourdough” ( well so I’ve read) Some loaves are brilliant some loafs are just good. Some have great ovenspring some have little ovenspring . I came across your site/blog today and think I am “in love” your breads look amazing and your recipes and instructions seem clear. uncomplicated and well explained. Where were you 5 months ago ? Most of the time when reading sourdough instructions I don’t really understand the terminology and the science bit. I hope to learn much more from your site. If i could ask you a couple of questions…..What and when is a starter Mature and after “feeding” when is the best time to use your stater to make a preferment, Ive been using my discarded starter to make my preferment is that wrong ? I am going to try your Norwich Sourdough recipe soon. thanks for sharing your amazing gift with us xx

  210. Hi Susan. I am going to start the process tonight. Just one important detail I haven’t understood: 1 quart container=1 quart of what unit? so nice you are using grams!

  211. [...] so I did. I followed Susan‘s instructions and placed the soon-to-be a lovely yeast culture in my bathtub. Then I started [...]

  212. I couldn’t find rye flour today but I found buckwheat flour… So I’m trying your technique by replacing rye with buckwheat and see what happens…

  213. I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I’m currently searching for ways in which I could improve my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a great deal knowing that you’ve shared this information here freely. I adore the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said subject we are able to read.

  214. Well I think my first attempt failed…. I’m at Day 6, the culture smells pleasantly sour but it still doesn’t rise or double in size… it just stays there with a little bubbles…

    Any tips? I think my flour lacks maltose or something…

  215. Dave, what temperature is the space where you’re keeping the starter? If it’s cooler than around 80F, it may take longer to get going. I’d say keep feeding twice a day and see what happens.

  216. After unsuccessful attempts at starters using other methods, I think I finally have a successful starter thanks to this method! After about 4 days I feared it wasn’t working. There were a few bubbles but it wasn’t even close to doubling. Then 2 days ago I was away and had to skip a feeding. Somehow that was the best thing to happen and, every time I’ve fed it since, it doubles and is full of bubbles with a nice smell.

  217. It was actually more than 30 degrees celcius, I put it in a room that’s always hot… maybe it was too hot….

    Since it wasn’t moving for a few days and started smelling like acetone I decided to start over and keep this one on top of the fridge.

  218. [...] is the part about the starter.There are very detailed instructions and lots of pictures here on the Wild Yeast Blog.Soon I will tell you what to do with that starter once you have made it…       [...]

  219. It’s alive! It’s Day 4 PM here and it’s doubled in size… I called it “Marc Levure Jr.” :P

    Tonight is its first white flour only feeding time, I found some “bianca farina” imported from italy at my grocery store, it really gave it life!

    Top of the fridge is the ticket! Who doesn’t have a fridge?

  220. Kelley and Dave — that’s good news!

  221. Trying the starter for the first time right now… dough doesn’t seem to be rising yet…. Will update…

  222. Thanks for sharing these photos, I know now that my starter is still off by a day or two, as the bubbles are not as active as the ones you have. Bummer, was looking forward to some fresh bread for lunch tomorrow.

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  224. I have an old starter,kept in refrig for months, it was fed with sugar , water and instant potatoe flakes. I want to make bread again but don’t know how to revive the starter, I would really appreciate any help with this. Thanks

  225. Japanese Technologies click here…

    [...]Flour + Water = Starter | Wild Yeast[...]…

  226. I have been surfing online greater than three hours nowadays, but I by no means found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the web will be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  227. I just wanted to chime in about the feeding frequency. While I did feed twice a day in the first two months, I backed down to once a day and still get great results. My breads rise as they should, and I’ve found that sourness really seems most affected by the treatment of the dough (sponge, fermentation, etc). It does get a little…aromatic by the end of the day, but I stopped worrying after the sixth or so delicious loaf. I also can’t seem to kill my two cultures. Life got hectic and I tossed them in the refrigerator for two months, no feedings whatsoever. In fact the ap flour culture was half taken by mold. After scraping off the badness and two feedings it was just as active as ever. I think these starters are a little tougher than most suspect.

  228. My eyes to making bread have been opened. I tried making panettone but is was a disaster. I never knew anything about starters or what 50% hydration or 100% hydration was. Thank you for all the education.

  229. Hi Susan! Wondering if you have any advice for me…I’m about to give up! I’ve tried the starter twice now, using a local whole-grain wheat as the base (because I wanted totally local yeast). I gave up the first time (couldn’t get it past the icky phase, although I may have abandoned it too soon). This second one rises like a champ, accepting even the doubled amounts of white flour & water…but although it tastes pleasantly sour as a starter, its bread is not. After 3 weeks, I finally baked one loaf that rose well, if a little oddly (from the bottom), so I know it’s got something going on…but there’s no sourness at all, and the texture is more like a normal yeasted bread. The only thing I can think is that it’s winter here, and the house is regularly in the 60s…I can’t keep it reliably warmer. Any ideas? Besides waiting for summer? :-)

  230. [...] Raising a Starter at Wild Yeast [...]

  231. Emily, for a more sour bread, try maintaining your starter at 50% hydration (feeding once or twice per day). You will need to adjust your bread formula to account for the lower hydration of the starter.

  232. Thanks Susan–by lower hydration I’m guessing you mean, add 2 parts flour to 1 part water (instead of the strict 1-1)? I’ll give it a try!

  233. Hi Susan,

    I’m looking for natural yeast that isn’t sour, the kind that French bakeries use for croissants. Have you gotten yeast that doesn’t taste sour at all?

  234. Hey! I just started my starter yesterday and things seem to be going swimmingly. I was just wondering, at what point do you move it to the fridge? Or does this particular starter have a permanent home on my counter? Thanks!

  235. Rachel, you don’t need to keep the starter in the fridge unless you use it infrequently. Here’s a post that may be helpful: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/09/29/maintain-starter/

  236. Hi Susan I think you missed my post…

    Have you gotten natural leaven that isn’t sour, like the kind used for making french loaves and crossaints?

  237. Thanks Susan! That was helpful. I just have one more question. I’m on day 7 with my starter and it still hasn’t doubled. It went through the foul smell phase and now it smells slightly sour and floury. Then again my house stays around 70-73F range. I’m just wondering, how long CAN it take to get it going? Is there a certain point where I should just dump it and wait for summer time? Thanks!

  238. So if wheat flour already contains yeast, and the wheat could come from anywhere, is there any way to bake sourdough that’s truly “local”? As in, with a culture (and so flavor) that’s unique to my neck of the woods?

    I guess I could plant some wheat myself, but that seems a bit extreme.

  239. Is is possible to make a starter in colder environments? My house is usually around 65F degrees, never 80. Am I out of luck?
    Thanks

  240. I am on day 15 of my starter and it only rises a bit evn though it is spongy. Do I need to feed it twice a day if it is not going to rise much? Sometimes I forget. How long do I keep this up before starting over with pineapple juice?

  241. Sandie, I think you’ll have better luck if you can keep it warm. How about in the oven with the light turned on?

    Mimi, have you followed the procedure outlined here? Are you keeping your starter warm and at a 1:1 ratio of flour and water? I have not had good luck with the pineapple juice method, although I know others have.

  242. Dear Susan, I’m trying to raise the starter with half wholewheat (that’s what I have) and half white flour using your method. The first one I tried, I started getting some tiny black spots so I thought I would try again, but it’s doing the same thing (see photo in the link below). Does that mean I’m getting bad mold?

    https://skydrive.live.com/?cid=81293F88249BB914#cid=81293F88249BB914&id=81293F88249BB914!978

    Thank You!!

  243. Hi again Susan

    I am trying to keep it warm and use warm water. I had good sponginess for a while though it was not doubling in size. I traveled for 3 days and put it in the refrigerator. I do not think it is alive but I fed it again tonight and will see what happens. Thanks for answering. I guess I will keep going, I only have day time temps in my house of 65 degrees. Will this work better in the summer?

  244. [...] can make your own starter (recipe here). Or, if you don’t want to go through the semi-laborious process of making your own, you can [...]

  245. I begin with the starter 6 days ago but nothing move, in today feed I add half spoone white sugar.
    What r u thinking about this?

  246. I’d must check with you here. Which is not something I often do! I get pleasure from studying a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to remark!

  247. I have a pretty silly question – I’ve read several bread books now, and a few web articles, and while I think I understand the starter/feeding thing, I’m unclear on the warm place & fridge references. For which steps do you want cool and/or fridge, and for which do you want warm and/or oven with just pilot light (which, for me, isn’t that warm – it’s about 70 F in there, I think)? Thanks so much – I’m really excited about this but not great at it yet!

  248. I’ve followed your instructions to the T but now my starter just shows no sign of life unless I stir it. I continue to feed it, but every morning I see that the water rises on top and there is plain batter underneath. Why is that? Is it time to let it go and start from the beginning?

  249. Starting my wild yeast in a mason jar and on day 3 all is well. Followed the directions exactly how it is written and will be leaving for 5 days after the 6th day of starting. The yeast will go in the fridge before I leave and were hoping to resurrect my wild yeast when I get back. Thank you everyone who has contributed to the forums. It has helped the process through all the twist and turns I have had to make. Happy baking.

  250. Hello, thanks so much for posting this. I received a starter of wild yeast from an old woman who said that when she received it from her neighbor in 1968, the yeast was 50 years old! While feeding, I accidentally contaminated it with baking soda which spilled from the cabinet… I’m wondering if you know what this would do to the yeast starter and if it is salvageable?

  251. [...] so I did it. I followed Susan‘s instructions and placed the soon-to-be a lovely yeast culture in my bathtub. Then I started [...]

  252. Interesting site. I have been making sour dough starter this week, though I probably used it for baking too soon. My rye bread rose but not much, it was very tastey however.

    I had several interesting things happen when making my starter. First it was very slow to start ( the house was in the 60′s – later I put it in the oven and turned on the light and that worked fine. Along about the third day the starter was doubling about every two or three hours. And when I smelled it, the alcohol smell nearly knocked me over. On the fourth day I decided to bake. At this time I froze some of the starter and put two quarts in the fridge. So, I’m learning a lot and having lots of fun.

  253. My bread rose nicely ( I used 1 cup of gluten ) but the taste was pretty mundane and the texture wasn’t munchy enough for me. It had a nice light brown crust and rose to 3.” Next time I will cut the starter in half and use only 4 tsps of glutten per cup of rye and no white flour. That should give me the munchy bread I like.

  254. I have some blue bird flour from our local mill here in Colorado, it’s a good white flour and nothing but the wheat, no additives or anything.

    My question is this: can we make a starter just using plain white flour or do we always need to have the rye in the beginning? I was wondering why we had to start with the rye (which I don’t currently have) and then could switch to plain white. I will have to hunt up the rye but might try both varieties.

    Glad to find your site and to read all the comments. Amazing that we now have five years of comments here. Time goes by quickly! Thanks for such a cool website -

  255. Thank you so much for this tutorial..i followed it day by day and now have a wonderfully active starter (at least I am pretty sure I do)..I am going to try baking with it tomorrow or Friday!!! I am going to use your Norwich sourdough bread recipe a try.

    Thank you again~~I will let you know how the baking goes!

    :) Doreen

  256. Can I use freshly milled barley flour to begin my starter or a combination of and wheat and barley flours? I am asking because rye flour is not available in my area.

  257. I am having trouble with my starter — it rises pretty good (though doesn’t really double) as long as I am adding rye flour, but once I start leaving that out and just using white, it stays flat and gets watery. I have tried using more flour, more water, leaving on the porch in 90+ degree temps, but no luck. Anyone have any advice? I have not been using a scale to measure but am thinking of getting one.

  258. Hello — I have a starter that is active and have baked with it for a few weeks but I have a knowledge gap between creating a starter and baking because if one discards all but 75g and adds 75g water and 75g flour thats only 225g but most recipes here call for more than that, nearer 350-400g so I have been making my starter up to the amount needed the day before in the same proportions is this what I am supposed to do or am I missing a step somewhere? Thank you

  259. Thanks for the awesome post! I followed your directions exactly, but my starter isn’t really rising at all. I’m on day ten. There are lots of bubbles, and it’s really stretchy with gluten, but I don’t know where my problem lies. I’m feeding every 12 hours with the measurements posted and it’s in a warm, draft-free space on my counter. Can I bake with this yet, or should I wait? Thanks for any advice!

  260. Semi-instant Emergency Kitchen Scale.

    Take two identical measuring cups, at least one of which is calibrated in milliliters. Take a wooden ruler and balance it on a pencil. Place each of the two measuring cups at opposite ends of the ruler. 1ml of water weighs one gram.

  261. Hey Susan,
    Got a quick question. Im looking to start baking at the restaurant I currently work at. Using your recipe, I’ve nurtured a great starter now at day 5. Question is, if im going to be doing mass quantity, I need more starter. Intervals of 1:2:2 feeding is not going to cut it… So, do I just triple your exact measurments? Or is there something that I need to do to further in order to house a large supply of culture.

    -Will

  262. To ejm from way back in 2007…
    ” I began with rye flour, water and a tiny bit of honey”
    I tried this too but only this year when I discovered how wonderful sourdough really is to eat, and make. The BIG mistake was adding the honey. Not only does honey kill bacteria and yeasts, it also imparts a really awful smell to the whole starter mixture. I tried to improve the starter for over two weeks but with no luck. I had to discard it and start over again after thoroughly cleaning the container.
    Also, I don’t know if this is useful, but I bash and knead the dough until it can not take any more. Then I put it into a plastic container with lid (so it won’t dry out) until it has at least doubled in size, generally overnight. Then I bash it back down again, and this time I get really good bubbles in the final bake. I wait a really long time with the loaf in the loaf tin, until it rises up over the edges before putting it in the oven. It might be anything up to three hours, but the loaf out of the oven is to die for. The temperature right now is 16 celsius (61F). Perfect.

  263. [...] you want to try your own The Kitchn has some good basic instructions, as does Wild Yeast and Joy the Baker. And on YouTube you can even watch a video. If you want to visit the bookstore or [...]

  264. I’ve been collecting yeast for 3-4 days now. I started on the night of the 30th or sometime during the 1st of october (can’t remember which!) and have been using organic unbleached all purpose flour. I’ve been feeding it daily since the 2nd, and it was showing a lot of activity, a lot of bubbling and rising ( i didn’t measure how much), it had an interesting spongy, springy and stretchy/sticky consistency and was definitely smelling, though not that great! Reminded me of a stinky baby… But I could tell I was collecting yeast — thought that might be the leuconostoc you mentioned. Then yesterday evening, I fed it, adding 50 g of the starter, 35 g organic unbleached all purpose flour, 15 g organic whole rye flour, and 50 grams warm water, and since then, the smell has developed a lot, smelling much better and sourer, but I’m not seeing any bubbling, no rising (i measured), and the consistency is much different, without any of the spongy springiness it had before. Today I fed it again, but didn’t add any of the whole rye, only 50 g all purpose flour (1:1:1 ratio). I assume things are fine, but I just want some reassurance! Is my culture taking a nose-dive or is it on its way to bubbling and frothing and sponginess like i hope it is?

  265. Never mind — it’s looking great!

  266. [...] Raising a starter – Wild Yeast Blog – link [...]

  267. [...] el capítol sobre la massa mare del seu llibre Hecho a mano, o altres versions (per exemple aquesta), de les moltes pàgines en anglès que podeu trobar per internet sobre el tema. La massa mare ha [...]

  268. I have tried a few different starter recipes. I always seem to get my starter to double on day two, then on day 3, nothing. It’s back to not growing at all. I had the same result with your method. Do you know a reason why? I will keep going with day 2 instructions till I get something, but it is disappointing after such a quick start.

  269. I am very confused about the liquids: Do you mean 75 ml of water or do you actually want the water to be weighted to 75 grams? These are two different things and not equivalent. We normally measure liquids by volume, not weight but could you please clarify? Thanks!

  270. Maria, I usually weigh my water, but if you prefer to measure by volume, 1 gram is (closely enough for our purposes, anyway) equivalent to 1 mL.

  271. Susan, thank you for posting this great info & pictures. Today is day 5. Everyday, first thing, I check the starter and then again before bed feed it and watch its progress. Around day 3 there was a nasty hooch smell, and yesterday I noticed a faintly grayish liquid on the surface, so I came back to your page and checked to see if this was a source of concern. Apparently not. This morning the starter smelled slightly sour and had a frothiness consistent with yeast activity. It didn’t quite manage the 100% rise, but I expect we are on to something here.

    What a fun process this has been! Am thinking of having my 6th grade students replicate this for a science activity. (I will try to convince the cafeteria staff to let us bake bread in the kitchen, not an easy task….) Yeast starting is also relevant to 6th grade history learning standards for ancient civilizations. This must be how people began to make leavened breads. I would have loved doing something like this in school…. Very cool and fun. Thanks again for your detailed instructions.

  272. Hi- thank you so much for this information. I love to bake, but never have used a starter. I started mine yesterday afternoon. After the first 24 hour feeding, mine has grown more than double. I think this might be unusual, so I wanted to check with you before carrying on with the room temp water and all white flour. It doubled in about 2 hours. The temperature is about 80. My house is kept quite cool, 63 degrees, so I have it near a pot of simmering water. I would really like to know your opinion on this since I haven’t any experience. Thanks!

  273. Barbara – wonderful! I hope your students enjoy the activity.

    Wendi – it’s not unusual at all: see above under “Day 2 AM.”

  274. Awesome blog! Congruts!!!!
    I havent even started and I already have a problem :)
    I mixed 100g water with 100g flour but mixture is not runny as it looks on your photo. It has consistency of dough.
    So should I add more water?
    I have resolved problem how to keep constant temp btw by using one of those plates to keep baby food warm. Never used it for anything but finally found a use :) it keeps mixture on temperature 29C which is supposed to be ideal for growing culture.

    Thx

    PS I intend to try make all of your breads!!!!

  275. [...] bake bread.  Mostly I make sourdough, which owes to the starter culture for which I provide husbandry, of a sort.  An interesting economy in flour has developed as the [...]

  276. I have a sourdough that was given to me from my mother-in-law about 15 years ago who has since passed on. She told me she orginally got it from a neighbor in the 1950′s. She used it mostly for pancakes and her kids were raised on it. It’s about the consistency of pancake batter and I feed it with equal amounts of flour and water. Mom-in-law would used flour and milk sometimes too.
    My question is this however, The starter is still alive, I keep in the fridge and feed it every 1-2 weeks (this is how mom-in-law instructed), but it doesn’t seem to have much “lift.” I set it on the counter for 12 hours before feeding it, and then overnight after feeding before using. I make the pancakes with most of it and re-refrigerate the unused portion. It does get bubbly while sitting overnight on the counter and make fantastic pancakes & waffles – but when I’ve tried to make bread with it the success of rising is minimal at best. It has a wonderful sour smell, but my gut tells me to too acidic for bread making – bread doughs actually soften while fermenting – I think the acidic levels may be breaking down gluten. Is there a way to fix this or is this indicative of something?
    Thanks

  277. Wow, it’s looking very testy & healthy. I read the whole recipe & found that it is not tough. I am going to try it soon.

  278. [...] Years ago, I read about a local bakery that did a lot of research on capturing and cultivating wild yeasts for its bread. It sounded fascinating and adventurous and exotic…and hard. Further, I wasn’t all that fond of that bakery’s breads, so I just decided it wasn’t worth it. Then I started thinking about sourdough. I’ve read a lot about sourdough starters and wondered, well…what’s the difference? Some people start their sourdoughs with rapid-rise yeast (which to me seems to defeat the purpose, but hey), some people buy their starter, and some people do it themselves. I’ve done it myself… raised (and then killed) a sourdough start. And the interesting thing about sourdough is that you can say stuff like “San Francisco Sourdough” and mean it… because wild yeasts vary by region, just like any fauna/flora, and impart a distinctive flavor to your dough. But we’re not talking sourdough here. We’re talking wild yeast. Check this blog out for a method of starting your own sourdough/wild yeast: Wild Yeast Blog [...]

  279. I’m on Day 2 A.M. and decided to dump the 5 teaspoons of rye flour onto my scale to see if it totalled 25 grams and it was off by a long shot…it took me 13 teaspoons to get the scale to show 25 grams. This is concerning to me as I weighed the initial sponge ingredients rather than use your measurements. It’s possible my scale is off – I’m certainly no pro but am now wondering what to do… do I follow my scale (which seems to be in working order) and add 13 teaspoons of rye flour, or do I go with your measurements?

    Also, 50 grams of white flour is supposed to be 1/3 cup but for me, 1/3 cup on the scale registered as 35 grams.

  280. It’s my first attempt at making a sourdough starter and I was wondering if on Day 3 PM, how much white flour do you feed it with and how much of the culture do you discard?

    Thanks!!

  281. [...] wheatgerm, 50g wholemeal, 25g plain). I’ve been working off Wild Yeast Blog’s great step-by-step guide, but subbed in a little wheatgerm just to give Jim a healthy kick start. Apparently the wild yeast [...]

  282. I’m so happy to have come across your how-to…and equally glad I read through all of the comments before I started my trial. Oh boy! Last night my starter seemed ready (finally, no more vomit smell!!!), but I fed it on schedule and waited for this morning to be sure and…voila!…I have sour dough starter! Yippeee! LOL Oh, and this morning was the first time I tried your trick of shaking the water with the remaining starter before adding the flour. Oh my gosh! It’s only six hours later and the starter is going crazy & doubled+ already. I’m trying my hand at your roasted garlic loaf for my first sour dough bread. I’m so excited! My family loves garlic and cheese and bread, so how could I go wrong with this? ;-) Again, thank you for your wonderful tutorial!

  283. I just fed my starter for the seventh day… and still absolutely no activity. Just a slightly acidic smell. I’m using bottled spring water, King Arthur bread flour, a digital scale, and temperature controlled container coasting 24 hours a day at 80 degrees. This will be the 4th time in the last year I have tried to draw a starter and gotten nothing.

    Get this; I have drawn starters successfully 3 other times.

    I am so frustrated I could scream.

  284. [...] SourdoughHome was the most comprehensive guide out there, Nourished Kitchen and Wild Yeast both offer a simple, concise guide to starters, so they’re worth checking out as well. // [...]

  285. Hi Susan
    I want to start with this and right now I have some brown flour or “ruchmehl” in german. Could I use this one? If not, would you explain me why? Thank you very much! :)

  286. Hi Susan,

    Just wondering, does the malt break down some starches for the yeasts to feed on? I’ve had no problems making a 100% rye starter, but one with A/P or bread flour never seems to show much life when I try it…

  287. [...] [...]

  288. Susan, on Day 2 AM, you mentioned discard before feeding. Do I also discard at each feeding?
    Thanks!

  289. [...] ajar.  This last bit is to ensure gases can escape.  Despite many claims to the contrary, this isn’t about capturing wild yeasts floating around in the air.  What we’re trying to do is [...]

  290. Whisks & Chopsticks: yes, you discard all but 75 grams of culture at each feeding.

  291. Hi Susan,

    I have my starter in the fridge now and am feeding it 1 oz of flour and and 1oz of water every few days. My question is, if a recipe calls for “228 g of mature starter” is that right our of the container?? I read somewhere else that I have to add more flour and water and let it sit for another day before using. I’m new at the starter thing so I have no idea…
    Thanks!!!

  292. Sandie, I think I should change my recipes to say “active” rather than “mature” starter. When the starter is refrigerated, it becomes less active because some of the yeast die. I usually take mine out of the fridge and give it at least a couple of feedings at 12-hour intervals to let it perk up before using it.

  293. [...] Sa mentionez: aceasta maia nu a fost inventata de mine. Reteta am gasit-o prima data aici http://codrudepaine.ro/maia-drojdie-salbatica/ iar inspiratia mi-a venit de aici http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/13/raising-a-starter/. [...]

  294. Hi Susan. Your blog is great! Thanks for keeping it going so that people like me can still discover it. I decided to start a sourdough starter with the intention of tackling panettone. The starter was going well, exactly on time with your schedule. On day 3, it came out of the leuconostoc phase and stayed idle until the beginning of day 5. It then doubled in size in 8 hours so I switched to 100% white flour. Two feedings now with all white flour and it is no longer rising. There are bubbles, just no rise. Should I have weened it off rye flour? Also, what do I do with the starter? Will it recover if I keep feeding it all white flour?

  295. Ted, you could keep going with the all-white flour, or once again add a bit of rye. It will probably start perking up before too long!

  296. [...] found more information on raising a starter here, but I am horrible at following directions and much too impatient to be measuring anything. So I [...]

  297. Susan, your recipe really works. I used it to make my first starter a year ago, and since then I’ve been baking my favorite 100% rye bread using the same starter. Since I usually put it in the refrigerator for a week, it’s become weak lately. I think it smells a little bit differently, not that nice sour as the beginning though it still raises my bread. But the bread can get molded in a week or so which didn’t happen at the beginning of my using the starter. And I have just started raising another starter to compare the outputs. I keep my starter 100% rye, but when I want to make pizza, I take a bit of the rye starter and add AP flour with water getting the great white dough starter in a few hours. So it can be fed by any flour as soon as I noticed. Thank you very much for your priceless share.
    Eugene

  298. Susan, I am using organic rye flour and strong bread white flour also cooled boiled water. I am weighing the ingredients but the mixture is stiff. Is that the way it should be?

    Emanuel

  299. Emanuel, right after feeding it is about the consistency of very wet paste. If you use a greater proportion of rye flour, it will be thicker, because the rye absorbs more water.

  300. Hi Susan,

    You have an amazing website! I’ve tried a few times to get a starter going, but without much success. This time, following your guide, it’s really taken off.

    I’m at day 6, and my culture seems almost a bit too vigorous. It took about two hours to double. 6 hours in, it had tripled. Should I be feeding it more often if this happens?

    Thank you!
    Ben

  301. update: 10 hours in, and it’s grown 4x in size…this is crazy!

  302. Ben, tripling or more is not a bad thing! if it is increasing in volume but then falling back and becoming more “flat” before the next feeding, try feeding it more flour and water per unit of culture (or less culture per unit of flour and water, to keep the container size reasonable :) ). You can also feed more often, but that seems cumbersome to me. If, on the other hand, the culture is at “peak” when it’s feeding time, then don’t change anything!

  303. Well it ended up overflowing the jar by the time I fed it last night, so I don’t think it’s flat! I used some of it in your english muffin recipe which came out great. I now have a much smaller culture going which is still going strong, but is a lot more manageable. Thanks again!

  304. [...] the other hand, if you want to start your own starter, here are some [...]

  305. Could we substitute whole wheat flour for rye?

  306. Mariam, yes, you can do that. Rye works a little better if you can get it, but WW will work, too.

  307. OK, put together my starter this morning using your guide here and we shall see if I can gather the right critters to make a delicious Utah sourdough. It’s been more than 10 years since I’ve tried to raise a starter from scratch and last time was a miserable failure. Fingers crossed!

  308. Hi there,
    I’m on day 4 of my starter and so far it seems to be doing what it is supposed to (I think). It had a huge rise on the first day, and a good response on the second. Not much on the 3rd day but I think that is to be expected. The unpleasant smell seems to be going. So this morning is day 4 and it looks much the same as yesterday. I’ve just fed it but was wondering about the viscosity. It appears to have the consistency of builder’s putty. It seems to become a little ‘runnier’ after 12 hours but I read somewhere that a thick starter is harder to work with for a novice sourdough baker.

    I live in Hong Kong, and the environment is very humid and sticky, if that makes a difference. I’m still using a combination of white/rye flour to feed it and have been reasonably pedantic about weighing etc. Thanks.

  309. [...] Note: These instructions assume you are starting with a vigorous “regular” sourdough starter. If you don’t have a starter yet, here’s how to start one. [...]

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  312. Hello Susan!
    Thank you for all of the insightful info over the last years!
    I do have a question…
    I`ve been attempting to make a sourdough panettone for at least three seasons now, and somehow (no matter how meticulously I follow starter conversion directions) my first dough struggles to move even an inch after countless hours.
    I tried an experiment this time round, feeding both a liquid starter every 4 hours, and simultaneously feeding a stiff starter every 12hrs. and wrapping in a cloth etc.
    Both looked good at the first dough mixing stage, but perhaps not quite good enough?
    Feeding the stiff starter every 4 hours seems to really weaken the activity…
    Could I be missing something really important here?
    Thanks!
    Maike

  313. Maike, when you are feeding your stiff panettone starter every four hours, make sure you are keeping it nice and warm (85F is ideal). Otherwise it will not have enough fermentation activity to support the frequent feedings.

  314. Hey Susan,
    Thanks for the speedy reply-
    I have however, been quite diligent about maintaining my oven temp. between 80 and 85F. Something tells me that the ratio 1:1:0.5 (starter: flour: water) might be too much flour for the amount of starter?? Whenever we feed our starters here at our bakery, we never really go up to the 1:1 ratio since it would take so long to become active again.
    Any further thoughts?
    Thanks so much-
    Maike

  315. Hi Susan, not sure why I’m not getting more growth out of my culture. I’m on day 8, but I’ve yet to see it double in 8 hours. I’m feeding it 25g Bob’s Red Mill Rye, 50g King Arthur AP Flour, and 75 g water 2x per day. I see a few bubbles and a pleasant smell, but nothing like what I should be seeing. Should I try switching to a different flour? Like one containing more malted barley? Also, it’s chilly in Seattle. Any cool weather instructions? Thx-

  316. False alarm Susan,
    Got home yesterday and had terrific bubble activity and could see that it had doubled while I was at work and then fallen back to orig size. What a diff a day makes! Thanks for all the great info. looking forward to some norwich sourdough this weekend.

  317. Roger, glad it seems to be coming alive! It does take longer when the temperature is cool. In the early stages, keep it as warm as possible. A closed space like the microwave, with a bowl of hot water, is helpful in cool weather.

  318. Thanks Susan. I love your site, great information here. I’m sure I’ll have more questions, thanks for sharing!

  319. [...] makes this recipe all the more ironic is the fact that you combine a wild-yeast starter, which can take more than a week to mature, with convenience [...]

  320. hello susan, first of all thank you for the great article! this is my third attempt on raising a starter, something I was wondering… is there any chance my starter could be “working” on the second day? even after reading about the leuconostoc part I just wondered that because my “starter” doesn’t smell unpleasant, it has a very “fruity aroma” actually, and the other times I tried to raise a starter, after this “first rise” my starter never raised again, even after a couple of weeks feeding it…

    i was just wondering about it because I live in Brazil and here where I live is particularly hot these days (something around 86f or so) and when I tried to raise the starter on my fridge it never started to bubble, seems like it’s frozen or something =P

    well, thanks again for a great website I love baking and am learning lots of great things in here, gonna try to feed this new starter a few days as you described and see what happens, thanks!

  321. well nevermind my previous post, is finally working! well, at least is looking a lot like the picture from the day 3, thanks a lot! hopefully I will be able to bake a pandoro before christma rofl

  322. Hi Susan, after our Seattle cold-snap and going through lots of flour, my starter is finally doubling between feedings and doing what it shoudl be doing. FYI, I went from using King Arthur APF with Bobs Red Mill Rye, to straight Gold Medal APF to now using Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour. The blob that is eating Sammamish seems to like the B4B flour and I’m not changing anything for a while.

    Question: If I plan to make the Norwhich Sour Dough this weekend, how do you suggest I build up my starter to the 360g your recipe calls for? Should I feed it as per usual and on Friday night reduce to 75g starter and add 180g each flour and water?

    Thanks- looking for a baguette recipe if you got one. Hopefully the Norwhich goes well.

  323. Roger, yes, feed as usual and on the feeding before baking, adjust amounts (but not ratios). As for a baguette, you can shape the Norwich into baguettes but you might like Sam Fromartz’s version: http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2009/06/16/baguettes-fromartz/

  324. Hi Susan,

    Thank you for this very informative post. I want to start my own sourdough culture from scratch, too. But there are some major concerns:
    1. I live in the Philippines and the average weather here is 30-32degC, and is practically humid. I know yeast loves hot and humid environment but…
    2. We don’t have unbleached wheat flour here nor rye flour.
    3. I don’t have a refrigerator to keep it in (as other bakers would suggest a once a week feeding and rest of the days to be kept in the fridge).

    Can I successfully maintain my own starter here?

  325. (a follow-up comment…)

    I want to try Panettone too, but I don’t know how without the use of a mature starter. :(

  326. [...] Then, three days ago, I made a wild yeast sourdough starter using this method. [...]

  327. [...] my recommendation for a recipe, if you are looking, can be found on Wild Yeast, a fantastic bread [...]

  328. [...] gr (1-1/2 cups) wheat 100% hydration sourdough starter (if you are unclear on what this is, here is a good write-up, albeit a bit too scientific for [...]

  329. [...] process that is an adventure in and of itself, but is well documented on many sites, such as here, here, or here. The specifics may differ, but the idea is always the same: you need to create a [...]

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  331. Thanks for sharing your method — I’m so glad to find one that doesn’t involve fruit! My starter (named Zeke) was born in a cold winter kitchen. I started getting a few paltry bubbles after the first feeding but things weren’t picking up steam as the days stretched into a week, so I decided to switch to a 2:1:1 ratio and feed every 24 hours and Zeke is really starting to liven up! I think that a loaf of Norwich is in our near future. Thanks for your guidance on all things wild-yeast!

  332. I forgot to mention that Zeke really took off after a day or two of that modified schedule I mentioned above and I went back to the method you described. I didn’t want to starve the little guys! He just needed a little boost to get the population higher. Thanks again for all the helpful information in your posts and comments!

  333. [...] hours later I had thrown together a starter (again named Zeke, this time using the method from the Wild Yeast blog), and ten days later when it was (finally) mature (hey, my kitchen was cold), I started baking [...]

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  • Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures.
    --Lionel Poilane

  • a few of my baking books

  • copyright

    This work is © 2007 – 2012 by Wild Yeast. If you would like to use something you see here, please ask me.